Butler Calls on Mrs. Beauregard

Life under occupation meant new surprises every day. On June 10, 1862, Clara was shocked that their neighbor, Sam Nathan had been arrested for murder. The Nathans were more than neighbors. They were like family. The Solomons did everything with the Nathans. Fortunately, he was cleared of the charge within a day or two. But, when the law enforcement is wielded by the enemy, fear rises exponentially.

Within a day, Clara records that the evil Gen. Butler called on Mrs. Beauregard, the wife of the great hero of the Crescent City, Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard. Gen. Beauregard was the  “national” hero of New Orleans before, during and after the war. Clara remarked that like a lady (“some think”), Mrs. Beauregard received him politely. Gen. Butler commented on Gen. Beauregard’s talent and bravery, but added it was a shame his talent was mis-directed.

Victory Meant Casualties

Clara thrilled to hear of Confederate victories in Virginia, apparently referring to the actions in the Shenandoah Valley. Yet, with the victory, a close family friend, Mrs, Gardner fretted over the fate of her two sons then serving in Virginia.

The Solomons heard that their good friend and neighbor, Adolphe Mazareau, the newly elected sheriff, would be sent not to the prison at Ft. Jackson, but sent much further away, up the Mississippi river. Clara watched unseen as the carriage bore their neighbor, Mr. Mazareau to some distant prison. He had been arrested for supposedly anti-Union activity, but with no apparent evidence. That was “justice” under Gen. Butler. It was a “sorrowful” sight as he was hauled away.


Elliott Ashkenazi , ed., The Civil War Diary of Clara Solomon (Baton Rouge: LSU Press 1995), p. 8, 402-406.

Here Come the Yankees

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 yet 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.

Clara and Sammy were Jewish. But, this invasion inspired patriotism among all.

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

Clara, p. 208, 338.