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.

Friday, March 30, 2012

12th Louisiana Veteran Remembers the War

Wayne Cosby forwarded this story on a veteran of the 12th Louisiana Infantry, Company K by A.P. Stuart.  This article comes from The Caldwell Watchman, Columbia, LA  Friday June 4, 1926.

Veteran Writes War Experiences
By Albert Pike Stuart
A.P. Stuart lived near Monroe, La. and joined the Confederacy at age 17.  He enlisted at Camp Moore in Co. K, 12th Louisiana Infantry on August 12th, 1861.  His brother, Levi, was also in the Confederate army but was killed at Baker’s Creek, Miss.  After the war, “Uncle Pike” returned home to Caldwell Parish and ran the post office, a general store, a blacksmith shop and a shoe store.  He writes this memoir many years after the war but evidently several instances stuck clearly in his mind those many years.

“In response to a request that I write a sketch of my services as a Confederate soldier, I will do my best with a very much impaired memory.
I joined the 2nd company of Infantry volunteers that went from Caldwell parish: J. A. Boyd was our first captain.
Our first destination was Camp Moore for training under General Tracey, and from there we went to Columbus, Ky.  There we stayed – built breastworks, magazines, mounted cannons, and buried our companions that died there from pneumonia.  My company lost 31 men in 30 days from that disease.
Columbus was the best fortified place in the South.  Jeff Davis’ brother-in-law, who was said to be one of the best civil engineers in this country at that time, assisted in planning the fort.  I was within a few feet of him when he was shot by accident after which he lived only a few hours.
Belmont, Mo., is just across the river from Columbus.  Our commander thought advisable to keep a guard at that point.  So there were stationed two small Arkansas regiments at that place.  On the morning of November 7th, very early, Gen. Grant, who at that time was Colonel Grant, took this little guard by surprise and had them completely surrounded before they knew it.  They had only a few rounds of cartridges for each gun.  The Arkansans put up a brave fight as long as they had ammunition.  They were soon driven into the river and killed without mercy with their hands up begging to surrender.
On the east side our army of 75 thousand men was soon in line for battle.  The 11th and 12th Louisiana regiments were ordered to cross over to support the Arkansas troops or what was left of them.   The 11th was marched on board of a steamer first and then the 12th followed.  When the boat started across, Col. Marks shouted: “Attention, 11th Louisiana – load at will; “ – next command, “fix bayonets.”  As soon as the boat neared the bank, the old colonel ordered charge at will and give them the bayonet.  That was the only time during the war that I saw the bayonet put to use.  The 12th commenced shooting as soon as the boat got near enough to them.
About this time, the noted rifle-cannon “Lady Polk”, which was stationed on the east bank, came into action throwing nearly a half-bushel of canister shot among the enemy’s lines every few minutes.  This soon ended the Battle of Belmont.
Col. Grant and his escorts mounted their horses and made their escape through the country back to the main army – leaving the infantry of his command to get back to the boat that brought them down as best they could.
While we were there in camp suffering from the cold and working almost day and night trying to be ready for the great battle that we thought was going to be fought at that place – there appeared in our camps (as we supposed) an old Irish woman who peddled daily with her handle-basket on her arm selling cider, cakes and pies to the soldier, but who proved to be an accomplished spy sent by Gen. Grant to investigate the situation.
In his report he says: “Gen. Grant, we have not enough men in our army to take that place – what are we going to do about it.”  Grant replied: “I never cross the bridge until I get to it.  Perhaps we can’t go through, under, nor over it – but there is room to go around it.“   This proved the case, so that all hard work was for naught.
Our next move was to Fort Pillow, where we withstood the siege for 8 long weeks, during which time the enemy was constantly throwing shells into our camp, day and night, from their fleet of boats anchored just above and out of reach of our small guns.
From Fort Pillow we went to Memphis, Tenn., where we remained one week and then left for, I think, Union City, Tenn.; thence to Grenada, Miss. And then to Holly Springs.
At Holly Springs, early one morning while we were preparing our scanty breakfast, the battle cry was sounded.  The Federals had secretly approached and was firing on our out-posts.  They were soon on the retreat with our army following until they reached Corinth, where they made a stand and the second battle of Corinth was fought with great slaughter to both armies, especially the Southern.  Corinth could have been captured the 1st day of the battle if Gen. Prices had been in command.
For some unknown reason we were kept in line of battle all night under the fire of the enemies pickets during which time, we could hear the trains coming in with loads of re-inforcements for the enemy every few hours.  The first evening after we arrived at Corinth, Gen. Price wanted to make a general attack from all sides.  He thought that by so doing he could capture Corinth in 40 minutes.  I believe it could have been done in 20 minutes.  I think it was Gen. Grant’s plan to have us capture Corinth, so that he could have our forces concentrated so that he could surround in a state of siege until we could be forced to surrender just as he did at Vicksburg.  Gen. Lowell was criticized as a traitor for not taking Corinth.  I think he could see into Gen. Grant’s plans and refused to go into the trap, and had us retreat before Grant could get his army stationed, so as to hold us in.
Our retreat for the first 10 miles was on the “Bone-yard” road; it was extremely rough and rocky, which we traveled over during a very dark night.  We got back to Holly Springs in a state of semi-exhaustion with a lot of our men left behind dead without having accomplished any good.
From Holly Springs we went to Jackson, Miss.  Just before we reached Coffeeville, the Kansas Jay-hawkers ambushed us.   A few shots from our muskets put them to flight.
From Jackson, we went in back of Vicksburg, where the Battle of Baker’s Cree was fought; some thought we gained a victory there.  I think the whole maneuver was just as Gen. Grant planned it, except that Johnson refused to into Vicksburg with his army.  Then followed the siege of Vicksburg with it’s horrors, privations, and suffering that words cannot describe.
After the fall of Vicksburg, came the siege of Jackson, which lasted 8 days, during which time skirmishing was kept up.  My brigade was stationed above Jackson, near the river in the edge of large field of corn.  We prepared for battle by throwing up light breast-works the entire length of our brigade when deployed in double line.
Early one morning we saw the skirmish line approaching, followed closely by the enemy’s line of battle coming in perfect military order.  Our colonel ran up and down the front of our line and coached us not to shoot until he gave us the order.  After they got within about 60 yards of us, the order came:  “Attention, battalion, make ready – take aim – fire!”  It sounded almost as one gun.  What few that were not killed or wounded that made the trip, surrendered.  The enemy consisted of only one brigade, mostly from Indiana and Illinois.
That night I was place in vidette with six of my comrades.  We were placed about 60 yards apart with orders to remain until the night following which meant 24 hours we had to be placed before relief.  After dark on account of the enemy’s guns, each army was protected by such a line as a protection against a surprise.  We were ordered to shoot anyone who might approach from the enemy; these were long hours.  Every time a stick would crack, we expected the enemy.
After a very tiresome waiting, the night vanished and day approached.  I could see no sign of a living human – had been squatting very low behind man and decided they were gone.  I sat on a log which was very tiresome to me.   The man that was in front of me on the enemy’s side must have seen my head, for a bullet came close enough to my face to feel the wind as it passed.  I saw the smoke from the gun, but never did see the man.  We did not expect to be relieved until about 11 o’clock at night.  We waited all night, and no relief came.  After the sun was up I called to the enemy and got no answer.  The, I gave the signals for my comrades.  They were soon with me.  We were lost in bewilderment, so we started for our camp, ad met up with an old citizen that told us that both armies were gone.  We went into Jackson and found that both armies had evacuated that night.  We were fed by some of the citizens and after a good breakfast, we started to find our command, which had gone to Morton Station.
About this time, Sherman’s raid was being made.  We were kept on the move for more than two weeks trying to intercept Sherman, who was always somewhere else when we got there.
We were then rushed to Port Hudson to protect the fort there.  It was the custom to give the soldiers who had been on guard duty all night the privilege of the camp that day.  Myself and Dan Higdon went on a stroll together.  A dense smoke at the fort drew our attention.  On investigation, we found four men hard at work firing a furnace that was heating cannon balls.  In answer to our questions, they informed us that Commodore Farragut’s fleet of gun boats that was anchored just below had orders to weigh anchor at 8:30 o’clock that night and start north; they were heating those balls to use when the boats made their appearance.
We were anxious to see the fight and volunteered our help which was accepted.  We did not have to wait long after 8:30 before we could hear a rumbling noise on the river.  We could see nothing as it was very dark night, yet we knew from the noise there was something moving along the water.  When the proper time arrived, the gunner switched his light on the river [editor’s note: I would certainly like to hear more of this “light”, then again, this story is being recalled in 1926 and may be a memory lapse].  There it was in plain view and close by the first boat was passing.  It was then that we all got in a hurry as the gunner gave orders.
First, a sack of powder (I suppose about 12 pounds) was rammed down in the big gun; then a wad of dry moss, a wad of wet moss and another wad of dry moss; next the big red-hot cannon ball that was near a white heat went down.  It was handled with tongs made for the purpose.  The gunner sighted and maneuvered his gun a little, then jumped back and gave a jerk which caused the earth to shake where we were standing.  It was no trouble to see the course of the red-hot missile from the time it left the muzzle of the great gun until it reached its destination.
The first shot fell short; the second glanced off to the right and then went into the bank; the third was a center drive and immediately the flames went up many feet above the boat.
The spread was so rapid that many of the boat’s crew jumped into the river.  Our men went out in a small boat and brought in 15 the first trip.  I think the crew was all saved.  They reported that the hot-shot disabled the machinery in the engine room and went into a tank of turpentine which accounted for the rapid spread of the flames.  The machinery being disabled, the boat was helpless and drifted with the current.  The loaded shells soon began to explode with great rapidity.  The balance of the fleet turned back and kept a safe distance, expecting the magazine to blow up at any time, which happened about 2 o’clock.  Thus went one of the best gunboats the government owned at that time.
We were then kept on the move for several weeks back to Jackson, Selma, Montgomery, Atlanta and finally to Morton’s Station.
We were stopped at Meridian on account of a plea from Enterprise for help.  Gen. Grierson was there and had demanded surrender of the fort.  Within a short time we were placed in line along by the side of the railroad.  There were about ten flat cars run in, and we were ordered to get aboard in double quick time.  Gen. Loring took charge in person.
We got to Enterprise as quick as the train could make the run – to find Gen. Grierson was gone.  We were then put in hot pursuit, which was kept up for about five miles.  From thence, back to Meridian, and then up into Virginia with Lee, through many hard fought battles until the end of the war.
- The Caldwell Watchman, Columbia, LA  Friday June 4, 1926

