Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for Journal of Julia LeGrand.

Journal of Julia LeGrand.

March 5, 2013

The Journal of Julia LeGrand

March 5th [1863]. We have company all day long. I think I prefer the fashionable way of receiving—only on reception days. I hate the custom, but acknowledge the wisdom of it. I can not read, write, or do anything I wish, people are so very social. Mrs. Waugh brought us an armful of books this morning. She is so kind, so true, that she is no restraint on one, as some other people are. She respects and comprehends opinion, though that opinion may not agree with her own. She is accustomed to luxury, but is so simple-mannered that I do not mind carrying on any of my work before her. I told her she always saw me au naturelle—she laughed and said she felt highly complimented. I wish we might have her for a neighbor always. She says we shall not be separated in another world. I willingly give a morning to her. This afternoon there were others here, but somehow they slip my mind.


The Greatest Victory of the War, La Bataille des Mouchoirs.

Fought Friday, February 20th, 1863.

Of all the battles, modern or old,

By poet sung, or historian told,

Of all the routs that ever were seen,

From the days of Saladin to Marshal Turenne,

Of all the victories later yet won,

From Waterloo’s field to that of Bull Run,

All, all must hide their fading light

In the radiant glow of the Handkerchief Fight.

And a paean of joy must thrill through the land

When they hear the deeds of Banks’ band.


‘Twas on the levee, where the tide

Of Father Mississippi flows,

Our gallant lads, our country’s pride,

Won this victory o’er their foes,

Four hundred Rebels were to leave

That morning for Secessia’s shades,

When down there came, you’d scarce believe,

A troop of children, wives and maids

To wave farewells, to bid God speed,

To shed for them the parting tear,


 To waft them kisses, as the meed

 Of praise to soldier’s heart most dear.

 They came in hundreds. Thousands lined

 The streets, the roofs, the shipping too,

 Their ribbons dancing in the wind,

 Their bright eyes speaking love’s adieu.


 ‘Twas then to danger we awoke,

 But nobly faced the unarmed throng,

 And beat them back with hearty stroke,

 Till reinforcements came along.

 We waited long; our aching sight

 Was strained in eager, anxious gaze,

 At last we saw the bayonets bright

 Flash in the sunlight’s welcome blaze;

 The cannon’s dull and heavy roar

 Fell greeting on our gladdened ear,

 Then fired each eye, then glowed each soul,

 For well we knew the strife was near.


 “Charge!” rang the cry and on we dashed

 Upon our female foes,

 As seas in stormy fury lashed

 When’er the tempest blows.

 Like chaff their parasols went down,

 As on our gallants rushed,

 And many a bonnet, robe and gown,

 Was torn to shreds, or crushed.


 Though well we plied the bayonet,

 Still some our efforts braved;

 Defiant both of blow and threat

 Their handkerchiefs still waved.

 Thick grew the fight, loud rolled the din,

 When “Charge!” rang out again,

 And then the cannon thundered in,

 And sounded o’er the plain.


 Down ‘neath the unpitying iron heels

 Of horses, children sank,

 While through the crowd the cannon wheels

 Mowed rows on either flank;

 One startled shriek, one hollow groan,

 One head-long rush, and then—

 Huzza, the field was all our own,

 For we were Banks’ men.


 That night relieved from all our toils,

 Our danger past and gone.

 We gathered up the spoils

 Our chivalry had won.

 Five hundred kerchiefs had we snatched

 From Rebel ladies’ hands;

 Ten parasols, two shoes not matched,

 Some ribbons, belts and bands,

 And other things that I forget;

 But then you’ll find them all,

 As trophies, in that hallowed spot,

 The cradle—Faneuil Hall.


 And, long on Massachusetts’ shores,

 Or on Green Mountain’s side,

 Or where Long Island’s breakers roar,

 And by the Hudson’s tide,

 In time to come, when lamps are lit,

 And home-fires brightly blaze,

 While round the knees of heroes sit

 The young of happier days,

 Who listen to their storied deeds,

 To them sublimely grand,

 Then Glory shall award its meed,

 Of praise to Banks’ band,

 And Fame proclaim that they alone,

 In triumph’s loudest note,

 May wear henceforth, for valor shown,

 A woman’s petticoat!


This poem is written by no one knows who, and printed sub-rosa. An order was issued sometime back by General Banks, attaching severe penalties to throw scorn upon any United States officer. This order was issued in Butler’s behalf, I believe, as the streets were at one time filled with accusatory and satirical productions inspired by that famous general. I have heard that Banks has seen this poem and that he is very angry. I have heard, too, that he had nothing to do with having the cannon sent upon the women and children, and that the infamy of the whole affair rests with Colonel French. Oh, well, I have also a surreptitious ode commanding this dear Crescent City to “Cheer up,” so I suppose that our day is coming. Thornton wanted the Cavalry armed with cowhides.

Mrs. Norton has a written bet on hand with Mayor Miller—formerly on Shepley’s staff—that Port Hudson would yield to Federal forces on or before the 4th of July. The stake, a basket of champagne. Mrs. Norton advised him to marry a Southern heiress and to change his politics. I would not let the upstart think, even in jest, that a Southern woman would marry him. He is good natured, but to my certain knowledge he is not honest. He lives in a “captured house” and broke open the trunks which Mrs. Brown left there, in search of sheets and table cloths. This he said himself.

The Indianola war ram has been captured by the Confederates. She passed the batteries at Vicksburg between the coal barges, which we also have taken. She was boarded, and the Queen of the West, which had also passed the batteries and been previously captured, was used in the fight against her old friend. She now floats another flag. We now have the river between Vicksburg and Port Hudson free of Federal vessels. Our trade from Red River, on which our soldiers so much depend, is still undisturbed. The last New York papers seem quite jubilant because their boat succeeded in passing the stronghold—but they were captured even before the news of the passing reached there. We are getting quite a navy. We have captured so much in Virginia, that the letters U. S. are stamped upon most everything we use—even the wagons and horses. Captain Semmes has been entertained at Kingston, and made a speech. People are anxiously looking for French recognition. Louis Napoleon is a deep character. I, for one, have no faith in his disinterestedness, and I am afraid to accept an overture of any sort from him. Should we be entangled with his politics I think our people would have more to remember than Louis XVI gave our forefathers. Recognition, perhaps, is our due, and nothing withholds it but a selfish fear of being accused of being too anxious to divide these States. That Europe desires the separation, we have had proof. Intervention (armed) I do not want. We have sustained ourselves so magnificently, that I feel a pride to fight all our own battles—fight them we can, both on sea and land.

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