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.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

No New Orleans, NOW WHAT? Mansfield Lovell

"I shall occupy Vicksburg, and support Beauregard with
all the men I can organize and arm."
- Mansfield Lovell, April 30, 1862

Immediately following the fall of New Orleans, the burden of what to do next fell strongly on the shoulders of Governor Thomas O. Moore and the commander of Department No. 1, Mansfield Lovell. It is extremely difficult to juggle the struggle of both men at once during this time period. I would like to focus on Lovell’s role and the difficulties he faced. Aside from trying to do damage control for having lost the Confederacy’s biggest city, Lovell found himself caught between an angry Governor Moore, a shell-shocked Confederate government and increasing calls for men and guns from the Army of the Mississippi’s commander, Pierre T. Beauregard. Throughout this turmoil, he had to find a way to defend the Lower Mississippi Valley with practically nothing following the loss of New Orleans.

U.S. Grant’s push into western Tennessee at Forts Henry and Donelson, is what kick started the Confederate government to pluck soldiers from the Gulf Coast. On February 8th, the Secretary of War called on Major General Braxton Bragg’s army at Mobile and on Lovell in New Orleans to both provide men for Tennessee. Orders to Lovell were to send forth 5,000 men to western Tennessee. On February 12th, Lovell readied Brigadier General Daniel Ruggles’ Brigade (16th, 17th, 18th, 19th Louisiana Regiments) for Tennessee along with Gibson’s Battery. Soon afterwards, Vaiden’s Battery was dispatched north. The 4th Louisiana Regiment was collected from its various garrison towns in south Louisiana around Brashear and on February 26th it was shipped north for Tennessee. On the next day the 7th Mississippi was shipped out of New Orleans and the acceptance of the 20th Louisiana Regiment for service was sped up so that the regiment entered service with just 8 companies. Lovell reported to the Secretary of War Judah Benjamin toward the end of the month: “This will make a total of eight regiments and two batteries from the department, besides a quantity of shot-guns (500) and 1,000,000 cartridges.” [Note: The reason Lovell says eight regiments is because he is counting the dispatching of the 13th Louisiana back in November of 1861 to Columbus, Kentucky].

It was also at this time that the Confederate Government put a requisition on Louisiana on February 2nd to provide five and a half regiments “for the war.” As Lovell was stripping the organized regiments in his command and sending north, the state of Louisiana made a call for 5 ½ more regiments. Prior to the fall of New Orleans, there were only, in the words of Lovell, “…two or three regiments in process of formation under the last call of the President, who were entirely unarmed…” Soldiers being formed under this call came of no use for the Army of the Mississippi but instead became the nuclease of Lovell’s post-New Orleans army.

On February 26th, Governor Thomas Moore approached the Secretary of War with an idea to stimulate volunteers: “Raising war troops is extremely difficult and slow. If Beauregard's need of re-enforcements be as great as we here consider it, and you will accept volunteers for that special service for a few months, I can send him relief immediately. Answer quickly, and state shortest time.” Despite having made a call for soldiers to enlist “for the war”, Benjamin accepted Moore’s suggestion. On March 1st, Benjamin wired Moore and said: “You may accept all armed men that will go to re-enforce General Beauregard for a term of six months, under the law for local defense and special service.” This was even further reduced to a term of 90 days! From this call sprang the Crescent Regiment (24th Louisiana), the 5th Company of Washington Artillery was activated and the Orleans Guards Battalion.

Throughout February, Lovell remained very supportive and optimistic of the concentration at Corinth. In late February, with thousands of men leaving his department, a very optimistic Lovell boasted that even though he had to get Governor Moore to call out 10,000 militia to man New Orleans’ defenses, “Raw troops, with double-barreled shot-guns, are amply sufficient to hold our intrenchments against such troops as the enemy can send to attack them. Besides, I regard Butler's Ship Island expedition as a harmless menace so far as New Orleans is concerned.” Such optimism faded as he watched his department stripped of all of its organized men.