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

18th Louisiana on Shiloh

P.B. Leeds of the 18th Louisiana wrote this letter about the Battle of Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862) that was published on the Daily True Delta on April 16, 1862.

4th Louisiana at Shiloh Part. II

The following letter is the rest of Thomas Chinn Robertson's letter of Company C "Delta Rifles" of the 4th Louisiana Infantry of his experience at the Battle of Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862). His letter appeared in the Woman's Enterprise on April 7, 1922. The below post is of Robertson's experience on April 7, 1862:

The next morning you should have seen us, not expecting a battle that day, we loaded ourselves with every thing that we could lay our hands on. To give you an idea of what we had, I will give you an inventory of my pile: I had a fine blue cloth suit, entirely new, which fitted me admirably (the coat had a pair of very

neat pretty epanlets), an oil cloth to spread over my blanket, a fine overcoat, a haversack full of parched coffee, one full of soda crackers, cheese and boiled ham, another filled with gild-edged paper, envelopes, two ambrotypes, love letters, a copy of McClelland's Tactics and all sorts of little mementos, a canteen and a splendid Enfield rifle. When we were ordered to fall in, we were all hoping  it was to march back to our Camp at Monterey, but the booming of cannon and whistle of shells told us that we had more bloody work to perform. 

Our brigade was soon pushed forward and ordered to charge a battery which was playing with terrible effect on our lines. In order to do this we were obliged to march double quick through a swamp and then cross two open fields, all the time exposed to a raking fire.

