Civil War Louisiana (CWLA)

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Civil War Louisiana (CWLA)
CWLA seeks to provide an online resource of any and all material of the Civil War relating to Louisiana with a special interest in the war in Acadiana in southwest Louisiana.
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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The Different Drum-Beats and What They Mean

Ran across this in the Houston Weekly Telegraph, November 13, 1861:



Thursday, July 30, 2020

Texans' Trip Across Southwest Louisiana in late 1861

The 4th and 5th Texas Infantry Regiments were raised in early 1861 and transferred to Virginia. Here are two accounts from part of their trip during which they crossed southwest Louisiana in August 1861.

Sergeant Benjamin Marshall Baker, Company B of the 5th Texas Infantry, and his regiment marched across southwest Louisiana in 1861. Here is Baker's impression of Louisiana. It is published online at the Nesbitt Memorial Library website. On September 11, 1861, from Canton, Mississippi, Baker wrote (which was published in the Colorado Citizen newspaper):


I can not speak too much in praise of the French who live on the route from Niblett's Bluff to New Iberia. They gave our volunteers milk, potatoes, bread, etc., and, in short, seemed to vie with each other in their efforts to do the agreeable for us. They are actuated by the most ardent spirit of patriotism and wished us much good luck in whipping out the Abolitionists. They will long live in the memory of our company. In New Orleans, also, we were treated with some consideration. The people sent us some provisions and gave us the use of a room during our stay in the city for the sick, of whom, I am glad to say, our company has only a small number.    We encountered a great many hardships on our march from Niblett's Bluff, Calcasieu Parish, to New Iberia. We waded in water every day—sometimes up to our neck; were not provided with sufficient provisions by the Government officer; had wet blankets to sleep on at night, and were generally in bad luck. Added to this I may mention the interesting fact that it rained on us every day from the time we left Houston till we arrived in New Orleans.


"W" of the "Tom Green Rifles" (Company B of the 4th Texas Infantry) wrote from Glendenning Ferry, Calcasieu Parish on August 25, 1861. The Tom Green Rifles were part of several companies of the 4th Texas Infantry (Companies A, B, C, D and E) making their way to New Iberia as well. When the column reached Niblett's Bluff on August 16, 1861, they discovered there was not enough transportation to carry their goods across southwest Louisiana. The companies were forced to leave a lot of materials behind before they could move on. Here is where we pick up with "W"'s account from the Texas State Gazette newspaper dated September 14, 1861:


"When at the bluffs, Ward assured us that he had sufficient transportation, but that Capt. McKenn's company from Galveston, which had passed through some weeks previously, had seized upon five of his mule teams, and taken them off, that we would meet them certainly in one or two days; had he carried the farce so far, as to authorize us to stop them, and take them back with us. Subsequent developments melted his "five mule teams," into two ox wagons, with which Mr. Ward had absolutely nothing to do, they having been hired by the Galveston company, and paid for out of their own pockets...  
"On our second day's march it began to rain, it what we Texans would call 'torrends,' and not three hours have elapsed wince without a shower, either day or night. In a short time from the commencement of the rain, it was evident that we could not proceed without more transportation, and details were sent out in every direction to scour the country for wagons, but only succeeded in finding a few ox carts, capable of carrying from five to eight pounds. Inline, to give you an idea of our train, we have been moving seven days, and have accomplished fifty-six miles; and I assure you that if the men had not repeatedly laid hold on the wagons and assisted, we would not have traveled much over half the distance. For some six days, not one of the commands has known the luxury of a dry garment, a dry bed, or a well-cooked meal. The days have been spent in wading through swamps, not unfrequently waist deep, in huddling around a poor fire, or stretched upon the marshy ground, with a wet blanket, when exhausted nature defied both ran and mosquitoes, and demanded sleep. 

