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Chapter 61: the Washington artillery of New Orleans.

The Richmond people remember well the Washington Artillery of New Orleans, their fresh uniforms, and the splendid crimson and gold standard with its silver cross cannon under which, before they “smelt powder,” they marched in review before the President on Union Hill. These, and other New Orleans companies, gave dinners, danced, and sung, and “did the thing handsomely” wherever money was to be spent or amusement was to be found during their brief visits from the field; but while fighting their sixty battles they performed prodigies of valor, “all that was left of them.”

But there was a different look in their eyes after facing death so often; the lack of food had reduced their physique, but the laugh was as ready as ever, their well-brushed, threadbare uniforms were as natty and worn with as jaunty a grace as when newly donned. Their hospitality, albeit they could offer only potatoes or beans, was unstinted.

The Natchez troops marched out like the [607] Queen's Guards, a “Lah de dah” assemblage of handsome young gentlemen born to wealth and position, who recognized their duty to bear their share of blows because it befitted their birth. When the bloody work began, however, they pushed in to the thickest of the fight, and every woman and man in Mississippi thanked God for the place of their nativity.

Barksdale's brigade, on December I , 1862, at Fredericksburg, prevented Burnside's army of 100,000 men from building their pontoon bridges, and, although bombarded by 150 pieces of artillery, held their position from 7 A. M. to 7 P. M. The same Brigade, composed of the Thirteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and Twenty-first Mississippi regiments, numbering I,308 men, behind the stone wall at the foot of Marye's Hill, repulsed Sedgwick's corps, numbering 22,000. Under cover of a flag of truce, the enemy charged again the “thin gray line,” and overran it through weight of numbers, killing or capturing all the brave defenders, with a loss to themselves of nearly 5,000 men. The pride we felt in their steady, dauntless courage cannot be expressed in words.

Captain John Taylor Wood, C. S. N., upheld the name and fame of his grandsire, General Zachary Taylor. He is the son of [608] the late Surgeon-General R. C. Wood, U. S. A., than whom a better and braver man never lived. Commander Wood destroyed several transports and vessels of the enemy, among them the ship Rafpahannock, of 1,200 tons; he assisted in preparing the Virginia (Merimac) for service, took part in the fight between the Virginia and the Congress, Cumberland, Wabash, Monitor, and others, and served efficiently during the enemy's attempt to pass Drury's Bluff.

In the summer of 1863, Lieutenant Wood succeeded in capturing in Chesapeake Bay the United States gun-boats Reliance, Satellite, and a number of other vessels, and was promoted to be Commander in the Navy.

At Newbern, N. C., Commander Wood, with his boat squadron, captured the United States gun-boat Underwriter under the guns of two of the enemy's forts. He destroyed two gun-boats at Plymouth, N. C., when General Hoke captured that place in 1864.

In August, 1864, the Atlanta cruised off the north coast of the United States in the neighborhood of New York and Boston, and Commander Wood captured over thirty of the enemy's vessels. For these services he received the thanks of the Confederate Congress, and was promoted to be Post Captain. Throughout all these hot encounters his piety [609] and gentle consideration for others was conspicuous on every field.

The gallant Captain Wilkinson's deeds pressed close upon those of his friend and brother-officer, and the world will not forget Commanders Semmes, Maffitt, Pegram, Maury, Loyal, Jones, and other naval heroes who are too rich in fame to need my mite.

None fought more gallantly than Heros von Borcke, an Austrian officer of distinction, who came to offer his sword, and was assigned to J. E. B. Stuart's cavalry, and served with conspicuous bravery until severely wounded; he left the service with broken health. The President, loath to relinquish him, wrote to acknowledge the aid he had given, and sent him on a mission to England.

But Confederate women render their hearts' best homage to the gallant nameless dead, the “high privates” of our splendid army, and to those survivors who wear their “hodden gray” with proud memories of sacrifices made and duty faithfully performed, for no other reward than an approving conscience, who labor for their daily bread without a murmur, and are as ready now to affirm the justice of their cause as they are to fight for the United States. They do not say we believed we were right then, but they loudly proclaim we knew it then and know it now,

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