Between the two fields was a deep ravine. We crossed the swamp and the first field, crossed the ravine, andin two minutes would have taken the battery at the point of the bayonet, had not General Ruggles countermanded the order. Six times we were ordered to take the same battery and every time we got to the top of the ravine the order was countermanded. We were in this ravine two hours and a half, just half way between our battery and that of the enemy, consequently, we had a good view of it. I have not the slightest doubt, but it excelled the famous duel of artillery at Manassas. Finally the Federal's battery was silenced by ours, and we were sent to another part of the field, where the battle was raging between the infantry. When we arrived General Beauregard rode up to us, with a smile on his face, looking as cool and collected amid the hail-storm of minie balls as if he had been in a drawing room, taking off his hat to us as he passed, he said: "Men, the day is ours, you are fighting a whipped army, fire low and be deliberate." With three cheers we rushed into he midst of the bloody fray. And though before this, all of us were tired and worn out yet the sight of our beloved General refreshed everyone of us. How he escaped is a wonder to me, for at one time when some of our men were breaking, he seized a battle flag, and rushed almost to the very ranks of the enemy, and yet he escaped unhurt. For three hours the battle raged in this spot. Both sides fought with desperation.Our troops were worn out with long marches and two days fighting, while their's were perfectly fresh.

About 4 o'clock P. M. Gen. Breckenridge took up a position about a quarter of a mile in our rear and we fell back behind him. We waited some time for the enemy to renew the attack, but they retreated to their gun-boats. Gen. Breckenridge slept on the battle field, and burned the enemy's tents. Our brigade fell back to our camp and thus ended the bloody battle of Shiloh.

The first day the prisoners and wounded asserted that they had one hundred and twenty-five thousand men. This was confirmed by their immense encampment, which extended seven miles on the banks of the Tennessee river, and three or four miles into the country. Besides this we found the commissary's report showing that they drew provisions for one hundred and fourteen thousand men. Sunday night McClelland reenforced them with -thirty thousand, and Monday Buell brought up thirty five thousand more. We had between fifty and seventy-five thousand. With regard to the killed, wounded and prisoners, I refer you to the newspaper. In Monday's fight I of course, had to throw away everything except my canteen and Enfield rifle and some paper and envelopes, which I put in my pocket. I also brought off a Bible.

Our brigade being on picket at the time, our tents, knapsacks and cooking utensils are still at Monterey, and as the roads are almost impassible it will be some time before we will receive them. In the meantime we have nothing at all. No one can imagine the suffering we have endured during the last week and yet not a word of grumbling is heard. We started from Monterey yesterday about 12 o'clock, and arrived here at about five o'clock. Those were twelve of the longest miles I ever traveled. The road was almost impassible, I assure you. I am not exaggerating when I inform you that all the way the mud was knee deep, and we were obliged to wade several streams which were waist deep. I have lost everything but one suit of clothes, which was badly torn by the bushes during the battle. I forgot to state that the casualties in our regiment the 4th Louisiana, are 274. We went into battle with 500.
Your affectionate son,


Friday, March 23, 2012

3rd Louisiana Battalion in Virginia

Wayne Cosby has forwarded this story on the 3rd Louisiana Battalion in Virginia from the Richmond Daily Dispatch dated January 29, 1862.

The Third Louisiana Battalion in Virginia

Yesterday, the 26th, being the anniversary of the secession of Louisiana, it was celebrated by the citizens of that State now in this department. The 26th falling upon Sunday, the entertainments were mostly given to-day; but some, I believe, chose Saturday as their reception day, while others followed the circle custom and gave a dinner on Sunday. In company with a delightful party of Norfolk ladies and gentlemen, I visited the camp of the 3d Louisiana battalion, some few miles out of the city, where we were promised a review, flag-raising, dinner, dance, and a warm welcome. Leaving the city at twelve, by a special train, half an hour's ride placed us beside a neat and quiet village of log-huts located in a small pine clearing close by, which was drawn up a body of as fine and soldierly-looking men as one would wish to see. As the cars stopped we were greeted, by the music of an excellent band, which escorted us through the line of soldiers into the quadrangular space formed by the rows of log-cabins, built by the skillful hands of their occupants. While the ladies retired to their reception-room, a few of us wandered around the enclosure to see how volunteers lived, and were agreeably surprised at the neatness and orderly appearance of the quarters. 

Before going further I will say that this is the battalion about which so many hard things have been said by the public on account of its having contained some desperate and bad men who brought disgrace upon all. It has since been well pruned, and under command of Col. Bradford has become a really well disciplined and desirable corps. It was originally raised by Tochman, and was known as the "Polish Brigade." Perhaps some may hold up their hands with horror at the mention of this fact, but wait until you hear me through. The following is the present organization of the battalion: 

Lt. Col. O. M, Bradford. 
Maj. Edmund Pendleton. 
Adjutant A. Marks. 
Surgeon, Dr. Cromwell, of Ga. 
First Company--Capt. A. Brady, Lieuts. Merrick, McClelland, and Marks. 
Second Company--Capt. R. A. Wilkinson, Lieuts. Egan, Penrose, and Jemison. 
Third Company--Capt. Wm. Patrick, Lts. Bowman, Pardoe, and Cram. 
Fourth Company--Captain Levi T. Jennings; Lieutenants Power, Stockwood, and Cady. 
Fifth Company--Captain S. D. McChesney; Lieutenants Haynes, Murray, and Shaw. 
Sixth Company--Captain W. H. Murphy; Lieutenants Jones and--. 
Seventh Company--Captain William C. Michie; Lieutenants Brigham, Bowman, and Andrews. 
Eighth Company--Captain Jos. F. Withurup; Lieutenants Doubiller, Miller, and --. 

The companies are all full and the men in as fine health and physical condition as any I have seen since coming to this post. In passing around the quarters, we found that the utmost order, quiet, and neatness, prevailed in everything. "How is it," said I to my guide, "if these men are as wild and unruly as represented, that they take such care of themselves, their arms, and their houses." "Because," he replied, "Colonel Bradford has taught them the motto, 'A place for everything, and everything in its place.'" 