The inhabitants upon the route are, as a general thing, disposed to do all in their power to assist us. When we reached this point, our wagons were several hours behind us, as they had been all day, and the men wet, tired, and hungry. As soon as we arrived at the opposite side of the river, Capt. Good, sho resides here, brought down a splendid schooner, which the blockade had driven in, and taking us all on board, landed us safely on this side Calcasieu River, where we found his entire negro forces, superintended by his lady, busy preparing bread and coffee for the whole command. In a short time, two beeves were driven up, and by the time the wagons had arrived (nine o'clock, P.M.) the men were ready to begin the arduous task of ferrying them over in a very small flat, which with the attention required by the teams, employed them until half-past two o'clock, A.M.

Additional Source on Hood's Texas Brigade:




Monday, July 27, 2020

Allen Lafayette Holland, Co. F, 28th Louisiana Photograph


Corporal Allen Holland, Company H, 28th Louisiana Infantry (Gray's)


Holland enrolled in Company H (Bienville Parish) of the 28th Louisiana Infantry (Gray's) Regiment on May 8, 1862. He was a resident of Bienville, Louisiana.


Some random links on material relating to Gray's 28th Louisiana Infantry:






Saturday, July 18, 2020

Letter of Cyrille Trasimon Guidry, Co. C, 7th Louisiana Cavalry

Marty Guidry has put together some history of the Guidry family at this link relating to Private Cyrille Trasimon Guidry of Company C, 7th Louisiana Cavalry. He provides history surrounding the soldier and posted a letter written by Cyrille in Cajun French!


Additional information on the 7th Louisiana Cavalry




Wednesday, July 15, 2020

17th Louisiana Infantry Photograph


John Wesley Weeks, Company B ("Sabine Rebels"), 17th Louisiana Infantry



"This regiment was organized at Camp Moore on September 29, 1861, with 832 men.  From Camp Moore, the regiment went to New Orleans.  As part of General Daniel Ruggles' brigade, the regiment occupied Camp Chalmette and later Camp Benjamin.  The brigade went to Corinth, Mississippi, in February, 1862.  On April 6 and 7, the men fought in the Battle of Shiloh.  Ordered to Vicksburg in May, the men saw only picket duty during the first Union attack on that place, May 18-July 27.  The regiment helped repulse the enemy attacks on Chickasaw Bluffs north of Vicksburg, December 26-29.  Remaining near Vicksburg through the winter, the regiment was assigned to General William E. Baldwin's brigade.  On May 1, 1863, the regiment fought in the Battle of Port Gibson and bore the brunt of the fighting during the Confederate retreat.  The men fell back to Vicksburg and participated in the siege there, May 19-July 4.  Paroled at the surrender of Vicksburg, the men returned to their homes.  In January, 1864, the regiment reported to a parole camp near Shreveport for a short time.  The men reassembled at Minden in May and soon went to Pineville.  As part of General Allen Thomas's brigade, the regiment remained in garrison at Pineville until May, 1865.  One report states that Company C was the only company in the regiment's division to remain on duty until discharged and that the company guarded the brigade's ammunition supply against the soldiers who were disbanding and going home."

Additional Resources:




Monday, July 6, 2020

11th Wisconsin Regimental History

The 11th Wisconsin Infantry was part of the XIII Corps that was transferred to the Department of the Gulf in August 1863. It took part in the Texas Overland Campaign in late 1863, then took part in Major General Nathaniel P. Banks' attack on the Texas coast, and upon their return to Louisiana in early 1864 they were "veteranized" and given a furlough to Wisconsin. The regiment returned to Louisiana in May 1864 (having outstanding luck in missing the disastrous Red River Campaign). It remained in Brashear City until late February 1865. At that time it was transferred to the XVI Corps and took part in the campaign against Mobile, Alabama. The regiment did not play an important role in any campaigns in Louisiana but it did serve in Louisiana. Christopher C. Wehner wrote a book on the regiment titled The 11th Wisconsin of the Civil War A Regimental History and has a website dedicated to his research on the regiment



Sunday, June 14, 2020

Adolphus Confederate Uniforms

While researching and tracking down photographs for my current project on the Battle of Bayou Bourbeaux, I was informed of a site titled Adolphus Confederate Uniforms. This is a phenomenal site on Confederate uniforms - the amount of research is extremely impressive. The author of this extremely informative site is Fred Aolphus. I highly recommend Adolphus' website on Confederate uniforms.

