ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Day the War Stopped, Louisiana
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Day the War Stopped, Louisiana
Grace Church in St. Francisville
Canopied by a beautiful grove of oak trees, historic
Grace Church in St. Francisville was a key part of
Louisiana's story of "The Day the War Stopped."
U.S.S. Albatross
Lt. Commander John E. Hart
of the U.S.S. Albatross was
laid to rest in Louisiana in a
Masonic Ceremony attended
by men of both sides.
Clck Image to Enlarge. (Naval Hist. Center)
Target & Resting Place
The crew of the Albatross
shelled Grace Church, but
then asked permission to
bury its captain there.
Gun Braved by  the Albatross
This heavy cannon, now on
display at Port Hudson, fired
on the U.S.S. Albatross when
she ran by the batteries there
in the spring of 1863.
The Day the War Stopped - St. Francisville, Louisiana
A Masonic Truce in Louisiana
Historical Marker
As the marker outside Grace
Church notes, it took nearly
20 years for the Parish to
repair the damage inflicted on
the Episcopal church during
the Civil War.
Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
St. Francisville, Louisiana

June 10-12, 2011
Each year in June, the beautiful Louisiana
town of
St. Francisville remembers a day of
peace that took place there in the midst of
one of the bloodiest months of the Civil War.

"The Day the War Stopped" features various
events including reenactments and
ceremonies which remember the unusual
funeral services of Lt. Commander John E.
Hart of the U.S. Navy. His crew had used
historic Grace Church in St. Francisville for
target practice, but then humbly asked for
permission to bury him there. The events
took place during the bloody
Battle and Siege
of Port Hudson, Louisiana.

Located atop high bluffs overlooking the
Mississippi River about 12 miles south of St.
Francisville, Port Hudson was a major
Confederate bastion established in August of
1862 to prevent Union warships from
reaching the confluence of the Mississippi
and Red Rivers. Both rivers were of vital
importance to the Confederacy and as long
as Port Hudson stood, no major Union
expedition could be launched up either.

In March of 1863, Admiral David G. Farragut
tried to steam his flotilla past Port Hudson,
but the U.S.S.
Mississippi was destroyed and
all but two of his ships had to turn back. Of
the two that made it through, one was his
flagship the U.S.S.
Hartford and the other
was the
U.S.S. Albatross, captained by Lt.
Commander John E. Hart.

Albatross took part in several raids and
actions in the months that followed, but by
June of 1863 was back in the Mississippi
River above Port Hudson. The citadel was
then withstanding a major siege by 30,000
Union troops and the
Albatross assisted by
shelling positions along the river north of the
ring of Confederate fortifications. One of
these targets was St. Francisville.

Grace Episcopal Church, which served West
Feliciana Parish, stood high atop the ridge
overlooking the Mississippi at St. Francisville
and was used as a target for the guns of the
Union warship, which rained shells down on
the beautiful Gothic structure and adjacent
town. But then on June 12, 1863, the guns
strangely fell silent and before long one of
the most unusual stories of the Civil War
began to play itself out.

Aboard the
Albatross, delirious from high
fever and before any of his officers or crew
could stop him, Lt. Commander John E. Hart
had taken his own life. Hart was a Mason, as
were several of his officers, and before long
a boat bearing a white flag left the warship
and pulled for shore. It carried a messenger
who asked for permission to bury the captain
in the cemetery of Grace Church, the same
sanctuary the
Albatross had used as a target.
The Union officers probably didn't know it, but
St. Francisville was also home to the oldest
Masonic Lodge in Louisiana, Feliciana
Lodge No. 31, F & M.  Its Senior Warden,
W.W. Leake, was captain of Company C, 1st
Louisiana Cavalry, one of the units harassing
the Federal army besieging Port Hudson.

Captain Leake was summoned and met with
the Union officers. Hearing of Hart's fate and
learning that he was a fellow Mason, Leake
arranged permission for him to be buried at
Grace Church.

Accompanied by an honor guard of U.S.
Marines, a delegation of Navy officers and
sailors brought Hart's coffin up the steep bluff
to the church. With Leake and other local
Masons participating, they buried their
captain with full Masonic honors in the
cemetery. It was a brief moment of peace
and fellowship in the midst of the bloodiest
war in American history.

The small Masonic funeral and its
associated events are still remembered in
St. Francisville as "The Day the War
Stopped." For a schedule of events planned
for this year's commemoration, please see
the upper right of this page.
Friday, June 10

7 p.m.

8 p.m.

Saturday, June 11

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
11:30 a.m.

12:30 p.m.

1:30 p.m.

2:30 - 5 p.m.
3 p.m.
4 p.m.
6 - 8 p.m.
7:30 - 9 p.m.

Sunday, June 12

2 p.m.

2 - 4 p.m.

1 to 3 p.m.

Graveside Histories
at                 Grace Church
Presentation                at
Masonic Lodge


Lunch at Masonic Lodge
Vintage Music at
Grace                 Church*
Vintage Dancers
at                         Grace
Drama &
Reenactment                 of
Hart's Burial at               Grace

Oakley Plantation

Civil War Encampment
Musket Demonstration
Civil War Costumes
Civil War Dancers
Candlelight Tours

Locust Grove Cemetery

Talk on Sarah
Taylor                         Davis
Rubbing                         Class

Rosedown Plantation

Civil War Medical Demo