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.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

1st Alabama Diary at Port Hudson

Found another diary at the New York Times from a member of the 1st Alabama Infantry while at Port Hudson. This diary was that of Sergeant John A. Kennedy, Co. H, 1st Alabama. Its unclear how Kennedy was captured but in his Compiled Service Record (CSR) he was labeled by his captors as "Bearer Dispatches, Genl Pemberton." The New York Times reported that Kennedy carrying a "cipher letter" addressed to General Frank Gardner from Pemberton. Kennedy was attempting to cross lines with with correspondence? Below is Kennedy's diary that the New York Times published on June 21, 1863. It spans from April 25th - June 11th (the day Kennedy was captured).

The following two paragraphs from the New York Times' correspondent in Louisiana, "NEMO." He is setting the stage for the diary. Notice that NEMO edited the diary and left out a lot of information:

There is nothing of especial importance in this daily record of the life of a private soldier passed in the doomed rebel fortification; but as a type of what the soldiers are doing and suffering there, and the hopes in which they are indulging, it will be found very novel and entertaining. It is almost like being introduced, for the first time, behind the scenes of a theatre. The captured owner and author of the diary is JOHN A. KENNEDY, of Company H, First Alabama regiment.

The diary commences at April 25, and suddenly stops at June 11 -- the day on which he was taken. I shall pass over much that is purely personal and interesting to the general reader, as for instance, that on such and such a day he gathered and ate a lot of blackberries, or went out fishing, or cleaned his gun, merely quoting from day today, such extracts as may directly concern the "Yanks," as he calls us.

May 2. -- Fair and pleasant; rumors of evacuation of P.H. Guns being buried, &c. One ship, one trarsport, and Essex below. Went up river.

May 4. -- Fair and pleasant. Saw a great many dead horses pass down the river, and other signs of a fight above. Have been receiving no malls in several days.

May 5. -- The Yanks have come down, and been shel???ing Capt. STUBBS' men. All the infantry portion of the regiment have gone over.

May 6. -- The fleet is still above. The troops are leaving very fast; _____ all gone but Lieut.-Gen. BEALE's brigade and the artillery.

May 7 -- Upper fleet gone. Rumors of fighting in Virginia. JACKSON and A.P. HILL seriously wounded Gens. SMITH and BANKS are said to have fought. BANKS lost 10,000 men, and badly whipped. [Something new. -- NEMO.]

May 8. -- Several boats below. A transport is lowing mortar-boats behind the point; _____ five in number. One ship and one stop below, and the Essex. They commenced a bombardment.

May 9. -- False alarm last night Yanks shelled???e, and are shelling to-day occasionally. Five mortars are planted behind the point.

May 10. -- Yanks bombarded the latter portion of the night. Had??? artillery??? this morning. We had one Lieutenant and two privates killed and several wounded.

May 11. --???RMAN found a dead Yankee floating down the river, and sec???ed a gold watch and chain,??? $37 in greenbacks.

May 12. -- I was below last night on the river. Bombs saw thick. We had an election to-day for Lieutenant; Sergeant CARD was elected. We drew bear (Sic) on his expenses.

May 13. -- Considerable excitement last night. Boys all left the Hermitage. I sent half of my crew, Yanks are said to be in force two miles from the breastworks. I went to the breastworks. The Yanks cut the telegraph wire and destroyed a bridge five miles from here.

May 14.- We had a pretty hot bombardment last night. We are again in camps. The long-ranged guns drooped a few shells into our camps this evening.

May18. -- The Yanks came over to the Hermitage, and drove off the beef cattle. Sent over the infantry portion of the regiment, Col. LOCKE commanding, but the Yanks had left. They took Capt. PRUETT, Lieuts. ANDREWS CRYMES, and several privates prisoners.

May 19. -- The Yankee fleet is above. Our Co. has gone over the river. The boys has had a hot time over the river. Whipped the Yanks, 100 in No. Killed 2. Capt. KNOWLES captured a saddle, overcoat, &c. Dr. MADDING captured a horse, saddle and bridle. The boys captured some coats, hats, &c.; also a gun.

