“No Irish Need Apply”

New Orleans newspapers, like many newspapers across the country, saw their share of “No Irish Need Apply” warnings. J.C. Prendergast, the Irish born editor, must have seen them. But, one day, it was just too much for him. He thundered on the pages of the Daily Orleanian at the rank prejudice. He noted that the London Times, known as the “Thunderer of Printing House Square” often carried such advertisements. “No Irish need apply.” “No papists wanted.” “Protestants only accepted.” “A Church of England coachman will hear of a good situation.” Those hiring criteria would appear in the London Times want ads, Prendergast tells us.

But, he was deeply offended that one such ad also appeared in the New Orleans Picayune: “A wet nurse wanted. None need apply but a Protestant. Call at 117 Common Street.” Prendergast finds this deeply offensive. Or, another ad: “Wanted – a female of English or American extraction, at one of the boarding schools of the city!” Prendergast shouts. He asks which school, so he can advise the French, German, Spanish or Irish parents to send their children to that school. He asks if the British hostility and influence has so matured here in the U.S.?

And, who was at 117 Common Street? According to the 1851 City Directory, Edward Davis, cotton broker, Thomas Henderson (firm Chery, Henderson & Co., commission merchants), John Williams, commission merchant, worked at that address. Each of those men likely earned a good living as cotton brokers or as commission merchants.  Even if Prendergast did know these particular persons in a city of over 116,000, he would have known what sort of businesses occupied that address. He chose not to call out their names, but he published their address.

Prendergast was rightly upset, but the “No Irish need apply” ads persisted well into the nineteenth century in New Orleans newspapers.


New Orleans Daily Orleanian, Dec. 5, 1850, p. 2, col. 1

“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.” The 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. Perhaps, it did not occur to her 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.

Paper was short in 1862 New Orleans. Clara may have kept other journals, but they have not found their way into modern history. 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 her 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 for which 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.

Maj. Wheat Falls

The worst that could happen did happen. At the Second Battle of Manassas, Maj. Wheat fell. The worst thing for Clara would have been the loss of her father. But, losing her beloved Roberdeau Wheat was a close second. I previously wrote about Maj. Wheat here.

He was a close friend of the Solomon family. More than that, he was a dashing, gallant man who genuinely cared for the two Solomon sisters, Clara and Alice. Clara adored the man for his kindness. On hearing the news, she was disbelieving. He was so brave, so impetuous, she knew. Clara speculated that he may have died thinking about his mother with his “affectionate” heart.

Maj. Wheat’s death meant the end of the Louisiana Tigers, the name given to Wheat’s Special Battalion. But, in one young woman’s heart, Maj. Wheat lived ever again.


Elliott Ashkenazi , ed., The Civil War Diary of Clara Solomon (Baton Rouge: LSU Press 1995), p. 12, 432-433.

The New Revolution

A couple of days later on July 3, 1862, Clara was again feeling patriotic. She was certain Gen. Beauregard was the new father of the country and would lead the South to victory. Yet, she mentioned, he had been removed from command. She fervently believed, as did most New Orleanians at the time, that Beauregard was the second George Washington, a new “Father of the country.” Most white Southerners at the time firmly believed they were engaged in a second American revolution.

Eugenia Phillips

She learned that day that Mrs. Eugenia Phillips, the mother of Clara’s good friend, Beauty Phillips, had been arrested by the Provost Marshal. Gen. Butler sent her to Ship Island. The island was a small island off the coast of Louisiana. It was and still is a simple barrier island. Her stated offense was to laugh from her balcony as the funeral procession of 1LT George DeKay passed by. It made no difference to Beast Butler that Mrs. Phillips was presiding over a children’s party on the balcony. Mrs. Phillips (nee Levy) was married to Philip Phillips, a former Congressman from Alabama. They had evacuated to New Orleans during the war. Philip Phillips was a good friend of Judah Benjamin, the Secretary of War for the Confederacy. The Benjamins and the Phillips were prominent members of the Jewish community in New Orleans.

