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.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hall on the 26th Louisiana Infantry

Colonel Winchester Hall on the men of his 26th Louisiana Infantry Regiment. Taken from his book The Story of the 26th Louisiana Infantry in the Service of The Confederate States (1919).

"The regiment was composed almost entirely of Creoles, by that term I mean natives of Louisiana of French descent. The companies of Captains Bateman [Co. B, "Lovell Rifles" from St. Mary Parish] and Metoyer [Co. G, "Prudhomme Guards" from Natchitoches Parish], were about one half only of that element, the remainder being mainly of American descent; and there were portions of American descent, in all the companies. There some Irishmen, and very few Germans in the regiment.

"The officers were about equally divided-one half Creoles-the remainder of American parentage. the Creoles were brought up in the Roman Catholic faith. Subordination to 'the powers that be,' was the earliest lesson of their childhood; hence they were easily governed. Their duty made known to them, performance followed."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Rebel Yell??

Was reading about the 1st Battle of Winchester (May 25, 1862) in which Richard Taylor's Louisiana Brigade (Wheat's Battalion, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Louisiana Regiments) executed a brilliant surprise flank attack. The Yankee brigade that the Louisianians slammed into was commanded by Colonel George H. Gordon of the 2nd Massachusetts. Gordon was forced to relinquish is high ground outside of Winchester and retreat his men through the streets of the town. In doing so, Gordon reported:

"The yells of a victorious and merciless foe were above the din of battle...".

Heard above the din of battle? The famed 'Rebel Yell'?

Another account comes from Captain Samuel Zulich of the 29th Pennsylvania. Taylor's flank attack hit the right flank of Zulich's regiment. It attempted to turn and take on the Louisianians. Zulich explains what happened next:

"We received their fire for some minutes and promptly returned it. For a moment the enemy seemed to stagger, but it was only for a moment; for, feeling confident in their great strength, they charged down the hill upon us, with deafening cheers."

Friday, June 18, 2010

5th Louisiana: TROUBLE!

While conducting research work on the 8th Louisiana Infantry with my friend Wayne Cosby we came to the conclusion that the 5th Louisiana Infantry is a pretty obscure regiment. Very surprisingly with nine out of its ten companies all being from New Orleans it would seem there would exist significant accounts from that unit. Got curious, and did some searching of the 5th Louisiana in the Richmond Daily Dispatch. Ha! Found some interesting material on these guys...pfft, Wheat's and Coppens' Battalions! The 5th Regiment had some serious trouble makers. There are several stories here. See if you can see the very odd continual trend with members of the 5th Louisiana...seems they found an alternative and very illegal way to make money on the side.

December 30, 1861:
Fatal duel on the Peninsula.
A duel took place on Tuesday last, near Young's Mill, on the Peninsula, between Dr. Forward and Lieut. Jones, of the 5th Louisiana regiment. They fought with Mississippi rails, at forty pages; and both fell at the first fire. Lieut. Jones was killed instantly, and Dr. Forward survived only a few moments. We have not learned which was the challenging party. Dr F. was sutler of the regiment in which his antagonist was an officer, and the unfortunate affair grew out of a business difficulty. Their bodies were brought to this city in the shipsteamer Curtis Peck, (Capt.Freeman) and will be forwarded to Louisiana without delay.

March 19, 1862:
--The following parties were landed in the cage yesterday by the City Police: Wm. E. McGrady, for being a person of evil name, fame, and reputation, a graduate from the State prison, and deserter from the first RegimentVirginia Volunteers. Carter Winston and Thomas Jones, free mulattoes, were put in also for deserting from Captain Davis company, 5th Louisiana Regiment, and Edward Mullen, for stealing a pair of shoes from Mrs Kaughman South Main, between 17th and 18th streets. The last mentioned arrest was made by an officer of the 179th Regt.

March 20, 1862:
Mayor's Court, yesterday.
--Carter Winston, free negro, arrested as a deserter from the 5th Louisiana regiment, was let off.--Thomas Jones, free negro, a deserter from the same regiment, having no documentary evidence of his status, was set to work in one of the batteries near this city.--Edward Mullen, arrested for stealing a pair of shoes from Mrs. Morris Kaughman, was remanded for indictment for petty larceny.--A. Richards was fined $5 for employing his wagon on the streets without a license; Wm. Travis, $5, for failing to put his initials on his hack; W. K. Smith and Green White, $5 each, for employing their wagons for hire without a license.--Summons against other parties for like violations were dismissed, the proof being insufficient to convict. The military regulations have brought up the dishonest and unworthy portion of the hackmen all standing. They now have to go according to law, or not at all.

