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.

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Monday, July 6, 2020

11th Wisconsin Regimental History

The 11th Wisconsin Infantry was part of the XIII Corps that was transferred to the Department of the Gulf in August 1863. It took part in the Texas Overland Campaign in late 1863, then took part in Major General Nathaniel P. Banks' attack on the Texas coast, and upon their return to Louisiana in early 1864 they were "veteranized" and given a furlough to Wisconsin. The regiment returned to Louisiana in May 1864 (having outstanding luck in missing the disastrous Red River Campaign). It remained in Brashear City until late February 1865. At that time it was transferred to the XVI Corps and took part in the campaign against Mobile, Alabama. The regiment did not play an important role in any campaigns in Louisiana but it did serve in Louisiana. Christopher C. Wehner wrote a book on the regiment titled The 11th Wisconsin of the Civil War A Regimental History and has a website dedicated to his research on the regiment

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Adolphus Confederate Uniforms

While researching and tracking down photographs for my current project on the Battle of Bayou Bourbeaux, I was informed of a site titled Adolphus Confederate Uniforms. This is a phenomenal site on Confederate uniforms - the amount of research is extremely impressive. The author of this extremely informative site is Fred Aolphus. I highly recommend Adolphus' website on Confederate uniforms.

Friday, June 5, 2020

St. Landry Parish in April-June 1865

Reading through Volume 48, pt. 2, of the Official Records (ORs), presents a very desperate situation for St. Landry Parish at the end of the Civil War. Almost four years of war had definitely put a strain on this once prosperous community. The demand for men and materials to support the Confederate war effort was a serious strain. The Union blockade effectively killed St. Landry's major income of exporting sugar and cotton. On three separate occasions (April-May 1863, October-November 1863, March 1864) the Union armies invaded the parish and plundered it at all. On top of all those issues there existing in southwest Louisiana roaming bands of outlaws or "Jayhawkers" as they were called. They were composed of deserters from the Confederate army, pro-Union men, Creoles, mulattoes, runaway slaves. St. Landry Parish was hit hard by these groups from 1863-1865.

The collapse of Confederate authority during April-May 1865 and the establishment of Union occupation during May-June 1865 was an awkward time for St. Landry - meaning a lot of chaos and uncertainty. Here are exerts from this volume to help paint the scene at the time. This transition from "Confederate St. Landry" to back to Union control along with the economic and social transformation is a topic I plan on revisiting again in future posts.

Map of St. Landry Parish, 1865 (from G.W. Colton Map, 1865)

A Horace Bell traveled through south Louisiana in early April 1865 and reported back to Union authorities some of these details that relate to the St. Landry Parish region. He reported several troop movements he noticed on his trip from Morganza to Washington, to Alexandria, and then back to the south to Washington. Pertinent to St. Landry were these observations: 

  • 2nd Louisiana Cavalry: Captain Lewis D. Prescott's Company A was stationed at Washington and an additional company of that regiment (which company is unknown) was on picket duty at Opelousas.

  • 7th Louisiana Cavalry: Bush's 7th Cavalry marched toward Alexandria, passing through Washington on March 1st and returned to the region by March 16th.

Bell made a general observation about Confederate soldiers in the region he passed: 

"The demoralization of the army has extended to the officers. Several officers of the Second Louisiana Cavalry are in close confinement for attempting to desert to teh enemy, among whom are Captain Morell and one of his lieutenants. Captain Prescott (Lewis D. Prescott, Company A), of the same regiment, commanding at Washington, says if the army falls back to Texas he will surrender to himself to the Yankees. I found the country so rigidly policed that it was impossible for any person to pass through it without submitting to the closet scrutiny...". 

A Union report on Acadiana dated May 6th detailed Confederate units in Acadiana and their state of affairs:

"Captain Hargroder, Company B, Seventh Louisiana Cavalry, reports that he left his regiment on the 25th of April, at which time the companies were distributed as follows: Headquarters of the regiment, with five companies, a little below Vermillionville, La., on this side of the Vermillion Bayou. (Colonel Bringier commands the regiment.) One company (F), Captain Tertron, stationed near the mouth of Vermillion Bayou; four companies under Captain Murphy, stationed at Burn's Plantation, above Irish Bend. These companies picket the country from Butte-a-la-Rose to Berwick Bay. The station at Butte-a-la-Rose has seven men who couldn't as far as Hart's plantation, on Grand River. There are thirty men on Lake Fausse Pointe and twelve at Indian Village. The posts below Franklin are not known. The effective strength of the regiment is about 300 or 400. It was formerly the Fourth Louisiana Cavalry, Colonel Bush commanding. It is composed mostly of men who kept out of the service as long as possible. There are about 200 of them lying in the woods waiting on the opportunity to escape. Their principal duty is to catch deserters from other regiments, but will themselves desert if any demonstration is made by our forces in that country. Supplies very scarce. The informant heard by deserters who left the regiment on the 29th that they were to move on the 30th from Vermillionville to Opelousas."