The cabins, about forty in number, were built in the form of a square, leaving a large and level compass or parade ground in the centre. They were uniform in size and appearance, 30 by 20 feet, having capacious fire places, fine brick chimneys, and, in a majority of cases, glass windows and half glass doors. The roofs were covered with shingles made by the men, the battalion having drawn from the Government brick for their chimneys, instead of shingles. Inside there was some similarity in the arrangement of furniture, although that was left entirely to the taste and desire of the men. It was optional with them to sleep in double or single beds, to have the bunks, arranged like steamboat berths, as double beds, as in ordinary houses, or like the single cots of a hospital ward. The best arrangement was, undoubtedly, bunks, one above the other, placed in a corner of the room. The beds were neatly made up and had a plenty of warm and cleanly looking blankets, furnished, I was told, by the State of Louisiana in every house there was a table, several constructed cupboards, board chairs, rocking chairs, sofas, ottomans, and in one instance I saw a charming tete-a-tete setting before a blazing pine-knot fire. All had racks upon one side for the arms, and a cleaner, brighter set of muskets I have never seen in the Army since I commenced writing about it, more than 12 months age. There were many other little arrangements I would like to mention, did not space forbid, for every house contained some peculiar articles suggested by the taste and skill of the occupants. In one was a miniature steamboat, which had been carved by some skillful volunteer. 

Passing around the square, we came again to the officers' quarters, which are of the same size of those occupied by the privates, but I must confess, show that much less labor has been bestowed upon them. Both officers and privates have, however, mere comfortable homes than many to be found among the small planters in the piny woods of the extreme Southern estates. 

I regret exceedingly that military necessity prevented Col. Bradford from being present on the occasion, but the battalion was brought out by Major Pendleton, and after a short parade the regimental flag raised. Then came an elegant collation, and afterwards the rooms were cleared for a dance. A charming picture was then spread out before us. Without the neat village; the groups of orderly, well-dressed soldiers; crowds of country people; the dark pine forest; and the sentinels walking their solitary beats, presented a picture not soon forgotten. Within, a score of beautiful women and as many manly forms were moving in harmony with the music, in rustic huts, as perhaps our ancestors, more than two hundred years ago, in the primeval forests, walked through the contraction and stately minute. 

"How beautiful," said a German to me in his rich native tongue, "it gives me the heart-ache to look at it, when I think of the may dances of Fatherland." 

It was indeed beautiful, and it was possible more than my German friend had the heartache before the dusky shadows of night drove us again to the city. 

I would like to say much more of the day's pleasures, but the mail will soon close, and I must close also my nastily written description. One word, however, before writing "finis." This day "your own" has celebrated his birthday, and has just now entered on his — he will not say what year, for fear of losing somewhat the love of his youthful friends. Not to be too particular in such matters, it may be stated that he is still on the sunny side of forty--that he has not yet offered rewards for grey hairs — and that the crows feet are not very strongly marked in the outer angles of his eyes. In that satisfactory? If not, let his friends come and see him, and judge for themselves. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

4th Louisiana at Shiloh Part. I

The following letter was written by Thomas Chinn Robertson of Company C "Delta Rifles" of the 4th Louisiana Infantry of his experience at the Battle of Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862). His letter appeared in the Woman's Enterprise on April 7, 1922. The below post is Robertson's account of  April 6th. Robertson's account of April 7th will follow in a later post.

Background information: The 4th Louisiana was attached to Colonel Randall L. Gibson's Brigade. Gibson's Brigade consisted of the 4th, 13th and 19th Louisiana Regiments and the 1st Arkansas Regiment. Gibson's Brigade was in the second line and advanced in support of Woods' and Shaver's Brigades. When these two brigades pushed Preteniss' division from his line, they were turned to the left oblique to advance through Lost Field. This left Gibson's Brigade, ordered to act as a support, left alone in Barnes Field. At about noon, Major General Braxton Bragg, commanding the II Corps that Gibson belonged to, to attack the Union line across the Hamburg-Purdy Road to his front.

The Battle of Shiloh

Camp St. Mary, Corinth, Miss.
April 9th, 1922.

Dear Mother- Here I am at our old Camp after a week's absence, and I hasten to give you a description of the "firey ordeal" through which we passed during that week; and fought the Battle of Shiloh on April 6th. I do this on Yankee paper and with a Yankee pencil.

The Experience of a Member of the Delta Rifles.

April 6th, 1862.
We left Monterey on the evening of the 4th, and marched about three miles, when we halted for the night and were obliged to sit up for two reasons: first, we were momentarily expecting to receive orders to march forward; and secondly, the rain which poured down in torrents would have prevented us from sleeping, had we been disposed or permitted to do so. The next day we advanced slowly and camped within less than a mile of the enemy's camp. That night we could plainly hear their bands playing tattoo and taps.

The morning of the 6th we were aroused very early, but had not been up long when the report of musketry told us that the enemy's pickets were being driven in, and that the battle was about to begin. We were immediately formed in line under command of Colonel Gibson.

The Washington Artillery on the left, our regiment, the Fourth Louisiana Infantry next, then the 13th Louisiana and 1st Arkansas. We advanced about half a mile, when a Federal Battery opened fire,on us, and we, for the first time, heard the shrill whistle of a shell, which soon became familiar. The Washington Artillery was immediately gotten in position and replied promptly and with good effect. We then filed across an open field, and although within about three hundred yards of the battery, which continued to shell us all the time, yet the ranks were not once broken, but the most perfect order prevailed. We then flanked it, and would have taken it easily had it not been for a most unfortunate accident. While charging it, young Vertner, an Aid of General Hardee's, galloped in front of our ranks with the "stars and stripes" around his waist, and a Yankee cap on, both of which he had captured. Some one cried out, - "Here's your Yankee," and immediately a hundred guns were leveled at him and he and his horse fell riddled with balls. The 4th Tennessee, seeing this, thought that we were the enemy and opened upon us with terrible effect, killing and wounding one hundred and five of our regiment, five of whom were in our Company. Colonel Gibson's horse was shot under him, and fell within five feet of me. This, of course, created great confusion and we were ordered to fall back and reform, which we did. But all this time we were still exposed to the fire of their battery, and while falling back I saw a shell fall into the ranks of Captain Dubroca's Company, and of the 13th killing six men, and scattering their brains and blood over him, though he was unhurt. As soon as we were drawn up again, General Bragg rode up to us, changed our direction and told us that the enemy were in front of us, to march forward until we drove them from their position. Before going any further, I will endeavor to describe their position, They were posted on the crest of a steep hill in an old road, which by frequent travel had become worn about three feet deep, consequently they could lie perfectly concealed and protected while they could see everything. Besides this, the hill was covered with the thickest undergrowth of blackjack I ever saw. It was all most impossible for a man to walk through it under ordinary circumstances. On their right was a heavy masked battery, and in the road which I have been speaking of, were twenty I seven regiments, and yet with only THREE regiments we charged this almost impregnable position under a terrible fire of musketry and grape; and I am confident that we would have taken the battery but a Colonel rode up and told us that we were firing on our own men. The order was immediately given to fall back, which we did in good order, but not before the ground was strewn with our dead and wounded. It was here that Captains Hilliard and Taylor fell; both gallantly leading on their respective commands.

