A Tale of Two Cities

A Love Story of a Washington Artillerist


 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 Orleans.

An 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.