Civil War Louisiana (CWLA)

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.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Rebel Yell

Seems the Rebel Yell has sparked some interest:
  • Props to Dr. Johansson for posting a link to the Museum of the Confederacy's project on rebuilding the Rebel Yell. I had read about this sometime ago and forgot about it. Click on this link and it will bring you to two videos about the project. If you watch the on the right you can hear a 400 man regiment at Cedar Creek in October 2009 give the yell.
  • William Howard Russel, possibly THE first real war correspondent in history, of the London Times, said this in June of 1861:
    "...the whooping and screeching sounds that pass muster in this part of
    the world for cheers."

  • One of the most popular quotes, that Dr. Terry L. Jones pointed out to me, was made by Jubal Early: "Damn it," Early barked, "holler them across." Terryl D. Elliott wrote about this particular incident in his book (appropriately titled for this post) Damnit, Holler'em Across! - The History of the Rebel Yell. Here is how Elliott described it in an interview:
“Mythology says that when the Rebels charged and let out that Rebel Yell, it
scared the Yankees so bad that they turned around and ran,” Terryl says, adding
there are many documented instances of frightened Union forces running from
shrieking Rebels.

One such documented instance occurred in May 1864
during a battle near Richmond, Va., when the Confederate commander, Lt. Gen.
Jubal “Old Jube” Early ordered his regiment to make another attack to drive
Union troops off the battlefield.

“At that point,” Terryl says, “(Old
Jube) was informed: ‘We can’t do that. We are out of ammunition. We don’t have
anything to charge with.’”

To that excuse, Old Jube replied: “Dammit,
holler ‘em across!”

According to witnesses, the order was carried out.
Using the Rebel Yell as a weapon, the Rebus charged, frightening the Federals
off the field.

“This was the best example of the effectiveness of the
Rebel Yell I could find,” he notes, thus the title of his book, “Dammit, Holler
‘em Across! – The History of the Rebel Yell.”

  • Also, if you checked Dr. Jones' book on Lee's Tigers (page 80), a veteran of the 1st Battle of Winchester (May 25, 1862), asserts that Jackson's Valley Army had never heard the Rebel Yell until the charge of Dick Taylor's Louisiana Brigade.
  • Pvt. John Williams of Piatt's Zouaves, 34th & 36th Ohio Volunteers, describes the Rebel Yell at a fight with part of Jubal Early's Valley Army on July 24, 1864 (bold added by me):

    "...when within 4 miles of Winchester near Stevensons depot on the widow Carter farm we were attacked by the enemy, fought them for some time and drove them from the field… we entered Winchester and fought the enemy for 2 days. The rebels received heavy reinforcements and were commanded by Gen. Jubal Early on the 24th of July we were attacked by Early’s whole force. The fighting was fearful if ever I heard the rebel yell I heard it that day. Our regiment lost heavy. Col. Shaw was killed, owing to superior numbers we were forced to give way. The 34th was the last regt to leave the field which it did under a galling fire...".

Sunday, April 18, 2010

2nd Louisiana Cavalry Flag

I was notified tonight of the 2nd Louisiana Cavalry's flag has been put up for sale. The 2nd Louisiana Cavalry lost its flag at Henderson Hill in a suprise attack in the early parts of the Red River Campaign in 1864.

Rebel Yell

I want to begin posting accounts of the Rebel Yell. Through the years I have seen numerous remarks about it and recently decided it would be a good idea to start collecting them. Here's a list of several accounts I found from Yanks. Most of these accounts are from the Battle of Pleasant Hill (April 9, 1864) and Teche Campaign (April-May 1863). This will be a topic I hope to post about numerous times:

8th Vermont at the Battle of Bisland (History of The Eighth Regiment Vermont Volunteers, 1861-1865; p 103):

“About three o’clock in the afternoon the Union troops were startled by the most hideous of modern war cries, known as the ‘rebel yell’…This was the first time the Vermont boys had heard that fiendish sound, and it is not too much to say that they were appalled by it for a moment, and thought their time had come to be ‘wiped out.’”

Colonel William H. Heath, 33rd Missouri (U.S.) described the Rebel Yell as he watched Parsons’ Missouri Division cross the field to attack his position (Annals of Iowa, “Battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana,” 521.):

“They came on across the field and down into the dry ditch, yelling like wild Indians.”