Demoralization was sinking in fast for the Trans-Mississippi Confederates. News of Lee's surrender was reaching Louisiana - as were veterans paroled from Appomattox. On May 19th, it was reported at the camp of Harry T. Hays' Division of Louisiana soldiers in Mansfield, La: "The major portion of this command having deserted camp and gone to their homes, all the Government animals and most of the wagons having been forcibly taken possession of and carried away, the quartermaster's and commissary departments of this command and the post at Mansfield having been pillaged by the troops, all completely paralyzing the present military organizations, and rendering the maintaining of discipline and the subsistence of the troopers longer impossible, brigade commanders are hereby authorized to disband the troops under their commands and to permit them to proceed to their homes, there to await further orders from their commanding officers." This meant that Louisiana soldiers from Acadiana had deserted their units in mass and returned home, the war was over for them. They returned with their weapons and most to devastated homes ravaged by either Union soldiers, slaves, Jayhawkers or even former Confederate soldiers.

May 22, reported to Major General E. R. S. Canby:

"Captain Foster, of the secret service, just returned from a long trip in West Louisiana...The whole country between Bayou Boeuf and the Mississippi is underwater, and there is steam-boat communication to Opelousas. From there to the Sabine the people are loyal, the country in fine condition for field operations, but utterly destitute, although affording good grazing."

May 30th: General Sherman, commanding the Southern Division of Louisiana, was instructed yesterday to send the Ninety-eighth U.S. Colored Infantry and one company of the First Louisiana Cavalry to garrison New Iberia and Washington, La....for a total of 602 infantry and 64 cavalries. Soon, the occupation of Washington was passed to the 75th U.S. Colored Infantry commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John L. Rice. Rice played a pivotal role in 1865, overseeing the transfer of Confederate control to United States control in St. Landry Parish.

Lieutenant Colonel John L. Rice, 75th U.S. Colored Infantry

John Lovell Rice: After leaving school, he was engaged as a clerk in a store in Cornish, New Hampshire, until 1861, when he enlisted as a private in Company A of the 2nd New Hampshire Volunteers and was wounded at the First Battle of Bull Run and captured. He was exchanged in January 1862 and later enlisted in the 16th New Hampshire Infantry in October. He fought through McClellan's Peninsular Campaign, the Seven Days Campaign, and the 2nd Manassas Campaign. He was appointed a Captain of Company H and his regiment was sent to Louisiana in December. Rice fought with his unit through the Teche Campaign (April-May 1863) and the Siege of Port Hudson (May-July 1863). The 16th Regiment was mustered out of service in August and Rice took the opportunity to apply for a higher-ranked position in a colored regiment. On September 20, 1863, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the 75th U.S. Colored Infantry (the old 3rd Louisiana Native Guards) (Luther Tracy Townsend, History of the Sixteenth Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteers, 1897, pp. 501-503; "Our County and Its People", A History of Hampden County, Massachusetts · Volume 31902, p. 562).

Lieutenant Colonel John L. Rice wrote of his occupation of Washington, La:

Left Brashear City on May 31st on the steamer Bart Able at 10:00 P.M., with the U.S. Steamer Carrabasset under Captain Leonard as an escort. Rice arrived at Washington at 9:00 A.M. on June 1st. On nearing Washington, Rice was met under a flag of truce by Captain Lewis Demarest Prescott, a native of Washington was the Confederate officer in charge of protecting Washington. Prescott was the commanding officer of Company A of the 2nd Louisiana Cavalry. Prescott had not learned of the Trans-Mississippi's surrendered and refused to oblige. To avoid bloodshed, Rice agreed to allow Prescot to send a courier to Alexandria to get confirmation. A five-day truce was agreed upon to allow this communication to occur. Rice's command camped east of the town of Washington and Prescott's command of 125 men were camped south of town.

