Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/285

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Colonel Theodore O'Hara. 279

In fact, he could not keep away from the journalistic profession, nor would he work at it with sufficient assiduity to make it wholesome and acceptable to himself. This was unfortunate, perhaps, but he was not a bitter partisan, though he had strong political notions, and disliked controversy. He had very few personal enemies. He was frank, upright, and just to every one, and no one ever heard of a dishonorable action ever done by him.

Captain O'Hara was hospitable to the last degree. He generally kept some supplies from Kentucky, and after a long march sat down in front of his tent to enjoy himself and entertain such acquaintances as might favor him with a call. He was always genial, always pleas- ant, and it was a pleasure to listen to his conversation. His expe- rience had been varied, and his talk was interspersed with anecdotes of men he had met. He knew many of the prominent characters of our country, and had listened to most of the best speakers. He had a famous memory, and had stored his mind with many gems. It was necessary to know O'Hara some time before his many good qualities could be appreciated. There was no jealousy in his disposition. The men under his command were very fond of him, and he treated them with uniform kindness. He was a very brave, winsome man; an ex- cellent converser and good listener. He always felt a sympathy for the sorrows and misfortunes of others. He had a great deal of in- sight into men's true characters, and seemed to understand them at a glance. His thoughts did not go back to the Cuban expedition with any particular satisfaction, although he had been honored with the commission of colonel. He came to look upon it as a hare- brained scheme, which had little chance of success from the start, most of the members of it having been completely duped by its leader, General Narciso Lopez.

When O'Hara wrote " The Bivouac of the Dead," he did not think he was writing for posterity; he wrote it for a particular occasion, and thought no more about it. That occasion was the burial of the remains of the Kentucky soldiers who fell at the battle of Buena Vista, in Mexico, in the cemetery of Frankfort, Ky. It was a funeral of great solemnity, and the best people of the land were present. At that time O'Hara was editing a newspaper in Frankfort, Ky. , and, of course, made the best effort he could, and no one can say it was not a grand one. He seems to have thrown his soul into the work, and produced one of the finest pieces in the English language. How long he was working at it no one at this day knows, perhaps, for as