New York Officer at the Battle of Pleasant Hill described Parsons’ Missourians as they attacked Brigadier General Lewis Benedict’s brigade (A Memorial of Brevet Brigadier General Lewis Benedict, 81-82):

“We immediately lay down and waited for them to come out of the woods. Just as they got to the edge of them, they halted and gave a most hideous yell, such as Texas and Border ruffians alone can give…”.

“…While laying down, as we were ordered to do, whole volleys from the Rebel ranks, which came upon us five lines deep, yelling furiously, passed over us…”.

Senator W.V. Allen of Nebraska, who served in the 32nd Iowa, Co. G, described the Arkansas and Missouri troops of Churchill’s attack:

“They broke forth in the ‘Rebel yell,’ which was simply a cheer from fine voiced men, a high piercing noise like the call of a woman made at long distance. It differed from the cheer of our men, which was heavier, heartier and more uniform.”

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pvt. Jules A. Hebert, Co. E, 30th Louisiana Infantry

(Courtesy of Denis Gaubert)

I came across Denis Gaubert's website, The Hellfire Stew Mess. The Hellfire Stew Mess is a small group of dedicated living historians in south Louisiana based out of Houma-Thibodaux area. Denis has several images of soldiers and one that he allowed me to use was tha tof Jules A. Hebert of Co. E, 30th Louisiana. Hebert's regiment served in the Western Theater bouncing between the Port Hudson-Jackson-Mobile area before it was attached to Brigadier-General Randall L. Gibson's Louisiana Brigade in June 1864. Hebert's regiment served with that brigade for the remainder of the war to its surrender at Meridian, Mississippi in May of 1865. Hebert, though, ended up deserting his regiment while on furlough in August of 1863...oddly, though, he also appears as enlisting in the 2nd Louisiana Cavalry. His enlistment dates conflict and overlap BUT it appears he left the 30th Louisiana to join the 2nd Louisiana Cavalry.

Just a neat picture: Notice the "E" on his hat, civilian clothes and Denis points out that Hebert is wearing two earrings. Its very difficult to see in my image. Take a run over to The Hellfire Stew Mess to see for yourself.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ed Merrit of the 8th Louisiana

This was sent to me by Wayne Cosby. It is an interesting piece about the "Peculiar Institution." From Wayne:

"This letter shows the devotion of a young body servant, Ed Merritt that was sent to war with two friends, Perry Murrell and R. A. Smith of Claiborne Parish. This letter, recounted many years after the war, recounts some of the experiences with Ed Merritt. Perry and R.A. served in Co. G, 8th Louisiana Infantry, the Minden Blues."

Lake Charles, La.
March 13, 1922
Mrs. J. D. Harper
Many, LA

My Dear Cousin Ettie:
I cannot express my joy on reading your letter, and the letter of your dear father Isaac Murrell. It carried me back to days full of sweet sadness. It made me think of incidents and persons whom I loved very much and love to recall them now in the days when I am old, and so lonely at times, for I am almost alone now. There are only one or two that I know of who still survive. I am continually worried of dear ones dropping off. I am happy in God's goodness to me and mine in providing so well for us in our last days. Let me answer your letter.

While I was at school in Homer 1860-61, I knew Perry Murrell, cousin John Murrell's son. He was in business with Jones in Homer. I met little John Murrell (son of John) at the time of election when Bell and Everette ran for President. John ran a horse in the streets of Homer with a big bell on his neck. When the War came on I was at school in Homer, and graduated in April, went to Minden and joined the "Minden Blues" with J. Perry Murrell, John Murrell, Marion Canfield, Kit Kimbel, George Kimbel, Ben Bell and myself made a mess of seven who remained together during life. I am the only one that survived the War.