Capt Lewis Demarest Prescott
Captain Lewis Demarest Prescott, Company A, 2nd Louisiana Cavalry 

While camped near Washington, Rice was approached by the Major of Opelousas and other "prominent citizens of Opelousas." The Major transmitted a request from Colonel Thompson commanding the 1st Regiment of Louisiana Reserves to keep is men armed to assist Rice in suppressing the Jayhawks west of the parish's main settlements of Washington, Opelousas, and Grand Coteau. This meant hundreds of Confederate soldiers keeping their arms and Rice could not allow that to occur and Thomas' request was refused. Instead, the men of that command would need to surrender their arms and be paroled.

As of June 16, 1865, the occupying force in St. Landry was: At Washington, 5 companies of 75th U.S. Colored, 225 men; Co. K, 1st Louisiana Cavalry (U.S.), 61 men.

Brigadier-General R. A. Cameron reported on the conditions of south Louisiana on June 16, 1865:

"The condition of the country is one of great distress and destitution. The ravages of the caterpillar upon the cotton crop, the merciless seizing of forage and subsistence by the rebels, with the present overflow, leaves many without food, and nearly all in circumstances of distress." 

Cameron's observation is indeed factual but also misleading. He left out the wholesale stealing of property by the Union army on three occasions in the area and by ex-slaves.

Again, these are random reports and information drawn from Volume 48, pt. 2, of the ORs on St. Landry Parish. There is a lot more information to draw upon in this interesting window of time.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Southwest Louisiana Battlefields?

Despite a plethora of small-scale actions during 1863-64, Southwest Louisiana was not the scene of numerous large-scale battles in the Civil War. When you look at the area of Louisiana west of the Mississippi, west of Brashear City (modern-day Morgan City) and below the Alexandria area, the largest battles were Bisland (April 12-13, 1863), Irish Bend (April 14, 1863), Stirling's Plantation (September 29, 1863), Bayou Bourbeaux (November 3, 1863), Camp Pratt (November 20, 1863). This would, of course, make these five very important battlefields to preserve for the future - a chance to educate the public and especially our children. You can drive southwest Louisiana today and there is not a single battlefield park. There are at least numerous historical markers in the region marking skirmishes, battles, important buildings, etc.

In the Update on the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report on the Nation's Civil War Battlefields for Louisiana (issued in October 2010) (CWSAC), Bisland, Irish Bend, and Stirling's Plantation are listed as endangered sites. There is no mention of Bayou Bourbeaux or Camp Pratt. This will be referred to as the CWSAC.

CWSAC Battlefields of Louisiana: Notice that Bayou Bourbeaux and Camp Pratt are not on this list.

Of the battlefields, I listed this is what the CWSAC Preservation wrote in 1993: 
Stirling’s Plantation retains a high degree of integrity. Residential development and oil exploration represent potential, but not immediate, threats. Today, Stirling’s Plantation presents one of best opportunities for comprehensive battlefield landscape protection in Louisiana.
That was written 27 years ago. Again, the only way someone will know there was a battlefield fought in that location is the lone historical marker already identified above.

It IS reported that 253.85 acres of the Bisland battlefield is permanently protected; 2,846.57 acres for Irish Bend and ZERO for Stirling's Plantation. What about Camp Pratt and Bourbeaux - they didn't make the list. All land protected on Bisland and Irish Bend is done entirely through Louisiana's state government with no Federal stewardship or nonprofit organizations. This is not a healthy recipe to see a battlefield park emerge any year soon.

An observant reader will notice "Vermillion Bayou" on the map and might wonder why I did not mention that as a large-scale battle in southwest Louisiana. That is because it was not a large-scale battle. It was simply a skirmish and how the so-called "Vermillion Bayou" battle makes the list and Bayou Bourbeaux doesn't is most likely based on the fact that Bourbeaux is in a much more rural setting that the ever-growing city of Lafayette that the Vermillion runs through. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Civil War Books and Authors

Andrew J. Wagenhoffer has compiled an extremely impressive list of Civil War books he has reviewed at Civil War Books and Authors (CWBA). Sure, Amazon reviews are cool, but Wagenhoffer specializes in reading and review Civil War books. There are numerous books in his collection connected to Louisiana topics. I highly recommend you head to CWBA to look up books and see new ones coming down the pike!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

From New Orleans to Brashear City, 1863

A correspondent from the Daily Missouri Republican of St. Louis, Missouri, wrote of his trip from New Orleans to Brashear City, La. (Modern-day Morgan City). Always interesting to read the views of Yanks in Louisiana - foreign to its climate, vegetation, culture, food, economics, and wildlife. The article is titled "From New Orleans to Brashear City" dated September 27, 1863 (appeared in the October 13th issue of the Daily Missouri Republican).