Eugenia Phillips was also patriotic. When Gen. Butler asked her why she was laughing as the funeral procession passed by, she replied, “I was in good spirits that day.” She could have told him about the children’s party. But, she preferred to antagonize the general. Eugenia was an ardent secessionist, more so than her husband

Gen. Butler also learned that in the years leading up to the war, Mrs. Phillips was one of the ladies in Pres. Buchanan’s “boudoir cabinet.” That meant she supported secession and supported the expansion of slavery. The general suggested she apologize. She refused, saying she intended no insult. The general then flew into a rage and accused her of teaching the nine children at the party to spit on Federal officers.

Ship Island

In revenge, the general issued orders sending her to Ship Island. The general said explicitly that she was a “common” woman, meaning she would be treated as a prostitute. The city was shocked. Clara was deeply offended. She loved her good friend, Beauty Phillips. What Clara did not mention, perhaps it was just too difficult even for her diary, was that Gen. Butler did not care for Jews. It is not clear if he was actually anti-semitic, but historians agree he did not care for persons who happened to be Jewish.

There were some 60 prisoners consigned to Ship Island. A bookseller received two years because he displayed the skeleton of what he claimed to be a dead Union soldier in the window of his shop. The general closed his shop. A druggist was chained to a ball working on the island’s fortifications because he tried to try to smuggle quinine into the City. The publisher of the Daily Delta was sent to the island because he used seditious language and tried to investigate the general’s penal system. Mrs. Phillips lived in an open box car, exposed to the heat and the mosquitoes.

Mother of Nine

The City and most of the South were offended regarding Mrs. Phillips, because the punishment was so severe, and also because Mrs. Phillips was mother to nine children. The mother of nine would be released by the general a few months later on Sept. 14, after much public pressure. Mrs. Phillips employed much more skill at public relations than Gen. Butler. She wrote frequent letters to friends which were well-circulated, describing the harsh conditions on the island. Truly, the general succeeded in doing what the secessionists could not, he united the white citizens of the City against the Union forces.

Yet, Clara also recorded that day that she went on a long walk with another friend, Alice Jarreau, a Catholic. They saw Yankee soldiers, but due to Alice’s timidity, they made no protest toward the soldiers. They engaged in a spirited discussion on religion, but then went home. Clara could not help noticing the handsome officers on Gen. Butler’s staff. The general had seized a home in the Garden District for his headquarters. Doubtless, she had walked past his headquarters. In the end, it was a good day for Clara, except for Eugenia Phillips.


Chester G. Hearn, When the Devil Came Down to Dixie (Baton Rouge: LSU Press 1997), pp. 142, 169-170.

Elliott Ashkenazi , ed., The Civil War Diary of Clara Solomon (Baton Rouge: LSU Press 1995), p. 12, 429-431.

Operation Lone Star Fails Principles of Leadership

The Texas Military Department has activated at least 6500 members of the Texas National Guard, and perhaps as many as 10,000. Remarkably, they called some soldiers to active duty with only two or three days notice. In numerous news reports, Guardsmen have reported they are vastly under-employed. One Guardsman was quoted as saying all he has seen are fishermen. They call the mission Operation Lone Star. Since these soldiers were not activated through an Army post, they lack essential equipment. As recently as the freeze in early February, many soldiers lacked cold weather gear.

Operation Lone Star violates several principles of leadership, as taught by the U.S. Army. These principles were first developed in 1948 by World War II veterans. These principles ate battle tested. They are time tested.

“Know your soldiers and look out for their well-being”

The Texas Military Department (TMD) flunks this principle in a big way. Pulling Guardsmen from their lives for an under-employed mission with no foreseeable end date is the opposite of looking out for the well-being of part-time soldiers. Add to that, a miserable provision of Class II (personal equipment and clothing) and VIII (medical) items simply sets the soldiers up for failure, and encourages illness and injuries – again, the opposite of “looking out for their well-being.”

“Keep your subordinates informed”

Nothing is more fundamental than explaining to troops why a particular mission is important. If you cannot do that, you are not a leader, and the “mission” is not a mission. The bigger the mission and the more urgent the call-up, the greater the need for explanation. The TMD wholly flunks this critical principle of leadership. The TMD leadership has not explained to the Guardsmen and women why the mission is important. That omission may be due to the political window-dressing aspect of the mission.

