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.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

14th Louisiana Goes to War Pt. III

The following write up comes from Wayne Cosby. It is a first hand account of Private W.P. Snakenburg of Co. K, 14th Louisiana Infantry. Wayne informed me that the original source of Snakenburg's letter is unknown but his account was printed in 1984 in the Amite News Digest. The piece picks up from the Seven Days Campaign through the 2nd Manassas Campaign.

Then we fell back to our old camp ground near Richmond and rested until about July 20th. We would go up into the city every day or two, only four miles off, and enjoy ourselves as best we could. In the latter days of July, all the Louisiana Regiments were placed in two brigades, five regiments in each, commanded by Gen'l Harry R. Hays and Gen'l W. B. Stark, who was killed afterward at Sharpsburg, Md. We were first in Hay's Brigade and went to Gordonsville to meet with him and all the Regiments given to Jackson's Corps, then camped near Gordonsville, Va. After getting with Jackson, he did not let us rest long. General John Pope had been placed in command of the Federal troops, and as he was a great braggard, Jackson wanted to get at him. So he started with his command to the front and met Pope's army at Cedar Mountain, August 9th, 1862, and whipped him back. From the position we held on the mountain, we could see the movement of both sides during the battle, as it fought. We were badly cut up by shell, but held our ground without firing a shot. Late in the evening we marched down the side of the mountain, on the open side of the mountain, on the side to the enemy, into a large open plain and wheat field to charge a Battery of two guns that were giving us trouble. We got the guns but in the charge I lost my shoes and had to go nearly barefoot until the Manassas Battle. I also lost a pocket knife that cost me $2.50.

After the Battle of Cedar Mountain, we marched around here and there, killing time waiting to see what Pope's next move would be. He finally settled down with his army along the Rappahannock River. We advanced toward him to engage him, and after wading the Hazel River, we received a terrible shelling pour, while marching along the road. Several burst very near, one in the ranks that killed Geo. Mottern of my Company and wounded several others before we could get out of range. George was buried near where he fell, and though we had been near the place afterward I never saw the place again. On this march our provision trains were cut off from us and we were living on very light rations. In fact, we were all hungry. Col. York, riding back amongst the boys, was talking of something to eat and says: "Never mind, boys, we'll get plenty after a little while, there is plenty just ahead of us." Some asked him just how far ahead. He answered: "Not far off. Just over the river." Just over the river where he meant was a plenty, but it belonged to the Yankee Army and they were there to keep it if they could. So we went back as soon as possible on account of a very heavy rain which had started the river to rising and would have soon been so deep that we could not all get over in time, so those who went over had to be called back, so as to keep all together.

We then went into camp and that night it rained very hard. All were very tired and those (myself for one) lay down and slept while it rained, covered with an oil cloth, and then I woke up in the morning, found I had laid in the water on my right side and was wet one half way. We moved in another position next day in front of Pope and had an artillery duel for two days. We could get nothing to eat, except green corn and apples, but we got along. Finally Jackson moved his troops away from the rest of General Robert E. Lee's army and marched back to the rear and left of Lee's line and had issued three days rations, to be cooked that night and be ready to move at daylight. WE cooked and were ready and started off for the rear of Pope's army. The first time I saw Jackson to know him was near Cedar Mountain several days before.

