The passage up the river was full of interest and excitement. The semi-tropical vegetation; the levees, filled to the brim with the vast volume of waters, on which the ship rode high above the rice plantations; the shores strewn with the wrecks of the Confederate gunboats destroyed in the naval fight ; the forts on either hand over which now flew the stars and stripes ; the throngs of blacks along the banks, who hailed the troops with every sign of welcome, — were new and interesting sights to the Vermonters. A little before sunset of the 12th, they first caught sight of the Crescent City, still canopied with smoke from its burned warehouses and smouldering docks. It was filled with multitudes of unemployed workmen and roughs, most of whom made no attempt to conceal their hatred toward the Union troops. The richer and influential citizens excited rather than soothed the passions of the mob. The women were bold and persistent in their insults. The entrance on such a scene was not likely to be forgotten by any of the Vermonters. Colonel Thomas reported to General Shepley, who had arrived two days before and had been appointed military commandant of the city, and in the evening of the 12th the regiment landed, loaded muskets in the street, and marched, to the strains of Yankee Doodle, which drowned the secession songs with which the crowds around them greeted the new comers, to the Union Cotton Press, close to the river, where the regiment was temporarily quartered. They were in a hostile city ; and there was no sleep for the officers and little for the men, that night.' Strong guards were posted and the men felt under little temptation to leave quarters. One man, however," undertook to run the guard, was challenged by the sentinel, and refusing to stop, was fired on and received a wound from which he died three weeks after. On the 17th the regiment was established in permanent quarters in the large building of the Mechanics Institute and in the ad- joining Medical College of Louisiana.
- Colonel Stephen Thomas of the 8th Vermont: Appointed colonel with no prior military experience. His father was a veteran of the War of 1812 and his grandfather served in the American Revolution. He became an apprentice "to a manufacturer of woolens," and became a woolen manufacture as his career. Thomas became a sheriff, judge of probate and a member of the Vermont House of Reprsentatives for six terms and its senate for two before the war. In November of 1861 Thomas was given the rank of colonel to command a regiment at the age of 51. In his post-Louisiana service in the war, Colonel Thomas won the U.S. Medal of Honor at the Battle of Cedar Creek (19 October 1864) for "Distinguished conduct in a desperate hand-to-hand encounter, in which the advance of the enemy was checked."