Courting and Singing the “Bonnie Blue Flag”

A couple of weeks later, near the end of the Summer, Clara is still broken-hearted that her hero, “Robert” Wheat fell at the Battle of Manassas. She tries to tell herself that it was a dream, but she knows it was true.

Her spirits are lifted when her friend, Annie leads a visit to one of the Spanish warships. There were Spanish warships in the port, after a mission to Mexico. One of Clara’s neighbors, Zulma Vienne, was being courted by a Spanish naval officer. Clara was charmed by the three midshipmen on the ship. They played the piano and sang songs. Of course, they sang the “Bonnie Blue Flag.” They ladies wrote their names for the officers, and the officers did the same for the ladies. The three officers promised to visit the ladies.

At the end of her diary, her thoughts went back to her dear Robert. She prayed that he and Clara would meet in Heaven. Clara did not mention that Roberdeau Wheat was Christian and she was Jewish. She promised to find for him a robe. And, that remark drew her diary to an end in the late Summer of 1862.

Paper was short in 1862 New Orleans. Clara may have kept other journals, but they have not found their way into modern times. For decades, Clara’s fate was unknown. But, eventually, she was located. She married an older man – by twenty years – after the war. Two years later, her husband died. She re-married again and had four daughters. When Clara died in 1907, the New Orleans Picayune recorded that she left “grief-stricken friends and four inconsolable daughters.” Her friends, said the newspaper, would cherish the memory of her brilliant mind and gentle heart.

Her dear father would die in 1874 at the relatively young age of 58, in difficult financial circumstances. His time as sutler for the Confederate army did not result in the financial success he had hoped. But, we expect his family loved him all the same.

Elliott Ashkenazi, ed., The Civil War Diary of Clara Solomon (Baton Rouge: LSU Press 1995), p. 12, 436-444.

 

 

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