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, November 29, 2010

Fremantle in Louisiana

Sir Arthur James Fremantle

Arthur James Fremantle was an officer in the British army that took leave to tour the Confederacy during the Civil War. If you ever saw the movie Gettysburg he was the British officer wearing the red British uniform-which I believe is contrary to fact because Fremantle was on leave and was not wearing his uniform. To enter the Confederacy, Fremantle entered through Texas and traveled across the country to Virginia. In doing so, he crossed through Louisiana. One of the things I am always interested in is the impression of non-Louisianians on their experience of being in Louisiana. Below is the exert from Fremantle's book, Three Months in the Southern States: April-June 1863. This exert starts with him crossing the Sabine River into Louisiana, from Texas, to his crossing of the Mississippi River at Vidalia to Natchez, Mississippi. The time span is May 8-15, 1863. ENJOY!

8th, May (Friday).—We reached Marshall at 3 A. M., and got four hours' sleep there. "We then got into a railroad for sixteen miles, after which we were crammed into another stage.

Crossed the frontier into Louisiana at 11 A. M. I have therefore been nearly a month getting through the single State of Texas. Reached Shrieveport at 3 p. M. ; and, after washing for the first time in five days, I called on Gen. Kirby Smith, who commands the whole country on this side of the Mississippi.

He is a Floridian by birth, was educated at West Point, and served in the United States cavalry. He is only thirty-eight years old; and he owes his rapid rise to a lieutenant-general to the fortunate fact of his having fallen, jus't at the very nick of time, upon the Yankee flank at the first battle of Manassas.He is a remarkably active man, and of very agreeable manners; he wears big spectacles and a black beard.His wife is an extremely pretty woman, from Baltimore, but she had cut her hair quite short like a man's. In the evening she proposed that we should go down to the river and fish for cray-fish. We did so, and were most successful, the General displaying much energy on the occasion.

He told me that M'Clellan might probably have destroyed the Southern army with the greatest ease during the first winter, and without running much risk to himself, as the Southerners were so much over-elated by their easy triumph at Manassas, and their army had dwindled away.

I was introduced to Governor Moore, of Louisiana, to the Lieutenant-governor Hyams, and also to the exiled Governor of Missouri, Reynolds.

Governor Moore told me he had been on the Red River since 1824, from which date until 1840 it had been very unhealthy. He thinks that Dickens must have intended Shrieveport by " Eden."*

Governor Reynolds, of Missouri, told me he found himself in the unfortunate condition of a potentate exiled from his dominions; but he showed me an address which he had issued to his Missourians, promising to be with them at the head of an army to deliver them from their oppressors. Shrieveport is rather a decent-looking place on the Red River. It contains about 3,000 inhabitants, and is at present the seat of the Louisianian Legislature vice Baton Rouge. But only twenty-eight members of the Lower House had arrived as yet, and business could not be commenced with less than fifty. The river now is broad and rapid, and it is navigated by large steamers; its banks are low and very fertile, but reputed to be very unhealthy.

General Kirby Smith advised me to go to Munroe, and try to cross the Mississippi from thence; he was so uncertain as to Alexandria that he was afraid to send a steamer so far.

I heard much talk at his house about the late Federal raid into the Mississippi,* which seems to be a copy of John Morgan's operations, except that the Federal raid was made in a thinly populated country, bereft of its male inhabitants.

9th May (Saturday).—Started again by stage for Munroe at 4.30 A. M. My companions were, the Mississippi planter, a mad dentist from New Orleans (called, by courtesy, doctor), an old man from Matagorda, buying slaves cheap in Louisiana, a wounded otiicer, and a wounded soldier. The soldier was a very intelligent young Missourian, who told me (as others have) that, at the commencement of these troubles, both he and his family were strong Unionists. But the Lirtcolnites, by using coercion, had forced them to take one side or the other —and there are now no more bitter Secessionists than these people. This soldier (Mr. Douglas) was on his way to rejoin Bragg's army. A Confederate soldier when wounded is not given his discharge, but is employed at such work as he is competent to perform. Mr. Douglas was quite lame; but will be employed at mounted duties or at writing.

We passed several large and fertile plantations. The negro quarters formed little villages, and seemed comfortable: Bome of them held 150 or 200 hands. We afterwards drove through some beautiful pine forests, and were ferried across a beautiful shallow lake full of cypresses, but not the least like European cypress-trees.

We met a number more planters driving their families, their slaves, and furniture, towards Texas—in fact, every thing that they could save from the ruin that had befallen them on the approach of the Federal troops.

At 5 p. M. we reached a charming little town, called Mindon, where I met an English mechanic who deplored to me that he had been such a fool as to naturalize himself, as he was in hourly dread of the conscription.I have at length become quite callous to many of the horrors of stage travelling. I no longer shrink at every random shower of tobacco-juice; nor do I shudder when good-naturedly offered a quid. I eat voraciously of the bacon that is provided for my sustenance, and I am invariably treated by my fellowtravellers of all grades with the greatest consideration and kindness. Sometimes a man remarks that it is rather " mean" of England not to recognize the South; but I can always shut him up by saying, that a nation which deserves its independence should fight and earn it for itself—a sentiment which is invariably agreed to by all.

10th May (Sunday).—I spent a very rough night in consequence of the badness of the road, the jolting of the carriage, and having to occupy a centre seat. In the morning we received news from every one we met of the fall of Alexandria. The road to-day was alive with negroes, who are being " run" into Texas out of Banks' way. We. must have met hundreds of them, and many families of planters, who were much to be pitied, especially the ladies.

On approaching Munroe, we passed through the camp of Walker's division (8,000 strong), which was on its march from Arkansas to meet Banks. The division had embarked in steamers, and had already started down the " "Wachita" towards the Red River, when the news arrived of the fall of Alexandria, and of the presence of Federal gunboats in or near the Wachita itself. This caused the precipitate return and disembarkation of Walker's division. The men were well armed with rifles and bayonets, but they were dressed in ragged civilian clothes. The old Matagorda man recognized his son in one of these regiments—a perfect boy.

Munroe is on the " Wachita" (pronounced Wadhtaw), which is a very pretty and wide stream. After crossing it we arrived at the hotel after dark.

Universal confusion reigned there; it was full of officers and soldiers of Walker's division, and no person would take the slightest notice of us.

In desperation I called on General Hebert, who commanded the post. I told him who I was, and gave him a letter of introduction, which I had fortunately brought from Kirby Smith. I stated my hard case, and besought an asylum for the night, which he immediately accorded me in his own house.

The difficulty of crossing the Mississippi appeared to increase the nearer I got to it, and General Hebert told me that it was very doubtful whether I could cross at all at this point. The Yankee gunboats, which had forced their way past Vicksburg and Port Hudson, were roaming about the Mississippi and Red River, and some of them were reported at the entrance of the "Wachita itself, a small fort at Harrisonburg being the only impediment to their appearance in front of Munroe.

On another side, the enemy's forces were close to Delhi, only forty miles distant.

There were forty or fifty Yankee deserters here from the army besieging Vicksburg. These Yankee deserters, on being asked their reasons for deserting, generally reply,—" Our government has broken faith with us. We enlisted to fight for the Union, and not to liberate the G—d d—d niggers." Vicksburg is distant from this place about eighty miles.

The news of General Lee's victory at Chancellorsville had just arrived here. Every one received it very coolly, and seemed to take it quite as a matter of course; but the wound of Stonewall Jackson was universally deplored.

11th May (Monday).—General Hebert is a goodlooking creole.* He was a West-Pointer, and served in the old army, but afterwards became a wealthy sugar-planter. He used to hold Magruder's position as commander-in-chief in Texas, but he has now been shelved at Munroe, where he expects to be taken prisoner any day; and, from the present gloomy aspect of affairs about here, it seems extremely probable that he will not be disappointed in his expectations. He is extremely down upon England for not recognizing the South.

He gave me a passage down the river in a steamer which was to try to take provisions to Harrisonburg but, at the same time, he informed me that she might very probably be captured by a Yankee gunboat.

At 1 p. M. I embarked for Harrisonburg, which is distant from Munroe by water 150 miles, and by land 15 miles. It is fortified, and offers what was considered a weak obstruction to the passage of the gunboats up the river to Munroe. The steamer was one of the curious American river boats, which rise to a tremendous height out of the water, like great wooden castles. She was steered from a box at the very top of all, and this particular one .was propelled by one wheel at her stern. The river is quite beautiful; it is from 200 to 300 yards broad, very deep and tortuous, and the large trees grow right down to the very edge of the water.

Our captain at starting expressed in very plain terms his extreme disgust at the expedition, and said he fully expected to run against a gunboat at any turn of the river.

* General Hebert is the only man of education I met in the whole of my travels who spoke disagreeably about England in this respect. Most people say they think we are quite right to keep out of it as long as we can; but others think our government is foolish to miss such a splendid chance of " smashing the Yankees," with whom we must have a row sooner or later.

Soon after leaving Munroe, we passed a large plantation. The negro quarters were larger than a great many Texan towns, and they held three hundred hands.