Friday, June 5, 2020

St. Landry Parish in April-June 1865

Reading through Volume 48, pt. 2, of the Official Records (ORs), presents a very desperate situation for St. Landry Parish at the end of the Civil War. Almost four years of war had definitely put a strain on this once prosperous community. The demand for men and materials to support the Confederate war effort was a serious strain. The Union blockade effectively killed St. Landry's major income of exporting sugar and cotton. On three separate occasions (April-May 1863, October-November 1863, March 1864) the Union armies invaded the parish and plundered it at all. On top of all those issues there existing in southwest Louisiana roaming bands of outlaws or "Jayhawkers" as they were called. They were composed of deserters from the Confederate army, pro-Union men, Creoles, mulattoes, runaway slaves. St. Landry Parish was hit hard by these groups from 1863-1865.

The collapse of Confederate authority during April-May 1865 and the establishment of Union occupation during May-June 1865 was an awkward time for St. Landry - meaning a lot of chaos and uncertainty. Here are exerts from this volume to help paint the scene at the time. This transition from "Confederate St. Landry" to back to Union control along with the economic and social transformation is a topic I plan on revisiting again in future posts.


Map of St. Landry Parish, 1865 (from G.W. Colton Map, 1865)


A Horace Bell traveled through south Louisiana in early April 1865 and reported back to Union authorities some of these details that relate to the St. Landry Parish region. He reported several troop movements he noticed on his trip from Morganza to Washington, to Alexandria, and then back to the south to Washington. Pertinent to St. Landry were these observations: 


  • 2nd Louisiana Cavalry: Captain Lewis D. Prescott's Company A was stationed at Washington and an additional company of that regiment (which company is unknown) was on picket duty at Opelousas.

  • 7th Louisiana Cavalry: Bush's 7th Cavalry marched toward Alexandria, passing through Washington on March 1st and returned to the region by March 16th.

Bell made a general observation about Confederate soldiers in the region he passed: 

"The demoralization of the army has extended to the officers. Several officers of the Second Louisiana Cavalry are in close confinement for attempting to desert to teh enemy, among whom are Captain Morell and one of his lieutenants. Captain Prescott (Lewis D. Prescott, Company A), of the same regiment, commanding at Washington, says if the army falls back to Texas he will surrender to himself to the Yankees. I found the country so rigidly policed that it was impossible for any person to pass through it without submitting to the closet scrutiny...". 

A Union report on Acadiana dated May 6th detailed Confederate units in Acadiana and their state of affairs:

"Captain Hargroder, Company B, Seventh Louisiana Cavalry, reports that he left his regiment on the 25th of April, at which time the companies were distributed as follows: Headquarters of the regiment, with five companies, a little below Vermillionville, La., on this side of the Vermillion Bayou. (Colonel Bringier commands the regiment.) One company (F), Captain Tertron, stationed near the mouth of Vermillion Bayou; four companies under Captain Murphy, stationed at Burn's Plantation, above Irish Bend. These companies picket the country from Butte-a-la-Rose to Berwick Bay. The station at Butte-a-la-Rose has seven men who couldn't as far as Hart's plantation, on Grand River. There are thirty men on Lake Fausse Pointe and twelve at Indian Village. The posts below Franklin are not known. The effective strength of the regiment is about 300 or 400. It was formerly the Fourth Louisiana Cavalry, Colonel Bush commanding. It is composed mostly of men who kept out of the service as long as possible. There are about 200 of them lying in the woods waiting on the opportunity to escape. Their principal duty is to catch deserters from other regiments, but will themselves desert if any demonstration is made by our forces in that country. Supplies very scarce. The informant heard by deserters who left the regiment on the 29th that they were to move on the 30th from Vermillionville to Opelousas."