“Ensure the task is understood, supervised, and accomplished”

One of the major issues with the Viet Nam War was the failure of field grade officers checking on their troops in the bush. Operation Lone Star was created by Gov. Abbott and MG Norris. It is their baby. They should be visiting troops and observing first-hand the quality of its execution. Those two non-leaders have compounded the leadership vacuum seen in the Viet Nam War ten fold. MG Norris and Gov. Abbott have only visited the border once since the activation became mandatory.

When the leader sends a soldier down range, s/he must be with them as much as possible. A good leader is always seen somewhere. The more complicated and controversial the mission, the more leaders need to be involved. Not less.

Yankees Everywhere

The Yankees were everywhere. If they were in Clara’s neighborhood, some 20 blocks from the city center, then they were everywhere in New Orleans. Clara and her friends and family often encountered the Yankee soldiers on their forays into the City. On July 1, 1862, Clara gloried in the Summer months and their daily rain showers. She lamented the lack of flour in the City’s markets. Simply walking in her neighborhood, she and her sister, Alice, saw some Yankee soldiers. Clara could not resist the temptation to give them “some tongue” – which likely meant they stuck their tongues out at them. Her sister Alice did not approve. But, Clara was always the patriot.


Elliott Ashkenazi , ed., The Civil War Diary of Clara Solomon (Baton Rouge: LSU Press 1995), p. 427-428.

School Ends

School ended June 27, 1862. We might think Clara would be thrilled. She did not enjoy school. She was a senior, so this was the end of her school career. Yet, she was depressed by the end of school. There was no real news in the newspapers. None of the newspapers published news like her beloved Delta. More likely, she was simply tired from end of the year exams.

Or, as Clara indicated in the entry for the following day, she may have been depressed because she knew she may never see some of her dear friends, again. Families were slipping out of New Orleans frequently, to avoid the Yankees and to escape the economic straits. On June 29, she visited her sister, Alice’s school and noted Alice herself hesitated to dismiss her students, since this was the last school day and she might never see her students, again. Never is a long time.

Clara’s spirit brightened when a friend came with news that France had recognized the Confederate States of America. She believed England would not be far behind. She could not yet know France had not recognized the CSA and that no country would ever recognize the CSA. This was more fake news in a city accustomed to false rumors.

Ice Cream

She went downtown with her sister and a male friend, Leo. They had ice cream at Vincent’s. There was a Vincent’s Confectionary at 67 St. Peter, in what we would describe today as the French Quarter.

Seeing some Yanks, she made faces at one young soldier. The female war on the invaders was just starting in June, 1862. Later, seeing the Federal sentinel, she and her sister, Alice, not only made faces at the guard, but Clara also lifted up her dress, touched her nose with her handkerchief. She and Alice then talked about yellow fever and the night air as they passed the young soldier. They hoped to frighten the soldier with the dangers of the Southern city. Most people of the day believed that yellow fever was more common among new immigrants. Clara, like most New Orleanians, believed a yellow fever epidemic would affect the new Union soldiers more than long-time residents. Clara concluded the evening was very entertaining. They had ice cream and they found opportunity to inflict some vengeance on the invaders.


Elliott Ashkenazi , ed., The Civil War Diary of Clara Solomon (Baton Rouge: LSU Press 1995), p. 423-427.

Yankee Land

The New Orleans economy apparently was improving a bit. Hoops for skirts were suddenly available at a much reduced price. They came from “Yankee land,” said Clara. Clara commented briefly that there was no point in refusing to buy Yankee products when most folks were buying the much cheaper hoops. Even Clara’s patriotism had its limits. Clara was experiencing the improved economy in New Orleans after the Yankee occupation. The city could resume its trade with Northern cities and international ports.

Clara’s anger toward Gen. Butler did not subside. In her entry for June 22, 1862, she day dreamed about every lady in New Orleans throwing a rope around his neck and giving it a good pull.