After we had proceeded about half an hour, we were stopped by a mounted orderly (called a courier), who from the bank roared out the pleasing information, " They're a-fighting at Harrisonburg." The captain on hearing this turned quite green in the face, and remarked that he'd be " dogged" if he liked running into the jaws of a lion, and he proposed to turn back; but he was jeered at by my fellow-travellers, who were all either officers or soldiers, wishing to ci'oss the Mississippi to rejoin their regiments in the different Confederate armies.

One pleasant fellow, more warlike than the rest, suggested that as we had some Enfields on board, we should make " a little bit of a fight," or at least " make one butt at a gunboat." I was relieved to find that these insane proposals were not received with any enthusiasm by the majority.

The plantations, as we went further down the river, looked very prosperous; but signs of preparations for immediate skedaddling were visible in most of them, and I fear they are all destined to be soon desolate and destroyed.We came to a courier picket every sixteen miles. At one of them we got the information, " Gunboats drove back," at which there was great rejoicing, and the captain, recovering his spirits, became quite jocose, and volunteered to give me letters of introduction to a " particular friend of his about here, called Mr. Farragut;" but the next news, " Still a-fightin'," caused us to tie ourselves to a tree at 8 p. M., off a little village called Columbia, which is half-way between Munroe and Harrisonburg.

We then lit a large fire, round which all the passengers squatted on their heels in Texan fashion, each man whittling a piece of wood, and discussing the merits of the different Yankee prisons at New Orleans or Chicago. One of them, seeing me, called out, " I reckon, Kernel, if the Yankees catch you with us, they'll say you're in d—d bad company;" which sally caused universal hilarity.

12th May (Tuesday).—Shortly after daylight three 'negroes arrived from Harrisonburg, and they describei the fight as still going on. They said they were "dreadful skeered;" and one of them told me he would " rather be a slave to his master all his life, than a white man and a soldier."

During the morning some of the officers and soldiers left the boat, and determined to cut across country to Harrisonburg, but I would not abandon the scanty remains of my baggage until I was forced to do so.

During the morning twelve more negroes arrived from Harrisonburg. It appears that three hundred of them, the property of neighboring planters, had been engaged working on the fortifications, but they all with one accord bolted when the first shell was fired. Their only idea and hope at present seemed to be to get back to their masters. All spoke of the Yankees with great detestation, and expressed wishes to have nothing to do with such " bad people."

Our captain coolly employed them in tearing down the fences, and carrying the wood away on board the steamer for firewood.

We did nothing but this all day long, the captain being afraid to go on, and unwilling to return. In the evening a new alarm seized him—viz., that the Federal cavalry had cut off the Confederate line of couriers. During the night we remained in the same position as last night, head up stream, and ready to oe off at a moment's notice.*

13th May (Wednesday).—There was a row on board last night; one of the officers having been too attentive to a lady, had to skedaddle suddenly into the woods, in order to escape the fury of her protector, and he has not thought it advisable to reappear. My trusty companion for several days, the poor young Missourian, was taken ill to-day, and told me he had a " right smart little fever on him." I doctored him with some of the physic which Mr. Maloney had given me, and he got better in the evening.

* One of the passengers on board this steamer was Captain Barney, of the Confederate States Navy, who has since, I believe, succeeded Captain Mafflt in the command of the Florida.

We had pickets out in the woods last night. Two of my fellow-travellers on that duty fell in with a negro, and pretending they were Yankees, asked him to join them. He consented, and even volunteered to steal his master's horses ; and he then received a tremendous thrashing, administered by the two soldiers with their ramrods.

At 9 p. M., to the surprise of all, the captain suddenly made up his mind to descend the river at all hazards, thinking, I suppose, that any thing was better than the uncertainty of the last twenty-four hours.

The further we went, the more beautiful was the scenery.

At 4 p. M. we were assured by a citizen on the bank that the gunboats really had retreated; and at 5.30 our doubts were set at rest, to our great satisfaction, by descrying the Confederate flag flying from Fort Beauregard, high above the little town of Harrisonburg. After we had landed, I presented my letter of introduction from General Hebert to Colonel Logan, who commands the fort. He introduced me to a German officer, the engineer.

They gave me an account of the attack and repulse of the four Federal gunboats under Commodore "Woodford, and supposed to hare been the Pittsburg ironclad), the General Price, the Arizona, and another.

Fort Beauregard is a much more formidable looking work than I expected to see, and its strength had evidently been much underrated at Munroe.

A hill 190 feet high, which rises just in rear of Harrisonburg, has been scarped and fortified. It is situated at an angle of the river, and faces a long " reach" of two miles.

The gunboats, after demanding an unconditional surrender, which was treated with great contempt by Colonel Logan, opened fire at 2 p. M. on Sunday, and kept it up till 6.30, throwing about one hundred and fifty 9 and 11 inch shell. The gunboats reopened again for about an hour on Monday afternoon, when they finally withdrew, the Arizona being crippled.

The fort fired altogether about forty-five 32-pound shot (smooth bore). The range was about a mile.

The garrison thought that they had loosened several of the Pittsburg's iron-plates. They felt confident they could have sunk the wooden vessels if they had attempted to force the passage; and they were naturally much elated with their success, which certainly had not been anticipated on board my steamer or at Munroe.

I had not time to visit the interior of the fort, but I saw the effect of the shell upon the outside. Those which fell in the sand did not burst. Only three men were wounded in the garrison. They told me the deck of the Pittsburg was furnished with a parapet of cotton-bales for riflemen.

The river at Harrisonburg is about 160 yards broad, and very deep, with a moderate current. The town, being between the vessels and the fort, had, of course, suffered considerably during the bombardment.

"When the works are complete they will be much more formidable.

To our great joy Colonel Logan decided that our vessel should proceed at once to Trinity, which is fifteen miles nearer Natchez (on the Mississippi) than Harrisonburg. We arrived there at 8 P. M., and found that the gunboats had only just left, after having destroyed all the molasses and rum they could find, and carried away a few negroes.

Six of us pigged in one very small room, paying a dollar each for this luxury to an old woman, who was most inhospitable, and told us " she didn't want to see no soldiers, as the Yanks would come back and burn her house for harboring rebels." I am always taken for a Confederate officer, partly from being in their company, and partly on account of my clothes,which happen to be a gray shooting-suit, almost the same color as most of the soldiers' coats.

14th May (Thursday).—The officers and soldiers, about thirty in number, who camcdown the "Wachita in my company, determined to proceed to Natchez to-day, and a very hard day's work we had of it.

As the Louisianian bank of the Mississippi is completely overflowed at this time of year, and the river itself is infested with the enemy's gunboats, which have run past Vicksburg and Port Hudson, the passage can only be made by a tedious journey in small boats through the swamps and bayous.

Our party left Trinity at 6 A. M. in one big yawl and three skiffs. In my skiff were eight persons, besides a negro oarsman named " Tucker." We had to take it in turns to row with this worthy, and I soon discovered to my cost the inconvenience of sitting in close proximity with a perspiring darkie. This negro was a very powerful man, very vain and susceptible of flattery. I won his heart by asking him if he wasn't worth 6,000 dollars. We kept him up to the mark throughout the journey by plying him with compliments upon his strength and skill. One officer declared to him that he should try to marry his mistress (a widow) on purpose to own him.

After beating up for about eight miles against one of three streams which unite at, and give its name to, Trinity, we turned off to the right, and got into a large dense swamp. The thicket was so tangled and impenetrable that we experienced the greatest difficulty in forcing our way through it; we were often obliged to get into the water up to our middles and shove, whilst most of the party walked along an embankment.

After two hours and a half of this sort of work we had to carry our boats bodily over the embankment into a bayou called Log Bayou, on account of the numerous floating logs which had to be encountered. We then crossed a large and beautiful lake, which led us into another dismal swamp, quite as tangled as the former one. Here we lost our way, and got aground several times; but at length, after great exertions, we forced ourselves through it, and reached Lake Concordia, a fine piece of water, several miles in extent, and we were landed at dusk on the plantation of a Mr. Davis. These bayous and swamps abound with alligators and snakes of the most venomous description. I saw many of the latter swimming about exposed to a heavy fire of six-shooters; but the alligators were frightened away by the leading boat.

The yawl and one of the skiffs beat us, and their passengers reached Natchez about 9 P. M., but the other skiff, which could not boast of a Tucker, was lost in the swamp, and passed the night there hi a wretched plight.

The weather was most disagreeable, either a burning sun or a downpour of rain.

The distance we did in the skiff was about twentyeight miles, which took us eleven hours to perform.

On landing we hired at Mr. Davis's a small cart for Mr. Douglas (the wounded Missourian) and our baggage, and we had to finish the day by a trudge of three miles through deep mud, until, at length, we reached a place called Vidalia, which is on the Louisianian bank of the Mississippi, just opposite Natchez.

At Vidalia I got the immense luxury of a pretty good bed, all to myself, which enabled me to take off my clothes and boots for the first time in ten days.

The landlord told us that three of the enemy's gunboats had passed during the day; and as he said their crews were often in the habit of landing at Vidalia, he cautioned the military to be ready to bolt into the woods at any time during the night.

There were two conscripts on board my skiff today, one an Irishman and the other a Pole. They confessed to me privately their extreme dislike of the military profession; but at the same time they acknowledged the enthusiasm of the masses for the war.