As soon as we ascertained that they were really the enemy, we charged again. The enemy reserved their fire until we were within about twenty yards of them, and then the whole line simultaneously, with their battery loaded with grape, opened on us, mowing us down at every volley. We still pressed on until the under growth prevented us from going further; and besides, we did not have room to form in two ranks, and our men in rear killed a great many of those in front. I cannot imagine how I escaped being killed as I was in the front ranks all the time. We remained in this slaughter pen about five minutes, when General Bragg, seeing the dreadful havoc, ordered us to fall back and told us he would take us where we could see our enemy. We then marched around to their flank by this time had them completely surrounded. They fought desperately, but were at last obliged to surrender after being nearly cut to pieces. Colonel Allen acted with the greatest gallantry and coolness. I expected to see him fall every minute, but fortunately he only received a painful flesh wound in the face. By this time the enemy were in full retreat, and we in full pursuit. We followed them within half a mile of the river, when their gun-boats opened on us with their Columbiads and thirteen-inch mortars.

The shells fell around us like hail as we could do nothing against the "rascals," we retreated back about two miles. The cannonading was terrific, and yet we marched in perfect order and common time.

Much to our relief, night ended this bloody Sunday, and we retired to rest in Yankee tents and under Yankee blankets, but not before we supped sumptuously on Yankee provisions. You cannot imagine how comfortably they were fixed up. They all had either Sibley or Fremont tents, each man had two comfortable and very pretty uniforms, a large army overcoat, two blankets, an oil cloth to spread on the ground, oil cloth caps, oil cloth haver sacks and everything else that anyone could need or wish. They had any quantity of fresh beef, coffee, sugar, rice, flour, crackers, corn meal, hams, cheese, apples, candy, torpedoes. (to amuse themselves with, I suppose), sundries, and butter. Besides these, they had all sorts of little Yankee knickknack paper and envelopes, with a hundred different devices on them, some of which I send you. In fact this army seemed to be the pet child of the Federals, upon which they heaped every luxury and allowed every indulgence.

The enemy were confident of success, as their officers told them that we were badly armed, badly fed and in a state of mutiny. That night the rain poured down in torrents, but we safely housed in Fremont tents kept perfectly dry. Every fifteen minutes we could hear the signal guns of the enemy as their reinforcements came in.

Friday, March 16, 2012

30th Louisiana's Flag

Wayne Cosby forwarded this story from The Daily Picayune, May 15, 1887.

The Veterans Come Together to Make Arrangements for the Reception of Their Old Flag
Captured by Ohio Troops at the Battle of Atlanta
The Flag and the Fight – The Story Told by Men on Both Sides

                A number of the surviving members of the Thirtieth Louisiana Regiment met at the armory of the Continental Guards, in Odd Fellows’ Hall, last night, to take action on the communication from J. H. Mallick, Secretary of the Association of the Veterans of the Forty-sixth Ohio Regiment, relative to the return of the battle-flag of the Louisiana regiment which was captured in front of Atlanta on the 28th of July, 1864.
                On motion of Mr. Leon Bertoil, Major F. O. Trepagnier was elected President and Wm. E. Todd, Secretary.
                The following members of the regiment were present: Col. Gus A. Breaux, Major F. O. Trepagnier, Capts. O. F. Vallette, C. B. Cushman and Norbert Trepagnier, Lieuts.  J. U. Landry and A. Malierre and the following non-commissioned officers and privates:
                Company A – Pierre Gravois, C. V. Haile
                Company B -  Adam Wagatha, Jr. William E. Todd
                Company C – Adolphus G. Kane, Frederick Barrett, Shepherd J. Harris, John M. Coos, A. Blanchard
                Company E – Alexander Dapremont, Thos. Herbert
                Company F – Leon Bertil, Louis Burthe, Charles Laudumay, Edward R. Barnett, Charles A. Wilcox, E. Dejean, J. Fecel,  John L. Leefe and D. Mayronne.
                It was resolved to notify each member of the command to be present at a meeting to be held at 8 o’clock next Saturday night at the same place, and the meeting adjourned.
                From some of the gentlemen present the following facts are gleaned: The flag, which was captured at Ezra Church, on the Lick Kettle Road, was presented to the Thirtieth Louisiana Regiment in Mobile, Ala., by the resident Louisiana ladies there.  It was a very beautiful silk battle flag, and the regiment was justly proud of it, and held it safely in numerous battles and skirmishes.  On the 28th of July, 1864, the regiment, or rather battalion, was ordered out to drive back the Federal skirmishers on the left of the Confederate line and right of the Federals.  The entire brigade was only 1500 strong, and of these 225 constituted the Thirtieth Louisiana.   On the left of the road was a dense woods and the command marched forward towards this over comparatively open ground with a line of skirmishers in front.
                A terrible fire was poured into the line from the left flank, where fully 5000 men were concealed in the woods or thicket; In fact the Confederates had virtually marched into an ambush.  The fight only lasted twenty minutes and during that short time it rained lead.  Of twenty-three commissioned officers who went into the fight, only three escaped unhurt, and of the 225 men they commanded only fifty came out of that battle unscathed.  Man after man fell dead with the colors and finally Corporal Belson ran to their Lieut. Landry with the flag upheld, and holding it in his left hand, held up his right, from which the blood was streaming.
                Lieut. Landry knew that the absence of the colors from the center of the regiment would have a demoralizing effect, and seizing them he ran back to the center and there handed them to a young man named William Dalton of the Algiers Guards, Company A in the regiment.  Lieut. Landry instructed Dalton to save the flag at all hazards, and if necessary, to strip it from the staff, wrap it around his body and save it thus.  The flag had been so constructed that by simply pulling a string it could be detached from the staff and with the foregoing instructions Lieut. Landry left Dalton with the colors, and the last seen of them by the command was when Dalton held the flag.  The regiment was terribly cut up and after the firing had ceased retired from the field.
                On going back Quarles’s brigade of Tennesseans came up and advanced to the position abandoned by the Louisianians.  This command was much stronger than the first, yet they were also driven back, and a third line was ordered up.  These advanced toward the place, a short distance, where they halted, and the men positively refused to advance any further as they said they didn’t propose to be butchered  up at the rate the other two commands had been.
                The Thirtieth Louisiana Regiment was composed in part of the American Rifles, Pickett Cadets, Lewis Cadets, Henry Clay Guards and the Orleans Guards of New Orleans, the Algiers Guards, Valsour Aime Guards and one or two companies from Bayou Lafourche.