On March 9th, Lovell stressed his concern to Benjamin, after having listed all the units stripped from his command for Corinth:

“These troops have all been fitted out completely by the State. I have only furnished ammunition, subsistence, and transportation…You will thus perceive that this department has been completely stripped of every organized body of troops. To replace them I have called upon Governor Moore for 10,000 volunteers and militia for the defense of the lines about New Orleans, which call, I hope, will meet with the approval of the Government. Persons are found here who assert that I am sending away all troops so that the city may fall an easy prey to the enemy. All requisitions for ammunition have been filled until I have none left except what is in the hands of troops; neither have I funds placed at my disposal to create supplies in place of those sent off. If the enemy intends an attack here he will make it soon, and I trust no further calls will be made until we are placed in a defensible condition.”

When April 24th-25th came and Lovell faced an overpowering U.S. Navy breathing down New Orleans he was left with but a small “army.” Lovell described his forces on hand at that point:

“I will here state that every Confederate soldier in New Orleans, with the exception of one company, had been ordered to Corinth, to join General Beauregard in March, and the city was only garrisoned by about 3,000 ninety-day troops, called out by the governor at my request, of whom about 1,200 had muskets and the remainder shot-guns of an indifferent description.”

Lovell went on to say:

“I had nothing in the shape of infantry except the militia of the city, who had but few arms, and those mostly shot-guns, and two or three regiments in process of formation under the last call of the President, who were entirely unarmed.”

It did not take Lovell long to reach the conclusion that men, no matter the number, armed with muskets were no match for the U.S. Navy. He sought to avoid the destruction of New Orleans. As many men and material as possible were extracted from the city. Lovell appointed Camp Moore as the rendezvous point for the extraction of government goods and retreating soldiers. The Federal occupation did not take place for several days and Lovell was able to extract men and material as late as May 2nd! With the fall of the city imminent, many businesses quick accepting Confederate notes and many laborers refused to do work in the removal of goods. So, the removal of government property did not go easy. Worst, many of the militia and 90 Day Volunteers went home.


“A good many of the State troops and twelve-months' men have remained in the city, thus breaking up regiments and companies, and it is next to impossible to get them into any sort of shape for some days.”

In a telegram to Beauregard, Lovell explained his decision to leave New Orleans:

“I beg you will do me the favor to say to persons who ask where General Lovell and his army were when New Orleans fell, that all the troops that I had organized and prepared were sent to Corinth in March, and took a prominent part in the battle of Shiloh, leaving me with the heterogeneous militia of the city, armed mostly with shot-guns, against 9 and 11 inch Dahlgrens.”

Once at Camp Moore, Lovell had to asses the damage and attempt to organize a force to resist any Federal excursions out of the city. "I shall at all events be compelled to remain here for some time, in order to collect the various garrisons of the department and organize them into corps of some kind or other." His goal, as outlined in a communication with Governor Moore, was to create a force of about 5,000 men that was to work, "with corps of Partisan Rangers, might succeed in confining the enemy to New Orleans, and thus subject him to the disease incident to that city in summer." That plan was told to Moore on May 12th. On April 30th, though, he informed General Earl Van Dorn: "I shall occupy Vicksburg, and support Beauregard with all the men I can organize and arm." With New Orleans lost, Lovell's job of defending Department No. 1 now faced two fronts: Establish a new defensive point to hold the Mississippi River and the defense of a now defenseless Louisiana.