May 20. -- We are yet over the river. No alarm. Confirmation of GRANT's defeat. A detail was made to load the boat, but it failed to come.

MAY2l. -- Have received orders to go back to camps. They are fighting outside the breastworks. They brought in several prisoners this evening. Heroic conduct of a negro. The artillery is still booming outside the breastworks. There has been a severe fight this evening.

(Page 2 of 5)

May 23. -- We had an alarm. Capt. KNOWLES burned Dr. BATES' cotton last night. Went out to the breastworks. Very muddy. Lay on our arms all night. The Yanks did not make the attack. We hare returned to camp.

Hark! the alarm gun has fired. We doubled quick to our position. We are waiting for the advance of the enemy. Company F is out as skirmishers. The Yanks have been driven back. We are leaving our position.

May 24. -- There is heavy skirmishing all along the line. I think we will get a chance shortly. The Yanks are using their artillery in the woods. The lower fleet is firing. Our cavalry made a charge and killed several, also the commander.

May 25. -- We were thrown out as skirmishers at 2 o'clock A.M., and slept on our arms. At daybreak we were deployed forward. Skirmishing commenced at 9 o'clock. We have killed one and wounded two, which we captured; also, killed one and captured one horse, also three repeaters, two sabres and two saddles. We killed one.

The engagement began at 1, and continued six hours. We had a hot time, sure. We repulsed the enemy, first with yells, then the artillery opened on them. They dusted. We fought a brigade with six or seven hundred men. We lost several men. Our company lost none, but had three wounded. Thank Heaven, I came out unhurt. We had to fall back, being overpowered. The fight has ceased; it is dark. I have fasted all day, and have the headache very bad.

May 26. -- We are preparing for the fight, throwing up rails, and digging ditches. We have finished our breastworks. I never saw go much work accomplished in the same length of time. We had a fight at Sandy Creek bridge, and killed fifteen or twenty, and captured also one Captain. Fought at Plains Store, and slaughtered the Yanks. We have all lain down on the soldiers' couch to rest, with the calm celestial heaven and the gentle moon. Company H brought on the engagement above. All seems to smile upon the rebels.

May 27. -- Skirmishing all along the lines. It has grown warm. The Yanks attempted to charge our lower battery. They were repulsed with heavy loss. The fight has opened. Our skirmishers is giving it to them. The artillery is deafening; it is one continual roar. The muskets pop as fast as canes when the fire is in a cane-brake. Our skirmishers have been driven in. We are laying in our rifle-pit, awaiting the hated foe. All are cool and determined. The Yanks are laying under the hill, but if they come in sight they will catch it, s???ure as two and two makes four. The bails fly as thick as hail. Negroes are fighting us on the left. They attempt to charge our works, but were repulsed with slaughter. They say there was a regiment of Yanks behind to make them fight. [So far from this being the case, these blacks could not always get their white officers to keep with them. -- Ne???o ] Our breastworks caught fire. We had a hot time putting it out. The Hest???ans have made five assaults upon our works, nut were repulsed with great loss. Yankee tricks. We had two men wounded to-day. The fight opened at daybreak and closed after dark.

May 28. -- The fight has opened. It opened at day-break. I am very sleepy. The fight ceased at 11 o'clock. An armistice was a????eed upon by both parties until 2 o'clock, and has been extended until 6, for the Yanks to bury their dead. The Yanks attempted to storm our works a dozen times, and was repulsed with great loss. They carried planks to cross the ditches. The Yanks are burying their dead in a ditch. Their loss is heavy. The armistice has been extended until 7. The armistice is out, the fight has been resumed with redoubled fury.

May 29. -- The fight continued until long after night yesterday evening. The fight has opened -- it opened at daybreak. The Yanks played a trick; they built a battery under a flag of truce. [False. -- NEMO.] The fight has been very warm to-day. I received a shot in the foot, but it is slight. The Yanks attempted to charge the works, but was repulsed. It has clouded up and is raining. We have a muddy time -- a very wet time for sleeping.