August 1, 1862:
--John Bulger, of the 5th Louisiana Regiment, has been put in prison here for having a pass under an assumed name.--Joel Sparks, for having in his house, below Richmond, near Read's battery, on theNine-mile road, a Yankee flag concealed.--Thomas Shechey and Thomas Fitzgerald, for attempting to get a passport on a forged voucher.--Henry Vogler, of Henrico, proprietor of "Vogler's Spring," is among the seven arrested for selling liquor to the soldiers, and now awaiting trial by Court-Martial.--Edward Courtney has also been imprisoned for inducing men to leave their regiments and obtaining passports for them under false pretenses.--Thomas Smith, for stealing blank pass ports from the Passport office.--H. B. Lipscomb, of King William, arrested on the charge of aiding and abetting the enemy, being-subject to the Conscript law, has been enrolled and sent to Camp Winder.

August 18, 1862:
By the Governor of Virginia — a Proclamation.
--Information having been received by the Executive that John E. Lehmony, John Fritz Kriebel, Richard Duff, Daniel Broderick, James Coyne, James M. Armour, Julius Sholly, George W. Cassiday, Charles Foster, William Amy, Michael Sheehan, Michael M. McLaughlin, and Thomas F. Eanes, have escaped from the jail of the city of Richmond, and are now going at large: Therefore, I do hereby offer a reward of three hundred and twenty-five dollars to any person or persons who shall arrest the said escaped prisoners and deliver them into the jail of said city of Richmond, or twenty-five dollars for such arrest and delivery of any one of them; and I do, moreover, require all officers of this Commonwealth, civil and military, and request the people generally, to use their best exertions to procure their arrest, that they may be brought to justice.

[There next appears a list of individuals wanted. I edited to show the one from the 5th Louisiana]

Thomas F. Eanes, charged with malicious stabbing, is about 5 feet10 inches high, light complexion, Roman nose, and rather sharp features, is about 30 years of age, and lately a Lieutenant in the 5th Louisiana regiment. au 18--3t.

October 30, 1862:
--A soldier named James Jackson, belonging to the 5th Louisiana regiment, was shot yesterday, about 10 o'clock, near the corner of 1st and Cary streets, by a person with whom he got into an altercation on the merits of the soldiers from Louisiana. The ball took effect in Jackson's head, and it was supposed caused a mortal wound. The perpetrator of the deed escaped.

October 31, 1862:
Proceedings in the Courts. [Edited to show 5th Louisiana]
John Robinson, a member of the 5th Louisiana regiment, arrested for obtruding himself in the private office of J. P. Ballard, of the Exchange Hotel, and resisting the watchmen, was detained to be reported to Gen. Winder.

December 10, 1862:
Proceedings in the Courts. [Edited to show 5th Louisiana]
Wm. E. Dillard and John Kellar, two soldiers, belonging to the 5th Louisiana regiment, were brought up on the complaint of Adelis Marrin, a resident of Lumpkin's alley, who charged them with entering her house on Tuesdayevening and breaking up a valuable stove and French plate mirror. The defendants had nothing to offer in extenuation of their conduct, save the fact that both were drunk. They were committed for indictment by the Hustings Court Grand Jury.

January 26, 1863:
Prison Items. [Edited to show 5th Louisiana]
Capt. George Hedler, of company I, 5th Louisiana, who was taken in custody for being a substitute agent. Seventeen hundred dollars, paid by parties for substitutes to this person, was recovered from him.

March 16, 1863:
Arrest of swindlers.
--An important arrest of swindlers was accomplished by Messrs Maccubbin, Clackner, Mitchell, and Hammen, of the Provost Marshal's detective force, on Saturday, at the Star Saloon, on Main street. The parties, at the time of the arrest were in the act of swindling a Mr. Wingfield, of Hanover, out of a large sum of money by the substitute dodge. E. C. Ingalls, private in company A, 14th Louisiana, in the city on furlough, was decked out in the uniform of a Confederate Captain, and in the act of receiving John Booth, of company K, 5th Louisiana, into an imaginary company as a substitute for Wingfield. John Harton was present as Col. D. Zable to give his assent to the transaction, and Dave Summers, another substitute swindler, was present to witness the transaction. The detectives made their appearance in time to prevent the loss of Wingfield's money, and took the bogus Captain and Colonel, and their two accomplices, to the Provost Marshal's office, where the insight of the assumed rank of the officers was turn off them. They were all three sent to the military prison of the Eastern District for trial. Their crime, by law, is punishes by confinement in the Penitentiary. The proof against the above parties is direct and positive.

