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.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Texans' Trip Across Southwest Louisiana in late 1861

The 4th and 5th Texas Infantry Regiments were raised in early 1861 and transferred to Virginia. Here are two accounts from part of their trip during which they crossed southwest Louisiana in August 1861.

Sergeant Benjamin Marshall Baker, Company B of the 5th Texas Infantry, and his regiment marched across southwest Louisiana in 1861. Here is Baker's impression of Louisiana. It is published online at the Nesbitt Memorial Library website. On September 11, 1861, from Canton, Mississippi, Baker wrote (which was published in the Colorado Citizen newspaper):

I can not speak too much in praise of the French who live on the route from Niblett's Bluff to New Iberia. They gave our volunteers milk, potatoes, bread, etc., and, in short, seemed to vie with each other in their efforts to do the agreeable for us. They are actuated by the most ardent spirit of patriotism and wished us much good luck in whipping out the Abolitionists. They will long live in the memory of our company. In New Orleans, also, we were treated with some consideration. The people sent us some provisions and gave us the use of a room during our stay in the city for the sick, of whom, I am glad to say, our company has only a small number.    We encountered a great many hardships on our march from Niblett's Bluff, Calcasieu Parish, to New Iberia. We waded in water every day—sometimes up to our neck; were not provided with sufficient provisions by the Government officer; had wet blankets to sleep on at night, and were generally in bad luck. Added to this I may mention the interesting fact that it rained on us every day from the time we left Houston till we arrived in New Orleans.

"W" of the "Tom Green Rifles" (Company B of the 4th Texas Infantry) wrote from Glendenning Ferry, Calcasieu Parish on August 25, 1861. The Tom Green Rifles were part of several companies of the 4th Texas Infantry (Companies A, B, C, D and E) making their way to New Iberia as well. When the column reached Niblett's Bluff on August 16, 1861, they discovered there was not enough transportation to carry their goods across southwest Louisiana. The companies were forced to leave a lot of materials behind before they could move on. Here is where we pick up with "W"'s account from the Texas State Gazette newspaper dated September 14, 1861:

"When at the bluffs, Ward assured us that he had sufficient transportation, but that Capt. McKenn's company from Galveston, which had passed through some weeks previously, had seized upon five of his mule teams, and taken them off, that we would meet them certainly in one or two days; had he carried the farce so far, as to authorize us to stop them, and take them back with us. Subsequent developments melted his "five mule teams," into two ox wagons, with which Mr. Ward had absolutely nothing to do, they having been hired by the Galveston company, and paid for out of their own pockets...  
"On our second day's march it began to rain, it what we Texans would call 'torrends,' and not three hours have elapsed wince without a shower, either day or night. In a short time from the commencement of the rain, it was evident that we could not proceed without more transportation, and details were sent out in every direction to scour the country for wagons, but only succeeded in finding a few ox carts, capable of carrying from five to eight pounds. Inline, to give you an idea of our train, we have been moving seven days, and have accomplished fifty-six miles; and I assure you that if the men had not repeatedly laid hold on the wagons and assisted, we would not have traveled much over half the distance. For some six days, not one of the commands has known the luxury of a dry garment, a dry bed, or a well-cooked meal. The days have been spent in wading through swamps, not unfrequently waist deep, in huddling around a poor fire, or stretched upon the marshy ground, with a wet blanket, when exhausted nature defied both ran and mosquitoes, and demanded sleep. 

The inhabitants upon the route are, as a general thing, disposed to do all in their power to assist us. When we reached this point, our wagons were several hours behind us, as they had been all day, and the men wet, tired, and hungry. As soon as we arrived at the opposite side of the river, Capt. Good, sho resides here, brought down a splendid schooner, which the blockade had driven in, and taking us all on board, landed us safely on this side Calcasieu River, where we found his entire negro forces, superintended by his lady, busy preparing bread and coffee for the whole command. In a short time, two beeves were driven up, and by the time the wagons had arrived (nine o'clock, P.M.) the men were ready to begin the arduous task of ferrying them over in a very small flat, which with the attention required by the teams, employed them until half-past two o'clock, A.M.

Additional Source on Hood's Texas Brigade:

1 comment:

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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