Things have changed. Today, invoking the name of Albert Sidney Johnston, former Confederate general, and most people think racist or terrorist. But, on April 10, 1862, Clara Solomon had a far different reaction. She described him as a “nice noble” man and as a patriot. He was killed at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862. When his body was transported to New Orleans, she could not bring herself to stand in line with her mother and a close neighbor – to view the casket and soldiers passing by. “Stand there a length of time to see what? Soldiers, and a hearse! No, my heart was aching while at home, and why should I stand among the eager, unfeeling crowd, whose sympathies would not be awakened as the car which contained the remnants of a nice noble man rode by.”
As the blockade of the New Orleans port tightened, she also missed her butter. It was, she said, as though a friend had departed. By April, 1862, the Solomon family’s last butter ran out months ago.
But, then she grew serious again when she recounted that after the casualty lists started to pour in, she knew many families would not leave their homes. In the nineteenth century, those mourning a lost family member would typically stay home and not venture out. After this battle near the Shiloh church in Tennessee, the most bloody conflict ever known on this continent many New Orleanians did indeed stay home.
Before the war, Albert Sidney Johnston and Robert E. Lee were generally considered the most talented of a younger generations of officers. Gen. Johnston was unique in that he had served in the armies of three different nations: the United States, the Republic of Texas, and in the Confederate States of America.
Gen. Johnston had resigned his commission as a young officer, to care for his ill wife. He farmed for a time in Missouri while caring for her. Despite his efforts, his first wife died while still very young. Yes, Clara, he was indeed a nice, noble man.
See the Texas State Historical Association website here for more informaiton about Gen. Johnston.
Elliott Ashkenazi , ed., The Civil War Diary of Clara Solomon (Baton Rouge: LSU Press 1995), p. 325-326.