March 19, 1863:
Two men shot.
--Two men, named Lewis Sweigar and Frederick Gropes [solder of the 5th Louisiana], were shot and dangerously wounded about two o'clockyesterday at a confectionery store on South Main street, between 7th and 8th streets, by one of two men, whose names were given to officers John W. Davis and John D. Perrin, who, soon after the occurrence, arrested and conveyed them to the cage as William White and William Bowen. The circumstances leading to the affair, as far as we could learn, were as follows: Bowen and White, who are represented as belonging to a Mississippi regiment, came into Sweiger's store yesterday morning and purchased several loaves of bread and departed. They came back about the hour the shooting took place, when Sweiger, who had missed $15 of his funds from the front store room, charged them with taking it.--This led to an angry alternation, and signs of a fight being imminent, Sweiger retired behind a wooden partition, and so remained until he thought the two men were gone. He then came into the front store, Frederick Grope, a furloughed soldier of the 5th Louisiana, accompanying him and going behind the counter. Unluckily, the two men were still in the store, and on Sweiger's appearance they commerced an assault on him. In a few seconds one of them drew back and levelled his musket at Sweiger, when Grope, from behind the counter, reached out his hand to seize it. At this moment it went off, and the round shot with which it was loaded passed through Grope's arm just above the wrist, thence into the left side of Sweiger, and passed through his abdomen, and thence through the wooden partition against which he war standing, and through one in rear of that, flattening itself against the brick wall composing the house.--Sweiger is regarded as dangerously, if not mortally, wounded. The wound of Grope will unfit him for duty for a long time. As before related, the men were conveyed to the cage for examination before the Mayor this morning.

May 30, 1863:
Substitute Swindling.
--Two men, named Charles Felburg and Thomas Delan, were arraigned before the Mayor yesterday, charged with forging a substantia paper and obtaining $2,600 from John Smith, a German, under false pretences. Mr. Aylett, District Attorney, appeared against the prisoner, Mr. J. H. Gilmer for the defence. It appeared that Smith had been commissioned by a friend to get him a substitute, and had been furnished with a paper by Felburg certifying the reception of a man in the army for which he disbursed $2,000. From the evidence, it appeared that the signatures of the officers purporting to receive the substitute had been forged, also the name of John Withers, Assistant Adjutant-General, giving his assent to the transaction. It was intimated in Court that one of the prisoners (Felburg) was a regular substitute agent, and had accumulated considerable money in that way. The precise connection that Dolan had with the transaction did not appear. Sundry witnesses of responsibility and standing were examined in his behalf, and testified that he had been a gallant soldier and bating a disposition to get into bad company occasionally, was above suspicion. He had been a Captain in the 5th Louisiana regiment, and resigned, and in Nicaragua commanded the 1st Rifles, under Gen. Walker; was repeatedly wounded, and showed the most gallant bearing. The District Attorney being called away to attend another Court, the further examination was continued until next Thursday. Both parties were admitted to bail in the sum of $500. It appeared that the money paid by Smith to Felburg had been recovered by the detective officers, who took him in custody.

September 23, 1863:
--John W. Taylor, a member of the 5th Louisiana regiment, was arraigned before the Mayor yesterday, charged with assaulting Joseph Kingalow in the street. A witness testified that the difficulty took place in the bar-room of James Gorman, on 12th street, between Main and Cary, upon the adjournment of which to the street the parties were arrested. Taylor was sent to Major Griswold for immediate transit to his company.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Letter from Camp Moore

Mike Jones at The South's Defenders Blog posted a write up on a letter written from Camp Moore by 1st Lieutenant Edward A. Seton of Company K, 10th Louisiana. GREAT letter. Jump over to The South's Defender to check it out.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Texans in Louisiana, early 1865

The surrender of Robert E. Lee's and Joseph E. Johnston's armies in April 1865 are well documented occaisions. The beauty of these surrenders, and even Richard Taylor's surrender at Meridian in May, is that they provide us with a lot of primary accounts and rosters of those surrendered. That changes quite a bit to what happened to Kirby Smith's Trans-Mississippi Department. When word came of the surrender of Confederate armies east of the Mississippi it did not take long for whole companies and regiments to begin to melt away in mid-May 1865.

