Little Bessie Garrard, the Daughter of the Battalion



Little Bessie Garrard, daughter of Col. and Mrs. William Garrard, was the recipient last night of a delightful serenade, a magnificent gift and a christening as “The Daughter of the Battalion.”  The Guards, to the number of 100, marched from the arsenal to the residence of Dr. W. S. Lawton on Lafayette Square by arrangement. The battalion formed in line on Abercorn street fronting the residence, the right resting on Macon street and the left on Harris street. The Union Cornet band rendered the serenade “Lullaby,” from “Erminie,” “Rock a Bye Baby,” “Bye Bye Baby, Bye Bye,” and ended with “George, Dear, Baby’s Got a Tooth.”

The battalion then marched by twos into the spacious parlors, where Col. and Mrs. Garrard gave each member a warm clasp of the hand and a hearty welcome. Hardly had the Guards been welcomed when Lieut. John M. Bryan disappeared and shortly after reappeared with little Bessie, the Col. and Mrs. Garrard’s infant, not quite 5 months old, in his arms, whom he introduced as “the daughter of the battalion.” She was rapturously cheered, and seemed to enjoy it, and during the speech making and cheers which followed she clung close to the lieutenant, alternately laughing or curiously examining the gay uniforms of the soldiery.

When quiet had been restored Gazaway Hartridge, Esq., stepped forward with a handsome cup, the gift of the battalion and said:

Colonel, the members of your corps wish to bestow upon your daughter a loving gift. If in the mysterious and oft-times disappointing movements of an all-wise providence your daughter had had the misfortune to be born a son, we would have taken no further interest in her beyond the mere fact of her nativity. Certainly we would not, as we have done, select a cup as our affectionate testimonial. We would not encourage those inherited instincts which might beset and betray the infant in his majority. But we feel safe in presenting this drinking vessel to your daughter. We are assured that it will never contain anything more injurious than cold, clammy ice water, and, perhaps, nothing less beneficial than five drops of paregoric, or six tablespoons of ipecac, administered every half hour, during that period of life when impositions are endured in unrelenting helplessness.

Colonel, we trust your fair daughter will treasure this gift as a precious memorial of the attachment which all her father’s command felt for herself and her parents. We hope she will not hoard it as a suggestion of her father’s unfortunate habits. If ever she is deprived of a parent’s affection, let her survey the corps and pick her choice. Certainly her option will range unconfined. What manner of man is not to be found in our ranks? From bristly Cyclops to downy dudes, what specimen is there missing from the cabinet? No man can tell you of the love we bear you and yours. If, in the course of eternal years, you should pass away, we solemnly pledge ourselves never to forget those whom you woke have us to remember. The arms of this corps are upon this richly chased vessel, but about the objects of your dearest concern the arms of every Guard will be stretched in time of emergency, waving wide, like the Cherub’s flaming sword, to bar access of every approaching evil, and strained to their utmost tension to uplift tenderly and sustain firmly those beloved beings whom you have most reason to surround with the comforting assurances and wasting anxieties of an everlasting love and affection.

Miss Bessie fastened her little fingers in the handle of the cup and carried it to her lips, but was most too young to speak for herself, and Col. Garrard taking the gift in his hand responded for her, for her mother and for himself. It was the second time, he said, that the battalion had shown its kindness for himself and family. When returning a year ago from a tour of travel, it welcomed them home; now it had seen fit to show its affection for his little daughter. He accepted the christening – she should be the daughter of the battalion – and among the first endearing names she will be taught to lisp, the colonel said, will be that of the battalion.

In conclusion, the colonel on behalf of himself, his wife and daughter, welcomed the battalion and invited the members to partake of their hospitality. The popping of champagne followed the speech-making, and to the music of the band the hospitalities were enjoyed amid general congratulations and well wishes for the hosts.

The cup is worthy to be called a “magnificent gift.” It is solid silver, gold-lined, elegantly frosted and chased with the coat of arms of the battalion on the cup which is shaped to resemble a snare drum. The handle is an infantry bugle, and the drum cords are of solid gold. On the bottom of the cup is the inscription,”Bessie Garrard, from Savannah Volunteer Guards, June 13, 1888,” the date of her birth. The design is by Lieut. Bryan and Sergt. Burdell, and the cup was made by the Gorham Manufacturing Company of New York. The serenade and reception of course were anticipated by Col. and Mrs. Garrard, but the presentation was a genuine surprise. There was quite a number of the lady friends of the family and the battalion present, and the occasion was an enjoyable one.


Little Bessie Garrard, named for her grandmother Elizabeth “Bessie” Jones Lawton, died the following year at age one. The cause of death was teething.

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