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On the staff of its battle flag, engraved upon silver, is a list of sixty battles, in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Georgia; beginning with Bull Run, and, among others, the battles around Richmond, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, Gettysburg, Dalton, Chicamauga, Atlanta, the siege of Petersburg, and the grande finale at Appomattox.
Affairs such as these were merely mentioned, as it seemed, to keep the record straight. There was no attempted garnishment so alluringly offered in brilliant events; no wandering into the multi-colored atmosphere of old soldier reminiscence; no spectacular display of heroic action and Spartan endurance.
Yielding to none of these actualities of experience, justifying dramatic recital, the articulated elements of history, gaunt and unadorned, as a thing of life, moved forward in the serenity of duty, unconsciously commanding fear and admiration.
The naivete of sincerity, the modesty of recital, would have been strangely depreciatory had it not been reactively its own corrective, affixing the stamp of verity.
However demure here at home, I can affirm, as often a much interested observer, that in the field far away, the Washington Artillery played the game of “Tiger” with all the zeal and athletic abandon of a champion baseball team, loudly boisterous and rudely aggressive; which singularly explains the expression in the Iliad:“And they were mindful of the delight of battle!" “They knew the joy of battle!”
The paper was received with cordial recognition ; but to President Cusachs' invitation there was no responsive discussion, for the reason that it was quite impossible, on the instant, to exercise the mind in analytical criticism giving words to thought, except in haphazard fashion, contrary to our custom.
Such documents furnish the skeletal framework of authentic history, scarcely noticed when recent, but of great value in years to come.
A trouble, keenly felt in our civilization, is in the fact that history, except in these later times, has seldom been recorded in its creative freshness, but has suffered through lapse of time and the inevitable forgetting, the silent evaporation and escape of truth, leaving to the ready imagination the filling of gaps for a continuous story. This clearly accounts for a “Romance History of Louisiana.”
In “In Camp and Battle with the Washington Artillery," by Colonel Miller Owen, 1885, is laid the broad historic foundation upon which his son, Major Allison Owen, with inherited acumen and loyalty to the colors, continues the record; inscribing upon the rising shaft dedicated to valorous achievement the crowning history of the Washington Artillery in this the most direful tragedy in the human drama—the irrepressible conflict between autocratic dynasty and universal democracy.
The future of the Washington Artillery is inseparable from the fate of our people; for all that we hold dear, for our women and children, for ourselves and fellow-citizens, whom we love, it were better, a thousand times more merciful to feel the liberating pangs of death and the pains of hell forever, than to suffer the ignominy and unspeakable shame and paralyzing outrage under the robber instinct and the huge bestial animality of the Gernian, as he has revealed himself shamelessly to an amazed worlu; the domination of the Chickasaws and Comanches, in their primal savagery, would be clean and noble in comparison.
Facing this monstrosity of German philosophy, called Kultur, we can well ask: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of such chains and slavery?”
When we peer into the chaotic blackness of the future and then look upon our valiant young manhood, these boys, inexpressibly loved and cherished, then it is we realize the price of liberty, transcending all values; how much more above the peace at any price of scheming poltroons, willing to see in our own land a repetition of the wholesale butcheries and debaucheries of Belgium and Northern France, more frightful than primitive savagery has ever devised seemingly inherent in the race.
Here let me register a protest against the sanctimonious sloppiness of well-paid charlatans in official high places, who cunningly ingratiate themselves under pretense of much righteousness, and political tricksters, who belittle and always oppose the noblest efforts of patriots, in order to advance themselves through treachery and evil speaking; these are the lineal "Tories of the Revolution.
As for war! It is normal to mankind as an organic element in the conditions of existence, the biological imperative; itself dependent upon the sacrifice of life for the survival of the living, best understood when we recognize the infinite wisdom and
power, creating according to the sovereignty of His own will — without calling pacifists into consultation.
These, in their fatuity, fail to see the compensating necessities in the human problem; for, left to his own inherent inclinations in high prosperity, which means high living, man quickly lapses into the degeneracy of self-gratification in the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye and presumptuous arrogancy of life, eventually not worth the killing, unless a heaven-sent compulsory reaction, supremely greater than ourselves, compels us suddenly to “About face!” subordinating body and soul to the larger imperative obligations of duty to our better selves in allegience to our country and the higher needs of the human race.