Demoralization was sinking in fast for the Trans-Mississippi Confederates. News of Lee's surrender was reaching Louisiana - as were veterans paroled from Appomattox. On May 19th, it was reported at the camp of Harry T. Hays' Division of Louisiana soldiers in Mansfield, La: "The major portion of this command having deserted camp and gone to their homes, all the Government animals and most of the wagons having been forcibly taken possession of and carried away, the quartermaster's and commissary departments of this command and the post at Mansfield having been pillaged by the troops, all completely paralyzing the present military organizations, and rendering the maintaining of discipline and the subsistence of the troopers longer impossible, brigade commanders are hereby authorized to disband the troops under their commands and to permit them to proceed to their homes, there to await further orders from their commanding officers." This meant that Louisiana soldiers from Acadiana had deserted their units in mass and returned home, the war was over for them. They returned with their weapons and most to devastated homes ravaged by either Union soldiers, slaves, Jayhawkers or even former Confederate soldiers.

May 22, reported to Major General E. R. S. Canby:

"Captain Foster, of the secret service, just returned from a long trip in West Louisiana...The whole country between Bayou Boeuf and the Mississippi is underwater, and there is steam-boat communication to Opelousas. From there to the Sabine the people are loyal, the country in fine condition for field operations, but utterly destitute, although affording good grazing."


May 30th: General Sherman, commanding the Southern Division of Louisiana, was instructed yesterday to send the Ninety-eighth U.S. Colored Infantry and one company of the First Louisiana Cavalry to garrison New Iberia and Washington, La....for a total of 602 infantry and 64 cavalries. Soon, the occupation of Washington was passed to the 75th U.S. Colored Infantry commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John L. Rice. Rice played a pivotal role in 1865, overseeing the transfer of Confederate control to United States control in St. Landry Parish.


Lieutenant Colonel John L. Rice, 75th U.S. Colored Infantry

John Lovell Rice: After leaving school, he was engaged as a clerk in a store in Cornish, New Hampshire, until 1861, when he enlisted as a private in Company A of the 2nd New Hampshire Volunteers and was wounded at the First Battle of Bull Run and captured. He was exchanged in January 1862 and later enlisted in the 16th New Hampshire Infantry in October. He fought through McClellan's Peninsular Campaign, the Seven Days Campaign, and the 2nd Manassas Campaign. He was appointed a Captain of Company H and his regiment was sent to Louisiana in December. Rice fought with his unit through the Teche Campaign (April-May 1863) and the Siege of Port Hudson (May-July 1863). The 16th Regiment was mustered out of service in August and Rice took the opportunity to apply for a higher-ranked position in a colored regiment. On September 20, 1863, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the 75th U.S. Colored Infantry (the old 3rd Louisiana Native Guards) (Luther Tracy Townsend, History of the Sixteenth Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteers, 1897, pp. 501-503; "Our County and Its People", A History of Hampden County, Massachusetts · Volume 31902, p. 562).

Lieutenant Colonel John L. Rice wrote of his occupation of Washington, La:

Left Brashear City on May 31st on the steamer Bart Able at 10:00 P.M., with the U.S. Steamer Carrabasset under Captain Leonard as an escort. Rice arrived at Washington at 9:00 A.M. on June 1st. On nearing Washington, Rice was met under a flag of truce by Captain Lewis Demarest Prescott, a native of Washington was the Confederate officer in charge of protecting Washington. Prescott was the commanding officer of Company A of the 2nd Louisiana Cavalry. Prescott had not learned of the Trans-Mississippi's surrendered and refused to oblige. To avoid bloodshed, Rice agreed to allow Prescot to send a courier to Alexandria to get confirmation. A five-day truce was agreed upon to allow this communication to occur. Rice's command camped east of the town of Washington and Prescott's command of 125 men were camped south of town.

Capt Lewis Demarest Prescott
Captain Lewis Demarest Prescott, Company A, 2nd Louisiana Cavalry 


While camped near Washington, Rice was approached by the Major of Opelousas and other "prominent citizens of Opelousas." The Major transmitted a request from Colonel Thompson commanding the 1st Regiment of Louisiana Reserves to keep is men armed to assist Rice in suppressing the Jayhawks west of the parish's main settlements of Washington, Opelousas, and Grand Coteau. This meant hundreds of Confederate soldiers keeping their arms and Rice could not allow that to occur and Thomas' request was refused. Instead, the men of that command would need to surrender their arms and be paroled.

