Selma Morning Reporter, issue of October 20, 1863, Vol. 5, No. 298:
BY BILLY BUTTON
Demopolis, Saturday, October 17
To-day has been a grand occasion in Demopolis. President Davis and staff arrived here by the Eastern train, and was welcomed by a vast concourse of citizens and soldiers – the sweet strains of a military band, and a salute of thirteen guns by Moore’s battery. The President, Gen. Johnston, Lieut. Gen. Hardee and Hon. F. S. Lyon, rode to the residence of the latter in a handsome phaeton followed by a number of open carriages containing the President’s and Gen. Johnston’s and Hardee’s staffs. At 3 o’clock the President, accompanied by a splendid cortege, reviewed the brigades of Gen. Cockrell, Gen. Pettus and Gen. Moore. The line was formed on one of the main streets of the town, and was nearly a mile long. The troops made a creditable appearance and elicited the highest commendation from the Chief Magistrate. Each regiment, as the President reached its colors, presented arms and ensign, and greeted the President with rapturous cheers. When the President came opposite the colors of the 1st Missouri (Bowen’s regiment), he halted and made a few stirring remarks as follows: “Gallant Missourians! I look with sadness upon your reduced ranks, and feel it a high honor to be in the presence of such chivalrous soldiers. I have heard of your heroism upon the bloody fields of the West, and must express to you the high regard which I cherish for your privations and positive sufferings in the cause of Liberty. I thank you from the deepest seat of my heart – from every fibre, for your dauntless courage and untiring devotion to our common cause. Best assured that I express but the sentiments of our entire countrymen when I address you in the most fervid terms of gratitude and admiration. You have but to be true to the past, and the memory of your ascended Chief, yet to see the realization of your proudest desires for our country. May you live to see the flag of our infant republic the ensign of a great nation floating proudly among the national colors of the world! When this vision of joy is yours, it will be due to your own brave hearts and stout arms. Again, I thank you!
The whole scene of the review was inspiring, and so enthusiastic upon the part of the soldiers, as to cause all croakers to hide their diminished heads for shame. The President and suite left on a special train for the West. Wherever he goes he will revive the hearts of our braves. “One blast on his bugle horn is worth ten thousand men”.
We have been attending occasionally during the past week a protracted meeting in progress in an Alabama brigade. The exercises have proven highly interesting and profitable. It is a majestic sight to see the heroes of the battlefield enlisting under the banner of the cross – the Sons of Mars becoming the subjects of the Prince of Peace. The meetings are held in a grove – “God’s first temple” – by a “dim religious light”, and impress one most seriously. The soldiers are very attentive, and many profess a saving faith in Christ. The Rev. C. W. Miller, missionary of the Methodist Church to Hill’s corps, has been spending a week preaching with great acceptance to the soldiers of the Alabama and Missouri brigades. He is a Kentuckian and was for weeks a wounded prisoner in the hands of the Federals. Such men have ready access to the soldiers’ hearts. We knew him in Kentucky and can truly say, “there is no discount on him”. He has “suffered the loss of all things” in his devotion to the high and holy principles of this revolution. As a fellow sufferer we tender him our most tender sympathies. May we both live to see our native State disenthralled and a bright star in the Southern Confederacy!
We have had the pleasure of witnessing Col. Shelley’s regiment on dress parade. They made a most creditable appearance. Col. Shelley stands deservedly high with his regiment, and there would not have been a murmur in the brigade had he been appointed general. In his presence all the world might stand up and say, “Behold a man!” Col. Pettus has been appointed general of this brigade. The officers and men hail the appointment with pleasure. His senior colonels acquiesce in his promotion with considerable grace. We hear one of the colonels of the brigade express the opinion hat the retaking of the captured parapet at Vicksburg, under his direction, was the most gallant act of the war.
On last Saturday the new Confederate flag was hoisted at the arsenal. A salute of thirteen guns was fired under the direction of Capt. Jones, of the artillery. The affair was conducted with so much privacy that some of our timid citizens upon haring the booming of the cannon, thought that the enemy had made a sudden descent upon our village. For the information of such “scarry persons”, we would say that we have 5,000 troops armed cap a pied, an impregnable line of fortifications, etc., and that they may rest perfectly secure.
On Friday evening we had another grand review of all the troops at this place by Gen. Jos. E. Johnston. Gen. Hardee was also present. After the review, the Missouri troops went through various evolutions, including a charge, much to the entertainment of the vast concourse assembled. On Monday afternoon another review will take place. It is expected that the President will be present.
These reviews are attended by large numbers of people form the surrounding country and neighboring towns.
On Friday night O’Neill’s cornet band serenaded Gen. Johnston. The occasions serve to enliven our village, and to keep military order at a high pitch.