John G. Walker's famous "Greyhounds" Texas Division was a mainstay force in northern and southwestern Louisiana for the better part of two years. Many a Texans from this division defended our state with their lives. General Walker reported to Kirby Smith in mid-May about his famed division:

"My obeservation convinces me that the troops of this distirct cannot be relied upon. They consider the contest a hopeless one, and will lay down their armes at the first appearance of the enemy. This is the unanimous opinion of the brigade and regiment commanders...".

Alwyn Barr described the end of Prince Camille de "Polecat" Polignac's Texas Brigade (another veteran of Louisiana battlefields such as Mansfield and Pleasant Hill) on page 56 of his book Polignac's Texas Brigade:

"Most of the men...had accepted ultimate defeat by May 19 and had gone home on their own accord. The remaining troops of the division [Forney's] had been discharged on the 20th. Thus, without fanfare or even the bitter memory of a mass surrender, the men who had made up Polignac's Texas Brigade trudged homeword."

Yes, the surrender of Lee was a serious blow to morale. No doubt. What I found fascinating, though, was a letter written to the Galveston Weekly News in ealry 1865 from a Texas soldier serving in Louisiana. Its no wonder that soldiers in Louisiana were very quick to melt away and go home with the news of Lee's surrender. Looks like these men were in a serious bind:

Headquarters, &c., Near Colqeut [Colquet?], La.,
February 25th, 1865.

Ed. News:--It has been some time since I saw they free and handsome columns. I have been far away to the northward, with ye cavalry, but I have returned, and as editors are presumed to know almost everything, we have decided to ask you some questions of vital importance to us, after first stating what we know relative thereto. Cotton by the thousand bales has been shipped to Mexico, and many thousand pounds of the precious article have been sold to Yankee trading boats on the Mississippi river; and the citizens tell us that their cotton has been taken by government officials for the purpose of buying clothing for the soldiers. And our worthy commanders, when questioned on this point, tell us that the cotton trade is absolutely necessary, to relieve the necessities of the private soldiers of this department in furnishing them with shoes, shirts, blankets, hats, coats, pants, &c. Laudable undertaking, is it not, thus to have the welfare and comfort of the private soldier so much at heart? But Mr. Editor, notwithstanding this exportation of cotton has been going on at a fearful rate, for two years, we have not yet had our necessities relieved. Plenty of time has certainly elapsed for as to have received the first installment; but this winter finds us, after an active and arduous campaign of ten months very destitute of clothing, in fact, almost naked. The citizens are surprised to see us in this condition, after hearing of the unceasing labors of the great men at Shreveport to clothe us.

There is not one soldier in every three of the rank and file of this division, that has a change of clothing, and there is not an average of one good blanket to every man in the command throughout and, at least, fifty men are now absolutely barefooted, and many more so nearly that they suffer intensely from the cold biting frosts that we have even in Louisiana. We have not tents or cooking utensils, but we care not for tents, pots, skillets, frying pans, &c. We can do as we have done before, bake our bread on boards and roast our beef on bricks. But when our tender hearted, considerate rulers have done so much and have labored so assiduously in shipping cotton both to Mexico and the Federal Union, to supply the soldier's wants, we think we should reap the benefits of their labors, at least, to the tune of one suit each year. If you have traveled much in the great State of Texas, Mr. Editor, within the year 1864, you perhaps know as well as I do, that nearly every town in the State is a military Post. These posts have their commanders, who rank from Lieutenant up to full Colonel. You will find also Post Adjutants, with rank appropriate to their responsible positions, and no town whether it be a Post or not, is free from A.Q.M's and A.C.S's. Take the two latter, as a clan, and it is as numerous almost as the sands of the sea. I have often asked myself the question: Where did they all come from? All of these officers, Mr. Editor, if you are a close observer, you find wearing the newest of uniforms, with glittering buttons thereon, and such quantities of lace, Mr. Editor, as is never seen on the battle field. And it is said by those who have been there, that the two hundred or more officers that honor Shreveport with their presence, dress in the same style. All must have and do have caps, cloaks, overcoats, &c. If this is the case, the wardrobe of one of these patriotic, heroic dandies would well nigh clothe a small company of private soldiers. Some of our boys thinks that the gentlemen above alluded to, have drawn the cloth that was purchased for them, with all the cotton; but then soldiers are so ignorant they don't know, and, in fact, have but little use for the little sense they have. What do you say Mr. Editor?