Cousin Isaac Murrell had a negro boy, Ed Merritt whom he speaks of in his letter as being left sick at Charleston, Va. one time. My father had a negro boy, Ed Boskin. Our fathers were going to send both of these boys with us, but cousin Isaac said it was too much and proposed that my father pay him half of Ed Merritt's value, and let him belong to Perry and me, so Ed was our boy, and a faithful one he was. He was closer to us than a brother. He carried our money, cooked, washed our clothes and counseled us as to health and conduct to the end of the War. He and I were the only ones of the eight that lived after the War. He was left with the Yankees in May at Charleston. He had a spell of fever, got well and cooked for a Yankee officer, and made money to pay his board, although he had over a hundred in gold buckled around his body in a belt. He slipped away from the Yankees and came to us at Orange Court House in Va., in August. I shall never forget the day when Perry and I were cooking apple dumplings and Ed came up dressed in a linen citizen's suit, how I hugged and kissed him.
After the war the youngest son, Willie Murrell married a Miss Bridgeman and settled in Homer where he died over one year ago. For a number of years as long as old Cousin John lived, I went to see him, and Ed Merritt, who lived near would come and visit for a day or two. The last time I saw Ed he showed me the belt that he carried the money in when he was in the War.

Little John Murrell, Perry's brother, was killed at Sharpsburg Sept. 17, 1862. Perry was wounded in the face, having one eye blinded in the same battle. Ed could not find either of them after the battle, I was wounded in the head at the second battle of Manassas - and left at Aldey, a little town in Virginia. Ed was not able to find either of us, gathered up our things and come home. I got a furlough and come home. So we three were at home in the Spring of 1863. He went back to Virginia the following April and got to our company to go to the Fredericksburg battle. And then in May made the march up into Pa. We were both wounded in the Gettysburg Battle.

The last we heard of Perry was when he crossed the stone fence about Cemetery Ridge in the Charge of Pickett's Brigade [Editor's Note: R.A. is incorrect as the 8th La. fought in the twilight attack on Cemetery Hill on the evening of July 2nd and was not engaged in Pickett's Charge. Perry was killed in this attack.] He was reported wounded but never could get any trace of him. I was wounded the first day of July 1863 - a ball through my body, and was carried to N.Y. where I remained 'till Nov. 12, 1863, I was then paroled. After the war, cousin John Murrell took Ed Merritt and they went North to every cemetery and every hospital they could find, but never got any trace of either of the boys, Perry or John Murrell.

Simeon Murrell went out with us in February 1862, when we re-enlisted for the war. He died of Measles when we were going over to join Gen. Jackson's army in the Valley. It was April, we were camped on the Rappahannock River, when we had a severe snow storm. More than a third of our company were down with the measles. Most of the recruits that went out with us died at that time.

I enjoyed Cousin Isaac's letter very much, and would like so much to have a copy of it, but do not feel I can make it now.
Anna and Ione and I are living here in a nice home with Walter gave us. We are well, write again,
R. A. Smith

- from Historic Claiborne, 1965.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Rearing Children-Louisiana Style!

I put in bold some items I thought were of interest. I think if point VII were still in play today we would see a generation more motivated "to do" rather than the product we see today of most youths.

DAILY ADVOCATE [BATON ROUGE, LA], January 8, 1861, p. 2, c. 4
Rearing Children.—The following rules for rearing children are deserving the attention of every man and woman:

I. Children should not go to school until six years old.
II. Should not learn at home during that time more than the alphabet, religious teachings excepted.
III. Should be fed with plain, substantial food, at regular intervals of not less than four hours.
IV. Should not be allowed to eat anything within two hours of bed-time.
Should have nothing for supper but a single cup of warm drink, such as very weak tea of some kind, or cambric tea, or warm milk and water, with one slice of cold bread and butter—nothing else.
VI. Should sleep in separate beds, on hair mattresses, without caps; feet first well warmed by the fire or rubbed with the hands until perfectly dry; extra covering on the lower limbs, but little on the body.
VII. Should be compelled to be out of doors for the greater part of the daylight—from after breakfast until half an hour before sundown—unless in damp, raw weather, when they should not be allowed to go outside the door.
VIII. Never limit a healthy child as to sleeping or eating, except at supper, but compel regularity as to both. It is of great importance.
IX. Never compel a child to sit still, nor interfere with its enjoyment, as long as it is not actually injurious to person or property, or against good morals.
X. Never threaten a child. It is cruel, unjust and dangerous. What you have to do, do it, and be done with it.
XI. Never speak harshly or angrily, but mildly, kindly, and, when really needed, firmly—no more.
By all means arrange it so that the last words between you and your children at bed-time, especially the younger ones, shall be words of unmixed lovingness and affection.

