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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Friday, February 26, 2010

"Cagins"

We put together a post on Louisiana's Jayhawkers of southwest Louisiana a few weeks ago. Some good stories on Jayhawking were linked and included were some newspaper accounts on the fighting that took place from the Ville Platte-Opelousas-Vermillionville region. Texans fighting in the region, fighting against the Jayhawkers and those that were simply passing across the region quickly drew an unfavorable opinion of Louisianians in this area. Included in our post on Jayhawking was an article from the Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph. Here is another story from the same paper informing its readers on "Cagins" of southwest Louisiana:

[HOUSTON] TRI-WEEKLY TELEGRAPH, November 14, 1863

Much has been said by our Texas soldier in Louisiana against the Cagins [sic] of that State. It is probable that many of our readers may be ignorant of the character of these Cagins. From a citizen of that State we learn they are an extremely ignorant class of population, inhabiting the rural districts, who have descended from the criminals transported by the French in the last century to this region. They are viscous by nature, and little better by education, looked upon with distrust by the people, and the antipathies between them and our troops are hardly less than that between them and the whites of that State. They are said in fact to be about on a level with the negro in intelligence, and two degrees below him in viciousness. Just previous to the war, the Governor of Louisiana made a raid upon them for some sort of scoundrelism or other, and scattered them far and wide, some even having found a refuge in the pine forests and cypress swamps on the Sabine. These Cagins, on the breaking out of the present war regarded it as in some way connected with that raid, and they look upon the United States troops as coming to revenge them of the injuries they suffered from the Louisiana State authorities. These Cagins being free, are all subjects to conscription, and the result of attemptying to conscript them has been to fill that country with outlaws, whose jayhawking is a terror to the people. When put in the ranks they are worse than useless, pursuing that dogged and stubborn disposition characteristic of all criminals under civilized restraint. Many have been shot for desertion, and our opinion is the army would be better for driving every man of them into the enemy's lines.

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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