Friday, September 9, 2016

Diary of Sergeant George G. Smith: February 9, 1863

This day will be remembered by the First Louisiana by the event of raising the flag on the new fort. It was now about completed. Six large 24 pound cannon had been mounted on the parapets, and our company(C) had been detailed to man the guns. It was what is termed a (star fort) having salient and re-enterant angles. Two sides were protected by the river and bayou Lafourche. The others by a deep moat or ditch nicely bricked up inside. The parapet was made of sand and nicely turfed: ambrasures being left for the guns; Altogether it presented a very pretty appearance. The raising of the flag and christning of the fort was in this wise, by 10 o'clock a. m., the regiment was formed in square around the flag pole in the center of the fort with officers, ladies and citizens in the center. An interesting young lady by the name of Miss Weber was selected to preside on the occasion. A table was placed in the center on which the flag rested with the halyards attached. The men were stationed at the guns- Everything being in readiness, an officer passed the bottle of champagne to Miss Weber. At the signal she smashed the bottle spilling the contents on the flag, at the same time exclaiming “I christen thee Fort Butler”. This done the flag ascended slowly to the peak of the mast, amid the booming of cannon, soul stiring strains of the “Star Spangled Banner”, by the band, and shouting of the spectators. This lasted about twenty minutes, when we were entertained with a speech by the chaplain and Col. Holcomb. The latter told the people of Donaldsonville, “That was the flag under which their fathers had fought for freedom. It was the flag, under the protection of whose ample folds, their little city had sprung up from the wilderness like the garden of Eden. But since they had forsaken its protection, and with inpious hands had torn it from its place, their city had “become as Sodom and like unto Gomorrah.” “He closed by saying that, “Whoever attempted to pull that flag down, he would shoot him on the spot.”

SOURCE: Abstracted from George G. Smith, Leaves from a Soldier's Diary, p. 37-8

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