War in an instant has transformed this happy-go-lucky, dollar-grabbing, pleasure-seeking people into a consolidated unit of free-handed, self-sacrificing patriotism, hungry for training in discipline and obedience; already leading the nations to a universal knowledge and acceptance of American-born government of, for and by the people. “Man in his highest estate can do no more!"
As long as we, the American people, are not utterly debased in cowardice and greed, wars and rumors of wars will keep the Washington Artillery in furbished and glittering preparedness.
MINUTES OF OCTOBER, 1917. The Louisiana Historical Society held its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday evening, October 16th, at the Cabildo. President and Secretary were present, and a small gathering of members and visitors.
Minutes of the July meeting were read and approved.
Mr. W. 0. Hart reported that, authorized by the Executive Committee of the Society, he had presented to the War Library two hundred copies of Mr. Stanley Arthur's “Battle of New Orleans,” freshly bound for the occasion. He read a note of thanks for this, from Mr. Henry M. Gill, chairman of the War Library Committee for Louisiana and Mississippi.
Mr. Joe Mitchell Pilcher then read his carefully prepared essay, "The Story of Marksville.” It was listened to with great interest, the notes on Indian tribes containing much new and original information. The fight at Fort DeRussy was told with
spirit, and the reminiscences of Ruth McEnery Stuart with pathos.
At the end there was some informal and pleasant talk about the origin of the Indian people of America. Mr. Dymond, as usual, gave some interesting personal experiences.
The following persons, proposed by Mr. Hart for membership, were elected:
Miss Alys M. Goforth, Baton Rouge, La.
Mr. J. M. Pilcher, Marksville, La.
THE STORY OF MARKSVILLE, LA.
By JOE MITCHELL PILCHER. . Let us set back the hands of the clock of Time some two or three centuries, after which we shall unroll the map of the great continent of North America and look upon it as it was then. Beyond the Alleghanies to the majestic Father of Waters, let your eyes wander. Then glance down this mighty river to the mouth of the Red, where the two streams are confluent. There let your eyes rest.
Before you a beautiful prairie rolls and stretches to the land of the setting sun. It is an unshorn field, boundless and beautiful, a region whose every object wears the image of its Maker. His Spirit—the Great Spirit-speaks in the roars of its mighty rivers and moves in the wind as it “wakes to ecstacy the tall grass of the great prairie of Avoyelles.
All up and down this prairie roamed the wolf and bear. In the tall grass lurked and skulked the dusky savage, and the earth was made to tremble as the vast. herds of bison and buffalo swept cyclone-like across this beautiful and romantic prairie.
The original denizens of this Garden of God were the Avoyelles, a tribe once puissant but long since departed. The Avoyelles proudly boasted of a classic antiquity in their supposed descent from the Aztecs. However, this is a question of grave doubt and speculative debate. If not classic in history, the country of the Avoyelles is at least classic and historic in soil, for the legions of De Soto, the missionary crusaders of France, and the British regulars crossed its borders and traversed its plains.
The word “Avoyelles” signifies “People of the Rocks," and was ascribed to them by Iberville, who sojourned with the tribe several days. But the origin of the word is lost in obscurity. However, it is the supposition of a few that its derivation arose from the fact that the Avoyelles secured flint from the Arkansas and traded it to the neighboring tribes.
In 1700 Iberville met forty Avoyelles warriors in the village of the Houmas, offering their services to suppress an invasion of the formidable Choctaws. From the Avoyelles Iberville learned that they once lived with the Natchez, but because of the perpetual wars which raged among them they were forced to leave the Natchez and live elsewhere. They crossed the Mississippi and came over to what is now Avoyelles Parish.
St. Denis, who figures prominently in the early history of Natchitoches, met the Avoyelles in 1714 on his way to Mexico in company with Penicaut. La Harpe, the French explorer and historian, speaking of them, says:
“On the 21st we became aware of some savage hunters to the left of Red River. I sent one of my pirogues to find them; they were of the tribe of Avoyelles. They made us some presents of quarters of bear and deer. I kept them many days in order to hunt. They killed for me ten deer and a bear, a quantity of bustards, ducks, some rabbits and many squirrels; they also caught many fish for me. I made them a present of two guns.”
Du Pratz, another French historian of the period, states that the Avoyelles were middlemen in trading horses between the Mexicans and the French.
Like all other Indians, the Avoyelles were of a restless nature, and they wandered from place to place.' They lived at