With such a daunting task, Lovell went to work. Before he could defend the entire Lower Mississippi Valley, he had to organize a fighting force to accomplish his goals. Lovell told Beauregard of his precarious position following New Orleans' fall: "A good many of the State troops and twelve-months' men have remained in the city, thus breaking up regiments and companies, and it is next to impossible to get them into any sort of shape for some days." Lovell was missing a large number of men who stayed home rather than follow the Confederate units out of the city. Most of the units chose to simply disband (the Louisiana militia and the LouisianaNative Guards are examples). Organized Confederate units, too, saw whole companies disappear. " The regiments I have are new levies, entirely undrilled and undisciplined, but composed of good men generally; but there is considerable indisposition on the part of many of the men to leave the State.” So were the conditions of the force Lovell was organizing at Camp Moore.

What exactly was Lovell able to extract and reform at Camp Moore? On May 2nd, he said:

“I had nothing in the shape of infantry except the militia of the city, who had but few arms, and those mostly shot-guns, and two or three regiments in process of formation under the last call of the President, who were entirely unarmed. I removed all the troops I could control to this point, where, by taking the arms from the militia and men over age, I have managed to get five regiments pretty well armed.”

He was able “to get five regiments pretty well armed.” Let us take a look at the units Lovell was able to extract and rebuild and became of them:

  • The 22nd Louisiana Regiment was decimated by the fall of New Orleans. The 22nd Regiment (General M.L. Smith’s old regiment) lost Companies H and I when Fort Jacksonsurrendered and of the remaining 8 companies there were only enough men to field 4 companies when the regiment was reorganized at Camp Moore. A total of four full companies called it quits when the regiment left New Orleans.
  • The 23rd Louisiana fared the same fate as the 22nd. The 23rd Regiment (Colonel Paul E. Theard’s regiment) was spread out all across south Louisiana on garrison duty. Company I of this regiment was lost at Fort Jackson and of the remaining 9 companies the regiment was only Companies E, F and K made it to Camp Moore. All three of these companies were stationed at forts outside of New Orleans. These three companies divided themselves up to form a four company regiment.
  • 26th Louisiana escaped from New Orleans with no issues. Being raised from southLouisiana units it did not face the issue that New Orleans based units did. It was sent toJackson on May 6th.
  • 27th Louisiana was actually organized at Camp Moore and from what I know it was not inNew Orleans at the time of its fall. On May 1st, it was dispatched to Vicksburg.
  • The 30th Louisiana Regiment saw three and half companies desert and stay at home rather than leave the city. Once at Camp Moore, Lovell rebuilt it back to a 10 company regiment. Then, for some unknown reason, Company K was able to go home on furlough – TO NEW ORLEANS. They never returned to duty. The regiment remained part of theCamp Moore garrison until early August.

Lovell did not confine his efforts to these units only. He was very busy at Camp Moore during May. He worked very hard to organize conscripts, volunteers and independent companies into new units:

  • 29th Louisiana Regiment (Colonel Allen Thomas’ 28th Regiment) was organized at CampMoore when Lovell added newly organized companies to a battalion that Thomas had already organized. The regiment was formed on May 3rd and was dispatched to Vicksburg on May 20th.
  • 9th Louisiana Battalion (17th Battalion or Stewart’s Legion) was organized at Camp Moore on 15th by Lovell with three infantry companies and one cavalry company.
  • 32nd Louisiana Regiment (Miles Legion) was thrown together on May 16th or 17th at Camp Moore that escaped from New Orleans.

This was an impressive little army that Lovell was able to arrange within just a few weeks of total disaster! So, what became of this of this force? Lovell had long identified Vicksburg, Mississippi as the hinge or rally point for the western theater. Somewhere around early April, Lovell began making efforts to develop Vicksburg. He had communicated with Beauregard for sometime in regards to the need to develop that position. As soon as New Orleans fell, Lovell did not waste a moment in immediately organizing a force to defend that position:

May 1st: 27th Louisiana

Early May: 8th Louisiana Heavy Artillery Battalion

May 6th: 26th Louisiana

May 20th: 29th Louisiana, 1st Louisiana Heavy Artillery Battalion

May 29th: 3rd Mississippi

Early June: 23rd Louisiana

On the night that it was apparent the city was going to fall to the U.S. Navy, Lovell wired the Confederate Government: “The enemy has passed our forts. It is too late to send any guns here [New Orleans]; they had better go to Vicksburg.” He next proceeded to request General Samuel Jones, commanding Mobile, to forward whatever heavy guns it could to Vicksburg immediately. On April 30th, just five days after New Orleans had fallen, he informed Major General Earl van Dorn of his intention to army and occupy Vicksburg.

