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Funeral oration

delivered in New Orleans by Lieut. Colonel Adolphus Olivier, at the Obsequies of Lieut. Colonel Charles Didier Dreux.

Soldiers and citizens:

When the Lacedemonian mothers buckled the armor on the willing limbs of their sons and sent them forth to battle, it was their want in giving them their shields to use the words famous in history: "Come back with it, or upon it "--I believe the heart of this great city when it sent forth its sons to repel the invasion of fanaticism, must have been filled with the same proud confidence in the spirit of its youth.--They went forth to the onset with the heroic determination to be worthy their lineage and the cause which kindled before them like a beacon set on high. Like the body of a Lacedemonian hero carried through the mournful streets on a floor of shields, Charles Didfer Dreux comes to his last resting-place escorted by the brave hearts of his fellow-soldiers beating in unison with the heart of the State, while the tears of the people fall like dew upon his grave.

It must have been sad for him to have engaged in this war; and I feel the woe which must have entered his great heart as the memories of his youth, the struggles and triumphs of other days, crowded thick and fast upon his soul. He venerated, almost idolized, the American Union; and he looked upon her gorgeous ensign with the feeling of the servant of the Lord as his eyes were bent on the pillar of fire as it rose in the wilderness. He held the Constitution to be a covenant be tween universal man and his nation for the security of liberty, regulated and determined by constitutional law. Yet, alas! how the cause for which he so devotedly labored has fallen. The Union was becoming hateful to our people; the name of American was being lost, or was to be shared with the foe; the flag of the Republic, desecrated by the rude hand of grasping power, was being carried in the van by mercenary hordes; the very Genius of Liberty was fleeing the sanctuaries of the Capitol, and methinks it must have been with a noise similar to that of the flapping of wings of the guardian angels as they hurried from the sanctum sanctorum as the hour for the final destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem had tolled--simul ingens motus exedentium; the black flag was casting its shadow upon the brow of the nation, and the musket buts of a hireling soldiery were ringing on the floor of the Temple of Justice; while the letter of the Constitution glowed and flashed under the very eyes of those who had violated its spirit, we of Louisiana had suffered and endured for years the taunts and jeers of the oppressors; the confidence of the world was being shaken as regards the capacity of man for self-government; the destinies of freedom and of humanity had fallen into the hands of men, the miserable predicts of a cause without a creed and without a faith, until galled and forced to choose between resistance and submission, the State, appealing to God, resolved to be free. As these things were transpiring, stretched on the couch of sickness and suffering, the gloom which had settled upon my land clouded my aching heart; and I saw dark-veiled shapes rising with the darkness over the horizon of my country, and I thought of those who had been the partners of the trials and joys of my youth, and the eye of my soul saw a flock of young eagles soaring through the darkness and mounting upward, and I thought of him whose remains now lie mouldering before you. There were then words of anger and menace; the sea began to darken with threatening vessels, our frontiers bristled with bayonets, and the tramp of armed men was heard on our borders — the South with one voice cried "to arms. " The spirit of Charles Dreux never could brook submission to wrong when accompanied with insult. In the full gush of his youth and of his usefulness; with the brand of genius, reeking and perfumed, all over him; the head of a young and dearly beloved family; engaged in the pursuit of a profession, which, wide open before him, held up to his eye the choicest rewards and honors; esteemed and beloved, he left father, wife, child, brothers and sisters, to bare his breast for his mother South. He made Louisiana's cause his own; and the first in the lead of our volunteer troops, and surrounded by his devoted followers, he left the pleasures of home and entered the tented field. With the firm, elastic steps of the knightly warrior he was ascending the heights of fame and glory, when he poured out his heart's blood in a libation to Liberty.

Born in New Orleans on the 11th of May, A. D, 1832 Charles Didler Dreux, from early youth, gave promise of eminent success in life.

The issue of one of our oldest Creole families, after preliminary studies, he was sent to Amherst College, Mass., then under the superintendency of Mr Hitchcock, who is now a Peter the Hermit in the unholy crusade against the South; after a short visit to his native city, he and his two younger brothers became Cadets of the Western Military Institute, at Blue Lick Springs, Ky.; becoming a member of the Frankfort Military Institute, his talents and aptitude as an officer soon elevated him to the rank of Captain in the battalion. When the Scott campaign fairly opened, he went with the Kentucky delegation to attend the great Whig Convention at Niagara, and we have still in our possession the letter which he wrote us, in the full gush of his youth's success. His return home was one continuous ovation.

To speak of his career in New Orleans during that canvass would be unnecessary. The trials and triumphs of those days are green in the memory and hearts of the people. His life as an orator, as District Attorney, member of the Legislature, Captain and Lieut. Col., is known to all. The versatility of his genius was marvelous; he spoke with the utmost facility and correctness the English, French and Spanish languages, while his conversation glittered and sparkled with the choicest gems of classic lore. As a man, none could know him without being drawn toward him by irresistible sympathetic influences; his friendship was passion's essence — it kindled and warmed you with its own congenial heat; did the gloom of sadness light upon your soul, like sunshine upon the face of the waters would his heart mirror forth its own sunny hopes; in the domestic circle or the festive board, the sparkle of his wit, his unrivaled powers of illustration captivated the attention of all near him; his capacity of physical endurance was almost incomprehensible; as we laid down side by side in early youth, or after the long can passing day, I have often wondered how nature could have blended such extraordinary faculties in one being. As an orator he towered among his peers; his countenance bespoke the presence of self-confiding power; his voice at times was soft and melting as the memory of early days, then filled with unspeakable pathos; anon hissingly breathing of irony, then loud and thundering as ocean's tongue; but when his countenance would be lit by the glow and fire of his soul, and his large hazel eye would dilate and his nostrils expand, as though he "smelt the battle afar off," then it was a noble sight to see him, and one could appreciate the gaudia certaminis as, gladiator like, he rose and towered before you in the arena of political discussion. But his was not only the eloquence freshly gathered in the flowery gardens of rhetoric, it was Like the clear brook's stone of lustre, and gave With the flash of the gem, its solidity too.