15th May (Friday).—I nearly slept round the clock after yesterday's exertions. Mr. Douglas and I crossed the father of rivers and landed on the Mississippi bank at 9 A. M.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Letters from Morganza

At the New York State Military Museum website are several newspaper pieces that includes letters from the 175th New York Regiment in mid 1864. Following Nathaniel Banks' failed Red River Campaign, the 175th New York camped at Morganza, La. for several months before it was shipped back north. Below are three letters written from Morganza dated May 29th, June 15th and June 22nd. Of special interest is the June 15th letter with the writer giving his impression of southern or Louisiana life. Very interesting in his comparison with life in the north.

A Union Camp at Morganza, La. (Library of Congress)

FROM THE 175TH N. Y. BATTALLION.—We received, yesterday, the following interesting letter from a well informed member of the 175th N. Y. Battalion, in which are several well-known Trojans:—
MORGANZIA, La., May 29, 1864.

Editor Troy Whig—Sir: Here we are at Morganzia, awaiting transportation. Regiments are leaving daily for various points along the river, all ambulances are turned in, and trains are being moved as fast as possible. In a short time our large army, which at the commencement of the campaign numbered about 35,000 men, will be divided, covering a space of several hundred miles along the Mississippi.

There is not much probability of a campaign during the Summer months as the heat here is intense, and, another thing, the condition of our army since the late battles is of such a nature that it requires recuperation.

Maganzia [sic] was once a place of some note, possessing as it does a fine landing for boats, and having a number of large plantations contiguous; but, like most of Southern towns, it is, or rather was small, it having been destroyed about a year ago by our gunboats. At the North it would be scarcely called a hamlet. To this place it was that General Herron, commanding the Tenth army corps, fell back last year on his return from Red River.

The river is now rising, and its broad and turbid waters, as it winds its dangerous course to the Gulf, presents a scene at once imposing and magnificent; yet, from the vast levelness of the surrounding scenery the charm is soon over and we turn in imagination to our own beautiful Hudson, with its clear, silvery, and comparatively placid waters--with its Highlands, its Catskills, its Palisades, its numerous flourshing [sic] towns and villages, and the white canvass dotting its smooth and polished surface. However, the thoughtful cannot but reflect upon the probable changes which time will effect upon this, as yet undeveloped country.

If you were here you would discover that ill fortune depressed our army but little. The song, the jest, and the various games of the camp are as rife as if victory had crowned our efforts. Every evening the bands of various regiments discourse excellent music. The health of our troops is good, and" all goes merry as a marriage bell."

Of late there has been a great improvement made in our hospital boats. Comfortable bunks are arranged for our sick and wounded, and taken all together they will now compare favorably with quarters in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Considerable ill feeling exists between the Thirteenth and Nineteenth army corps, in relation to the affair at Pleasant Hill, the former, who are Western men, casting reflections upon the latter, depreciating their services, when it is well known that the Nineteenth corps saved our whole train from immediate capture. The above reflections led to the issuing of a statement by Gen. Emery, commanding the Nineteenth corps, to be read before the men of his command, setting forth the valuable services rendered by them during the Red River expedition.

Every precaution is being taken to protect ourselves and prevent surprise, while we remove trains, army stores, &c. We are converting the levee—which is readily done—into a breastwork, with embrazures for cannon, which are already mounted to the distance of two miles, pointing to the woods in our rear. Our camps are on the river side of the levee, which space is covered during high water. It is composed of fine sand, and as a camp is very disagreeable.

A brigade of cavalry went out this morning to reconnoiter the woods, and discovered a force of the enemy, amounting to about 7000; but I do not think that there is any probability of their making an attack upon us while in our present position. We are too convenient to the gunboats--the universal dread of rebeldom. Yet we know not what they may attempt. Their late successes may have emboldened them to that degree that they will act with rashness; or they may have crossed the Atchafalaya in force, and as we have at present not more than 12,000 men here they may risk an engagement with the hope of capturing military stores.

An order has been issued making a river marine or police of the Nineteenth army corps (to which our battalion belongs) to serve on boats running up and down the river, and landing whenever it becomes necessary to attend to guerrillas, who may attempt to interrupt its navigation. There is nothing more of interest occurring here at present. Should anything of importance take place I will not fail to apprise you of it. R. G.

The following interesting letter from a former Trojan reached us yesterday:--
MORGANZIA, La., June 15, 1864.

Editor Whig—Sir: Movements of such great magnitude occurring in Virginia may so eclipse our movements here that any information I may send you will be skipped over as unworthy of a passing glance, and, perhaps with justice, as there is certainly nothing transpiring that will compare, in the remotest degree with the unparrelled [sic] events which are now reddening the soil of the Old Dominion with blood. But, while I an fortunately unable to depict great battles causing immense human sacrifices, there is left to me the more pleasing task of penning a few sentences on southern life and manners.

It may be thought by many persons of the North that the negro is treated by the white population of the South as a being little superior to the brute; but experience has taught me that quite the reverse is the fact. This erroneous idea, no doubt, arises from a consideration of the abject condition of the slave, which supposes him to be shut out from all commingling and association with the whites. Now in contrasting them in this respect with the colored population of the North I find that, while at the North the prejudice against them is so intense that white persons will not associate with them in the street, in the Church, nor dwell with them in the same house, here at the South they do all these, and, in addition, publicly live together as man and wife, raising in many instance large families, without occasioning any remarks from their neighbors. The negro maid is the young southern lady's confidante in matters of love, and any person who may wish to take the trouble can see in the large towns the mistress and servant sitting side by side in the same carriage engaged in familiar and agreeable conversation, without any display of pompous dignity on the part of the Southern lady. To be sure morality stands not so high as with the rigid puritan spirit of the North, nor is the condition of marriage thought so sacred; but still there is less of that degraded licentiousness which we meet in every street and at every turn of our northern cities. In consequence of the above intermingling of the whites and blacks, persons are to be met with here of every shade of color, making it in some instances difficult to determine where the negro ends or the white begins. Northern miscegenationists have a practical illustration of their system here, at least in the towns, the negroes on plantations being generally purely African.

Frankness and affability are prominent traits of the Southern character, and a few gentlemanly, spoken words is enough to make a southerner your friend, which friendship he denotes with an ardor of expression unknown to more sterile climes.—Hospitality too is exercised to that degree that I have known it to be extended to enemies, as in the case of our "drummer boys " who, straggling behind, were on more than one occasion kindly brought into the houses on the road-side by the inmates who, beholding their youth kindly caressed them, pitying their condition and loading their haversacks with, to them, rare delicacies.

I do not know but my remarks will be construed by your readers into "sympathy for the South," and that I will be called "Copperhead" or some other such unmeaning name, but truth compels me to state facts as I find them, and however much I may condemn the act of secession, I may surely be permitted to give the result of my observations.

The women here are generally very independent and as regards the "rebellion" quite out-spoken. They do not conceal their aversion to Yankees, nor despair of the final triumph of Dixie; yet they are courteous, affable and polite, but steadfast in their opinions, even though in some instances they depend on our army for support. They generally keep within doors, and are seldom seen promenading the streets of the towns, and seem to avoid, as much as possible, coming in contact with soldiers.
I have just returned from a general review of the troops here, which now amounts to about 20,000. They were reviewed by Gen. Sickles. He looked odd enough in the saddle with but one leg, yet his general beauty of form makes one regardless of this defect Tall, graceful and commanding, he appears every inch a soldier.
In a former letter I stated that an order was issued making the 19th Army Corps a river marine or police. For some reason unknown to me this has not been done as yet. A fort is in progress of construction, commanding a road leading from here to
Mobile, and it is thought by some, when finished, our corps will leave; but my opinion is, judging from the augmentation of our forces here we will not remain idle. These reviews are significant and a suspicion comes over me that Gen. Sherman may need re-enforcements. Well, our men are now in tolerable condition, having recovered from the effects of fatigue occasioned by the late campaign.
I learn by private letters received in camp that quite a number of Trojans fell in the late battles before
Richmond. Poor fellows, many a word of commisseration [sic] was murmered [sic] as the sad intelligence spread among us,--but such is war!

From the One Hundred and Seventy-fifth Battalion N. Y. V.
Correspondence of the Troy Daily Times.
MORGANZA, La., June 22, 1864.