Sometimes it is the case that officers resign, way up here on the Northern frontier of this Department, and leave the service; go right to Shreveport or some other place, to see a Governor or a General, to see if it is possible to get an agency in the Cotton Bureau; to try their hands at relieving the necessities of the soldiers. (Only a few days ago, a Colonel resigned, and I fancy, from what I know, that, were another month has shown its tail, he will be rolling somebody's cotton bales.) After these men have been in the cotton trade six or eight weeks, we find them sporting gold watches, heavy chains and jingling double eagles for pocket pieces. Brass mounted McClellan saddles, silver plated bitts, ivory handled pistols and new pocket cutlery follow. At the end of six months, we see them purchasing plantations and negroes—wonderfully progressive—don't you think so? And the General or Governor who assists these men to position in the Cotton Bureau, is almost certain to receive a demijohn of fine brandy, a gold watch or something of the kind. Some of our boys think that there is a private understanding between these Generals, Governors and Cotton Bureau men, but I guess it ain't so.

Mr. Editor, was you ever a soldier? Well, if you never was, you know nothing of muster rolls, pay day, &c. We have all been soldiers for nearly four years and we know almost as little as you, who have never been one, in regard to these small details of military life. We were last paid on the 31st day of August, 1863—about 17 months ago. Our Quartermaster, Major P., says that he has received a written paragraph order, ordering him to make estimates for funds. But, Mr. Editor, this pleasant little incident related by the worthy Major, as plausible as it may seem, is no sign that we will be paid; it is only a proof that ye grand Quartermaster of ye Department wants to keep his clerks out of mischief, and he can do it most effectually by keeping them at work. We are told that the "new issue" is beautiful to look upon and easy made—in all respects much better than the "old issue"' but one of our boys tried to buy one bushel of sweet roots, some time ago, from a detailed twenty negro man, and he asked him twenty dollars in "new issue." Our boys, Mr. Editor, didn't have but ten dollars and they came away without the roots.

It is not likely that we will go into winter quarters, as it is impossible to forage our animals long at a place. However, the going into winter quarters is a matter of small consequence, as the winter is now nearly gone. Our boys are in good spirits, Mr. Editor, and will be ready for the field in a very short time, and they hope that, in the interim between to-day and the opening of the spring campaign, to welcome back their gallant leader, major General J. S. Marmaduke, who is now held a prisoner on Johnson's Island. We are all anxious for his early return. We have confidence in him, Mr. Editor, for he is sober, discreet, noble and brave. It would, indeed, be a happy day for his old Division were he to return to-morrow. Will our rulers do all they can to have him exchanged? I hope so.
Respectfully, Wallingham.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Not an "Extremely Agreeable" Ride

The Creole Guards was a pre-war militia company from Baton Rouge. When Louisiana seceded from the Union in early 1861, the Creole Guards were one of the "Baton Rouge Regiment" that participated in forcing the U.S. Garrison in Baton Rouge to surrender. Like all other companies in April-May of 1861, the company was sent south to New Orleans via steamer and then was shipped via railroad to Camp Moore. Once at the camp, the Creole Guards were attached, in mid June, to the newly formed 8th Louisiana Infantry Regiment, where it became Company A. That regiment was shortly ordered to Virginia, which is where this news piece picks up. A member of the company wrote to the Baton Rouge Gazette to give an account of their ride:

