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.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Not an "Extremely Agreeable" Ride

The Creole Guards was a pre-war militia company from Baton Rouge. When Louisiana seceded from the Union in early 1861, the Creole Guards were one of the "Baton Rouge Regiment" that participated in forcing the U.S. Garrison in Baton Rouge to surrender. Like all other companies in April-May of 1861, the company was sent south to New Orleans via steamer and then was shipped via railroad to Camp Moore. Once at the camp, the Creole Guards were attached, in mid June, to the newly formed 8th Louisiana Infantry Regiment, where it became Company A. That regiment was shortly ordered to Virginia, which is where this news piece picks up. A member of the company wrote to the Baton Rouge Gazette to give an account of their ride:

"On the 22d ultimo [June] we left Camp Moore and our beloved State, for Richmond, Va. and six days thereafter came to this place [Camp Pickens at Manassas Junction], our destination to Richmond having been changed at Lynchburg. The companies accompanying the Creole Guards - were the Sumter Guards, of New Orleans, the Phoenix Guards, of Ascension and Assumption, the Invincibles of Rapides and the Attakapas Guards of St. Martin, all under the command of Lieut. Col. Nichols and Major Prados, and forming the right wing of the 8th Regiment of La. Volunteers. That the trip was an extremely agreeable one to the members of our company and of the "wing", I cannot , by any means bring myself to say. We were made to change cars too often to make the trip "extremely agreeable." --- Just imagine! From Camp Moore we went to Canton, Miss. on the N.O. Jackson and Great Northern Railroad; there we changed to the Mississippi Central, and at Grand Junction, Tenn. to the Memphis and Charleston Road. At Stevenson, Ala. we took the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, the Eastern Tennessee and Georgia Railroad to Knoxville, Tenn., there the Eastern Tennessee and Virginia Road to Lynchburg, changing cars at Bristol, a small town half in Tennessee and half in Virginia. At Lynchburg, as I have already told you, our destination was changed, and by the Orange and Alexandria Railroad we came to this place. Those repeated changes threw everything out of order; caused the straying and loss of a rather too large proportion of a soldier's baggage, and greatly inconvenienced us all. The men, too, were on more than one set of trains -- placed in cars intended for the bovine species, and not the human; were closely packed together, without proper sleeping room; had to put up with more clouds of dust than were pleasant to their feelings, and were quite often short of the fresh water necessary to men subsisting nearly all the way on soldier's bread and fried bacon. Add to these that the men's provisions gave out, they having, according to orders given at Camp Moore, taken with them but four days rations, which, of course, did not last six days, and thus left officers and men greatly dependant upon their resources, and particularly wits, for their meals -- and also that for too many of the men, by their disregard of the laws of sobriety, and attendant ill conduct; by their negligence, by their stubbornness and bad-will gave to the officers and men much annoyance -- you must agree that our trip verily was not an "extremely agreeable" one.
The journey of the left wing of our regiment, which left Camp Moore two days after the right, under the commands of Col. Kelly and Adjutant T. D. Lewis must have been farther from "extremely agreeable" than ours. They were seven days on the way, instead of six, and had the misfortune to lose three men - two by desertion and one by death - all members of the Cheneyville Rifles of Rapides Parish, Capt. P. Keary. The man that died was named Connell, and very strangely was the only married private of the company -- the only one whose demise could have left a wife and children to mourn the abrupt termination of an earthly career that if prolonged might have been of great material benefit to them and to the South, now in need of the willing services of all her true sons. [Editor's Note: Private Connell was buried "on a hillock, outside Bristol, Va."]
But to cease the strain I was falling into, dear Gazette & Comet, there are two sides to every question, and so with our trip from Camp Moore to this place. If there were things calculated to prevent it from being and "extremely agreeable one," there were, per contra, much to render it so -- an intermingling of the pleasant and unpleasant, the former, with those accustomed to taking life easy, predominating. All along the route we encountered handsome receptions. In every city, town, village and borough - - at every station - - by the roadside - - by the wayside we met kind friends - - fellow countrymen - - to cheer us on. At all hours of the day, if not at all minutes, there were lovely and patriotic ladies to greet us with their approving presences and smiles and to wave us adieu with small Confederate flags and snowy-white handkerchiefs. Long shall we remember Tuscumbia, Ala. and its true Southern denizens men and women. There welcomed us a perfect host of heavenly creatures, so lovely that the Creole Guards almost fancied Tuscumbia was Baton Rouge, and you may rest assured they and the balance of the wing made themselves fairly hoarse hurrahing for the ladies. At Huntsville, Ala., we were treated to a sumptuous supper, and at Holly Springs, Wytheville, Va. and Lynchburg provisions by the baskets full were sent the men, and occasionally on the route we were presented with bouquets. Debarring the dust, the weather was delightful, and the sceneries, as all who have traveled the route we traveled know, was beautiful, particularly to that large number of the wing who, for the first time, found themselves outside the limits of Louisiana. Altogether I think I do our soldier's but simple justice when I say the unpleasant incidents of the journey are to be forgotten, overshadowed and eclipsed by pleasant ones; and was it required to make ten more trips, to be accompanied by ten-fold the number of unpleasant incidents, not twenty men of the whole regiment would refuse to undertake them, sacrificing all personal conveniences for the sake of the glorious cause in which our feelings are warmly enlisted."
- Baton Rouge Gazette & Comet, July 18, 1861

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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