A reconnoissance consisting of the Second division of the Nineteenth army corps left this place on the 19th inst., and proceeded up the Mississippi as far as Junica Bend. Next morning portions of the force landed on both sides of the river—those on the East side sending out cavalry scouts. During the day those on the West side crossed the river and joined the force there. About 7 o'clock P. M. the scouts returned, after having rode out from the river fifteen miles. They reported no appearance of the enemy and accomplished nothing aside from the burning of a bridge and the capture of a few suspected persons. We then proceeded farther up, and next day, the 21st, arrived at Fort Adams, a small village in the State of Mississippi, containing a forwarding house, two churches, a store or two, and a few dwellings. There is a fort there which was built by the Spanish previous to the war of the revolution. This place was particularly interesting to us in consequence of high bluffs or hills rising from a plain a short distance from the river. After long months of viewing nothing but a monotony of levelness, you will not wonder that these hills, or, as they are inappropriately called here, "cliffs," miniatures of ours though they are, produced an enlivening sensation better imagined than described. The Hudson of our distant home was recalled to mind, and we wandered once more beneath the cooling shades of its wooded banks. At 12 o'clock M., we went on board the boats and proceeded a short distance down the river, landed again and awaited the return of the scouts. On their discoveries rested our future movements. Here our battalion were under some wide-spreading shade trees, surrounded by a richness of verdure unsurpassed. In front lay level cultivated fields; in the back ground rose the bluffs with their abrupt and diversified slopes. A solemn stillness prevailed, disturbed only by the songs of birds, the hum of insects and the gentle whisper of the winds passing through the shades of those tall and majestic Mississippi trees. 'Twas a time for reflection—what would come next we knew not; but we are now so accustomed to meeting the enemy that his presence affects us but little; so we carelessly jested the time away, save here and there a countenance which showed by its fixed gaze unconsciousness of the presence of comrades. These were no doubt dwelling upon scenes of the past, picturing to their minds the happy hours spent with those far away. At 6 o'clock P. M. the division returned to the boats, bound for Morganza, no enemy having been found. While at Fort Adams the inhabitants informed us that the confederates had generally left for Virginia. We arrived at Morganza about 12 o'clock, and marched to our old camps. R. G.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Words of a Texan Passing Through

Captain E.T. Broughton was part of the 7th Texas Infantry in the Civil War. Him and his unit saw no action in Louisiana but Broughton spent some time at Port Hudson, Louisiana. The 7th Texas was captured at Ft. Donelson in February of 1862 and was not paroled until September of that same year. After his parole was up, Broughton left Texas and traveled to Port Hudson (per orders). While in Louisiana, Broughton wrote five letters home. His letters provide a little glimpse into life around Port Hudson in early 1863. Broughton's letters have been put online by his Great Granddaughter Mary Lee Anderson Barnes. Please visit her website to see Broughton's letters. I have linked directly to his letters from Port Hudson below:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Last Words from a Texan Killed in Louisiana

Letters belonging to Captain William Jackson Spurlock, Co. D of Spaight's Battalion (11th Texas Infantry). Spurlock was living in Tyler, Texas when the war started. He enlisted in December and his military career ended at the Battle of Fordoche Bridge (Sterling Plantation), Louisiana, on September 29, 1863. Spurlock wrote an additional letter that can be found at the 11th Texas Battalion Reenactors' site.

    Letter From Captain Spurlock to his Mother

    Camp Burton, La
    Sept. the 23rd 1863

    Dear Mother,

    I received your letter of the 6th of the present and you may be well assured that I was glad to hear from you
    again though sorry to hear that you was not well, you also said that Sylvester had been sick which I was
    sorry to hear though glad to hear that he was mending.Your letter found me up and about, I have had the
    yellow jaundice but it did not hurt me very bad. We are now encamped at the Atachyalya Bayou at what point
    known in this part of the world as Morgans Ferry twelve miles from the Mississippi River, it has been expected
    that this would be an ingagement here, but I believe at present that all fears are relieved upon that point. Our
    pickets are fighting with that of the Yankee's daily and at one time they came so near that our Artilery upon the
    enemys advance pickets they returned the fire but withdrew soon without doing any danger to us. We are daily
    drawn up in line of battle or for the first three or four days after our arrival at the present encampment. It is the
    opinion of most of the officers that we will shortly move up in the direction of Alexander to join the forces of the
    Trans-Miss Department, we hear various reports about the movement of the enemy we are in receipt of the news
    of the battle at Sabine Pa, and its success, we also heard but we now hear to the contrary that the enemy made
    another advance and succeeded in capturing the place and was concentrating a large force and was preparing
    for an invasion of the state

    (the lower part of the remainder of the letter torn off).

    Above letter written by Capt. William Jackson Spurlock of Company D, Spaight's (11th) Battalion, Texas
    Volunteer Cavalry and Infantry, to his mother, Rebecca Hooks Spurlock, six days before he was killed at
    Fordoche Bayou, LA on Sept 29, 1863.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Louisiana Officer @

Louisiana Confederate tintype

The above photo is located at to user markat2 (who has several NICE photos of men who served from other states).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Northern Captain of the 8th Louisiana African Descent

11th Illinois - 8th Louisiana, African Descent
Courtesy of Mrs. Cindy Parkinson

The William Moore Parkinson Letters have been posted online by Cindy Parkinson. William Parkinson began the war Co. C, 11th Illinois Infantry. The 11th Illinois became part of the Federal army that moved into northeast Louisiana in January of 1863. Parkinson's letters are VERY interesting for two reasons. First, reading the Yankee impression of Louisiana during the war is always interesting-an outsider perspective on what he sees. Second, Parkinson accepted a Captain's commission in a black regiment that was formed from slaves from Louisiana. He goes into a lot of detail about the recruitment process (very interesting), his own struggles in accepting a commission in a black unit (personal and socially) and his life as an officer in a black regiment. The regiment he helped recruit and train was the 8th Louisiana Infantry of African Descent.

I have provided links to Mrs. Parkinson's website where she has all of William's letters posted (including his photo). Mrs. Parkinson has graciously allowed me to share a few of his letters here. I've picked exerts from William's letters below. Thank you Mrs. Parkinson. ENJOY!

In the evening, Feb 11th, 1863
...This is one of the finest counties I ever seen, very rich land and large plantations, each one looking like a village. Negro houses look neat, set in straight rows and painted white, and a large cotton gin or sugar mill on every plantation, and generally from twenty to sixty houses, and very seldom any person about except a few negro women and children, and three or four negro men. Sometimes a few white women, and oh how they do hate us, would make the hair stand on your head to hear them abuse us. I hope our Gov will arm the negroes, although I do not think it would be any advantage to our army. There is such large portion bitterly opposed to it. I do believe it would almost ruin our army. But I think our best plan is to pitch in without fear or judgement, and we might happen to stumble on a good thing. If they do arm the negroes, I am going to do my best to get to be Captain of a Company...

Providence Lake, Louisiana, Carroll Parish.
Feb. 24th, 1863
...I believe the letters our soldiers get from home are doing our army more harm than any other one thing. I do not say all the letters to the soldiers are so, but fully two thirds are opposed to Lincoln or his proclamation, or call our generals Secesh or they say we are not fighting for our country, but to free the negroes and make shoulder straps. Some even go so far as the advise their sons, brothers or husbands or lovers to desert. It is the ignorant portion of our soldiers that get such letters, and it is having a very bad effect. They was raised to believe that slavery is one of the sacred things instituted by God, but they was getting pretty well abolishionized till that rebel back bone breaker of old Abe's came out, one of the harmlessest things ever written on paper. Only the dissatisfaction it creates in the north and army, it does the negro neither harm nor good. The negroes that do come into our lines are either starving or freezing to death or dying like rotten sheep, no person to take care of them, neither feed them or clothe them. Tell Wilson I am not opposed to it, but I call it a very poor thing, and it has done more harm than good. I am in favor of taking every negro and making him fight...

Camp 8th La, Inft Reg of African Descent, May 17, 1863
...The negroes are a great deal of trouble, and I have to use all my patience to keep from cursing them. The great trouble with them is they are very ignorant and they expect too much. They thought they would be perfectly free when they became soldiers, and could almost quit soldiering whenever they got tired of it, and could go and come as they pleased. But they find they were very much mistaken. It is very hard to make them understand that they are bound to stay and soldier until discharged, and they do not know now that it is for three years. But we are gradually letting them know it. We did not force one of them to come into the Regiment. I believe, though, if we had told them it was for three years, every one of them would [have] been forced in...

Camp 8th La Inft, Reg of A.D. May 28, 1863
...My Company was on picket guard from Saturday morning till Sunday morning. We got along very well, only the mosquitoes was so desperate bad at night, I could not sleep one minute. I had nothing to lie on, but an oil cloth and two boards. The darkeys make very good guards. They are just afraid enough to be very watchful. There is considerable sickness in the Reg, and from two to four dying a day. We have not drawn the clothing, blankets, or shoes yet. We are looking every day. I think it will be here this week. We are still drilling six hours a day. We are going to have Battalion drill. It will be our first. I guess I will make a bungling thing of it, but I know I can soon learn, and I will make a bold face of it, and put her through...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Forts Randolph & Buhlow SHS to Open!

The late Art Bergeron wrote an article on the role of Forts Randolph and Buhlow in the war in Louisiana History. Here is the reference for the article:

"Fort Buhlow and Fort Randolph: Confederate Defenses on Red River,"Louisiana History, XXXII (1991)

Battle of St. Charles Court House

Colonel Edwin Waller, Jr.

At Michael J. Martin's blog he put together a nice account of an engagement at St. Charles Court House on September 8, 1862 between Waller's 13th Texas Cavalry Battalion and various regiments of "Beast" Butler's army. It provides a very good account of the engagement with several primary accounts of the action. Also, Martin provides good background information on the formation and condition of Waller's 13th Cavalry.

