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.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

NY Times on the Destruction of Louisiana Countryside around Port Hudson

Yankee depredations in Louisiana is subject, in my opinion, that has fully been explored. Anytime I run across in relation to this topic is always interesting. A reported from the New York Times visited Port Hudson in February of 1864 and commented on the countryside surrounding the Union garrison there. I've included only part of the story that relates to the destroyed countryside. Notice the religious tone of facing judgement for rebellion in the reporter's story and notice how the reporter relishes in the abuse of the land.

New York Times
PORT HUDSON, La., Wednesday, Feb. 10, 1864

...All through the country it was found that old men, women and children are reduced to the most frightful suffering. To a people accustomed to all the luxuries which the markets of Europe and America could afford, how galling it must be to beg a little coffee of a poor Federal soldier! How hard it must be to be reduced to corn meal only! The wives of officers in the rebel army, of Colonels and Generals; those of men formerly styled the "Aristocracy of Louisiana," have approached our soldiers, saying, "Please, Sir, can you bring us a little coffee when you come again; we want some salt very badly, and our little children suffer for proper clothing." Although there are strict orders against supplying the rebels, male or female, yet the common promptings of our common humanity, lead our soldiers to share their rations with these starving aristocrats. To our own knowledge, families would have starved to death this Winter, were it not for the pity, the mercy of our soldiers.

We read in the Good Book, that men reap that which they sow; and the rebels, both men and women, have this truth brought home to them now. They sowed rebellion against the Government, and they are reaping starvation. One is the natural product of the other. Our loyal people in the North have no idea of the extent of suffering which sweeps over the revolted districts. This Winter, with its unusual cold and want, will be marked in the recollections of the ex-planters of Louisiana as the saddest period of their life. Were your correspondent an artist, he would paint a picture in which he would delineate the suffering of these rebels. It would be, in some measure, like one which he remembers having seen in his boyhood, representing Adam and Eve in the attitude of viewing at a great distance the pleasures and the bounties, the purity and sweetness of Eden, not forgetting the wiley serpent who had beguiled them, and which, with glaring eye and poisonous tongue, was pictured lying on the ground. The picture of these rebels would be thus: A splendid mansion in the distance, surrounded with beautiful trees and flowers; a coach and fine horses, with negro driver and footman, waiting at the gate; an immense plantation, with a vast number of slaves employed in "the cotton and the cane;" the driver, with his lash in hand, riding around; the "trader" and the auction for the sale of human "chattels;" the parting of families would be depicted by the child torn from its parent's arms; the iron shackels; the stocks; the sugar-mill; the cotton-gin; the loads of sugar and of cotton; and yonder the first gun of the war fired at Sumter belching confusion into and through plantations, sugar, cotton, slaves, planters, palaces and gardens; and then, over in a corner, alone, ragged, gaunt and mad, should stand the rebel and his wife; and a serpent, whose name should be Slavery, should be represented coiled around their feet. "Caught in their own Net" should be the name of the picture; or, if that would not do, call it "The Reward of Iniquity." In this picture we see the present condition of sugar-growing, cotton-raising, slave-breeding, sin-accursed Louisiana. But in the picture there should be a sign to represent a new and better order of things. Perhaps we have the subject here in Port Hudson. An American flag, and beneath it a new Yankee "church and school-house." This would be about as good a token as any.

In this connection it may be well to communicate an appropriate fact. Two nights ago, the first of a large number of newly-constructed regimental school-houses was dedicated, with appropriate services. Every shingle, and every plank, and every log of it had formerly been used in the interest of Slavery! Henceforth the cause of education, religion and justice shall be served by them.

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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