A Southern cross of honor presented to General J. A. Chalaron by the Daughters of the Confederacy.
The Daughters of the Confederacy met at Memorial Hall at 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon and presented Colonel J. A. Chalaron
the southern cross of honor which is given by the organization to those veterans who distinguished themselves by services to the Confederacy
The meeting was opened by Mrs. Alden McLellan
, president of the New Orleans chapter, who introduced Rev. Dr. B. M. Palmer
, who offered prayer.
Then Mr. W. McL
, commander of the Sons of Veterans, read a poem on the ‘Death of Jefferson Davis
,’ and Mrs. J. Pinckney Smith
read one on the ‘Southern Cross of Honor.’
gave an address in presenting the cross, and Colonel Chalaron
responded at some length.
closed the meeting with the benediction.
There was a good attendance of ladies, and a number of veterans were present.
On the platform were the following ladies: Mrs. Alden McLellan
, Mrs. J. Pinckney Smith
, Mrs. Dr. Ferguson
, Mrs. General W. J. Behan
, Mrs. J. W. Spearing
, Mrs. Judge N. C. Blanchard
, Miss Sallie Owen
, Mrs. D. A. S. Vaught
, Mrs. J. R. Dicks
, Mrs. J. J. Prowell
. Rev. Dr. Palmer
and Mr. Fayssoux
were also on the platform.
There were two large pictures of Jefferson Davis
draped on the platform.
, in her opening address, spoke of the appropriateness of the observance of the day by the Daughters of the Confederacy, and introduced Dr. Palmer
, who, in his prayer, spoke of the defense of the cause of constitutional right by the Confederates
thanked God for all his blessings in the past, asking for their continuance in the future.
Then General Fayssoux
, of the Sons of Veterans, read a poem on the ‘Death of Jefferson Davis
said that the southern cross of honor was to be presented to Colonel Chalaron
and she read the rules and regulations of the organization regarding the presentation.
Mrs. J. Pinckney Smith
then read a poem, entitled ‘The Confederate Cross of Honor,’ which was inspired by an incident at the presentation of the first cross in California
The veteran who was to have received the cross died, and it was placed on his breast as he lay on his bier.
Then Mrs. McLellan
presented the cross to Colonel Charlaron
in the following words:
General J. A. Chalaron,—In pursuance of the request of the members of our association, it becomes my pleasant and honored duty, as president of the New Orleans Chapter, No. 72, United Daughters of the Confederacy, to present this Southern cross of honor to you.
I am proud of the honor, and esteem it a great privilege to be the medium of bestowing upon a heroic soldier this decoration, which is a badge for valorous and honorable service rendered our southland in her hour of great need.
We ask you to wear this as a reminder of those days when you so faithfully served our land and braved untold dangers and endured privations for that sacred cause so dear to our hearts.
With this cross goes the kindliest feelings of our chapter that yours may be the privilege of wearing it for many years.
Colonel Chalaron responded as follows:
Madam, the President, and Daughters of the Confederacy,—I sincerely thank you for this testimonial of your high esteem, and of your appreciation of my endeavors to assist your chapter in the successful career that has marked its existence.
The very kind terms in which your sentiments have been expressed in the bestowal of this precious cross, will ever remain with me in grateful remembrance.
Many years ago, as the Confederate army, fresh from the bloody field of Shiloh, lay in and around Corinth, hourly expecting another great engagement with the federal masses under General Halleck, an address was issued by our Beauregard announcing that medals of
honor for great distinction won in the coming battle awaited officers and men of his army.
Every heart in our ranks was stirred by this announcement, and thousands of the youth and manhood of Louisiana and of her sister States, to whom it applied, vowed to themselves that the decoration should be theirs.
Superior authority, however, revoked this noble order, and ever has there lingered in my heart regret that it did not prevail.
The feelings and aspirations of those far-off moments were easily revived with me when the grand organization of Southern women to which you belong made public its intention of conferring on Confederate veterans a decoration commemorative of their services and heroism.
The Southern cross of honor, this noble purpose contemplated, then rose before me in all the splendor of a soldier's coveted reward for duty performed through four years of incessant struggle against overwhelming numbers, as a recognition of still more trying duties performed for our beloved southland in the darker days of reconstruction and since, as a shining pledge of the wearer's eternal devotion to the principles we had fought for, to the right we had so magnificently, so gloriously, and so unanimously upheld.