Waller's Movement to St. Charles C.H., September 1862

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Yankee Perspective: Fordoche and Prison

Map of the Battle of Fordoche (Sterling's Plantation)

The Battle of Fordoche Bridge is one of the battles in Louisiana history that is generally overlooked and left to the side. Colonel Joseph B. Blake was Colonel of the 20th Iowa Infantry at the Battle of Fordoche and was captured. He left an account of his experience at Fordoche and an account of life as a prisoner in Confederate Louisiana and Texas. I thought it to be VERY interesting. ENJOY!


[Read March 3, 1886.]

AFTER the surrender of Vicksburg, the division of infantry which had been transferred from the Army of the Frontier to the army investing that city, and in which I served, under the command of MajorGeneral F. J. Herron, was ordered to proceed up the Yazoo River, and after capturing Yazoo City, to move out to Canton in order to protect the left flank of Sherman's army in its movement upon Jackson. We then returned to Vicksburg, and were immediately sent down the Mississippi River to Port Hudson. While at that place, on August 8, 1863, an order was received, assigning the division with some additions to the Thirteenth Army Corps, under command of Major-General Ord, as the Second Division of that corps. The division as now organized was divided into two brigades, and was composed of the following troops: First Brigade, Twentieth Iowa, Thirty-seventh Illinois, Twenty-sixth Indiana, Thirty-fourth Iowa, and Battery F, First Missouri Artillery, under command of Brigadier-General William Vandeveer; Second Brigade, Twentieth Wisconsin, Ninety-fourth Illinois, Ninety-first Illinois, Nineteenth Iowa, Thirty-eighth Iowa, and Battery E, First Missouri Artillery, under command of Brigadier-General Orme.

On the 16th of August we left Port Hudson, and on the next afternoon went into camp below Carrollton, about three miles above New Orleans. Shortly

afterward the entire Thirteenth Corps, in five divisions, was rendezvoused about Carrollton, where it was reviewed on the 22d of August and again on the 29th by General Banks. General Grant having arrived at New Orleans for conference with General Banks, another review was held by Generals Grant, Banks, and Adjutant-General Thomas, on the 4th of September. It was a fine spectacle, but it cost all that it was worth. The day was intensely hot, and we stood and marched from about eight A. M. until afternoon, sweltering in all the toggery which the regulations required. In the afternoon of this day General Grant was thrown from his horse, and received the injuries from which he suffered so long.

The navigation of the Mississippi River, which had been opened by the surrender of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, was becoming seriously obstructed by the operations of the Rebel forces on the west side of the river, — particularly at points between the mouth of Red River and Bayou Sara. General Herron received orders to take our division and proceed to the scene of the troubles. On the morning of September 5, 1863, the whole division, together with a battalion of cavalry under command of Major Bacon Montgomery, Sixth Missouri Cavalry, temporarily attached, was embarked on transports, and proceeded up the Mississippi River. The other divisions of the corps moved to or toward Brashear City, Louisiana. During the night of the 6th the division landed near Morgansia, in Morgan's Bend. From Morgansia a road leads almost directly west for about three miles, then bends and runs directly south for about four miles, then makes a bend of the exact shape of a horse-shoe of about two miles around from heel to heel, the toe pointing directly west, and then proceeds in a southeasterly direction to Bayou Grosse Tete. This road runs in its whole course along the side of a little bayou called Bayou Fordoche. On the left of the road, going out, is a levee about four feet high. From a point a little north of the toe of the horse-shoe bend, the Opelousas road leaves the bayou road, and crossing the bayou on a bridge, runs in a general direction north of west to the Atchafalaya River, thence up the river and along its bank for about a mile and a half, and crosses it at Morgan's Ferry. This road, from a point about two hundred yards beyond the bridge, runs through a densely wooded cypress swamp, and is about six miles long from the bridge to the ferry. At this ferry, on the west side of the Atchafalaya River, was encamped a Rebel force, estimated at forty-five hundred men, under command of Major-General Tom Green, of Texas, who from that point controlled the entire country from the mouth of Red River to about Port Hudson.

On the morning of the 7th of September, the Ninetyfirst Illinois, Ninety-fourth Illinois, Twentieth Wisconsin, and the cavalry, under command of Colonel Day of the Ninety-first, were sent out this road toward Morgan's Ferry. During the night Colonel Day sent back for reinforcements; and on the morning of the 8th, the remainder of the division marched out to within two miles of the Atchafalaya, and finding no enemy on their side of the river, bivouacked in the swamp. The following day they marched back to the boats and settled down into camp, on both sides of the road. On the next day another road, called the new Texas road, was found, leaving the Mississippi at a point a mile or two above Morgansia, and running directly west to the Atchafalaya at that same Morgan's Ferry, which was a shorter road from the Rebel camp to the Mississippi than the lower one, out which we had marched.

On September 12 I was ordered by General Herron to assume command of the battalion of cavalry (Major Montgomery commanding), the Twenty-sixth Indiana (Lieutenant-Colonel Rose commanding), the Nineteenth Iowa (Major Bruce commanding), and a section of Company E, First Missouri Artillery (Lieutenant Stauber commanding). The command numbered about six hundred men fit for duty. Upon reporting to General Herron for orders, I was informed that General Tom Green had a large force of Rebels at Morgan's Ferry; that our troops were advancing up the country west of the Atchafalaya, and probably there were gun-boats ascending the river, which would probably in a few days be in the rear of General Green's force. It was very desirable to keep him from moving either to assist the other Rebel troops in the lower country in preventing the advance, or to avoid capture himself should our troops advance sufficiently to his rear. I was therefore ordered to take the force named, and proceed out of the Bayou Fordoche road to the Norwood plantation, in the horse-shoe bend before spoken of, to make my headquarters at the house, and go into camp. From this point I was to feel of the enemy every day, and to keep his attention attracted toward my force and the forces at the river. I was ordered to take three days' rations, after which time we would probably be recalled.

At five o'clock A. M., on the 12th, we moved out, driving a small force of Rebel cavalry, and camped as directed, reconnoitring the roads in all directions, and establishing heavy picket-guards. On the morning of the 13th, with the cavalry and the Twenty-sixth Indiana, I drove the enemy's pickets to the Atchafalaya, drew the fire of the artillery, which was so posted as to command the road to the ferry, and satisfied myself that their force must be about forty-five hundred men with two batteries of artillery. On the 14th I decided that my position in the horse-shoe bend was entirely untenable,— my rear being more easily approached than my front. During the day the enemy was on the roads in heavier force, and many circumstances indicated an intention to attack. Toward evening, I received three days' more rations and orders to remain. Just after dark I fell back with the infantry and section of artillery to Mrs. Sterling's plantation, about three fourths of a mile, which took me beyond the neck of the horse-shoe bend, and placed all the approaches to my camp then known to me in my front. The cavalry was left at the old camp on picket I reported my change of camp, which was approved. From this time up to the 21st the force was employed every day in skirmishing with the enemy, driving in his pickets, and reconnoitring the country. The country was level and low; the roads very winding; beyond the fields of the plantations the woods were dense; and the plantations were overgrown with sugarcane and reeds, with plantation roads running in all directions. We could see but a very short distance from any point, which made the picket duty very difficult with a small force. I soon ascertained and reported that parties of the enemy were constantly passing north of my position on the New Texas road and appearing on the Bayou Fordoche road, between my camp and the division at Morgansia. I found a cross-road between those roads three or four miles to my rear, along which the whole Rebel force could pass without my knowing it.

On the morning of the 21st I made a reconnoissance in force to the Atchafalaya, driving in the enemy's pickets and drawing their artillery fire again, and satisfied myself that they were still there in full force. Returning from this reconnoissance I met General Vandeveer, who had come out to examine the condition of affairs. I explained to him the full danger of our position, pointed out the way by which the enemy could easily reach our rear, and asked him to get leave from General Herron for me to fall back about a mile to what I considered a less dangerous position. On the following day I received orders to stay where I was, as long as I could obtain water. On the next day, two or three men were taken prisoners while going to the division at the river, and the Adjutant of the Nineteenth Iowa, coming out, was fired upon, and barely escaped.

On the 24th I went to the river to see General Herron and to explain to him personally the condition of affairs, and earnestly requested that we might be recalled and some of the rest sent out. The General seemed listless, — said he was sick and very feverish, and had applied to be relieved on account of his health. He said he expected that we would all be ordered away in a few days, and as I was familiar with the country, I had better remain. I returned to camp, and began to get ready for an attack that I thought was sure to come. From the yard of the plantation house in which we were camped, there was on both sides and rear two hundred yards of open field, beyond which was tall sugar-cane. In front was the four-foot-high levee, then the road, then the bayou, beyond a small open field, and then dense woods. I cut holes through the levee for the artillery to enfilade the approach, and selected positions for each part of the force to take at once in case of sudden attack, particularly from the rear. If the enemy should come to our front, Major Montgomery was- in advance with his cavalry; and it seemed a simple matter to fall back on the division.

We kept up our daily reconnoissances, etc. On the 28th Major-General Dana arrived and took command of the division, and relieved -General Herron, who left on sick leave. On that evening it began to rain, rained all night and through the morning of the 29th. We had sent out to the front, but found nothing to attract attention. A small escort, sent down the evening before to the division to bring out knapsacks and rations, was anxiously expected about ten or eleven o'clock, but did not come.