A Federal Account of the Battle
                The following account of the fight appeared in the Cincinnati Commercial of the 22nd of August, 18__. 
                Editor Commercial: In looking over your correspondent’s account of the battle of the 28th of July, I notice some mistakes with I will correct for the benefit of those to whom honor is due.  The men of the Forty-sixth Ohio ask no credit and honor for services rendered by them.  They have honors without number of their own, (valuable deeds and displays of gallantry) and do not wish that which is justly due of others.  The battle flag of the Thirtieth Louisiana, which was credited to the Forty-sixth, was captured by the Tenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
                By asking permission of Gen. Logan I visited the battlefield in the morning after the bloody engagement.  Going to the right of our Corps (Fifteenth), I found some few dead rebels, and other things that showed there had been a battle fought.  Passing down the lines it was easy to see where the assault had been most terrible.  Coming to the Fourth Division, which, owing to its lines being in the woods, had been more closely engaged, in one place the dead of the enemy were within five paces of the works.  These five paces were just the distance (not guessed but stepped).  The dead who were this close were only some scattering ones, while just back of them lay their line of battle.
                Many of the Thirtieth Louisiana, of whom your correspondent spoke, were here, many being shot in four or five places.  At the head of their gallant command lay Col. Shields, formerly of Ohio.  Along the line were his major, three captains and three lieutenants, two orderly sergeants and, as I learned after they had been gathered together for burial, 205 men, besides 20 wounded taken off this ground the evening after the engagement.
                One hundred yards in the rear of this line, could be seen where the line of support or second line of battle by the dead, which were left, also old hats, blankets, haversacks, canteens, knapsacks, guns and other things which had been left there.
                On looking at the ground in the rear of this terrible slaughter, one could ascertain why the enemy had got so near without having his line broken.  There was a ravine where he could form under cover of a thick wood and plunge out on our line with a yell of sudden surprise and expect to break through, turn and drive back our flank.
                After looking at these, I went to our lines to look at our boys and found them (the Tenth Ohio) cleaning out their guns, strengthening their works, and eager to have them come and try it again.  At the headquarters of this regiment I saw the beautiful flag captured by them from the Thirtieth Louisiana.  Major Brown told me he saw the flag fall four different times, and the last time there being none of its brave bearers left to carry it off the field; and I must here say that the fighting of the enemy at this point merits a better cause.  They came up facing this regiment of ours, too proud and brave to be driven away by slight losses, but stood there, fighting to the last, scarcely enough escaping to tell the sad tale to the remainder.
                The Thirtieth Louisiana have many causes to mourn their gallant Col. Tom Shields, who was both father and leader, their chivalrous Major Bell, if he be indeed taken forever and the many others, friends, schoolmates and comrades who fell amid the leaden storm upon the 28th of July, 1864.  But there is no tinge of dishonor, thank Heaven, mingled with the grief for the loss of their flag.  It fell amid a fire when naught could live and bathed in the sacred blood of the gallant boys, who promised to defend it; and the ladies of Mobile, who may weep for the noble dead, have no cause to ______ for the conduct of those to whom they gave that flag.
                All surviving veterans of the command are earnestly requested to attend the meeting next Saturday night.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Color Presentation to the 7th Regiment Corps D'afrique

THE CORPS D'AFRIQUE.; Presentation of Colors to the Seventh Regiment at Port Hudson. SPEECH OF GENERAL ULLMANN.

Published: December 14, 1863

Gorrespondence of the New-York Times:
Port Hudson, La., Wednesday, Nov. 18.

Since the capture of this place the Corps d'Afrique has been stationed within the fortifications, employed in strengthening the works, in erecting a great interior fort, and in clearing the country around from guerrillas. There are twenty regiments, divided into four brigades and two divisions, the whole under command of Brig.-Gen. GEO. L. ANDREWS -- the First division commanded by Brig.-Gen. ULLMANN, of New-York.

On the 15th inst. a very interesting ceremony took place. A beautiful stand of colors had been prepared by Messrs. George Opdyke, A.T. Stewart, A.A. Low, Moses H. Grinnell, Edgar Ketchum and other prominent citizens of New-York, and on the above-mentioned day, were presented to the Seventh regiment by Chaplain CONWAY.

The various regiments were in line, and, after some evolutions, the pesentation was made.
An address from the donors was read by Dr. CONWAY, to which the Colonel made a fitting response.
Short addresses were then made by Brig.-Gen. ANDREWS, after which, Brig.-Gen. ULLMANN, by request of the Colonel commanding the regiment, addressed the regiment as follows:

I accede with pleasure to the request of your Colonel, that I, as the General commanding this division, should address to you a few remarks. This regiment being one of the five constituting the brigade, which, by order of the President, I originally raised and organized in this Department, I shall ever cherish a profound interest in its welfare. Whatever concerns it affects me. It gratifies me to assemble with you on so pleasing an occasion as this.

You cannot but be grateful to those friends who, far away in the great city of the North have presented to you these beautiful banners. It is kind and thoughtful in them thus to give to you, and to us all, a proof that they remember and recognize us as soldiers of the United States, fighting for the glorious cause of freedom, and regulated Constitutional liberty. I know these gentlemen; you may well be proud of a gift from them; they are, each and all, among the most honorable men of New-York -- the peers of any in that Metropolis. You will appreciate and cherish these tokens of their consideration and sympathy, and while you will value them as beyond price, you will not fall to understand that they are presented to you not only for what you have done, but also for what you will do -- not solely as a reward for the past, but as an incentive for the future, as a stimulus that may nerve your arms to strike heavy blows, in the day of battle, for your country and your God.