"On the 22d ultimo [June] we left Camp Moore and our beloved State, for Richmond, Va. and six days thereafter came to this place [Camp Pickens at Manassas Junction], our destination to Richmond having been changed at Lynchburg. The companies accompanying the Creole Guards - were the Sumter Guards, of New Orleans, the Phoenix Guards, of Ascension and Assumption, the Invincibles of Rapides and the Attakapas Guards of St. Martin, all under the command of Lieut. Col. Nichols and Major Prados, and forming the right wing of the 8th Regiment of La. Volunteers. That the trip was an extremely agreeable one to the members of our company and of the "wing", I cannot , by any means bring myself to say. We were made to change cars too often to make the trip "extremely agreeable." --- Just imagine! From Camp Moore we went to Canton, Miss. on the N.O. Jackson and Great Northern Railroad; there we changed to the Mississippi Central, and at Grand Junction, Tenn. to the Memphis and Charleston Road. At Stevenson, Ala. we took the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, the Eastern Tennessee and Georgia Railroad to Knoxville, Tenn., there the Eastern Tennessee and Virginia Road to Lynchburg, changing cars at Bristol, a small town half in Tennessee and half in Virginia. At Lynchburg, as I have already told you, our destination was changed, and by the Orange and Alexandria Railroad we came to this place. Those repeated changes threw everything out of order; caused the straying and loss of a rather too large proportion of a soldier's baggage, and greatly inconvenienced us all. The men, too, were on more than one set of trains -- placed in cars intended for the bovine species, and not the human; were closely packed together, without proper sleeping room; had to put up with more clouds of dust than were pleasant to their feelings, and were quite often short of the fresh water necessary to men subsisting nearly all the way on soldier's bread and fried bacon. Add to these that the men's provisions gave out, they having, according to orders given at Camp Moore, taken with them but four days rations, which, of course, did not last six days, and thus left officers and men greatly dependant upon their resources, and particularly wits, for their meals -- and also that for too many of the men, by their disregard of the laws of sobriety, and attendant ill conduct; by their negligence, by their stubbornness and bad-will gave to the officers and men much annoyance -- you must agree that our trip verily was not an "extremely agreeable" one.
The journey of the left wing of our regiment, which left Camp Moore two days after the right, under the commands of Col. Kelly and Adjutant T. D. Lewis must have been farther from "extremely agreeable" than ours. They were seven days on the way, instead of six, and had the misfortune to lose three men - two by desertion and one by death - all members of the Cheneyville Rifles of Rapides Parish, Capt. P. Keary. The man that died was named Connell, and very strangely was the only married private of the company -- the only one whose demise could have left a wife and children to mourn the abrupt termination of an earthly career that if prolonged might have been of great material benefit to them and to the South, now in need of the willing services of all her true sons. [Editor's Note: Private Connell was buried "on a hillock, outside Bristol, Va."]
But to cease the strain I was falling into, dear Gazette & Comet, there are two sides to every question, and so with our trip from Camp Moore to this place. If there were things calculated to prevent it from being and "extremely agreeable one," there were, per contra, much to render it so -- an intermingling of the pleasant and unpleasant, the former, with those accustomed to taking life easy, predominating. All along the route we encountered handsome receptions. In every city, town, village and borough - - at every station - - by the roadside - - by the wayside we met kind friends - - fellow countrymen - - to cheer us on. At all hours of the day, if not at all minutes, there were lovely and patriotic ladies to greet us with their approving presences and smiles and to wave us adieu with small Confederate flags and snowy-white handkerchiefs. Long shall we remember Tuscumbia, Ala. and its true Southern denizens men and women. There welcomed us a perfect host of heavenly creatures, so lovely that the Creole Guards almost fancied Tuscumbia was Baton Rouge, and you may rest assured they and the balance of the wing made themselves fairly hoarse hurrahing for the ladies. At Huntsville, Ala., we were treated to a sumptuous supper, and at Holly Springs, Wytheville, Va. and Lynchburg provisions by the baskets full were sent the men, and occasionally on the route we were presented with bouquets. Debarring the dust, the weather was delightful, and the sceneries, as all who have traveled the route we traveled know, was beautiful, particularly to that large number of the wing who, for the first time, found themselves outside the limits of Louisiana. Altogether I think I do our soldier's but simple justice when I say the unpleasant incidents of the journey are to be forgotten, overshadowed and eclipsed by pleasant ones; and was it required to make ten more trips, to be accompanied by ten-fold the number of unpleasant incidents, not twenty men of the whole regiment would refuse to undertake them, sacrificing all personal conveniences for the sake of the glorious cause in which our feelings are warmly enlisted."
- Baton Rouge Gazette & Comet, July 18, 1861

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Confederate Vessel Papers at Young-Sanders Center

Roland Stansbury, Director of the Young-Sanders Center, announced that they have completed an index to 32 reels of information on the Confederate Vessel Paper.