At precisely twelve o'clock, noon, September 29, the pickets on the road to the divisions in my rear fired, and were rapidly driven in. The whole command was instantly in position, and almost immediately a brigade of Texas infantry emerged from the sugar-cane, and advanced across the open space. They were received by a withering fire, and after a brisk fight were driven back into the cane. Presently the same or another force appeared on our right flank. We changed front, and after a time drove that force back also. They rallied from both directions, and charged again, and crowded us over the levee into the road, when we drove them from our front.

During all this time, I heard nothing from Major Montgomery in front, and there seemed to be no trouble in that direction. While fighting over the levee, I saw a cavalry force coming from that direction, and sent Lieutenant Wright, Nineteenth Iowa, to see what it was. He soon reported that it was Major Montgomery coming. The forces in front wore our uniform. We then attempted to drive back their right, and so pass down the road toward the division. The men made a gallant charge and scattered the enemy so that we opened the road and began to move down it behind the levee. By this time the cavalry had approached near enough for me to speak to the officer in front. I stepped forward to give him an order, and found myself addressing Major-General Tom Green himself. In a moment the whole Rebel cavalry was riding over us. Those of our men who at once were not ridden down scattered into the bayou, and were gradually picked up singly and in squads. A few escaped. And so we became prisoners of war. The fight lasted two hours and ten minutes from the first volley we fired until the rush of the cavalry upon our rear, during all of which time the rain continued to pour.

I was badly wounded, though not taken off my feet, and was immediately taken from a squad of Texans by General Jim Majors and placed in charge of Lieutenant Chalmers of his staff, with directions to see that I was not interfered with.

This little engagement was called by the Rebels " the battle of Fordoche." On our side it has been noticed as an engagement at Sterling farm. While standing with General Majors, General Green rode up and told him to move back to Atchafalaya as soon as the prisoners were ready. Majors said, " Are you not going on to the river?" Green replied, "No, we've been kept here too long." Majors then said to me that they had started for our division at the river, and had not expected to waste fifteen minutes on us.

I afterward learned that on the 28th General Green's command was reinforced by Mouton's brigade of infantry. During that afternoon Green crossed all his infantry over Morgan's Ferry, and, making a detour around the upper or New Texas road, marched about eleven miles during the night, and in the morning came down into the Bayou Fordoche road within three or four miles of the division at Morgansia. A part of the Rebel cavalry was sent down an old railroad bed through the cypress swamps, and came out into the Fordoche road about three miles beyond the cavalry pickets, and crossing the road, advanced through the woods to the south of the neck of the horse-shoe bend before spoken of. Major-General Green, with the rest of the forces, came down the main road in the centre of his movement. I never have seen or heard from Major Montgomery since the fight. I was told that some time during the proceedings he fell back with his force to the southeast through the neck of the horse-shoe bend, and taking the woods to the south of the battleground, made his way to the river. If he sent any message to me, it never was received. He received great praise for his gallantry in cutting his way through the enemy and getting his command out. We had in the fight about four hundred and fifty men. General Majors told me they had on the field between five and six thousand. How many were actually engaged, I have no means of knowing.

Shortly after I was taken charge of by Lieutenant Chalmers, I was put into an ambulance and driven under escort to General Majors' headquarters across the Atchafalaya, arriving about dark at his cabin on the plantation. Some time during the evening General Majors came in, and jocularly invited me to be his guest so long as it was agreeable to me to stay; and we soon sat down to a supper, most of which was the contents of my own mess-chest. The General proved a very agreeable host. We ate and slept together for about two days, and during the whole time not a word was said or an act done by him or those about him which was not as courteous as they would have been had I been his guest and not his prisoner. On the first evening, after supper, Captain Semmes of one of the batteries— a son of Admiral Semmes of the Rebel navy, and hero of the Silver Wave exploit — came in, bringing a surgeon, who examined and dressed my wounds. The Captain was very polite, as indeed everybody of this command seemed to be. I believe none of our officers or men had any complaint to make of their personal treatment. During the process of capture, most of them lost everything they had ; but they were not afterward treated with indignity. I saved the clothes I had on, a pen-knife, a silver watch, a pair of gloves, and a pocket-handkerchief. I had surrendered my sword and pistol to General Majors. I afterward called his attention to the pistol, which had been presented to me upon going into the service, and said that if I ever got out of there, I should very much like to exchange for it anything which would be satisfactory to him. He said he would oblige me if he could. Of this, more farther on.

On the morning of October 1, I was conducted to the camp of the other prisoners, and our march to the interior began. That day we marched fifteen miles and camped between a couple of regiments in General Majors' brigade. For some reason the Rebel force had moved back into the interior. That night Captain R. P. Boyce, of Mullen's regiment, sent to me what appeared to be an ear of corn with the husk on. Upon opening the husk, I found, where the ear had been, a very palatable supper. The next morning we breakfasted on parched corn, and renewed the march, passing through Major-General Walker's entire division, — first Henry McCullough's brigade, then, at Kaneville, Randall's brigade, and five miles beyond, Hawes' brigade of four regiments, some one of which had a very good brass band. Within the last brigade we camped. They were not an agreeable lot, and we were glad to move on.

On the evening of October 5, we arrived at Alexandria, and were packed for the night in the second story of the court-house. It was a wretched night. There was not room for all to lie down at once on the floor, and none were permitted to go out of the building for any purpose. The next day the guards were extended, and we were let out in the court-house yard, and permitted to go to the river in front for water. On the 7th we were started for Shreveport, and marched twenty-five miles. I had an opportunity to sell my silver watch for one hundred and twenty-five dollars, and my gauntlets for twenty dollars, Confederate money, and so was somewhat put in funds. The march of the command to Shreveport took ten days, and was conducted with various degrees of annoyance according to the fussiness of the various officers in charge. One day, with a cavalry company as escort, we were marched two and one half hours without a halt; another day for eight miles without halting. Rations were short and irregular; the days were hot, and nights were getting cold, with occasional frost. We were nearly stripped of clothing, and had no covering of any kind, and general wretchedness of every kind had set in. Personally I fared a little better. On account of my wound I was sometimes allowed a little more privilege of the road. Some pleasant incidents occurred. Near Caney River, a very old negro, bent nearly double, was tinkering at a gate. I was walking along the side of the road in the rear of the guard. As soon as the guard had passed and I approached, the old man straightened up with a jerk, made a military salute, and hoarsely whispered the prayer, " De Lo'd go wid yo', an' bring yo' out o' da whar yo' gwine into! " after which he instantly collapsed. I have repeated that prayer a great many times since.

At Cloutierville I gained about an hour's time by cutting across a great bend in some way which a guard pointed out, who offered to go with me. I sat down at the door of some sort of a public-house, and began to eat a piece of rather damaged corn-bread which I took out of my pocket. Three young men gathered around me, and soon one of them wanted to know if I had been at Vicksburg. I said I was at the surrender, etc. After talking about it a few minutes, two of them went away. In about half an hour they came back, one of them carrying a large dinner-plate, nicely covered, which, removing the cover, he placed in my hand, saying, "There, eat that. We were prisoners at Vicksburg, and you fellows treated us right, and I am glad to return it." On the plate was half of a broiled chicken, a roasted yam, and some other things. I thought I had never eaten such a dinner.

On the 12th Captain M. W. DeBolle came up in a buggy, and was introduced by the captain of the guard as the Confederate commissioner for the exchange of prisoners. He proposed to take charge of me, and deliver me in Shreveport. I gave my parole, and was soon seated with the Captain in his buggy. We rode together up the road through Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, with which some of you afterward became familiar, and on to Shreveport, as if we had always been the best of friends. I certainly was greatly indebted to him for his kindness and courtesy. He provided for my entertainment as he did for his own, generally introducing me as a fellowConfederate, — which was easy enough, as large numbers of those we met wore our blue uniforms.

On the morning of October 15 we drove up to General E. Kirby Smith's headquarters in Shreveport, La., and Captain DeBolle took me right along with him into his office, which was in the second story of a small brick building. The outer office was occupied by General S. S. Anderson, his Adjutant-General; and a door communicated with an inner room occupied by General Smith. I was in presence of the commander of all the Rebel forces west of the Mississippi, and it was quite evident I was not welcome. The Adjutant-General took no notice of me whatever. There were three or four vacant chairs in the room, but my attention was not officially called to any of them. DeBolle said a few words to the Adjutant-General which I could not hear, and passed through to General Smith, who was seated at his desk, and in full view from where I stood. I could not hear what the Captain said, but the General instantly asked quite impatiently, " What did you bring him here for?" and then their voices dropped out of hearing. I was presently called in, when General Smith addressed me abruptly enough: " I can send you down to the county jail, or give you parole to the limits of the Verandah Hotel, if you can pay your expenses there." I told him I would try the latter. " Very well," he said. A parole was administered by the Adjutant-General, who thawed out a little, and I was escorted to the Verandah Hotel by Captain DeBolle. When the Captain left me, two days later, he assured me that under the arrangements for exchange we would all be back in our lines in about three weeks.