These remarkable faculties of mind, combined with the breathing influences of heart and soul, drew all men toward him, and he held fast their affections as with hooks of steel. Never did man in so brief a career achieve such a wide spread and deeply deserved popularity. His soldiers must have idolized him. Leaving New Orleans as a Captain of the Orleans Cadets, in the brief space of a few weeks the eye of his superiors singled him out from his peers and the responsible position of Lieutenant Colonel was assigned him. He took the head of his command on a field which would have been rendered famous by his deeds of valor had not death marked him for a victim. There are souls which can feel that the end of life is approaching. In his letters to his wife he often spoke of the uncertainty of life, yet sought to cheer her to hear that which he must have felt was drawing near. His heart must have been filled with ineffable sadness. He must have seen the light of eternity stealing through the gates of heaven as he slept under the broad canopy of the firmament, and seen with the eyes of his home-wandering soul the loved forms at home hovering over his slumbers. Yet never did he falter in the pursuit of his profession. It was on the night of the fifth of the present month that he led a reconnoitering party in the vicinity of Newport News. It must have been a noble sight to have seen him, as the light of the battle was on his brow, marshaling his force into line, the metallic notes of his from voice sounding in the fastnesses of the forest, then when he felt the gush of his life-blood through the lips of a mortal wound, stilling his proud and dauntless heart, and startling the echoes of eternity with the last adieu of his departing soul, as Lawrence, when the grape shot was in his ear, crying, "Boys, don't surrender; " afterward pillowing his drooping head on the breast of his valiant soldiers kneeling beside him.

He has fallen, and at the hands of whom? I know the mind of Gen. Scott to be of too martial a cast to be easily moved; but when the news of this death reached his ears, he must have thought of him who caused to blaze all the deeds of his life; who from Niagara to the shores of the Gulf filled the brazen throat of fame with the tale of his prowess. He must have remembered the day when he paraded the streets of this city, amid the shouts of our people, the magic of the young warrior's eloquence, hanging as a mantle of glory over his shoulders. Oh! General Scott, 'twas you who armed the hand which snapped his heart-strings, and that, too, on the soil of your mother State. Yet,

‘ "Like the day star in the wave
Sank the hero in his grave,
"Midst the dewfall of a nation's tears."

So young to be dead! I feel that half my heart will lie buried in his tomb; the voice of early days comes stealing out of this cold tenement, and speak to my heart. God of the patriot and the warrior, comfort his aged and venerated father — solace the bleeding, broken heart of his young and disconsolate wife, in this the hour of her bereavement and woe — cast the shadow of Thy wings over the head of his orphan child — let the rays of Thy morning and evening sun linger around the sepulchre, that the last resting place of the gallant dead be crowned with the reflects of the glory of thy face.

‘ "--tho' sweet are our home recollections,
Tho sweet are the tears which in tenderness fall,
Tho' sweet are our friendships, our hopes, our affections,
Revenge on dire foes is sweetest of all."

Soldiers! let the spirit of the departed warrior fill your breasts; let his last death-shout be your rallying cry, and the memory of his valor stiffen the sinews of your arms; and when the hour for the last inevitable conflict shall have arrived; when, face to face, breast to breast, steel against steel, we will meet the foe, oh! then strike home; strike till every sword be fleshed to the hilt, and let his name, riding on the wings of the battle-storm, mingle with your shouts of victory. Like him, remember that "'Tis the cause makes all, degrades, or hallows courage in its fall;" that we must not weigh in the scales of our duty and honor the terror of their arms; but that high blazoned upon our banner is the chivalrous motto, "If God be with us, what boots who the aggressor?" and that we must write for our mother South with the point of our swords an Iliad which will be worthy of the past. The South must be free, or else become a black Golgotha, rivaling the Calvary upon which were stretched the limbs of the God and man for the eternal teachings of generations. If, in a cause like ours, fall we must, fall we like Him! and when the legions whose conquering tramp is heard in the distance, "like the rush of mighty waters." will pause on the scene of carnage and inquire after their comrades gone before them, throughout the sounding corridors of all time the proud reverberations of Fame's echoes will answer, as did the soldiers of France on the honored grave of Latour D'Auvergne--"Fallen on the field of honor!"

Let the blood of the martyred hero ascend as a holy holocaust to heaven, and draw blessings upon our nation, and his name live embalmed in the veneration and love of our people.

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J. N. Scott (2)
Adolphus Olivier (1)
Lawrence (1)
Hitchcock (1)
Charles Didler Dreux (1)
Charles Didier Dreux (1)
Charles Didfer Dreux (1)
Charles Dreux (1)
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May 11th, 1832 AD (1)
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