A mob of 16, excited rabble, yelling, hooting, crying "Death to the Yankees"' intent on mischief, forced upon us but one idea, that we were on the brink of a precipice which required but the least suggestion to hurl us all into bloodshed and ruin. In one moment the cry arouse [arose] that the Yankees were approaching under a flag of truce.
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The mayor addressed the enraged mob, impressing upon them the inevitable fate which would overtake the city did one affront befal these officers, saying he had pledged his honor that they the Yanks should be unmolested. Then Mr. Pierre Soule addressed them in judicious words. By this time four navy officers approached, ascending the steps and presenting letters from the chief officer of the fleet, Farragut, I think. These letters were threats, and insisting on taking down the City Hall flag in two hours, or else shelling the city in case of refusal.
In the meanwhile, the mad crowd, no longer listening to reason, were determined on bloodshed, rushing in a mass into the body of the building to seek for these officers, and they were only the more excited when they had reason to believe that fortunately they had escaped, the mayor quietly taking them out of some private exit, and thus saving the city from a fearful retribution.
Both prudence and self-preservation suggested that there was nothing else to do but acquiesce in the demands contained in these letters. Besides, there was an undercurrent taking hold of wise men's thoughts: that it was better for the enemy to rule, rather than the mob. The latter was entirely unmanageable. So the mayor addressed again the crowd, telling them what he had done and preparing them for what was soon to follow: "the entrance into the city of the marines, and the hoisting of the Stars and Stripes.
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The mayor then in heartfelt sympathy advised the people to return quietly to their homes and prove themselves men of honor, as he had given his word that no disorder or riot should interrupt the proceedings. The crowd dispersed, and the citizens, feeling too humiliated at the degradation about to be inflicted, returned to their sad homes, closed in windows and doors, and thus the city already looked like a city of the dead, but few hearts but were bleeding, and eyes but were full of tears.
But this silence was not to be very long.
On the dull heart came sounds as of a mighty power approaching; louder and louder it grew: loud voices, heavy footfalls, angry voices. Timid women, full of nervous fears, gave way to tears. Some, more courageous, ventured to look out to discover for themselves from whence came the threatening noises. Soon enough were all made aware of the approach of another fearful mob, but this time the cry of "Yankees!
The crowd held their voices. The suspense was awful. Two brass cannon, enveloped in the Stars and Stripes, were placed just in front of the City Hall, while marines formed a hollow square, the City Hall making the front. Two officers then advanced quietly, entered the building, tore down the obnoxious state flag, and amidst a silence too suggestive of bitter hate from the crowd, the Stars and Stripes were lifted over the rebellious citizens of N.
One could have heard a pin fall to the ground while the surrounding houses, closed in from all light and sound, proved too surely the suffering hearts within. The scene being over, the Federals being too small a body to take possession of the city, they all the marines wheeled around at the command of their officer.
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As the last Yankee turned with his company, a shout went up from some Southern heart, saying: "Three cheers for Jeff Davis! But the city still remained for two days without a ruler, and my pen fails to make graphic the mad scenes which brought to mind the awful riot of the French Revolution.
Each hour witnessed some fearful lawlessness. Some drunken man shouted "Hurra for Lincoln! This was repeated often during the day.
At another time it was a drunken woman, while cries of "Hang her! But a dreadful tragedy eclipsed all these horrors. The mob were heard advancing.
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On a shutter lay the dead body of a simple-minded youth. He had taken a drum and Confederate flag on the levee. A marine got up in the sail and shot him deliberately thro' the heart. His mother got his body, and her shrieks and those of the mad crowd still seem to ring in my ear. Few can imagine the condition of the citizens during these three days, not knowing from hour to hour what the passions of the rabble might bring upon them.
Hardly had this last tragedy passed under our windows when that dreadful tramp was again heard advancing. On they came, by thousands; three men this time in advance. They held a Federal flag, the one [William B. Mumford and his two friends [at] each side. They came to a rest; then the infuriated mob tore this flag into tatters, each one struggling for a piece, dancing, yelling, howling over the mad act, which was too soon to be fatally expiated.
Butler executed him. On the third day [May 1, ], about noon, the "gallant" Butler entered with 2, men, and we all proved that "desecration is the better part of valor," for sick and worn out with the horrors of mob rule, we were too glad to feel our lives at least safe. So, once more did we feel ourselves under Federal rule, our ideas and experiences considerably enlarged from having felt what this meant.
It would have been unwise in the extreme had we not learnt a useful lesson. So with the determination to keep entirely within doors and [to] avoid all antagonism with the powers that ruled, we kept to this system almost at the sacrifice of health, for we never went out, hearing from visitors that streets and corners were guarded at all points by white and black soldiery. The city now became [came] under military sway, the "valiant" Gen.
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Butler, our master; he, intent on getting our money; we, as determined to keep it. Our solitude was most painful, cut off from reliable news of any kind, both from my family and from the Confederate government. The papers, all in the pay of the Federals, made the news to suit their interests. On one occasion, Butler, having bought up all the Confederate money, had extras [newspapers] printed, to wit, that "the Confederacy had been acknowledged by England, and the United States was soon to follow.
Every day ushered in a new victim to tyranny, generally some wealthy man, or rich woman. They were made to hand over their ill-gotten wealth or take the choice of being thrown into a filthy den. A friend, by name Mrs. Hunter Miss Burroughs of Mississippi , and her husband, a dying man, were accused of secreting Confederate property.
Some negroes, reported to Butler that a piece of an old tent had been found in his lot. They were summoned. Hunter was questioned, while her husband was thrown into a dungeon, where he died. It mattered little that her house had been robbed of everything and her splendid diamonds all stolen by the Yankee soldiers or officers. I met Mrs. Hunter's brother afterwards, when he had heard nothing of the fate of his sister. He was then making ineffectual efforts to get her out of the Federal lines.
Each day brought with it some terrible order. The heart sinks at these memories of insulted humanity, which seem to have belonged more to fiction than fact, or to have been perpetrated by some barbarian let loose on mankind. Our master [Butler] made himself comfortable at the house of Gen. We were never out of our rooms, but the swift gallop of horses at regular hours told us that none less than Butler was approaching with his bodyguard.
Their movements were like evil men escaping some dread danger.
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In fact, Gen. The furious galloping of horses, clanking of swords, jingling of various accoutrements of his cavalry were of the most formidable character and well calculated to strike terror into the hearts of the Rebels. The citizens lived as if some great evil might overtake them at any moment. Tidings of cruelties to friends only brought the impending danger nearer home.