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, July 12, 2011

14th Louisiana Goes to War Pt. V

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. This piece covers the Gettysburg Campaign and late 1863.

Early in June we were put in motion again and started for the Shenandoah Valley via Culpepper Court House, Orlean, Port Republic. Gen. Ewell, who had lost a leg at Manassas, had been promoted and had taken command of Jackson's Corps. We caught Gen. Robert Huston Milroy and his troops in Winchester, and before he knew much we were nearly all around him. We fought hard and quick and got everything he had. All of his troops, excepting about 500 cavalry and himself were captured with a large lot of cannon, horses, mules, wagon and a quantity of flour, meat and Sutler stores, such as we had got at Bristoe the summer before.

This was the Battle of Winchester and was fought June the 14th, 1863. Our Division was place in position to cut off Milroy's troops when he would attempt to get away. He did try to cut his way through, but failed and lost everything he had but a few cavalry. Our Division fought and captured more Yankees then, than we had men and all of the horses and wagons. We rested on that field two or three days, then marched for the Potomac River again and forded it at Shepherdstown, Md., we marched through Maryland and Pennsylvania and right up the turnpike to Carlisle, Penn.

All that country is a good farming country. It is very pretty and seemed to be a wealthy country. On each side of the turnpike for long distances, cherry trees were planted and when we were there the cherries were ripe and we ate plenty of them.

We passed through Greencastle, Chambersburg and Shippensburg on our route. All of the towns were good size and looked like they did a good business. The barns in the country section were better than many of the dwellings. They were very large and generally two stories. The first story was used as a stable for stock and built of brick, the upper as a place for grain, crops and hay. They had very fine looking stock and we ate many fat cattle. Their horses were very large and looked like they were good draft horses, but what animals we bought and used in our wagon train soon gave out and soon got to be no account for wagon use. The people were generally abolitionists and many did not want us to get anything, not hardly water from their wells. We stayed in Carlisle two days the, then turned back to go to Gettysburg, Pa.

When we got back to Shippensburg, we took a road to Dublin, passed through and soon got to a very large rolling mill and iron mines belonging to Thaddeus Stevens, a Republican Senator and a mean abolitionist. We destroyed his mills and mines by burning and kept on to Cashtown. Thee we met Gen'l J.E.B. Stuart and cavalry, who had been riding all over that country.

That evening (July1), after leaving Cashtown, we got to Gettysburg and soon formed a line of battle on the left side of town. Gen'l Hooker, who had been in command of the enemy, had been superseded by Gen'l George Gordon Meade and he had gotten together all of his army and chose his position for a battle. There we lost heavily after a hard fight: of my Company wee killed Sergeant Mike and Private Dennis Keating. Gen'l Ewell's cork leg was struck by a missile of some kind and twisted his leg so that finally he was retired from field service and Lieutenant Gen'l Jubal Anderson Early was placed in command of our corps. We were all tired out after that fight.

On the 2nd of July, we charged from our position through a mill trail, up the side of the mountain (Culp's Hill) over the enemy's works but could not stay on account of no support and were ordered back. We lost our regimental colors there and did not get them back until in the winter. Our color bearer was cut off from us, in the fall back, and seeing that he was a prisoner, tore the flag from the staff and hid it. It was dark when we made the charge. After night the color bearer folded the flag around his body and wore it under his clothes until he was exchanged ad brought it back to us, after we had gone into winter quarters.

We fell back into Virginia and camped near Culpepper Court House, or near the Rappahannock River, and rested until October. We built very nice quarters, expecting to stay there that winter, but Gen'l Meade advanced his army to the River and attacked our line at the Rappahannock Railroad bridge. We drove him back to Bristoe Station and tore up the railroad iron from the River to Bristoe, about 12 or 15 miles, and hauled it off to Richmond. The fight was a running fight all the way until near Bristoe where the enemy hid in line f battle in a railroad cut and fired one volley into a new Regiment when they came near enough and ran off. They killed a great many in that Regiment.

In the fall back from Bristoe, I learned my cousin, John Schroeder, of the western army, died in New Orleans that summer. He was a member of the Perseverance Guards and was doing duty in the trenches during the Siege of Vicksburg, Miss., and contracted a cold, which finally caused his death. He was a prisoner when Vicksburg fell and with many others was sent to New Orleans to prison, and through the influence of friends and the city Fire Department, of which he was a member, got out of prison and home before he died.

From the Rappahannock Bridge we fell back to the Rapid Ann River, near Orange Court House, and camped near Pisgah Church. We rested until November, only doing picket duty on the line of the Rapid Ann River until the 27th of November. On Friday, the 27th, while our division was moving along the road, looking for the enemy who were on the move, two divisions that Gen'l Mead had sent across the River, made a dash for our wagon train and cut off one brigade from our Division, which left us three Brigades to fight two corps of the enemy.

I had been appointed with another sharpshooter by Brigadier Gen'l Alfred Iverson on fall back from Gettysburg and Major Gen'l Edward Johnson ordered out the first sharpshooter corps out of ranks, with instructions to deploy and go forward and find them and engage them. We went out, we did find them and we fought them until dark. After we found them, the line of battle was formed and they came into the fight, but after dark we left the field. There were too many for us that time. We lost here Tom Barkley who was shot through the neck at Seven Pines. He had both legs broken, one was cut off that night. Private John Ozier was shot through the head twice. We buried him alongside of the road, digging the grave with our bayonets and Private John Sweneger was also killed. We found and buried him three days afterward, after the enemy had gone back across the River.

A week before the battle, I and two others of my Company at dinner with Mr. Payne, on whose farm the battle occurred. His house was in the middle of the battlefield. His family were in the cellar during the fight. After dark we left the battlefield and continued on the course we were going in the morning, when they cut our Division in two, and joined the rest of the army who were lying in line of battle waiting for Gen'l Meade to attack.

But though we lay there three days in the snow, he concluded to go back and was gone when we started after him. He had recrossed the Rapid Ann with all of his force. We went back to our camp and stayed there all of the winter and until late in April, 1864. Only doing picket duty on the banks of the River and playing baseball. During the winter, we fought a snowball battle with the Brigades of North Carolina and Virginia and the fight was contested all day about as hard as any fight and many hard knocks were given and taken during the day.

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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