OFFICERS AND MEN: These flags are the emblem of civil and religious liberty -- the significant symbols of your country's glory and strength; they tell of her history, of her hard-fought battles, and her greatness; around their ample folds cluster the dearest, the sweetest, the richest, the noblest of human affections. Bear them, then, triumphantly through this dreadful contest; never let them be disgraced or dishonored, and when this wicked war shall cease, and peace be again established throughout this reunited and, you will have, throughout the remainder of your lives, leaving it as a rich legacy to your children, the glorious recollections that yours were the hands that dealt the blow which secured the emancipation of a race, and hurled that huge mountain of crime, oppression and suffering, called human Slavery, into the depths of an unfathomable ocean, never to reappear to curse mankind on this American Continent.
The future is full of hope -- the clouds and darkness which rested on our horizon are scattering -- a bright day is dawning. Even while I speak the news comes that burning Charleston is rolling high her flames to be a beacon forever to the world that wickedness will always receive its righteous retribution from the ust God who presides over the destinies of nations.
A few short months ago, and we, who, by the command of the President, came into Louisiana to be the officers of colored troops, were met on all sides with sneers of contempt, and open and covert hostility from those who should have been our chief support; now, their name is Legion who are running a fearful steeple chase to see who, qualified or unqualified, fit or unfit, can first bag a commission in the Corps d'Afrique.
A few short months ago, and you privates were slaves, bowed in the dust of oppression and cruelty. Now, you are freedmen, soldiers of the United States, clothed in the uniform of the Union, armed with the weapons of freedom, organized under the banner of freedom, and eager to fight for your own liberties, and the salvation of this land which is alike your and our home.

Friday, March 9, 2012

1st Louisiana on the War in Virginia

N. Wayne Cosby forwarded this letter to me from the Caddo Rifles (Company A, 1st Louisiana Infantry).

A Letter From One of the Caddo Rifles
Correspondence of Caddo Gazette.                               
                                                Norfolk, Va., May 18th, '61.              
          Dear Doctor:--I write with hands encrimsoned in gore, but not of the enemy.  A fine old Virginia gentleman—the happy owner of a ten-acre strawberry patch, very kindly placed it at our disposal, and you may well believe that we pitched into it incontinently.—We have received all possible kindness and attention from the citizens here, and all through the State.  On our arrival here, every house in the city was thrown open to us, and all vied with each other in affording hospitality and civilities to those who had left their own homes in sunny Louisiana, to defend the hearths and homes of the Old Dominion, from the foe that threatened her with invasion and rapine.               
          We have been here a week, encamped one mile from the city, on Tenner's Creek, a tide water stream affording excellent bathing, and furnishing fish, oysters, &c., in abundance.—We have 1000 men in camp, and present quite a lively appearance.  We are visited daily by crowds of ladies and gentlemen, who evince much interest in our welfare, and do all in their power to promote our comfort.   
           A soldier's life is far from being a "gay" one, but the Caddo boys bear the hardships and privations inseparable from it, most manfully, and murmur at nothing but the discipline.  That they will not stand, and our Regimental officers "caved" at the start, and allow us to do pretty much as we please.  We behave well, however, and are the only company in the regiment that has no member under arrest.  Col. Blanchard believes strongly in the Caddo Rifles, and has high hopes of us—hopes which we will take care, shall not be disappointed.               
          We have several musical amateurs among us, and when the daylight has faded, and the "stars are in the quiet skies," the sweet notes of the violin, flute, and guitar, float out on the evening breeze, in concert with the tones of fifty or more human voices.  "Home, Sweet Home" is the favorite, and as the old familiar strains ring sweetly out, many a manly cheek quivers with emotion, and many a manly eye is dimmed with tears, that are no shame to manhood.  Even your correspondent, all unused as he is to the melting mood, has dropped sundry pearly tears at such times, and felt slightly "spooney," to think that while he is "gone for a soger," some stay-at-home rival may step in and supersede him in the heart of the affections of the fair—never mind who.  It is all right though, I suppose.  I will return with any amount of laurels, nary one of which shall she receive, unless she receives me with them.
          Norfolk is a very pleasant city, with a population of about eighteen thousand.  In ordinary times it has a very extensive business, but the blockade has effectually stopped that, in consequence of which, fish, vegetables, and fruits, that were formerly shipped to Northern cities, are sold now at ridiculously low prices.  Garden peas at fifty cents per bushel.  Strawberries three to five cents per quart, and other things in proportion.  The only thing at high figures is beef—for that, we pay twelve and a half cents.           
          We live high in camps; fresh meat, fresh bread, vegetables, fish, strawberries, &c., &c.  Letters from home say, they think in Caddo that we are almost in a starving condition, but that is entirely a mistake.  We did fare rather badly on the trip, but since we have been here, we have wanted for nothing in the eating line.. . .        
          We are all in high spirits to heart that Jeff. Davis will be in Richmond soon.  His presence here would be worth ten thousand men.  At present, all the Confederate forces are under command of General Lee, of this State.  He is said by those who know him, to be a capable and efficient officer. . . .    
I will write again as soon as anything "turns up."  Your readers will find my "epistles" somewhat of the driest, but imagine my situation, and they will readily pardon them.                         
The Standard [CLARKSVILLE, TX], June 15, 1861, p. 2, c. 4  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Coppens' Zouave Battalion

George A. Coppens (seated) and his brother Marie A. Coppens. This photograph was sold on auction at Cowan Auctions for $14,375. 

At the Confederate Historical Association of Belgium (CHAG) they have put together several great articles. One that caught my eye was on Coppens' Louisiana Zouave Battalion by Gerald Hawkins and Serge Noirsain. The story is 28 pages with 24 of those pages being on Coppens' Battalion. The piece on Coppens starts on page 4 (the first four being on the birth of the French zouave). The guys at the CHAG have allowed me to put a piece of the story below as a teaser. Its a great article on this Louisiana unit. Here is part of Hawkins' and Noirsain's article:

On June 10, 1861, Assistant Adjutant General J. Withers ordered George-Gaston Coppens, recently promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel, “to proceed to Yorktown, Va., and report to Colonel J. B. Magruder, commanding”. John B. Magruder, later a brigadier general, was at the head of the little Army of the Peninsula.

