LOUISIANA IN THE CIVIL WAR

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SCOPE & CONTENT

The goal of Louisiana in the Civil War is to provide an online resource of information and links to our great state's involvement in the war. Topics expected to be commonly covered are: Battles fought in Louisiana, battles that Louisianians participated in, unit histories, rosters, uniforms and equipment of Louisiana soldiers, personalities to include not only the leadership of the state and armies but the common soldier, flags and resources to research/read on the state's role in the war.



Louisiana in the Civil War strongly supports the input of the Civil War community. Submissions of stories, information, etc. are welcome and full credit will be given for what we share.

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Bourbeaux

Bourbeaux
Skirmish at Buzzard's Prairie (Chretien Point Plantation), October 15, 1863

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

John McGrath, "In a Louisiana Regiment" Part V

John McGrath began his military career as a Sergeant in the Delta Rifles of the 4th Louisiana Regiment. We have several of his accounts posted at Louisiana Civil War documenting his role in the 4th Louisiana. McGrath also took the time to write the New Orleans Picayune and include a brief write up of his early days in 13th Louisiana. He actually focuses his attention on joining "Avegno's Zouaves" as a Lieutenant. The six companies of the Governor Guards' Battalion ("Avegno's Zouaves") combined with four independent companies to form the 13th Louisiana in September of 1861.

In a Louisiana Regiment.

New Orleans Picayune, Aug. 2, 9; Sept. 6, 1903


Well, we are off at last. Off to where battles are being fought and where heroes are developed, and every officer and enlisted man in the Thirteenth is eager and anxious to participate in the fray. The all-absorbing desire is to reach a battlefield before the war closes. ‘It cannot possibly last longer than six months,’ say the wise ones. ‘Were not Mason and Slidell taken from an English ship and will not Great Britain avenge the gross insult to her flag?’ With an English fleet at their doors and Southerners at the heels of their soldiers, [117] short work will be made of the Northern armies. Throw fresh fuel into the furnace, firemen. Put on more steam, engineer, to hurry us on our journey. It depends largely on the speed of the boat whether we return conquering heroes, to be welcomed by the shouts and cheers of grateful and admiring thousands, or slink back to peaceful pursuits ‘unknown, unhonored and unsung.’ Ah! my debonnaire comrades, could you but glance into the book of fate and read what is there recorded; see before you the long, weary marches under burning suns, pelting rains or cutting hail storms, your hearts would be heavy and your faces serious. Could you, Major, see that shallow grave gaping to receive your mortal remains on the fiercely contested field of Shiloh, you would cease the interesting story you are telling and turn to beads and prayer. Charley, gallant, light and hearty Charley, could you picture in your mind that solemn midnight scene, on the banks of Stone river, where your body was laid away by tender hands of comrades, Il Trovatore, snatches of which you are softly humming, would suddenly cease and in its stead arise the solemn De Profundis.

Comfortably seated in an armchair, inditing these crude reminiscences forty-two years after, it appears strange and unreasonable that young men are ever ready to leave the comforts of home life to go where chances of early sepulcher are great, limbless bodies abundant, and at the best only hardships and suffering are to be found. So it was, is and always will be.

Readers of these sketches must expect quite a number of twists in the thread of my story. I am not writing a history of the 13th, but my own experience, as a soldier ‘in a Louisiana regiment.’ History tells the tale of the regiment. Nor will I cover more ground than that occupied by the Louisiana Brigade of the Army of Tennessee. While I was at the birth, baptism and death of that great Southern army, I only know what occurred outside of my brigade by hearsay. It was understood in our regiment that they who knew most of the general features of an engagement were company cooks, servants and skulkers, who gathered around wagon trains and viewed ‘the battle from afar.’ I felt in those days that a soldier who stood by his colors was doing his full duty without wandering over the field, watching the operations of brigades to which he did not belong. The truant's excuse, ‘I became entangled with other troops and could not again find my regiment,’ was met by a sneer in the 13th, and to avoid being sneered at, if not for loftier motives, [118] I confined myself and my knowledge of battles to regimental and brigade lines.

Now that we are afoot and fairly on our way, it might be well to furnish a roster of the regiment, which was as follows:

Randall Gibson, Colonel; Aristide Gerard, Lieutenant-Colonel; Anatole P. Avegno, Major;——King, Adjutant.

First Company, Governor's Guards—Auguste Cassard, Captain; Charles Richard, First Lieutenant; Victor Mossy, Second Lieutenant; Victor Olivier, Junior Second Lieutenant.

Second Company, Governor's Guards—J. Fremaux, Captain; B. Bennett, First Lieutenant; C. H. Luzenburg, Second Lieutenant; Charles Hepburn, Junior Second Lieutenant.

