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star would easily stand out among forty-eight others, at once identifying that regiment as a certain State in the Union.
Whatever the army man may think, the lay-private will, no doubt, be glad to know his own bright, particular star in this great American constellation, and his soul should thrill to the song: “Long may it wave o'er the land of the Free and the home of the Brave.”
MEETING OF JUNE, 1917. The regular monthly meeting of the Louisiana Historical Society took place Tuesday, June 19, with President Cusachs presiding.
The minutes of the previous meeting were read and approved.
The following persons applied for membership in the Society and were unanimously elected:
E. W. Burgis, 222 Elmira Avenue.
Mrs. Wyndham A. Lewin, 2110 Bayou Road. Mr. Dymond reported that the first number of the Louisiana Historical Quarterly had just been issued and was now being sent out to members not in arrears by the Corresponding Secretary.
There being no reports of committees, Major Allison Owen was introduced and read his well-prepared and very interesting paper on the “History of the Washington Artillery.”
A unanimous vote of thanks was tendered to Major Owen for his splendid contribution to local history, and the paper was ordered printed in the proceedings of the Society.
Mr. Watson, one of the oldest surviving members of the Washington Artillery, was present, and was asked by Mr. Hart to make a few remarks, which he gracefully did.,
Mr. Hart suggested that in view of the urgent need of the Red Cross for funds with which to carry on the work, the Society appropriate fifty dollars in aid of the organization of the Red
Cross work. This suggestion was put in the form of a resolution and was unanimously carried.
Mr. Thompson asked to present a short paper on the subject of the American Flag, entitled “Old Glory, the Flag of Prophecy.” The permission was granted, and the paper proved to be a very charming contribution to the history of the United States. Mr. Thompson was thanked for the paper.
Mr. Hart told of his visit to Philadelphia on Flag Day, June 14th, and stated that he had been asked by Mayor Smith to raise the State flag of Louisiana on Independence Hall on that day at the same time that the United States flag was raised, the band playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Dixie.”
Mr. Thompson stated that the American flag is now the oldest national flag in existence.
General Booth called attention to the fact that the Washington Artillery had done good service in the field in Louisiana and Mississippi, during the flood of 1912, looking after the refugees and hospitals, Major Owen being in active charge.
General Booth also called attention to the fact that the cannon resting on the pedestal in front of Memorial Hall was used in active service during the Civil War, and was christened the Lady Slocomb by the Washington Artillery.
Mr. Cusachs stated that he had represented the Louisiana Historical Society at the reception of the Italian Commission at the dinner which was given on the same day. The meeting then adjourned.
ROBERT GLENK, Secretary Pro Tempore.
HISTORY OF THE WASHINGTON ARTILLERY.
By MAJOR ALLISON OWEN. It is indeed a rare privilege which impresses me very much to be asked to speak to your distinguished society within these venerable walls, wherein so many episodes of our history have taken place, and which for many years was the scene of the labors of my predecessor in the command of the Washington Artillery; and to speak on the history of that old command which for the fifth time goes forth to serve a command, the personal call of which has persisted with my family, and with many other New Orleans families, through three generations.
There are many old organizations in the country with distinguished records. There are a few that are older than the Washington Artillery, but most of them have lost their military character, and now exist purely as social organizations. The Washington Artillery, while very old, is still young. It even drinks at the fountain of youth, and while it holds in veneration the record of wonderful achievement of its fathers, it finds in that achievement incentive for emulation and “esprit de corps.” Its. reason for being today is purely for purposes of actively serving our country, and its highest ideal is to prepare itself for any duty which the country may call upon it to perform.
For some reason Louisiana has always been singularly rich in artillery. During the Civil War the State furnished a surprisingly large number of batteries to the Confederate armies. At the opening of the Spanish-American War there were seven batteries of National Guard Artillery, and for several years following there were ten batteries in the city of New Orleans alone. Up to nine years ago this city held five batteries in the service. Before the Washington Artillery was organized there were several batteries in New Orleans which drew their membership from the French or Spanish population, and it was to distinguish the new battery from these that it was first called the Native American Artillery. The exact day of its foundation is not known, but the newspapers of 1838 and 1839 occasionally refer to it or its captain, E. L. Tracey.
