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.

Monday, August 16, 2010

More 18th Louisiana Letters from Camp Moore

Wayne Cosby with the Camp Moore Association forwarded the letters of Private Thomas Bellow of Co. E, 18th Louisiana to us. Bellow's letters appeared in local paper from St. Charles Parish titledLe Meschacebe. We continue with more of Bellow's letters while he stayed at Camp Moore. These letters are GREAT on the life at the camp.

22 September 1861

To the Meschacebe'

Yesterday I was charged wit the agreeable function of cook. Although I do not recall having exercised this profession during the last twenty years of my life, I accomplished my taks to my complete satisfaction. Was the same true for those who consumed the meal? Alas…during the solemn operation of chewing and swallowing, I thought I saw several faces reflect signs of disappointment. --I am now convinced of one thing: it is that the proverb ' cobblers are the worse shod' does not apply to cooks; I have not eaten so well since I arrived here. During the cooking, I tasted so much to assure myself that everything was going well that when the time for the meal arrived I was absolutely incapable of participating in it and generously abandoned my share to the others.

I am also the laundryman; --this profession has less charm than the other. I replace the beater with a shoe brush. Last week, I was washing a shirt; finding that the brush was not removing the accumulation of pork grease and dust quickly enough, I took some yellow sand and obtained the most satisfactory results. But the next day, when I put on this shirt, upon which the eye of the finest laundress could not have found a spot, I experienced an itching that was less than agreeable. I though for a moment that all the little animals usually resident in neglected heads of hair had chosen to live on my back. Immediately removing this inconvenient garment, I shook it vigorously, and then I saw what happens in the desert after a gust of wind, --there fell a rain of sand.

I was on guard again last Sunday. This time, they placed me on one of the numerous roads that lead to the village. I passed my twenty-four hours happily enough. I had around me a magnificent tableau: pines so tall they made me dream of the ends of the earth; laurels and oaks on which the squirrels were playing; great dead trees upon which the woodpeckers were climbing and making drum rolls with their beaks that the famous Rosas himself would have envied. IN the leaves were birds of all sorts, except for the mockingbird, which seems too civilized to inhabit this lost country. In the afternoon, we had some rain, but we didn't suffer thanks to the foresight of our captain, who furnished us with great rubber coats. During the night, I was disturbed only by the plaintive cries of the owls and by the barking of village dogs, who were no doubt flirting with some lovely in amorous ardor.

Since our diet is of a uniformity and a monotony that hardly stimulates the appetite, we often go to 'Aunty's' for a diversion. 'Aunty' is the round and powerful hostess of the most popular restaurant in Camp Moore. Everything is in order at her place. The tables are solidly settled on barrels; the candles, whose number is always strictly limited to the needs of the moment, are set in necks of bottles. The system of illumination, unknown in ancient times, frequently occasions some burlesque scenes. Yesterday evening, our little group was eating an excellent chicken gumbo made with ham and beef. Suddenly we found ourselves in complete darkness. The candle had disappeared as if by enchantment. 'Aunty', who shares all the superstitions of her noble race, thought that the devil was trying to enter her establishment, but she was soon reassured by 'Uncle Henry', her associate, who arrived with a light. We made an investigation and found our candle at the bottom of the bottle that served as our candelabra.

We are having six hours of exercises a day. Our captain, who since our arrival has smiled only with his forehead, now begins to smile with his lips--proof that we are making progress.

Our battalion or regiment is not yet organized in a permanent fashion. While waiting, our Captain Roman fills the functions of major, Lieutenant E. Jacob those of adjutant-major, and our sergeant Ed. Barthe'lemy those of sergeant-major.

We receive your newspaper regularyl.

Everything goes well.

T. B.

P. S. I am sending you enclosed the list of the St. James Carbines.

29 September 1861

To the Meschacebe'

Our Creole battalion is finally organized. Captain Alfred Mouton is lieutenant-colonel and Captain Roman, major. The adjutant-major and the sergeant major are not yet named. The nominations of messieurs Mouton and Roman seem to have satisfied the unanimous wishes of all the companies. If the high intelligence and the military talents of Monsieur Mouton were not already established, his giant height, his herculean torso, and his stentorian voice would suffice to inspire the confidence of the most timid. Monsieur Mouton is the chief of the brave men who banished the brigands of the Attakapas. As for our Major, he is well known.