"Fuss in the Family"

When writing Louisianians in the Western Confederacy I came across two references from soldiers in the 13th and 19th Louisiana Regiments that referred to Louisiana boys taking on second wives away from home. This story relates to this topic. Judging from the time and place, it is very likely the "nice young lieutenant" could be a member of the 4th Louisiana Battalion-which served in the Savannah-Charleston area.


Marriages in the Army—A Caution.—A letter from Raleigh, North Carolina, contains the following paragraph. It needs no explanation:
Some of our soldiers who have wives and children at home, have married again among the Virginia girls. The sweet, lovely damsels of the Valley and Fredericksburg little think as they take these gay young gentlemen for "better or for worse" that they have left other devoted wives and prattling chaps behind. An instance of this sort "leaked out" a short time ago. A "nice young lieutenant" of a Louisiana regiment wrote a very long, endearing letter to his wife and children in Louisiana, and about the same time wrote a most affectionate, loving letter to his newly married bride, who was staying a few miles away from the camp, and accidentally, but unfortunately for him, he sent the wrong letter to each, so that his lovely bride got the letter intended for the wife of his "busum," and she the other. I guess that made a "fuss in the family," of not in both families.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Unimpressive Start

Camp Moore was the organizaitonal point for Louisiana volunteers dating back to May 14, 1861. On that date units from the newly formed 4th Louisiana Regiment arrived and began clearing grouds for the influx of volunteer companies that arrived. Companies began arriving by the dozens and for most volunteers Camp Moore was the first "taste" of soldiering for Louisianians. The experience of James Preston Geren of the Claiborne Greys (future Co. D, 19th Louisiana Regiment) is an great example of the average volunteer facing the realities of war. Notice the homesickness, disatisfaction with army life, sicknesses and VERY surprisingly Geren was already hoping, "peace will be made soon."

Camp Moore
November the 13th, 1861

Dear Mother:
I seat myself once more to write you a few lins to let you know that I am well, being as Mr. Wellden is going back to Minden, hoping these few lines may find you all enjoying the same blessing of life.
Thomas Truly and Frank Osten is going back home as they are not able for military duty. And several of the company is unwell. I have written three letters to home and I have been looking faithfully for one but I have not got one yet. Please send me a letter by Mr. Wellden, when he comes back for I want to hear from home. Several of the boys has received letters. Captain Scott has been to the sitty. He just got back last night. He did not bring any news.
I am in a very respectable [?] the sickleast I believe in the company. This is the place to find a person out who has got a good faith and who has got a weak one. Some of the officers I like very well. Some I do not think so much of, but I will get a long with them as well as I can. there is a man here that has to stand on a barrell 2 hours in every day and part of the tim emust mark time on the barrel. Once man has to work with a block tied to his leg and a guard standing by him. Tom Sharp has been court marsheled for slaping his first Lieutenant. Jeff Davis will decide the case. Ten of our company has to go on fatigue every day, and so such work as we are ordered. They have had me out one day making boards. They will keep some of us on fatigue until we get our arms. I don't know how long we will have to say here but I don't want to stay here long. It is too sickly here but the people that has been staying says the health is improving. They say health is much better now than it was a while back. There are Sisters of Charity here tending the sick. They stay at the hospital all of the day but they could not be to me as a Mother. If I keep my health I can get along very well. I hope peace will be made soon. I have no news to write to you if I did I could write with more pleasure. Tell [?] for me to be a good boy and mind wha tyou tell him and I am sure he will come out better than to do his way. I would much rather mind my Mother than I would a kind and feeling man. Much less than some of these brainless officers. If we don't obey them we will be punished for it. Give my love to Uncle Hiram and Aunt Sally and all inquiring friends. Give my undefiled love to Mr. Brady and wife and accept a portion for yourself. I will quit as ever your son.

J.P. Geren

Be sure and send me a letter by Mr. Wellden and continue sending them by male. Tell Cousin J.N. Geren to write me.

From Family Trails, Vol. 3, No. 1, Aug. 1979, 9-10.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

16th & 25th Louisiana Flag @ WKU

Just an FYI to provide a link to Western Kentucky University's online images. This is the university that owns the 2nd National Flag of the 16th & 25th Consolidated Louisiana Regiment of the Adams-Gibson Louisiana Brigade of the Army of Tennessee. This flag was ordered made in late 1863.

They also have some good looking Confederate images of some lower grade officers and enlisted men.

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