Third Company, Governor's Guards—Bernard Avegno, Captain; St. Leon Deetez, First Lieutenant; Henry Castillo, Second Lieutenant; Eugene Lagarique, Junior Second Lieutenant.

Fourth Company, Governor's Guards—M. O. Tracey, Captain; Hugh H. Bein, First Lieutenant; Eugene Blasco; Second Lieutenant; George W. Boylon, Junior Second Lieutenant.

Fifth Company, Governor's Guards-Lee Campbell, Captain; John M. King, First Lieutenant; J. B. Sallaude, Second Lieutenant; Norman Story, Junior Second Lieutenant.

Sixth Company, Governor's Guards—W. Dubroca, Captain; John McGrath, First Lieutenant; A. M. Dubroca, Second Lieutenant; Robert Cade, Junior Second Lieutenant.

St. Mary Volunteers—Thomas G. Wilson, Captain; James Murphy, First Lieutenant; H. H. Strawbridge, Second Lieutenant; Adolph Dumartrait, Junior Second Lieutenant.

Gladden Rifles—William A. Metcalf, Captain; John W. Labuisse, First Lieutenant; Walter V. Crouch, Second Lieutenant; E. B. Musgrove, Junior Second Lieutenant.

Southern Celts—Stephen O'Leary, Captain; John Daly, First Lieutenant; E. J. Connolly, Second Lieutenant; John Dooley, Junior Second Lieutenant.

Norton Guards—George W. Norton, Captain; M. Hunly, First Lieutenant; A. S. Stuart, Second Lieutenant; George Cammack, Junior Second Lieutenant.

J. M. Parker, Sergeant Major.

Colonel Gibson, a graduate of Yale, wealthy, refined and polished by travel and association with the most famous men of the day, served as Colonel or Brigade Commander from the firing of the first gun until the battle-torn and stained flags of the regiments were [119] furled for the last time, and never missed a battle or skirmish in which his command was engaged, and these numbered one hundred or more. In my opinion, Gibson was not what one might call a great commander, but that he was a brave and faithful one his splendid record bears testimony. He was a good soldier, if not a military genius.

Lieutenant-Colonel Gerard was a Frenchman by birth and a soldier by profession. He was a master of the science of war, and brave to a degree of rashness. Arriving in New Orleans some years previous to the war, while occupying an editorial position on one of the French papers, he became prominent through a duel with a notorious duelist, in which the latter was fatally wounded. Colonel Gerard was not long with the regiment, receiving a severe wound atFarmington, and upon recovery being assigned to duty in the Transmississippi Department.

Major Avegno was a Creole of Louisiana, educated, refined and wealthy. His service was also short, as he fell mortally wounded on the second day at Shiloh, and died a day or two after.

Adjutant King, at the breaking out of the war, was a second lieutenant in the United States Army, resigning to take service with the Confederacy. He was a thorough soldier, and to him in a great measure was due the fine discipline and perfect drill which were always characteristic of the regiment.

At one of the landings made by the boat it was learned that a battle had been fought at Belmont, opposite Columbus, and that the Yankees had been defeated with great loss and had returned to Cairo pell-mell, and that, too, without the presence of the 13th. Thus, thought we, faded the only opportunity of ever facing the enemy. Defeated at Manassas and at Belmont, the Federals would realize the folly of attempting invasion of the South and throw up the sponge. The disappointment had a most depressing effect on officers and men alike, the former cursing the slowness of the boat, while the latter, more superstitious, laid it on the unlucky number of the regiment. ‘Oh, why the blazes did I join the 13th. I might have known we'd be unlucky,’ was a common remark. It was a most discouraging piece of news to all, but I lived to see a time when the boys were not so anxious; when they could have remained on board a Confederate boat with perfect complacency while others were dying. The 13th always performed its full duty when called upon; the men did the fighting falling to their share, but, like the man who ate the crow, ‘didn't hanker arter it.’ After one or [120] two good stiff battles indignation meetings were not held if the regiment found itself in reserve. We might say right here, however, that no battle was fought by the Army of Tennessee where we were overlooked, when a battery was to be captured or a line of battle attacked. ‘Oh, go on, Mike, don't ye know we'll be sent in. We're not voters, an' they'll want to save the Hoosier regiments so as to have as many men after the war as they can to vote. Every last man of the colonels will be running for office,’ I heard one of the men of the Southern Celts say on one occasion.

About evening of the sixth day the journey ended. Columbus was covered by snow and the men without overcoats. Crowds of soldiers came down to the river to see us land, and as many of these had never seen a zouave before, they were surprised beyond measure. They took the baggy trousers for petticoats and one loud-mouthed Hoosier shouted: ‘Jeems, come over here and see the Loosyane wimmen soldiers. All of you'ns come.’ Disgust was plainly discernible on the countenances of the men at being taken for women, and the remarks addressed to the country soldiers were not such as to be printable.

At last the 13th was at the front.




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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