On April 22, 1862, nothing was more frightening for a resident of New Orleans, white or black, than the Yankees coming. The Emancipation Proclamation had not been issued. Federal troops were not yet seen as protectors of the black residents. Clara Solomon was very patriotic. She was also a dedicated reader of the newspapers, often consuming more than one newspaper per day. By April 22, 1862, she knew the Union forces were literally at the gate. They were bombarding the forts at the mouth of the Mississippi – just downriver from the port of New Orleans. On the same day, the reports from the bloody Battle of Shiloh rolled into the Crescent City. The city knew in a deep, palpable way that the toll on young New Orleans men was indeed great.
Her neighbor and close family friend, Sammy Nathan, was a member of the Crescent Artillery, a militia unit. The militia units today come with a reputation of avoiding service. But, Sammy was different. He was a patriot. He was quite prepared to offer his life to defend New Orleans. He was prepared to follow his regiment to “h—l,” wrote the young diarist. Sammy was over 35 years and, therefore, free from the Confederate Conscription Act. But, Sammy was determined to do his part. Clara herself was dedicated to her country and equally patriotic. She would expect no less from her friend and a close friend of the entire Solomon family, Sammy Nathan.
Both the Solomons and Nathans were Jewish. But, that did not cool their patriotic zeal one bit.
Elliott Ashkenazi , ed., The Civil War Diary of Clara Solomon (Baton Rouge: LSU Press 1995), p. 208, 338.