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.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Letters from Morganza

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.

1 comment:

  1. This is a letter I have, from J.T. Henry of Lodi, Ohio to his wife E.M. - spelling errors and all:

    Camp 42ond Morganza La
    July 5th 1864
    Dear wife once more i set down to drop you a few lines to let you know that i am all wright side up with care and hope when this comes to hand it will find you the same well lib i have gave up the idea of getting home before my time is out i have looked so long for my papers and they have not come yet that have gave them up altogether now and as Shep Dyer is going home i will send by him some money 8 hundred dollars and lib what you dont need for your own use i think you had better let hainsworth have i think that would be the best dont you dont let him have it for any certain time let him have it so we can get it when called for so if i should get to come home before my time is out we could get it i will send by Shep Franks watch and you some fortographs and 2 litel sea shells they are all the trofies i have got to send you this time now lib dont you worry about me for i am all wright i never was fleshier in my life than i am at present if my papers dont come this time i shant send any more unless i should be taken sick again then i should try to get a furlow the next time i shant try to tell you any news this time Shep will tell it better than i can write So No more at present i remain your true husband J.T. Henry to his wife E.M. Henry
    Shep Dyer thinks he cant stand this country the women are not plenty enough here for him i guess he has stayed as long as i expected he would when he came here


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