Here is the list of the companies that compose the battalion:

1st Company, St. James Chasseurs. You know the officers. (94 soldiers)

2nd Company, St. James Carbines. The officers are also known to you (78 men; five have joined since I sent you the list.)

3rd Company, Acadian Guards, Captain A. Mouton, now lieutenant-colonel; 1st lieutenant, Wm. Mouton; 2nd Lieutenant, F. T. Comeau; 2nd Lieutenant, junion, Arthur Bailey (77 men)

4th Company, St. Landry's Volunteers, Captain Garland; 1st lieutenant, C. D. Bullard; 2nd lieutenant, L. Jacob Auselin; 2nd lieutenant, junior, Ad Debuillon (100 men)

5th Company, Natchitoches Rebels, Captain J. D. Wood; 1st lieutenant, W. B. Owens; 2nd lieutenant, T. Lattier; 2nd lieutenant, junior, R. Emile Cloutier (88 men)

6th Company, Lafourche Guards, Captain Louis Bush; 1st lieutenant J. K. Gourdain; 2nd lieutenant, John Collins; 2nd lieutenant, junior, Tucker (109 men)

Besides these six companies, we are awaiting for Captain Hays and a company from St. Tammany, who ought to arrive at any time.-- our battalion will thus soon become a regiment.

I reproach myself for not yet having made you acquainted with General Tracy, commander-in-chief of Camp Moore.--He is a noble many of about sixty years and with a very respectable rotundity. His head and chin resemble the summits of high mountains. The rest of his appearance would make the most flamboyant of the three colors of our flag seem pale.

He acts very spry, and his short legs clamp lightly around a proud charger that must have been young twenty years ago.

He makes his rounds every morning, on foot or on horseback. He is very polite, and his face, in spite of its angry color, radiates constant goodness. He lives in the village in a house just a couple of steps away from the corps guard. He has a parrot that amuses or annoys the sentries.

In my last letter, I told you something about Aunty. Allow me today to tell you something about her neighbor, our worthy friend Tatout. -- Tatout is the proprietor of the major store of Camp Moore. He is some sort of Chinese-Frenchman who might be anywhere between 30 and

70 years old. His infernal babble is as incessant as that of the general's parrot. His store of ten square feet is built in the shape of a hen-house. On the front is a large window that raises up like a trap and reveals to astonished eyes a thousand and one articles, each one more useless than the other, but which the soldier cannot dispense with. These articles are displayed in the most magnificent disorder. Even in the bazaar, one sees the effect of art. Pipes and tobacco lead the sardines to the oil and ham; onions fraternize with cheese and sugar, etc., etc.

Tatout is truly a man of genius. While selling us his merchandise at five times what its worth, he manages to persuade us that he is giving them to us as half price. At Tatout's place there are always lotteries, where the tickets are sold for half the value of the objects offered as prizes. The happy mortal whom destiny favors cannot resell the prize that he has won for the price of the ticket. --At Tatout's, as at Aunty's and her confreres, the bottle plays the role of chandelier. This necessary object seems completely unknown here in its natural form.

We are all happy--each in his own way. The lovers stroll about and invent distractions in order not to think too much about their ladies; the married men and those who are indifferent to love loll in their tents or play with the little pebbles.--We shall be called into active service as soon as we are well enough trained to get ourselves killed in a decent manner.

The 16th [actually the 17th] regiment of Louisiana Volunteers--Creole Americans-- was formed last Thursday at Camp Moore. Colonel S. S. Heard; lieutenant-colonel, Charles Jones; major, R. B. Jones; adjutant, R. Richardson; sergeant-major, Samuel C. Cuny; sergeant, T.P. Richardson; quartermaster, J. F. Sibley.

Tomorrow or the day after we shall have an election to find a successor to Captain Roman. Lieutenant Mire will probably get the rank, and there will be several changes in the company. We think that our sergeant, Ed. Barthe'le'my, will be named adjutant-major of the battalion.

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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