The Vessel Papers? Here is what the Young-Sanders Center says about the Papers:

The “Vessel Papers” was one of several files created during the late 19th century to facilitate research in claims cases. Following the Civil War, Southern citizens filed claims seeking compensation for property losses allegedly inflicted by Union forces. The treasury and Justice Departments, Southern Claims Commission, Court of Claims, and congressional claims committees were involved in processing these cases, and all, upon occasion, required documentary evidence based upon the confederate records in War Department custody. If disloyalty of claimant could be established by documenting services performed for the Confederacy, the claim could then be disallowed at a great saving to the Government.

Friday, June 4, 2010

14th Louisiana Goes to War

The following write up comes from Wayne Cosby. It is a first hand account of Private W.P. Snakenburg of Co. K, 14th Louisiana Infantry. Wayne informed me that the original source of Snakenburg's letter is unknown but his account was printed in 1984 in the Amite News Digest. The piece covers the formation of Snakenburg's company, the formation of his regiment, the trip to Virginia and early duty in southeast Virginia.

Part 1 - Off to Virginia
Aug. 29th, 1984

The writer was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on January 21st, 1844, where the Company was formed early in the year of 1861. I was then 17 years of age, and was a member of the "Hope" Base Ball and LaQuarte Club. The Club met one day in each week for practice on our playgrounds in Gretna, a village across the Mississippi River, opposite New Orleans. The club was composed of a number of young men, I think all older then myself, but none over the age of 20 or 25 years. There was and had been considerable talk of war, and several states had seceded from the Union and companies were organizing and drilling in the city. In our Ball Club was one member, Harry M. Myatt, who was also a member of one of the old Civic Military Companies and had some knowledge of drill tactics, and when going and returning from practice, would fall us in line and march us about different places and finally to the Union Hall on Jackson St. and dismiss us. From these movements of the Ball Club, we organized a military company and elected officers. David Zable was president of the Club and we elected him Captain of the Company. Henry Verlander was elected 1st Lieut., Harry M. Myatt, 2nd Lieut., and J. W. Wilson, Jr., 2nd Lieut. In a short while we had gotten together nearly 100 young men and went into camp for drill. We were given a very pretty uniform and also a flag by the Ladies and Citizens of the Fourth District. We were finally admitted as Co. F or Color Company in the 14th La. Vol. and sent to a camp of instruction near Amite City, La. , 68 miles from New Orleans. Col. Victor Sulakowski was our commander, and after being in camp a short time, changed our position in the regiment to Co. "K" or Skirmish Co., fearing to risk the colors with us, as we were nearly all young men and wanted us for skirmishers for the Regt. The Regiment was made up of ten companies, men of all nationalities and three companies were of men who could claim anywhere they were at as home, men who worked on the levee, loading and unloading boats all day and spend their wages at night for drink, sleep off their carousal under a canvas or tarpaulin until morning, then go to work again.