And, crowning this cross, appeared to me that halo of beauty, of sentiment, of chivalry, the women of the South so naturally throw around everything touched with their inspiration.
I hoped this honorable decoration might somehow come to be pinned over my heart.
Little, however, did I then expect to be singled out so early in its distribution, to be selected by the enthusiastic president of the Louisiana Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, as the second Confederate to be favored by you, and to stand on your roll of decorated, next to the great divine and grand southern patriarch and patriot, the Rev. Dr. B. M. Palmer.
You have done me more than honor.
For this cross comes unsolicited, unexpected, from a source from which, above all others, I would have preferred to receive it—from the Confederate women of my beloved native city.
From those women of whom I can never think without proud emotions; whose encouragement and blessings I carried with me to the war; whose fate it was so early to feel the enemy's yoke; whose spirit grew more unyielding in captivity; who, uncowed by force of brutality, in duress won the world's admiration by their unsurpassed devotion to the cause of the South, displaying Spartan virtues that will yet afford a theme to another Pericles, or wake to immortal verse the lyre of some Virgil to come.
Those devoted Confederate women of old New Orleans, some of
whom are still of you, to point your way in emulation, to recount to eager sons and daughters the story of the rule of a Butler and of a Banks; to tell of humiliations, insults and taunts so often inflicted upon them, of sacrifices made, of risks incurred, of methods resorted to to aid and cheer the many Confederate prisoners in our city; to describe the memorable ‘battle of the handkerchiefs’ and other thrilling episodes of the federal occupation.
Theirs were years of tears and of prayer, of hope and of gloom, but never of despair.
The presence of no beloved Confederate generals and soldiers from the glorious battle-field of Virginia or of Tennessee illumed any hour of their long vigil, but daily was paraded before them the ‘pomp and circumstance’ of a vaunting foe, marshaled in hosts, whose numbers and equipment made their hearts beat sadly, when contrasting them in thought, with that ‘thin gray line,’ whose deeds, in the far away southland, as it indomitably faced the foe at every point, were brought to them on the wings of fame.
And when all hope was crushed, and returning survivors of the great armies of the Confederacy brought attestation that ‘all was lost save honor,’ with what courage those women met the blow, with what love they received the bearers of the sad tidings, with what tenderness they soothed the anguish of their souls, chafing under their utter helplessness in that terrible reality, grappling with the desolation and ruin of home and of State, peering into a future that loomed up black as Erebus and as unreadable as chaos.
What lessons of fortitude they taught those dear ones, soldiers no longer, but heroes seeking now the touch of woman's hand and soul, to face together the unknown dangers and trials of that somber future with hearts shaken by a cataclysm of woe, but still undismayed and undaunted.
What examples of energy, of thrift, of adaptability to changed circumstances those dear women set to husbands and to children; what resourcefulness, what ingenuity, what enthusiasm they displayed in providing assistance for their own Louisianians, and for the many other Confederates thrown into the city by the disbandment of the Confederacy's armies.
Superbly their heroism sustained itself in those days of defeat, of ruin, of uncertainty, of desolation, of upheaval of society, of government of satraps, of official plundering, of reconstruction saturnalia, of pinching poverty, and until the gradual reassertion of the South to which we have arrived.
Such is the heritage handed down to you, Daughters of the Confederacy, by those sublime women—the proudest that one generation can pass over to another!
Thus consecrated by your mothers and
your past; thus pledged to a future of devotion to the Confederate cause and its rightfulness.
Ladies of the New Orleans Chapter 72, United Daughters of the Confederacy, your decoration becomes an inestimable prize, a badge of knighthood, ennobling the Confederate veteran who receives it. Such will it ever be to me.
And if my heart could be further moved in gratefulness, it would proceed from the appropriateness of the anniversary under celebration and the sacred precints you have chosen to make me presentation of this emblem of martial and patriotic services rendered the Confederacy and the South.
You have conferred it on me, as it were, in the view of the whole Confederacy—under the auspices of its president, Jefferson Davis.