Map of New Orleans, Opelousas, and Great Western Railroad running from Algiers on the Mississippi to Brashear City to the west.

The lower Teche Country from New Iberia to Brashear City

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

11th Texas Infantry Regimental History

The 11th Texas Infantry Regiment was part of Major John G. Walker's all Texas division that fought in the Trans-Mississippi Department. It was formed in early 1862, by Colonel Oran M. Roberts, a successful lawyer and was the president of Texas' Secession Convention. After serving briefly in Arkansas, the 11th Texas moved into northeast Louisiana during the spring-summer of 1863 and operated in that region during the Siege of Vicksburg. It was a witness to but did not participate in, the Battle of Milliken's Bend on June 7, 1863. After Vicksburg, Walker's Texas Division moved south to Alexandria and partially participated in the Texas Overland Expedition. In early November, Roberts led his 11th Texas, along with the 15th and 18th Texas Regiments, in the Battel of Bayou Bourbeaux. It later participated in the Red River Campaign and fought at Mansfield, Pleasant Hill, and later Jenkins Ferry. 

Michael Dan Jones wrote a regimental history on the 11th Texas titled, Fighting for Southern Independence: History of the 11th Texas Infantry Regiment. I recently purchased this book and it is loaded with photographs and Jones incorporates the input of Texans from other units to help tell the story of this battled regiment. I have provided a link above to purchase Jones' book (*disclaimer, I am an affiliate for Amazon and thus make a % of purchases from Amazon linked from this website).

Any student of the Civil War in Louisiana knows that a vast number of Texas units fought in our state during the war. Thousands of Louisianians served in the Army of Northern Virginia, the Army of Tennesse, and the Trans-Mississippi region of Louisiana was cut off from New Orleans' manpower. To save the rest of Louisiana from being overrun in the spring of 1863, thousands of Texans serving in Texas, Arkansas, Indian Territory, and northeast Louisiana, were sent to southwest Louisiana. Jones helps fill in yet another gap in the Trans-Mississippi history with his book on the 11th Regiment. He provides details on its organization by company and includes a roster in the back of the book based off the regiment's Compiled Service Record. 

Additional Resources (Links are my affiliate links as mentioned above) you can purchase that relate to the 11th Texas Infantry and Walker's Texas Division:

Monday, May 18, 2020

13th Louisiana Infantry Regimental History

Michael Dan Jones has been very busy the past few years writing numerous books on people, units, and battles relating to the Civil War in Louisiana. One of his latest books is a regimental history on the 13th Louisana Infantry: Fighting for Southern Independence: A History of the 13th Louisiana Infantry Regiment. It was a regiment predominately from New Orleans with numerous immigrants from numerous countries. It's most well-known officer was Randall Lee Gibson. Gibson was later promoted to Brigadier General and played an important role in post-war Louisiana in politics and with Tulane University. The 13th Louisiana's battlefield experiences began with Shiloh in April 1862 and carried through the Perryville Campaign, Murfreesborough, Siege of Jackson, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Atlanta Campaign, Nashville Campaign, and Spanish Fort in the Mobile Campaign. It fought with the Adams-Gibson Louisiana brigade for almost the entire war as part of the Army of the Mississippi/Army of Tennessee.

I found the 13th Louisiana to be one of the most interesting units from Louisiana. They were originally dressed in "Zouave" uniforms but they soon faded to normal attire. Due to high losses suffered by the regiment during the war, it spent a majority of the war consolidated with the heavy-German-filled 20th Louisana Infantry. Leon von Zinken of the 20th then became an important figure in the 13th Louisiana's history as well.

While exploring Jones' book on the 13th Louisiana (from the link above), take time to explore other titles written by him by clicking on the author's name.

Jones is also the author of the blog "The South's Defender".

Related information:

* All links to books are linked through as an Amazon affiliate - I receive a % of the sale if you purchase.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

6th Michigan Regimental History

The 6th Michigan Infantry was active in Louisiana during the Civil War from April 1862 (with the capture of New Orleans) through July 1863 (the Siege of Port Hudson). It took part in numerous actions with significant roles in the Battle of Baton Rouge and the Siege of Port Hudson. Eric R. Faust has written a regimental history of the 6th Michigan titled: The 6th Michigan Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War: A History and Roster (2020).

The 6th Michigan Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War: A History and Roster by [Eric R. Faust]

Faust's book on the 6th Michigan is 300 pages and is available in Kindle and paperback. 

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