We stayed in camp near Amite City, La., drilling in regimental and company drill until the middle of July 1861, then started for Virginia. Col. Sulakowski was a Polander and had been a soldier from his boyhood. He had received a commission to enlist a brigade of Polanders, but, failing to do so, started to Virginia with our Regiment. We were first known as the 1st Regt. of the Polish Brigade. We left camp Pulaski (the camp near Amite City) about the 15th of July, 1861, for Va., traveling by railroad through Mississippi to Grand Junction; thence through Georgia and East Tennessee to Chattanooga and Knoxville; thence into Virginia to Bristol, Lynchburg and Richmond, where we went into camp at the Rocketts shortly before the after the battle first of Manassas fought 21st July, 1861. I expect the intention was to get us into Virginia in time for that battle, although we had not received any arms, not enough even to mount camp guard with and they were muzzle loaders, flint and steel guns. After leaving the Camp of Instruction near Amite City, La., a number of members of the Regiment would jump off the train at every depot and place where the train would stop, go into the bar saloons and take as much liquor as they wanted, then go back to the train. Many of the men got drunk by the time we got to Grand Junction, Miss. There Col. Sulakowski ordered the Regt. to go into camp, intending to remain until next morning. We moved off the train but a number stayed at the depot, where several got very drunk, came into camp, where men from two companies (the Rough Companies) got to fighting and others joined in, until the greater part of two companies were fighting. The Officer of the Guard, Lieut. Myatt, with this guard arrested all who were fighting and moved them out of camp for the purpose of locking them up in the town jail to stop them from drinking any more. On the way to the jail, the prisoners attacked the Guard and did disarm some of them of their guns and bayonets. Many of both guard and prisoners were clubbed and cut with the bayonet and large knives which many soldiers carried. The guard were finally overpowered and ran, some into a hotel, locking the door behind them. The prisoners, enraged at not being able to get into the hotel to the guards, gathered __________ and kindling wood, piled it up against the front of the building and set it on fire. About the time they set it on fire, Col. Sulakowski came up from town where he had been when the trouble was going on, with a revolver in each hand and going into the crowd, ordered first one, then another to go back to camp and if the man did not turn immediately at the command and go, he shot him down. There were one or two other officers shot down, nearly all by the Col. He then had several handcuffed and ordered the Regiment back on the train and started off. Of the number shot, five or six were killed, the wounded were left there in the hotel, which was not burned, for attention, also several that were wounded by the prisoners in the first fight, when they jumped the Guard. Those who lived came back to the Regiment in Virginia, when they got well. One of the men handcuffed was Private Tom Manion, of my Company. Before the train left Grand Junction, Miss., Col. Sulakowski wired all towns and depots ahead to close their bars before the train got there, which was generally done. During the trip the members of the Regt. cut the handcuffs off the wrists of those who were arrested, and, as they kept quiet, no more was said about the matter to them. The next stop for the night was made at Knoxville, Tenn., where we were marched from the depot to a large foundry yard, where were built high brick walls, with sheds built against them. Guards were mounted at the gates and none were allowed to go out unless he had a pass. At the depot where the regiment fell in to march to camp, some of the men got away from the companies and remained in the city. Knoxville, Tenn., was known as an abolition hole and was the home of Parson William Gannaway Brownlow, a strong abolitionist, and the head of his party in East Tennessee. Those soldiers who succeeded in getting left at the depot got enough liquor to get drunk and during the night tore one man's house partly down, got him out and rode him on a rail, because he refused to let them have more liquor. At that place the 14th La. were given the name of Wild Cats.

The next day we again took the train and next stopped at Bristol about daylight. Bristol is on the line of Virginia and Tenn., a pretty little place, where we stopped two or three hours. The doings of the 14th La. were well known on the road ahead so not much liquor was to be found there. With two or three of my company, I went to a private residence some distance from the depot and ate as nice a breakfast as I ever enjoyed. While we were gone for breakfast, the boys at the depot made a raid. In the depot and on the platform were a lot of hogsheads of meat for General Joseph E. Johnston's army at Manassas. The boys found a cask marked to Gen'l Pierre G. T. Beauregard, took out the head, took a number of the nice hams out for themselves, had them boiled, and so had cold boiled ham to eat while en route to Lynchburg, Va., which was the next stopping place. When we arrived there, we were again fell in line and marched to the Fair Grounds, but some of the same drinking crowd hid at the depot and stayed in the city and soon again got into trouble. Colonel Sulakowski came across some of them in a low part of the city, found a number drinking and fighting. He rode into them and struck several with his sword from the back of his horse. I did not see any of that trouble, but learned that one of my company was struck. His name was Private Dennis Keating who was afterward killed in battle. Another one of the Company, Private James Fitzsimmons, a young man drank enough by the time we got to Lynchburg and there so as to have fits. We stayed in the Fair Grounds one night and again took the train for Richmond, Va., where we arrived about sunrise and went into camp at the Rocketts on a ledge of ground between Chimborazzo Hill and York River Railroad in the lower part. Our drill ground was on Hill where now is a beautiful park. There is the best water running out of the rocks, I think, that I ever drank. In this camp I first saw the great woman spy, Miss Belle Boyd. She spent one night with us in Camp. While camped there, a court of inquiry was held to look into the conduct of Col. Sulakowski and other officers for killing and wounding so many men at Grand Junction, Miss. After inquiry was made, he was honorably acquitted of any wrong. A court was also ordered held, to try several of the Regt. for their conduct all along the route from Louisiana and in Richmond since being here. They were convicted and sentenced to have one side of their heads shaved and drummed out of the service. They went to Richmond, carried on as before, and we understand that they were soon killed by the citizens of Richmond. The Franko Guards, one of the three terrible bad companies, was exchanged for a company doing duty near Norfolk, Va., and I suppose the Frankos went there. What became of them afterward, I never knew. We remained in the Richmond Camp until late in August, then were sent to Yorktown, Va. While in Richmond, we saw a number of wounded soldiers who had been in the Battles of Bull Run and Manassas, also a great many prisoners who were taken in those battles. They were confined in what was termed "Libby Prison."
- to be continued

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