The departure of the troops for Virginia was accompanied by a monstrous uproar and disorderly behavior. Moreover, the young demons did not leave alone. A New Orleans gazette published that Coppens’ Zouaves “had the good taste” to bring women with them to Pensacola to wash, cook, and clean their quarters. The well-thinking writer described them as “disgusting looking creatures all dressed up as men”. Rose Rooney, however, won the respect of all her soldier-comrades. She enlisted in the Crescent Blues (who later became Co. “G” in Coppens’ Battalion) and served the men as cook and nurse four years.49

On June 1, 1861, Coppens’ men left Pensacola for Richmond. Their trip was to be one of the wildest rides in the history of the Confederate railroads. Their journey covered a large part of the Confederate Territory. Because of the poor density of the railroad network, they steamed through Opelika and Montgomery (Alabama), Atlanta, Augusta, Florence (Georgia) and Wilmington (North Carolina). Finally, they had to travel to Goldsboro and Weldon (North Carolina) before disembarking at Richmond.

The journey of the Coppens’s Zouaves to Montgomery is a true epic. To describe it, historians generally paraphrase or refer to parts of the account left by one of its participants, the American writer Thomas C. DeLeon. As he reported this episode with an inimitable verve and since his text is no longer available in bookstores, we believe that it deserves a quote “in extenso”.

“Some Alabamians, two Georgia regiments, the Chasseurs-à-pied, the “Tigers” and the Zouaves were to go to Virginia ; and through the courtesy of the officers of the latter corps, we got seats to Montgomery in their car. Meantime, all was hum and bustle through the whole camp, and as the limited rolling stock on the still unfinished railroad could only accommodate a regiment at the time, they left at all hours of the day, or night, that the trains arrived. Constantly at midnight the dull tramp of marching men and the slow tap of the drum, passing our quarters, roused us from sleep ; and whatever the hour, the departing troops were escorted to the station by crowds of half-envious comrades, who ‘were left out in the cold’. And as the trains started – box cars, flats and tenders all crowded, inside and out – yell after yell went up in stentorian chorus, echoing through the still woods”.

“One gray dawn, 600 Zouaves filed out of the pines and got aboard our train. They were a splendid set of animals ; medium sized, sun burnt, muscular and wiry as Arabs ; and a long, swingy gait told of drill and endurance. But the faces were dull and brutish, generally.; and some of them would vie, for cunning villainy, with the features of the prettiest Turcos that Algeria could produce. The uniform was very picturesque and very dirty. Full, baggy scarlet trousers, confined round the waist by the broad blue band or sash, bearing the bowie knife and meeting, at mid-leg, the white gaiter ; blue shirt cut very low and exhibiting the brawny, sun burnt throat ; jacket heavily braided and embroidered, flying loosely off the shoulders, and the jaunty fez, surmounting the whole, made a bright ensemble that contrasted prettily with the gray and silver of the South Carolinians, or the rusty brown of the Georgians, who came in crowds to see them off. But the use of these uniforms about the grease and dust of Pensacola camp-fires had left marks that these soldiers considered badges of honor, not to be removed”.

Friday, March 2, 2012

174th New York, Siege of Port Hudson

A Letter from a member of the 174th New York Infantry during the Siege of Port Hudson. This letter is posted at the fine site New York State Military Museum:

From Bank's Expedition.

We publish the following extracts of a private letter from a soldier of our town, in the 174th regt., dated Baton Rouge, La., May 1: 

Dear Friends: —Since my last letter we have been on a picnic up the river to Port Hudson, with two divisions of infantry commanded by Gens. Anger and Grover, one or two batteries, &c., the whole under General Banks, in person. The gun boats moved up the river at the same time. After driving in the enemies pickets we halted for the night —then the ball commenced. We lay all night snug in our blankets, listening, those that were not too sleepy, to the whistling of the shells over our heads from the gun boats trying to pass the batteries at P. Hudson. Two boats passed up, and joined Farragut's fleet above. The Mississippi was disabled and set on fire. She blew up, killing, wounding and drowning many; I believe the loss was pretty severe; the next morning we started back. Gen. B. said we had accomplished all that we came for; well, he was satisfied, so was I.—Col. Clark of Banks' staff was shot while making a reconnoisance; no other loss of note with us. We went back within five miles of Baton Rouge, halted, and next day went out foraging, got plenty of beef, sheep and fowls. That night it rained awful all night. I awoke about 12 o'clock and found myself afloat, about six inches of water in the hold, blankets wet, every thing wet. Next day we were all right, the sun came out hot and we dried and cleaned our guns and accoutrements. Now for a good night's rest—we collected plenty of moss and leaves, spread our blankets, and were about to turn in when the sheep skins commenced beating. We were drawn up in line of battle, when the 174th and 161st regts. were ordered to get two days rations and be ready to march in fifteen minutes under command of our Col. Parmlee. We started about dark, the mud up to our knees. We reached Baton Rouge about ten o'clock, marched through down to the river; some of the inhabitants asked, "Where are you bound for now?" Reply, "don't know." Well, we embarked on board of two steamboats and started up the river. We landed at Winter's plantation, on the west side of the river. Port Hudson was in sight on the east side. We had the signal corps along and learned we were to make a detour through the swamp in order to signal to Farragut's fleet above Port Hudson; started and went about two miles and came to the swamp; then came the tug of war. Have you any idea of a Louisiana swamp? I think not. There was no use talking about marching, it was get through the best way you can; mud and water, old logs and underbrush every step, taking us in up as far as one leg could go at a time, and in some places there were long vines under the mud to catch our feet and. trip us up. O, it was beautiful. In this way we traveled for three miles and came put on firm ground; went on about four miles and halted. We had gone far enough for the corps to operate, and while they were at work a company of cavalry who led the advance fell in with and captured about a dozen guerillas, who appeared to be knocking around loose. We now started on the back track through the swamp again and found a battery of artillery on the edge who had tried to follow us, but could not of course, on account of the roads. We stopped up here about a week. Gen. Dudley came up with the rest of the brigade. All the large plantations were deserted, fine houses splendidly furnished, large sugar houses with hundreds of hogsheads of sugar and molasses, some with their heads knocked in, all lying there without an owner. Soon the negroes commenced flocking in, all descriptions, big and little; some pretty well dressed, some scarcely dressed at all; each with a bundle of something. Another big crowd for Uncle Sam to take care of. They appear to be perfectly delighted with their holiday, thinking, I suppose, that it is a play got up for their especial benefit, so do I--may the d---I fly away with the whole lot. Yours, J. M. M.

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