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.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tigers Return to Gettysburg in 1888

Dr. Terry Jones forwarded this interesting post-war account of Tigers that paid a visit to Gettysburg in 1888. Thank you Dr. Jones. Great story.




The bugler of the Third United States Artillery woke the town with reveille. Early as the hour was the crown of East Cemetery hill was occupied by a small detachment. It consisted of four men and two women, the latter evidently mother and daughter. The men were pointing toward the north and east. As they were gesticulating a party of Pennsylvania veterans approached within listening distance. They heard one of the four men say: “We rushed up that slope, had a hand-to-hand fight right here where those guns are; some of our boys got as far as the road back there, but it was of no use. We did our best, but were driven back, all who were alive.”

“I think it’s a wonder,” said the older woman, that any of you got back.”

The listening veterans looked at each other and then, as if of one mind, moved forward until they closed in on the party of six.

“We heard you say you had rushed up that slope,” said one of the veterans, “and the only men who reached the top, except the men who guarded it, were Louisiana Tigers.”

A smallish man, of wiry frame, his hair and goatee flecked with gray, stepped forward a couple of paces and said, with a smile that was lamb-like, “We are four of the Tigers, sah.”

The veterans made a forward dash, and such a shaking of hands was never before seen on the top of East Cemetery hill. The wife and daughter of one of the “Tigers” participated in the hand shaking and laughed and blushed earnestness with which the northern veterans welcomed the representatives of the most desperate fighters the south produced.

The news jumped quickly from point to point that the “Johnnies” had come. It was lamented on all sides that they had not come in greater numbers, but it was conceded that four Louisiana “Tigers” would cover a multitude of short comings. The four who came all the way from New Orleans to shake hands with the men they were so desirous of killing twenty-five years ago are John J. Wax, Frederick A. Ober, Thomas Higgins, and L. J. Cordes, Mrs. and Miss Ober accompanying the party.

The men wore blue silk badges, and on these were the letters A.N.V., which stand for the Army of Northern Virginia. Mr. Ober acted as a spokesman, and when he was asked for his card he handed out a square bit of bristol board, on the face of which was engraved in colors the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. Under the flag was the words: “Louisiana Tigers. Here we are again.” In an hour after the first of these cards saw the light at Gettysburg, Mr. Ober hadn’t one left. The demand for them was hardly equaled by the number of people who visited the battle field during the day.

Those who were hottest on the trail for them were members of organizations that carried in conspicuous places upon their persons the names by which they were familiarly designated by the war. Among such organizations already on the ground are the Razors, the Hawks, the Lambs, the Doves and the Orange Blossoms. The Bucktails are known by the tail of the buck that curls around the band of their caps. Veterans who wear felt hats rather than fatigue caps have them decorated with corps badges. Veterans of all ranks and all ages showed an immensity of interest in the four Tigers, and the latter were so pleased with their treatment that Tiger Ober was induced to tell why he came, why so few of them came, and what they thought of the nickname given to them by the unionists.

He did not think the south knew much about the reunion until it was too late to take measures to attend it. It was only three weeks ago that the subject was first discussed among the Louisiana Tigers. They wrote to General Sickles for information. He answered by telegraph, telling how and when to reach the battlefield. They replied that it was so late that few of them could attend. Their organization held a meeting and the four whose names were given were deputed to represent the organization. Its president had instructed Tiger Ober to say that if defenders for the stars and stripes were needed the Louisiana Tigers were and would always be ready to furnish their full quota.

Growing excited “Tiger” Ober said: “I tell you, sahs, we are American citizens. I am an American citizen and I am proud of it, and if it ever becomes necessary, I will fight for that citizenship and for the men I once fought against, and for whom I now have a feeling I can not express. I am American born and I am for America.”

There was a shout of approval. “How would you like to take a crack at England?” asked a bystander who wore a brogue.

“I am not Irish enough,” was the unexpected reply. It caused a roar of laughter.

Everybody visits Little Round Top, the apple of Longstreet’s eye, and examines the monuments of the Forty-fourth New York, the Twentieth Maine, and the Eighty-third Pennsylvania and the Sixteenth Michigan regiments and the ramparts of hastily-piled stones from behind which the union soldiers poured death into the ranks of their assailants. Everybody visits the peach orchard and Culp’s Hill, but at none of these points do visitors, either military or civilian, spend so much time as at East Cemetery hill, and all because of the desperate conflict that occurred on this hill between the Louisiana “Tigers” in their mad attempt to demolish Weederich’s [sic] and Rickett’s batteries and their supports. Veterans never tire of telling how the gunners used the rammers upon the heads of the “Tigers,” and how the latter fought like wild beasts.

They never tire, of either listening to “Tiger” Ober tell how disgusted the name of “Tiger” made them when it was first applied to one company and then gradually spread to all Louisiana troops, and how proud they now were of the title. (Gettysburg Correspondence to New York Times)

Booth’s Records gives the following information on the Tigers mentioned.

Ober, Frederick A.,Pvt. New Co. A, 5th La. Inf. En. May 10, 1861, New Orleans, La. Roll to June 30, 1861, Present, with remarks: "Detailed as Commsy. for company" (words in quotations cancelled on Roll). Rolls from Jan., 1861, to Feb., 1862, Present. Rolls Sept., 1862. to April, 1863, Present. Roll for May and June, 1863, dated Aug. 11, 1863, Absent, sick, since July 10, 1863. Roll for July and Aug., 1863, Absent, sick, July 10, 1863, Lynchburg, Va. Rolls from Sept., 1862, to Dec., 1863, Absent, sick, since July 10, 1863, at Richmond, Va. Roll for Jan. and Feb., 1864, Present. "Transfd. to C. S. Navy April 1, 1861. Absent, sick." (words in quotations cancelled on Roll).

Higgins, Thomas, Pvt. Sergt. Co. B, 2nd La. Inf. En. May 9, 1861, New Orleans, La. Present on all Rolls to Aug., 1863, from time of enlistment. Roll for Sept. and Oct., 1863, Present. Promoted Sergt., Oct. 1, 1863. Rolls from Nov., 1863, to Feb., 1864, state Present. Roll for May 1 to Sept., 1864, Absent, captured May 21 at Spottsylvania C. H. Federal Rolls of Prisoners of War, Captured at Spottsylvania, May 20, 1864. Sent to Pt. Lookout, Md., from Belle Plains, Va., May 23, 1864. Forwd. to Elmira, N. Y., July 6, 1864. Paroled and transferred for exchange Feb. 9, 1865. Recd. at Boulwares and Cox Wharf, James River, Va., Feb. 20-21. 1865. and exchanged. On Roll of Prisoners of War, Paroled at Meridian, Miss., May 12, 1865. Res. New Orleans, La.

There is no L. J. Cordes listed in Booth’s Records.

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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