(Page 3 of 5)

May 30. -- The fight opened at daylight. Our company has three wounded in the hospital. The Yanks have been sharpshooting all day. We have lost but one man belonging to Co. B. The Yanks are building rifle pits -- they fire very close. I have been sharp-shooting some to-day. The boys are very lively.

May 31. -- We had a very hot time last night. We have quit living like men, and are living like hogs. The Yanks have built rifle-pits with portholes. Our battery was silenced this morning. Five of Co. A was wounded. Our regiment has lost 26 killed and 40 or 50 wounded. We have been relieved from our position by MILES' Legion. We will return to our position, I guess, to-morrow. The Yanks are shelling from the lower fleet. Ten of us are going at a time to camps, to get clean clothes.

June 1. -- I was on guard last night. The Yanks shelled us last night but did no damage. SAM HAGIN and BOB BAILEY was killed by a rifled cannon shot this morning. The Yanks are still sharp-hooting, also using their artillery. They have dismounted all our guns. They are the best artillerists I ever saw. The lower fleet has pitched us a few shots from Long Tom.

June 2. -- The lower fleet shelled us last night. I am a???e unwell this morning. There has not been much fighting to-day. The artillery is booming occasionally, and the sharpshooters are still popping away. The Yanks threw a few balls at one of our batteries near us to-day. It is reported that we have reinforcements between Clinton and Osica.

June 3. -- The Yanks has been shooting all around us to day. The Hessions seem to be rather afraid to attempt to storm our works again; but seem rather inclined to starve us out. I hope we will receive reinforcements in time to prevent it. Heaven help us!

June 4. -- I am very unwell this morning. The lower fleet shelled us last night. The shells made the boys hunt a place of safety; such as ditches, rat-holes, trees, &c. We are going to our old position, I am sick at camp.

June 5. -- We are s???ill besieged by the Yanks. Another any has passed and no reinforcements. SIM HERRING was wounded in the head to-day. The Yanks are still sharpshooting, also using their artillery with but little effect. We hear a great many different reports.

June 6 -- The river is falling very fast. It is very, very hot weather. Several shots from "Whistling Dick" came over our camp to-day. SEWELL is shell???g the Yanks I expect to go to the breastworks in the morning. Several of the boys are at camp sick.

June 7. -- Another day has dawned and no reinforcements. I shall go to the breastworks this morning. The Yanks are still popping away from their rifle pits. One of Company B was killed to-day while looking over the breastwork. It is very, very hot,??? we have la???n in the ditch all day.

June 8. -- The Yanks began to sharp shoot at daybreak. We had two men killed yesterday. Iam afraid some of our company will get shot next. Another day has dawned and no reinforcements, but I hope we will receive them soon. The Yanks have been shelling our breastworks, but no damage done. It is very disagreeable sitting in these dirty ditches -- but this the Confederate soldier expects and bears cheerfully; but another long hot day has passed and who knows what may be our situation at this time tomorrow evening.

June 9. -- The Yanks attempted a charge last evening, but was repulsed. Whistling Dick is at work to-day. It has played a full hand, too. Whistling Dick is tearing our camps all to pieces. CHARLIE DIXON and BERRY HAGIN was wounded by fragments of our cook, shelter, which was shot down. Our sick has been removed to the ravine. It is difficult to get something to eat. The Yankee artillery is praying upon us all around. The Heshians burned our commissary with a shell to-day.

June 10. -- Another day and night has passed, and this poor, worn-out garrison has received no assistance. We have lain in the ditches twenty days, and still there is no prospect of succor -- but I truly hope we will soon receive reinforcements. The men is getting sick very fast. The Yankee artillery is keeping a dreadful noise. I and MORMON have been detailed for some extra duty. The Hessions gave us a few rounds as we were crossing the field. I received dispatches from the General in person.

June 11. -- The Yanks used their artillery at a tremendous rate last night. I went to or attempted to visit Col. Steedman's Headquarters. I had a gay time trying to find them; falling in ravines. &c. I was in a hot place, shore. We captured a Yankee Captain and Lieutenant last night. The Yanks seemed disposed to make a general assault last night."

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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