Clara enjoyed a bowl of okra soup, perhaps referring to what we refer today as okra gumbo. It was the first of the season. Clara was Jewish, of course. She attended school. The school held session on Saturdays. Even though she often did not attend temple, she did not go to school on Saturdays. So, she was quite relieved when she was nevertheless promoted to her senior year. She was quite worried.

Little Josie was practicing her talking, “Jepp Dabis and Beaudegard,” apparently re-living her encounter with the Yankee soldier.


Elliott Ashkenazi , ed., The Civil War Diary of Clara Solomon (Baton Rouge: LSU Press 1995), p. 8, 419-421.

Texas Leaders Abuse the Texas National Guard

When I was called to active duty in 2003, we had exactly 5 days notice. But, our leadership had dropped heavy hints two months prior. And, that activation was classified. It was “super secret.” Still, we had those precious two months to change our lives.

Many soldiers in Operation Lone Star just had two days notice. In Sept, 2021, Gov. Abbott expanded what had been a  volunteer mission. He called for an additional 1500 troops in September. In October, he called for another 2500 Guardsmen. On Sept. 22, 2021, Tucker Carlson demanded the governor come on his show and explain why Gov. Abbott had not called out the Texas Guard. The Governor responded by calling up the equivalent of one Brigade. A brigade generally includes about 5,000 soldiers. Gov. Abbott went all in to protect our border.  Later, Gov. Abbott said they would have 10,000 Guardsmen on the border. That number comes near the size of an entire Division.

Yes, there is a problem on the border. Does it really need 10,000 Guardsmen?

He Sat on his Ass

What do those soldiers do? Many report they have simply sat around doing nothing. One unidentified soldier had his own business when he was called up. During the two wars in the 2000’s, the Guard and Reserve typically received 1-2 year’s notice for an activation. This young soldier with his own business received three day’s notice. Three days to drop his life and start a new one. He said that when he arrived at the border, he sat on his “ass” for days doing nothing. Then, he was sent home after three weeks. In other words, he was deactivated. But, as the Army Times explains, “. . .it may be too late to save his business. He says he still hasn’t found a new project and had to sell his company’s van to pay his mortgage, car payments and business loans.”

One member of the elite Air Force cyber operations unit said they are “sitting at a watch point for hours on end with their thumbs up their ass doing nothing,” a member of the cyber unit said.

Impacts Families Forever

Gov. Abbott gains some political cover with this activation. But, it impacts these families forever. Unlike every state activation since probably World War II, this activation was mandatory. The Texas Adjutant General treats this activation like a war zone activation. If a soldier does not appear when called, they are subject to arrest. Two soldiers committed suicide almost certainly due to the family hardships caused by this mandatory activation.

Lack Essential Equipment

Even today, many Guardsmen on the border lack body armor and helmets. Some lack ammunition. The Governor apparently wants to downplay the dangerous aspects of the mission. Narco-terrorists fire a few rounds at the Guardsmen every so often. See Army Times news report here.

Many Guardsmen still lack cold weather gear. That means they lack cold weather boots, parkas and underwear. When I went to Iraq in 2005, cold weather gear was a large part of my two duffel bags. Unlike the Federal call-ups during the 2000’s, the Texas Guard folks were not activated through a U.S. Army post. They have not had and still do not have access to the post facilities that issue everything from cold weather gear to IBA’s (Individual Body Armor). The Texas Guard is just not set up to maintain large stocks of personal gear.

Lack of Leadership at the Top

The Texas Adjutant General, MG Tracy Norris, ought to have warned the Governor about this. It is her job to tell him that his expectations are not realistic and may cause unnecessary harm to soldiers. When we take that oath, we assume there will be privation. But, hardship to work a psuedo-mission is incredibly deceptive. Worse, it will cause the retention rates for the Texas Guard to plummet. The Texas Guard may never recover from this blow to recruiting and retention. In the October – December, 2021 time frame, the retention rate dropped to 65%. Compare that to a normal 90-95% retention rate for the Army National Guard. But, as the complete lack of leadership has become apparent, even that low retention rate will surely drop much further.

In all my time in the Reserves and National Guard, we often said this like a mantra, “the civilian job comes first.” The Texas Guard has turned that motto on its head.

And, all this, so Gov. Abbot will win his next election.