I spent three days and nights at that hotel, the principal one in Shreveport. I was practically free inside its limits, which extended over the sidewalk in front, covered by the verandah. During the time I saw many of the officers of the Rebel Army who came from Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas on business at the headquarters. I remember some of them with great pleasure, — many of them with much less. I was treated with no intentional rudeness. I know I owed much to the protection of Colonel Semmes, who commanded the Ninth Texas at Pea Ridge and lost an arm there, and was now commanding a brigade somewhere. Colonel H. E. Clarke, of Jeff. Thompson's command, once famous in Southeastern Missouri, offered to loan me money, which I thought better to decline. Colonel A. L. Dobbins, First Arkansas Cavalry, commanding a brigade formerly under General Walker (who had been killed in a duel by General Marmaduke), was quite anxious to be of some service to me. I told him he could not do me a greater service than to find me a tooth-brush. He searched the town until he found one, and brought it to me. It was the only luxury I enjoyed during my continued stay in the Confederacy.

The rest of the prisoners having come up on the morning of October 18, we were started on the road from Shreveport through Marshall to Camp Ford, which had been established as the place of confinement for prisoners captured west of the Mississippi. It was one hundred and ten miles a little south of west from Shreveport, and four miles east of Tyler in Smith County, Texas. The camp was located about two hundred yards south of the road, in an opening in the pine woods containing not more than six or eight acres. In about the centre of the open space from east to west a spring of excellent water flowed quite abundantly down a little vale, widening and deepening toward the south. On the high ground to the east of the valley down which the spring brook flowed stood a skeleton frame building in which were bunked seventytwo Union officers, the only prisoners. On the western acclivity stood a few log houses, in which were the headquarters and shanties for the guard. We were drawn up before the headquarters, looked over by the commander, Major Tucker of Harrison County, Texas, and his Adjutant-Lieutenant Ochiltree. The latter then conducted us down the ascent across the brook to the rising ground beyond, halted us, bowed ceremoniously, and said, "Gentlemen, there are your quarters," and walked away. There was the bare sandy hillside, and there were we — and that was all there was of it. There was not the slightest preparation for our coming, — no shelter of any kind, no rations, nothing but unspeakable wretchedness. The march from Shreveport had been a hard one, under escort of a company of ex-steamboat men on horseback. That day, after a slim breakfast, we had been marched twenty-one miles before three o'clock P. M., and then corralled like a lot of hogs.

No rations came that night, nor next morning. At three o'clock in the afternoon the wagons came, the mules on the full run. We had notified the Major that we did not propose to stay a great while longer, whatever the consequences might be. The ration was one pound of cornmeal, and one pound of beef per man; and the orders were to issue ten days' rations at one time, — that is, ten pounds of corn-meal and ten pounds of beef, to last ten days. There was not a box or bag or any other receptacle to put the stuff in. Some men cut off a leg of their pantaloons, some a coat-sleeve; some put it in their hats; those who could do neither dug a hole in as hard ground as they could find, and deposited it. I was fortunate enough to have a pair of drawers, in the legs of which I tied up mine. There was no cooking utensil of any kind whatever. Some of the men borrowed a skillet or two from the guard, who were at that time mostly old men and kindly disposed, and in these a little baking was done. Most of the meal was stirred up in the hand with water and eaten raw.

Before the next ration day came round, on November 2, MajorTucker was ordered away, and Colonel R. T. P. Allen, Seventeenth Texas Infantry, came to command the camp. Major Tucker was a good-natured, jolly, lazy, worthless fellow, without evil intention or malicious purpose toward us, but in fact, as cruel as absolute indifference and immovable sloth always must become when given authority over so many men. Colonel Allen was a man of an entirely different stamp. He had been an officer of the United States Army in the Florida War, Professor of Mathematics in Transylvania University, Kentucky, and when the war began was principal of a Military School at Bastrop, Texas. He was diligent, methodical, a good disciplinarian, soldierly, a Christian and a gentleman. A bullet had been sent through him in the Rebel attack upon Milliken's Bend on July 4, 1863, which he regretted very much to say had been shot by a " nigger." He brought his son, aged about twenty, Lieutenant Howard Allen, as his adjutant, a very fine fellow, to whose coolness and bravery on one occasion I was indebted for my life. Mrs. Allen was also installed at headquarters, a venerable lady, who smoked a corn-cob pipe and proved a veritable angel of mercy to us all. Colonel Allen straightened out the ration difficulty at once, by providing a big box to stand in the centre of the camp and issuing one day's ration at a time; and on November 19, I secured a private box for our mess, and relieved my drawers from further service in the commissary department. Colonel Allen began to build a stockade to enclose about three or four acres of ground ; and on November 14, two hundred negroes were at work at it. It was done by digging a ditch three feet deep, in which were placed endwise pine logs split in halves, cut in even lengths of fifteen feet. We were soon enclosed within a tight stockade twelve feet high, through which was only one wide gate in the middle of the north side. An increase of guards was soon apparent, — a younger class of men, — and the old men were sent home.

The most pressing need was that of some kind of shelter. Permission was given to a few at a time, provided any of the guards would volunteer to accompany them, to go into the adjoining woods and get such timber as they could get and were able to carry in. The only tools were three axes, which were used for all purposes in the camp. In time all sorts of arrangements for shelter began to appear. Some were mere booths, some were holes dug in the side of the hill with some sort of covering; some of the men succeeded in getting what seemed to be very comfortable log huts. My own mess of five officers succeeded in getting up one of the best, every log for which we carried in our arms not less than a quarter of a mile. We got the door in on December 4. Not the slightest attempt to help us was made. Colonel Allen's indulgence in allowing us to go out after timber was regarded with great disfavor by the new guards and the neighboring citizens.

On November 12, some men of the Twenty-sixth Indiana had obtained permission to go after timber. While two of them were standing well within the camp, in order to assist their comrades, a guard— Private Frank Smith of Captain G. S. Polly's company — suddenly raised his gun, called out "Ten spaces," and instantly fired. The ball passed through the body of Thomas Moorehead and then through the arm of James Veatch, both of the Twenty-sixth Indiana. Moorehead died that night, but Veatch slowly recovered. Colonel Allen immediately convened a court of inquiry, and invited the field officers among the prisoners to be present. I was allowed to examine the witnesses in aid of the Judge Advocate. The examination was continued from day to day; a number of witnesses were examined, both of prisoners and guards. At last some sort of a report was sent to Shreveport, and nothing further was ever heard of the matter. The excitement at the time was intense, but after a while cooled down. Smith was not again put on guard.

Rumors of exchange were from time to time brought within the camp. On November 23, a Major Schomberg appeared as a paroling officer, and we were informed that he had come to take away the enlisted men for exchange, but the officers must remain for further orders. After a great deal of fuss, the officers and men being prevented from all communication with one another, on November 29 the enlisted men were marched out of camp and disappeared in the direction of Shreveport. With them went Mr. Finley Anderson, who said he belonged to the staff of the New York " Herald," and had been picked up somewhere. He left me a copy of Pope's Iliad.

On December 22 forty officers arrived from Hempstead, Texas. They had been taken at the capture of Brashear City, Louisiana, and of Galveston, Texas, some time before, and had been imprisoned at what was called Camp Groce. Among them was Colonel C. C. Nott, One Hundred and Seventy-sixth New York, — now Judge of the Court of Claims, Washington, — Colonel Burroughs, Forty-second Massachusetts, and Lieutenant-Colonel J. H. Duganne, New York City. Their arrival was a great relief to the deadly monotony. They had been companions of the original seventy-two of our camp, and the reunions were particularly delightful. The rest of us were glad to make new friends and new subjects of conversation to be interested in.

On Christmas Colonel Allen invited the field officers among the prisoners to dine with him at headquarters. No regrets were sent. We gave paroles, of course. Mrs. Allen distinguished herself,—I have never seen such a dinner since. The Colonel was as courteous and as hospitable, the conversation was as free and unrestrained as if we had been a party of his best friends invited to his own home; but after a while the inexorable " Gentlemen, return to your quarters," dispelled all illusions.

We celebrated Washington's Birthday by a public meeting which all attended. Colonel Duganne, being a poet and owning two or three sheets of writing paper, wrote and read a poem. That poem got the Colonel into a good deal of trouble at the time. In some part of it, after addressing the various points of the compass, he exclaimed, —

" Land of the South, thy heart all fire,
Thy breath a vintage, and thy voice a lyre."

The use of the word lyre in that connection fired the Southern hearts of some of the Texan guards who attended the celebration; and the poetical Colonel had great difficulty in satisfactorily explaining his meaning. I was the orator of the day. It was quite a notable celebration, and helped to revivify our starving patriotism.

I forgot to mention that Colonel Allen gave prompt attention to providing us with some cooking utensils; a requisition on Shreveport produced nothing. He afterward sent a wagon to a foundry at Jefferson on Red River and obtained a few pots and skillets. On December 5, my mess of five received one pot and one skillet with a lid, having been without anything since October 23. It is worth something to know how rich five men can become in the possession of one pot and one skillet with a lid.