As of June 16, 1865, the occupying force in St. Landry was: At Washington, 5 companies of 75th U.S. Colored, 225 men; Co. K, 1st Louisiana Cavalry (U.S.), 61 men.

Brigadier-General R. A. Cameron reported on the conditions of south Louisiana on June 16, 1865:

"The condition of the country is one of great distress and destitution. The ravages of the caterpillar upon the cotton crop, the merciless seizing of forage and subsistence by the rebels, with the present overflow, leaves many without food, and nearly all in circumstances of distress." 

Cameron's observation is indeed factual but also misleading. He left out the wholesale stealing of property by the Union army on three occasions in the area and by ex-slaves.


Again, these are random reports and information drawn from Volume 48, pt. 2, of the ORs on St. Landry Parish. There is a lot more information to draw upon in this interesting window of time.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Southwest Louisiana Battlefields?

Despite a plethora of small-scale actions during 1863-64, Southwest Louisiana was not the scene of numerous large-scale battles in the Civil War. When you look at the area of Louisiana west of the Mississippi, west of Brashear City (modern-day Morgan City) and below the Alexandria area, the largest battles were Bisland (April 12-13, 1863), Irish Bend (April 14, 1863), Stirling's Plantation (September 29, 1863), Bayou Bourbeaux (November 3, 1863), Camp Pratt (November 20, 1863). This would, of course, make these five very important battlefields to preserve for the future - a chance to educate the public and especially our children. You can drive southwest Louisiana today and there is not a single battlefield park. There are at least numerous historical markers in the region marking skirmishes, battles, important buildings, etc.

In the Update on the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report on the Nation's Civil War Battlefields for Louisiana (issued in October 2010) (CWSAC), Bisland, Irish Bend, and Stirling's Plantation are listed as endangered sites. There is no mention of Bayou Bourbeaux or Camp Pratt. This will be referred to as the CWSAC.

CWSAC Battlefields of Louisiana: Notice that Bayou Bourbeaux and Camp Pratt are not on this list.

Of the battlefields, I listed this is what the CWSAC Preservation wrote in 1993: 
Stirling’s Plantation retains a high degree of integrity. Residential development and oil exploration represent potential, but not immediate, threats. Today, Stirling’s Plantation presents one of best opportunities for comprehensive battlefield landscape protection in Louisiana.
That was written 27 years ago. Again, the only way someone will know there was a battlefield fought in that location is the lone historical marker already identified above.

It IS reported that 253.85 acres of the Bisland battlefield is permanently protected; 2,846.57 acres for Irish Bend and ZERO for Stirling's Plantation. What about Camp Pratt and Bourbeaux - they didn't make the list. All land protected on Bisland and Irish Bend is done entirely through Louisiana's state government with no Federal stewardship or nonprofit organizations. This is not a healthy recipe to see a battlefield park emerge any year soon.

An observant reader will notice "Vermillion Bayou" on the map and might wonder why I did not mention that as a large-scale battle in southwest Louisiana. That is because it was not a large-scale battle. It was simply a skirmish and how the so-called "Vermillion Bayou" battle makes the list and Bayou Bourbeaux doesn't is most likely based on the fact that Bourbeaux is in a much more rural setting that the ever-growing city of Lafayette that the Vermillion runs through. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Civil War Books and Authors



Andrew J. Wagenhoffer has compiled an extremely impressive list of Civil War books he has reviewed at Civil War Books and Authors (CWBA). Sure, Amazon reviews are cool, but Wagenhoffer specializes in reading and review Civil War books. There are numerous books in his collection connected to Louisiana topics. I highly recommend you head to CWBA to look up books and see new ones coming down the pike!

Coppens' Zouave Battalion

Coppens' Zouave Battalion
Lt. Colonel George Coppens (seated) and brother, Captain Marie Alfred Coppens.Image sold at auction on Cowan Auctions, for $14,375