For the Confederacy is here in this temple of its fame in all the intensity and dramatic action of its short-lived years.
From these tattered and bloody flags its heroism speaks forth; from these weapons, these relics, these fragments, these documents, its spirits, its motives, its devotion, its rights are proclaimed; its great leaders, chieftains and immortal soldiers surround you, lending there Confederate days' appearance to these ceremonies; it is recalled in every article you touch or see; it permeates the air, and here to-day it stirs your Southern pulses as of yore.
And above all others, one presence prevades this hall, one personality dominates its memories; it is that of the Confederacy's first and only president, Jefferson Davis.
Follow it through, from the cradle in yonder corner, where, in Christian county, of the ‘dark and bloody ground,’ his infancy was rocked, 93 years ago, by sturdy southern parents, and then recall the day when, in state, his body lay under this beautiful roof, in the midst of these holy relics, surrounded by grieving hearts of a community he loved so much, and you have spanned his life.
But, at every step herein, touching and precious mementos tell its story between, and mark the epochs of his illustrious career.
'Tis in his commission, signed by President Andrew Jackson, as lieutenant in the United States army, for gallantry in the Black Hawk war; 'tis in his watch, worn at the capture of Monterey, when commanding the First Mississippi Rifles; 'tis in the swords presented to him by a foreign minister, whilst Secretary of War of the United States; 'tis in that mass of his official papers, so clear and statesmanly; 'tis in those books of his masterly messages, and other State papers, when President of the Confederate States of America; 'tis in that picture and souvenirs of his white house, at Richmond, where he went, chosen by his people to guide their government through the storm
of war they had dared for principle and for right, where he displayed to the world such high ability and devotion, through four years of the greatest conflict of the ages; from which he departed unblemished, erect, dignified, defiant, when the life of his government was crushed out under the weight of numbers; 'tis in these hundred volumes of records of that gigantic interstate war, given to the world by the foe, where posterity will marvel to find how much he had to contend with in numbers and equipment of the foe, and how much he had to create to make possible the glorious and protracted campaigns of his vastly disproportionate armies; 'tis in that photograph of him, pale, emaciated, yet unbending, as he emerged the martyr of his people and his cause from the dungeon of Fortress Monroe, and the manacles and fetters of a Miles; 'tis in that release, wrung from his foes after ineffectual search in his official and private acts as President of his government, for aught that could be construed into crime against the laws and the constitution under which he had been born, educated, and had served; 'tis here, in his thousand personal articles, effects, manuscripts, papers, pictures, books, letters, cherished family trinkets and mementos, and touching tokens from friends and his people, that lay before you his home life, .its affections, its tastes, its purposes, as, from a prison door, in simple grandeur, an uncrowned monarch of southern hearts, he pursued the even tenor of his way, until that fateful day in December, 1889, when, in this city, his dauntless soul took flight, to meet the Great Judge of all rulers and of all men; 'tis in these numerous sets of resolutions of deepest sorrow, from individuals, organizations, communities and States, that crowd these walls, attesting the majestic mourning of the South, when her great leader came to pass away.
Not only in all that establishes his greatness as a man, as a statesman, as a leader, as a patriot, is he here present, but he is here in his gentlest, dearest, tenderest memories and affections.
These touching mementos of Miss Winnie, these family pictures of Mrs. Hayes, these articles recalling his sons, early lost, all have shreds of his heart still clinging to them; and well we know how much his venerable relict's heart is also in this sanctuary for has she not written: But my heart is in the New Orleans Memorial Hall.
There, I feel I owe most affectionate gratitude, and to this place I sent my dearest relics.
Search the Southland over, and no spot is hallowed by his spiritual presence so much as this memorial hall; from no spot could rise more gratefully to his great spirit, the spoken incense of his people's love and praise, on days to follow perpetually this inaugral one, an annual
celebration of a birth that gave to the South
this giant among its statesmen, its patriots and its leaders, and to the world another name ‘that was not born to die.’
There was great applause at the conclusion of the ceremonies.
arose and thanked the Army of Tennessee veterans for a beautiful bouquet which she had received, and Mrs. McLellan
recognized the gift of a like compliment from Colonel Chalaron
Then Dr. Palmer
dismissed the gathering with the benediction.