During the dreary winter there was much discussion of plans to escape. It was quite easy to get out, but then the difficulties became very great. We were three or four hundred miles from the nearest post in our lines, and the headquarters of the department and all the Rebel forces were between. Under the most favorable circumstances the journey must take two or three weeks, and the necessity for subsistence would lead to constant exposure. Much of the country was a wilderness. Many single attempts were made, but the fugitive was invariably starved out and brought back in a day or two. A company was organized to dig a tunnel under the stockade to come out about one hundred and fifty yards beyond it, behind a clump of trees. Colonel Nott, the principal mover in the project, was made President; and Major Anthony, Second Rhode Island Cavalry, now a resident of Chicago, with Captain Thomasson, One Hundred and Seventy-sixth New York, were made superintendents. Work began on March 21, 1864, from beneath the shebang of Lieutenant Walton, Thirty-fourth Iowa, and progressed favorably enough during the spring. The arrival of prisoners captured at Mansfield made the enlargement of the camp necessary, and the stockade under which the tunnel had been dug was removed and replaced outside of the clump of trees which was to have been the exit. That ended the tunnel business. Colonel Duganne, who never would have anything to do with the work, annoyed Colonel Nott by publicly proclaiming that he (Duganne) " never was fool enough to try to crawl out of there through a Nott-hole."

Having heard that General Banks was moving in force up Red River, a party of the officers thought that by striking south and crossing the Sabine River far below the Shreveport road, they might possibly get round the Rebel forces and connect with Banks' army near Alexandria, and after much consideration determined to make the attempt. After guard-mounting on the eve of March 24, I invited all the singers of the camp to assemble around my hut, where we began to sing all the songs we knew. The guards soon gathered from along the beats outside the stockade, and became attentive listeners. It was a very hilarious party. A post in the stockade on one of the abandoned beats was soon loosened and tipped back, and the whole fifteen were free. The post was then tipped back to place. The party consisted of Lieutenant-Colonel A. D. Rose, Captains W. J. Wallace, R. H. Stott, N. A. Logan, Lieutenants E. J. Collins, C. C. McDowell, and J. M. Robertson, all of the Twenty-sixth Indiana; Lieutenant J. F. Sherfrey, Twenty-first Indiana; O. H. Hibbard, Twenty-third Connecticut; P. W. Lyon, One Hundred and Seventy-sixth New York; and R. W. Mars of Chicago, A. H. Reynolds, B. S. Weeks, R. Rider, and Johnson, officers of the gun-boats. The escape was discovered during the night, and great commotion ensued. A pack of blood-hounds was brought from Tyler, and a strong party sent in pursuit Within three days they were all brought back except two, Captain Stott and Reynolds of the gun-boat " Sachem" succeeding in escaping to Banks' army.

On March 30 the enlisted men who had left us in November, so hopeful of exchange, were brought back and turned into the enclosure again. Some difficulty had taken place in the proceedings for exchange, and the men had been kept in an open camp near Shreveport all winter. Their sufferings at that camp were beyond the power of any language of mine to portray. When the movement up Red River began, they were hurried back to our camp. They were escorted by two companies of cavalry, one commanded by Captain Montgomery, the other by Captain Allford, of the Second Louisiana Cavalry. The captains took command on alternate days. The days in which Captain Allford was in command were days of horror. The march was conducted by him with the utmost brutality. The men were cursed, addressed with all manner of opprobrious epithets, and were driven along the road closely packed together, more like a herd of cattle or drove of hogs than human beings. At the risk of being tedious, I will give a few specific instances of the barbarous conduct. Peter Brown, a seaman, had a lariat thrown over his head by Lieutenant Haynes, the end of the lariat wrapped around the pommel of his saddle, and he was thus dragged by the neck, Lieutenant Haynes riding a distance of two hundred yards before releasing the man. Archibald M. Arthur, a seaman, was struck by Lieutenant Haynes with his sabre upon a wounded arm. B. F. Clines, seaman, was struck on the head with the butt of a musket by Lieutenant Haynes, injuring him severely, at the same time Haynes exclaiming,

" There, take that, you — 1 " Nelson

E. Hall, a drummer of Company D, Nineteenth Iowa, was struck three times with a musket in the hands of Lieutenant Haynes. Many other similar instances occurred. On the evening of March 28, Captain Allford in charge, the prisoners were camped six miles east of the Sabine River, upon the banks of a small stream, about two yards in width, at which the men could have obtained water expeditiously and with ease. The banks on each side of the stream were entirely level, and the water not over eighteen inches below the level of the camp. Instead of placing his guard on the side of the creek opposite the camp, so that the men could have free access to the water which flowed along the whole length of the camp, he placed a line of sentinels along the front of the camp between it and the water, established a gate at one corner, and would only permit four men to go through at a time to water only two yards distant. There were between eight and nine hundred men in the camp, and thus those hundreds of men, by a refinement of cruelty seldom equalled, were compelled to wait, during the long hours of that night, their turn to go by fours to slake their thirst after a hard and dusty march, at a brook flowing freely almost within arms' reach. The men of Company C, Nineteenth Iowa, did not get to the water till three o'clock in the morning. But I must avoid further details and hasten to a close.

A week after the arrival of the men at Camp Ford, on April 5, the officers and men of my command were all marched toward Shreveport again for exchange, and on the evening of the 8th camped one mile east of Marshall, Texas. We were halted over the 9th, 10th, and nth, to await the result of the battle of Mansfield, which was fought on April 8. Soon evidences began to come of our great disaster. On the 12th we were moved back from the road some distance and camped in an open field fringed by woods three or four hundred yards distant. We heard of the prisoners passing down the road and wondered from day to day what our own fate was now to be, — for we seemed to be chained out in that field. We ascertained the fact to be that when General Banks met with the disasters at Mansfield and fell back, he ordered the prisoners for whom we were to be exchanged back to New Orleans; and the Rebel authorities kept us waiting in that field, hoping that they would be brought back, and the exchange completed. We reached Marshall on April 8, and were kept there waiting until the 25th of May, when we were marched back to the old place, arriving late on the 27th. The whole appearance of the camp was changed. The stockade had been greatly enlarged, to accommodate the numbers captured at Mansfield, and it now enclosed about forty-five hundred men. The cabins which we had procured with such labor were all occupied by others, and we were turned loose again in the pen, — shelterless and in rags, many literally naked, except for some old rag tied around the loins.

On June 8 Colonel Allen was removed, and Colonel Scott Anderson, of Austin, Texas, was placed in command. Colonel Anderson remained at Tyler, and sent Lieutenant-Colonel Borders to have immediate command of the prisoners. He was a Rebel Englishman and a stolid brute; he had an Irish adjutant who was as active and malicious as a wasp; and they had absolute power over us. We spent from May 27 to July 5 in that prison-house of despair; and it was as near a hell on earth as suffering, want, exposure, and the malice and brutality of man could make it. The heat was intense, and there was not a tree within the stockade to cast a shadow. Men were dying daily, without any help being extended or any effort to administer relief. A Confederate surgeon was sent to examine the condition of the prison. Let me quote a line or two from his report. He said: —

" I at once set about examining the sanitary condition of the stockade, and although my mind was prepared by representations to meet with abundant materials for disease, it fell far short of the reality. The enclosed ground is entirely too small for the number of men (over forty-five hundred), and it would be impossible to make them healthy in such a crowded condition. The filth and offal have been deposited in the streets and between the quarters, from which arises horrible stench. A great number of the enlisted men have no quarter nor shelter, and have to sleep out on the ground with not even a blanket to cover them, etc."

If he had said " all of the enlisted men," he would have told the truth.

But the day of deliverance did come at last. On July 9 we marched out of that infernal stockade for the last time, and on the eve of the 13th were at Shreveport. On the 16th we embarked on the steamer " B. L. Hodge," and moved down Red River and were at Alexandria on the 18th. We were detained here for three days, during which I received a call from General Jim Majors, now a major-general, who entertained me with the incidents of the Red River campaign as viewed from the Rebel side. He brought back my pistol, which he had kept in the exact condition in which I had surrendered it, gave it to the commissioner for exchange, Colonel Szimanski, with the request to deliver it to me when the exchange was complete. I have it now. On the 22d of July, 1864, we arrived at the mouth of Red River, and there met the prisoners for whom we were to be exchanged. They were a healthy lot, loaded down with everything of comfort and luxury which men could carry away with them.

On the 23d, we steamed down the Mississippi under the old flag again, and landed at the wharf at New Orleans about midnight. July 24 was Sunday. After a good deal of resistance from Colonel Dwight, our commissioner of exchange who had us in charge, I at last obtained permission to march my command to General Canby's headquarters. At ten o'clock on that bright Sunday morning, when the people were on their way to church, we left the boat, formed on the levee, and marched up Canal Street, St. Charles, etc., to the corner of Tchoupitoulas and Robbins streets, and formed in front of a stately private residence in which General Canby had his offices. I entered his office and found him seated at his desk. I told him who we were, and requested him to come out and see for himself in what condition the Rebels returned our prisoners of war. He arose from his desk, and as we went out the door I took his arm and led him to the right of the line, and then we walked slowly down the front. Before we got halfway down, the tears were trickling down the General's cheeks. I have always loved him for those tears. When we had passed the line, we separated without a word. It was not a time to talk. He went back into the house; the men were escorted to a cotton-press; I went down to the St. Charles Hotel; and our imprisonment was at an end.

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