Late one evening there was much cheering down the road and the sound moving nearer as the cheering was taken up by the troops. I asked, what was all the cheering about and someone said: "They are cheering Stonewall. Don't you see him?" I looked and saw some distance off a very ordinary looking person, riding a small sorrel horse, like a house on fire, along the road, about 100 yards off, who looked like a Jew pedlar. He had on an old, faced, long tail coat and a military cap with the peak pulled down over his eyes and set stooped forward in the saddle. That man was Stonewall Jackson. I had seen Gen'l Lee, also Major Gen'l Richard Stoddard Ewell several times. Ewell was our commander of division in Jackson Corps. Early in the morning (August 25) after cooking our three days rations, we fell in and marched up our side of the river, passed the right of Gen'l Pope's line and crossed the Rappahannock River near a little town named Orlean on the great flank and rear movement behind Pope's army or marching Pope's army and the defences of Washington City (D.C.). Gen. Pope had no idea that Jackson had left his front, until we were fighting some of his troops at Bristoe Station near Manassas. We marched two days and one night, resting only a few hours that night. Got into Bristoe Station, beat off the Troops guarding the depot of supplies and captured several trains loaded with Pope's army supplies, consisting of thousands of pounds of meat, bbls. of flour and crackers and everything and anything from a medal to an anchor, also the trains and warehouses, thousands of boxes of good things sent to member of Pope's army by the family of some of them, of good things and clothing. We had got into everything that a lot of hungry soldiers wanted. History will tell what we did get. There we received orders to go and get all the provisions we wanted and could carry and leave the balance in the warehouses and trains, "carry all you can conveniently, for you do not know when you will get any more." We did get a plenty. I went to the warehouses and to a full bbl. of crackers. The head was out of the bbl. and filled my haversack nicely with crackers and a nice piece of bacon. After getting the provisions, we were moved out of town about one mile and halted in the road and rested until about 10 or 11 at night, then the cavalry set fire to the warehouses and trains and burnt up all that was left there up. This occurred on Tuesday, Aug. 26th, 1862. In the battle when we first arrived, we were shelled very hard by the enemy and one shell burst so near Lieutenant Col. Zable's head that the concussion knocked him down and caused him to turn a somersault down the road. The boys got him on his feet and he soon got over the stunt. After the fire got to burning good, s o no danger of putting it out by anyone, we were marched off to Centreville (on the 27th) and halted to rest and cook. We certainly needed rest, for we had been walking, fighting and running in fierce marches part of the time for more than a week. Pope, in the meantime, while we were destroying his army supplies, had found out that Jackson was in his rear and had put his army in motion to catch us. When Jackson heard that Pope was after him, we started again (on the 28th) and were soon on the battle field of Manassas.

Part 3, September 12th, 1984

It was a very hot day. About two o'clock it was so hot that I was almost exhausted, that I said: "I wished that we could get some rest." It was not more than one hour before we were into it and stayed there in a big fight until after night sometime and then lay on the field all night. Gen. Ewell lost his leg in this fight. The next morning (Friday, August 29) we fought them all day. We were posted in a railroad cut. In a charge on the enemy from the R.R. cut, Col. York jumped in front of the Regiment and says: " Come on, boys, come on" with his hat in one hand and his sword in the other. In the running charge, York stumbled and fell, hat going one way and sword the other. Some of the boys ran to pick him up, thinking him hurt. But jumping up says: "Never mind, boys, I am not hurt. Come on." He soon fell again and when we got to him, he says: "Well boys, they got me now." They had shot him through the neck. He was taken to the hospital, and after a long time came back in March, 1863. We had charged some small cannon, called "Flying Dutchmen" which was giving us trouble. It was a hard fight all day long until after night. We were moved out of the front line to the rear, so that we might draw ammunition and get something to eat. Now I found I had played Harry in getting my crackers at Bristoe. From that time, which was Wednesday evening late, I had eat on what I got there and when I had eaten off the top, found mine had soap on them and I was forced to throw them away. I got mine out of a full bbl. in the depot, but some one had emptied a box of soap on the crackers and those I had packed in the bottom, I took out of the top ones in the bbl. and had just got down to them. I threw them away.

Pope had got his whole army around ours (Jackson's Corps) and we had to fight very hard and doing everything possible to hold Pope off, until the rest of Lee's army could come up. In the last charge made on us in the R.R. cut, part of our Brigade got out of ammunition and were forced to repel the charge with rocks, of which there were a great many in the cut. This seems ridiculous, but it is the truth and since then have the statement made in one history of the war, that the 10th La. did repel the attack with rocks at the R.R. cut. We rested that night and again the next day, went back into line, and while fighting hard Gen'l Longstreet came up with his corps, also Hill, and then we started Pope to running whipped like a dog. This was on Saturday. We lay again on the field that night and next morning marched across the field, we went into camp for a rest. This was Sunday. We lost a great many men in the Regiment, several being of the Co. In some places on the field the dead lay so thick that you could walk long distances on the bodies without getting on the ground. On this field I got a pair of shoes. I was on the field looking for a pair and came across a wounded Yankee whose back was broke and shot in the leg. I got him some water and made him as comfortable as I could, and, while talking to him, he asked me if I went into the battle barefooted, as I was. I told him that I did. Then he says: "I have a pair here that you may have, if you can wear them." I tried them on and told him that I could very well. He says, "Well, take them. If I live, I can get more: and if not, I shall not need them." He says: "I have been well treated by the Southern soldiers, since I have been wounded, and you are welcome to the shoes." I left him.

- to be continued

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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