A Tale of Two
A Love Story of a Washington
This “tale of two cities” involves a
Confederate soldier’s love for his wife- a couple who became separated by two Confederate
cities: New Orleans and Richmond. Although these Southern cities were first
linked by a common cause, they were later separated by uncommon conditions.
Louis A. Adam of New Orleans was a married 26
year-old clerk who enlisted with the Washington Artillery on May 26, 1861. Adam
was elected Second Lieutenant of Third Company prior to the unit’s leaving the
city. He was present and gave valuable service directing the use of his six-pounder
smoothbore bronze cannon during the battles of Blackburn’s Ford and Manassas.
However, due to preexisting heart disease (probably rheumatic fever) that
limited his level of activity, Adam was medically discharged from active service
on August 22, 1861. His attempt to reenlist to his company as a private on
October 17, 1862 again proved too physically stressful, and required his
transfer to the Quartermaster Department of the Battalion in Richmond where his
working conditions were better. In that same year Adam had this ambrotype taken
and planned to send it home to his beloved wife. Unfortunately, by then the
Crescent City had fallen into Federal hands. The notorious Union General
Benjamin Butler was at its reins, and all mail was subject to inspection and
confiscation. Adam’s love, however, had no boundaries. Adam sent the image
anyway, hidden in a jar of preserves. Adam’s wife was apparently moved by the
gesture. Faithful to the Southern Cause, she refused to swear allegiance to the
United States. As a result, Butler ordered her to leave the city. She joined her
husband in Richmond. By 1864 Louis was transferred to the Invalid Corps, taking
a job at what he did best, as a clerk in the Confederate Tax Commissioner’s
Office. His wife took a job in the passport office.
Adam’s fortitude to prove his worth to the
Confederacy epitomizes the loyalty and determination of many Southerners who
joined the military service despite borderline health. Adam’s story is also a
tale of love between two cities, New Orleans and Richmond. Both cities had a
common cause, the Confederacy, and were later separated by an uncommon boundary,
the Federal Blockade. However, the latter obstacle could not keep this loving
couple apart. After the war, the reunited Adam family returned to New Orleans
and became important forces in the various social and benevolent organizations
to aid ex-Confederates.
This previously unpublished image of Louis A. Adam is a sixth
plate ambrotype taken in Richmond, Virginia as a gift for his wife in New
old hand written note identifies the image, “Lieut. L. A. Adam, W.A. - C.S.A. -La.
Taken in Richmond in 1862.
Conveyed to his wife in N. O. then occupied by the
enemy, secreted in a jar of preserves.”
According to his superior William Miller
Owen, Adam “didn’t feel at home except with the Washington Artillery.”
Note cross cannon and "WA" on his kepi.