To man this new bastion, Lovell immediately went to work reorganizing units at Camp Moore to serve these guns:

· 1st Louisiana Heavy Artillery Battalion manned the heavy guns around New Orleans, including 7 companies at Forts Jackson and St. Philip (Companies B, C, D, E, F, H and K). The three remaining companies were able to make their way to Camp Moore and reunited by May 3rd. By May 20th, Lovell had the unit shipped to Vicksburg.

· The 8th Battalion was so decimated by its retreat from New Orleans that it was reorganized into a three company artillery battalion to man heavy guns. Both of the artillery battalions were dispatched to Vicksburg in early May.

In less than month, Lovell dispatched six companies of heavy artilleryman to Vicksburg; the 22nd, 23rd, 26th, 27th, 29th Louisiana Regiments and 3rd Mississippi Regiment and on May 20th Lovell himself went to Vicksburg to speed up the development of that city’s defenses.

Lovell was proud of his little force he had accumulated at Camp Moore. In defense of his “army” against the criticism of Governor Moore and its capabilities to defend itself (and Louisiana) Lovell responded: “The men are in large part armed have plenty of ammunition, and are in as good order and discipline as I have ever known raw new levies to be with uninstructed officers.” Lovell went on to say, “In evidence of the discipline of my troops I have to adduce that on last night at a late hour the long roll was beat; in less than thirty minutes the whole encampment was under arms and in complete readiness for action. If they were all armed I should have no fear of any force he can send at present.”

From April 25 – May 20, the period that Lovell was a Camp Moore picking up the pieces from the fall of New Orleans, he was subjected to calls for reinforcements by Beauregard for his Army of the Mississippi. Beauregard was wrapped up in the Siege of Corinth and was desperately seeking more men and material. On at least two occasions (the only two I found so far) on May 2nd and 12th, Lovell had to reject calls from Beauregard for help. When asked by Beauregard to provide troops, Lovell declined to send any of his troops and said, “In my judgment the most energetic steps should be taken to confine the enemy to New Orleans.” He then protested to Beauregard for the confiscation of 800 guns bound for Camp Moore which deprived him of the ability to properly arm one of his five regiments.

Lovell did an excellent job in the month following New Orleans to reorganized Confederate forces around Camp Moore. Above all else, his quick reaction to develop and garrison Vicksburg was key in preventing that city’s fall in May of 1862. Despite these great successes, Lovell’s attention never really wandered to Louisiana west of the Mississippi River. It fell on the shoulders of Governor Thomas O. Moore to make something happen…

Sources Consulted:

  • Official Records of the War of the Rebellion (ORs). Volumes 6, 13, 15.

  • Arthur Berger Jr., Guide to Louisiana Confederate Military Units, 1861-1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989; paperback edition, 1996)

Further Reading on Mansfield Lovell’s Redemption

  • Arthur Bergeron Jr., “Mansfield Lovell,” Confederate Generals in the Western Theater: Classic Essays on America’s Civil War 1 (2010), 45-63.

  • Daniel E. Sutherland, “Mansfield Lovell’s Quest for Justice: Another Look at the Fall of New Orleans, “ Louisiana History 24 (1983), 233-259.


  1. That's a nice rundown. Thanks!

  2. This is really terrific. I am writing a novel, due out this summer, which involves a fictional member of Lovell's staff and needed to know the "what happened next". You were the one who supplied that for me. I thank you.

  3. Christopher, sorry for the VERY late reply. I hope it helps!


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