In 1841 the battery was attached to a body of American volunteer infantry known as the Washington Battalion, of which C. F. Hozey was Major and J. B. Walton was Adjutant. In 1843 Captain Henry Forno assumed command, Captain Tracey having been promoted to the command of the battalion. The following year three other companies were added and the battalion became the Washington Regiment, under Colonel Persifer F. Smith, who later became a Brigadier-General in the regular establishment. J. B. Walton was the Lieutenant-Colonel.
In 1845 the battery saw its first war service in General Zachary Taylor's army, leaving New Orleans on August 22 for Corpus Christi, equipped with six 6-pounder bronze guns. After three months' duty the battery was relieved by artillery of the
regular army. The following year volunteer infantry was called for and the battery again responded, equipped on this occasion as infantry, and served as Company A of the Washington Regiment, to the command of which Walton had been promoted. It embarked on May 9, 1846, and served' until July 21st, and was commanded by Captain Isaac F. Stockton. The details of these two tours of duty are lacking, as all records prior to 1860 were destroyed when the old armory was fired after the fall of New Orleans during the Civil War. The only note that remains is that it embarked for the front three days after receiving the call:
Shortly after the return from Mexico, the regiment fell to pieces; the battery adopted the regimental name, and has been known ever since as the Washington Artillery. The only relic of this period now preserved is the center of a red silk standard bearing a tiger head, the emblem of the command. The seal and the badge of the active corps are crossed cannon encircled by a belt upon which is inscribed the motto, "Try Us,” and the name of the organization. When and why this motto and seal were adopted is not known. On account of the tiger-head emblem the command is sometimes confused with a regiment of Louisiana infantry which was known during the Civil War as “Wheat's Louisiana Tigers." There is no connection, however, between the two.
During the fifties, the city of New Orleans offered a site for an armory “as long as the Washington Artillery remains in possession of the city's cannon,” and upon the election of Colonel Walton to the command of the battery the building was begun. It was completed in 1858, and the front wall still stands in Girod Street, an interesting example of early armory design. It was the work of a member of the command, William A. Freret, who later became supervising architect of the United States. While the command was absent during the Civil War the property was confiscated, and during the reconstruction days was sold. The organization has never been compensated.
During the Civil War the organization had a long and interesting period of service, opening with the seizure of the United States Arsenal at Baton Rouge on January 10, 1861. The rush to arms at this time is shown in the expansion of the battery into two batteries on January 28, to be followed by further expansion into a battalion of four batteries March 3. On Washington's birthday the Confederate Secretary of War, Judah P. Benjamin, on behalf of the ladies of New Orleans, presented the battalion with an embroidered silk standard, and on May 13, the command volunteered “for the war,” was accepted and mustered in on May 26, as part of the regular army of the Confederate States. The day after it was mustered in it entrained for Richmond, under the command of Major James B. Walton, with W. Miller Owen as Adjutant. The personnel was drawn from the best element of New Orleans, and many were socially and financially prominent. They brought their own equipment of nine guns to Virginia, the six guns used in Mexico with the two 12-pound howitzers, and one 8-pounder rifle. The batteries were known as, First, Second, Third and Fourth Companies, and were commanded by Captain H. M. Isaacson, First Lieutenant C. C. Lewis, Captain M. Buck Miller, and Captain Benjamin Franklin Eshleman, respectively. The battalion arrived in Richmond on June 4, was supplied with horses and placed under the instruction of Lieutenants T. L. Rosser, James Dearing and J. J. Garnet, who were fresh from West Point, and who later rose to high rank in the Confederate army.
Six weeks later, July 18, the Third Company, under Captain Miller, with four 6-pounders, and three rifles of the First Company, under Lieutenant C. W. Squires, drove Battery E, Third U. S. Field Artillery, with two 10-pounder Parrot rifles, two 6-pounder howitzers, and two 6-pounders, together with a platoon of Battery G, Fifth U. S. Field Artillery, with two 20pounder Parrot rifles, from the field at Blackburn's Ford, Bull Run. By a strange coincidence it was the present commanding officer of Battery E, Third Field Artillery, Captain Fred T. Austin, who made the Federal Inspection under which the Washington Artillery mustered in under the Dick Bill in 1909.
In the battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861, the positions of the batteries were as follows:
The Second Company under Lieutenant T. L. Rosser with four 12-pounder howitzers, at Union Mills Ford.
The Third Company, under Captain W. B. Miller, with two 6-pounder smooth bores, at McLean's Ford.
A platoon of the Third Company, under Lieutenant J. J. Garnet, with one 6-pounder, smooth bore, and one 6-pounder rifle, at Blackburn's Ford.