Taken from the Selma (Ala.) Morning Reporter, Aug. 5, 1863 --
July 4th, 1863 – Vicksburg had fallen! A strange calm fell over the embattlements of the beleaguered city, so recently the scene of the din and clamor of battle. No longer the thunder of cannon, the continuous shriek of shells, the hum of their descending fragments, the keen whistle of Minnie balls as they sped on their death missions, echoed among the surrounding hills. Clouds float lazily across the blue summer sky. Grouped together were friends and foes; the gray, earth-soiled uniforms of the Confederates in strange contrast with the neat blue dress of the Federals as seeking shelter from the summer heat, they quietly discussed the events of the siege, the issues of the war and the probabilities of the hidden future. Strange anomaly in human character which thus changes bitter foes into social companions! A week passed by. Paroles were at last furnished to all, and with an unutterable sense of relief and freedom, the unfortunate but brave and heroic defenders of Vicksburg turn their backs upon the city, where they had so long suffered, so obstinately confronted overwhelming legions of the foe. “Homeward bound!” With throbbing and lightened hearts, weakened frames, strengthened by the hope of meeting the dear ones from whom they had so long been separated, turn they away from the fallen city. For days after the departure of the army from Vicksburg, a small squad of Louisianans might have been seen making their way Eastward, in a direct line across Mississippi towards Alabama. Travel-sunned, covered with dust and perspiration, they pressed forward through Raymond, Brandon, Morton towards Meridian, receiving little kindness from those between whose homes and the vandal foe they had so long bared their bosoms. Let the veil of charity cover the treatment which Confederate soldiers received at the hands of Mississippians. There were noble exceptions, however. Nearing the Alabama line, they were received with cordial welcome and kindly greeted by Dr. Welsh, of Old Town. Tendering to them the hospitalities of his mansion, he made these weary and broken-down soldiers realize that they were once more among friends. With lightened hearts and strengthened frames they pushed forward into Alabama – strangers in a strange State. Here on all sides they met with a reception never dreamed of by soldiers unaccustomed only to the hard fare and rough usage of camp life. The people vied with each other in acts of kindness and hospitalities. Fair ladies at home, as well as in the highways, tendered them, rough and travel-stained as they were, the welcome of their princely mansions. Furnishing them their private conveyances, feasting them on the luxuries of the season, with kind wishes and heartfelt prayers for their success and safe arrival among friends, forwarded them towards their destination. To Mr. G. A. Arrington and Mr. Grover, of Forkland, Mr. John Steadman, Mr. James Brown, Mr. Sadler, scores of fair ladies and patriotic men, in Livingston and Greensboro, do these Louisianans owe a debt of gratitude, which can only be repaid by a renewed energy and determination to expel the vandal foe from our sunny land. Exiles from their State and homes through the misfortunes of war, strangers in Alabama, not soon will be effaced from their minds the kindness and cordiality extended to them on all sides. As rain upon the arid and dusty earth, all unasked, fell this spontaneous offering of true Southern sympathy upon the hearts and souls of these wandering sons of Louisiana, making their recent hardships and suffering resemble some hideous dream of the past, all unreal, impossible, gilding with a rosine hue the fleeting moments of the present and making the hot and dusty road to homes and relatives a pathway full of happy hours and pleasant reminiscences. To the overflowing hospitality, kind sympathy and good feelings of Alabama’s fair daughters and noble men do we pay this public tribute of remembrance. As an oasis in the desert waste, a golden ray of sunlight from dark clouds overhead, these reminiscences shall become bright spots in memory to illumine the monotony of our soldier-lives and brighten and bless future hardships and sufferings.
W. H. T.
3d Louisiana Infantry
MARION, Ala., Aug. 4, 1863