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.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

114th New York Letters from Louisiana

Galutia York served in the 114th New York Infantry during the Civil War and served in Louisiana prior to his death. York's letters are part of Colgate's Special Collections and have been made available online. His letters from April 21 - May 8, 1863 describe conditions in south Louisiana when Banks' Teche Campaign began. His letters are interesting to read because since York's arrival in Louisiana he was sick and he remained sick. He continually talks of the hot weather and speaks of some of the local conditions. He is providing an interesting perspective on south Louisiana from a New Yorker's point of view. Click on the link above and scroll down you will see York's letters in the spring of 1863.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

128th NY Diary of Service in Louisiana

The 128th New York served in Louisiana from January 1863 to July 1864. It served in the Siege of Port Hudson and in several engagements of the Red River Campaign. Its last days in Louisiana were spent at Morganza before it was shipped to Virginia with the majority of the XIX Corps. The
Diary of Joseph W. Crowther of Co. H, 128th New York Infantry is online and is transcribed. Crowther kept a diary and he kept several accounts of things that happened in his one year and a half in Louisiana.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

23rd Connecticut in Louisiana

The New England Civil War Museum has the letters of Private Edwin Benedict of Company G, 23rd Connecticut digitally posted online. Benedict's letters are clearly written and are in GREAT shape for reading. The 23rd Connecticut was organized in November 1862 and immediately shipped to Louisiana for service. It arrived in New Orleans in January 1863 and remained in Louisiana until August 31, 1863 when it was mustered out of service. During this time, Benedict's regiment was dispersed as garrison/guard duty in south Louisiana from Brashear City to New Orleans along the Opelousas Railroad.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Living Histories to Commemorate the Secession of Louisiana

January will mark the 150th anniversary of Louisiana seceding from the United States. There are a couple of events planned in January to commemorate the secession of Louisiana by the Louisiana Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV). This organization was created in 1896 to carry the legacy of the "Lost Cause" and Confederate history from its parent organization, the United Confederate Veterans (UCV). Mike Jones has posted a detailed account of events will take place in January of 2011 on his blog, The South's Defender.

Louisianians at Vicksburg

I wanted to take time to highlight a great book on Louisiana soldiers. The Richards' book on the Louisiana soldiers who served at Vicksburg is highly recommended. Primary accounts are always great to read and A Louisiana Chronicle tracks the garrison of Vicksburg and the Siege of Vicksburg 100% through the eyes of Louisianians.

The Vicksburg garrison had a large number of Louisiana units present and the Richards pretty much tap into some sort of primary material from them all. There are also diary entries/letters from men in the 4th Louisiana who were present at Vicksburg from May - July of 1862.

Louisiana units that served in the Vicksburg garrison during the Siege of Vicksburg.

3rd Louisiana
12th Louisiana (small detachment of sick men left inside the city)
17th Louisiana
21st (22nd) Louisiana
26th Louisiana
27th Louisiana
28th (29th) Louisiana
1st Louisiana Heavy Artillery
8th Louisiana Heavy Artillery Battalion
Point Coupee Artillery, Co. B

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

7th Louisiana and the St. Andrews' Cross

Dr. Terry Jones forwarded this news piece that involved the 7th Louisiana Infantry and General Pierre P.G.T. Beauregard's adaptation of St. Andrews' Cross for a flag. Again, big thanks to Dr. Jones for the story.

During the First Battle of Manassas in July 1861, General P.G.T. Beauregard came close to ordering a retreat when he saw the 7th Louisiana approaching his flank and mistakenly believed it was a Union regiment. The incident led Beauregard to design a battle flag based on the St. Andrews’ Cross so Confederate units in the future would not be mistaken for the enemy. In November, the general hosted a dinner party for select officers to unveil the new flag. A correspondent for the New Orleans Delta was present and filed a report that the Richmond Daily Dispatch carried on November 27, 1861.

The Army of the Potomac correspondent of the New Orleans Delta gives an account of the late select dinner party to Gen. Beauregard, from which we extract the following, stating that his report of the remarks of Gen. B. is undoubtedly correct:

"Another incident of the entertainment was likewise peculiarly interesting. When the newly devised battle flag was brought in, Gen. Beauregard related to the company the motives which led to its adoption; and as the recital embraces a thrilling portion of the eventful battle of Manassas. I shall endeavor to reproduce it, as nearly as possible, in the General's own words:

"On the 21st of July, at about half-past 3 o'clock, perhaps 4, it seemed to me that victory was already within our grasp in fact, up to that moment, I had never wavered in the conviction that triumph must crown our arms. Nor was my confidence shaken until that time I have mentioned, I observed on the extreme left, at the distance of something more than a mile, column of men approaching. At their head waved a flag which I could not distinguish. Even by a strong glass I was unable to determine whether it was the United States flag or the Confederate flag. At this moment I received a dispatch from Capt. Alexander, in charge of the signal station, warning me to look out for the left; that a large column was approaching in that direction, and that it was supposed to be Gen. Patterson's command coming to reinforce McDowell. At this moment, I must confess, my heart failed me. I came, reluctantly, to the conclusion that after all our efforts, we should at last be compelled to yield to the enemy the hard fought and bloody field. I again took the glass to examine the flag of the approaching column; but my anxious inquiry was unproductive of result — I could not tell to which army the waving banner belonged.

At this time all the members of my staff were absent, having been dispatched with orders to various points. The only person with me was the gallant officer who has recently again distinguished himself by a brilliant feat of arms — General, then Col. Evans. To him I communicated my doubts and my fears. I told him I feared that the approaching force was in reality Patterson's division; that if such was the case, I should be compelled to fall back upon our own reserves and postpone, till the next day, a continuation of the engagement. After further reflection I directed Col. Evans to proceed to Gen. Johnston, who had assumed the task of collecting a reserve, to inform him of the circumstances of the case, and to request him to have the reserves collected with all dispatch, and hold them in readiness to support our retrograde movement Col. Evans started on the mission thus entrusted to him. He had proceeded but a short distance, when it occurred to me to make another examination of the still approaching flag. I called him back. "Let us" said I, "wait a few moments, to confirm our suspicious, before finally resolving to yield the field."

I took the glass and again examined the flag. I had now come within full view. A sudden gust of wind shock out its folds, and I recognized the stars and bars of the Confederate banner. It was the flag borne by your regiment--here the General turned to Col. Hays, who sat beside him — the gallant Seventh Louisiana; and the column of which your regiment constituted the advance was the brigade of Gen. (then Col.) Early. As soon as you were recognized by our soldiers, your coming was greeted with enthusiastic cheers; regiment after regiment responded to the city; the enemy heard the triumphant huzza; their attack slackened; they were in turn assailed by our forces, and within half an hour from that moment commenced the retreat which afterwards became a confused and total rout. I am glad to see that war-stained banner gleaming over us at this festive board, but I hope never again to see it upon the field of battle."

Gen. Beauregard then explained how the new battle flag was devised — the reason for its adoption being made sufficiently clear by his lucid and thrilling narrative. The flag itself is a beautiful banner, which, I am sure, before this campaign is over, will be consecrated forever in the affections of the people of the Confederate States. During the dinner, as was natural enough, a great number of soldiers congregated around the tent, and clamored for a sight of Gen. Beauregard.--Col. Hays went out, on behalf of the General, and made a speech to them, which of course was received with applause; but the men would not be pacified until Gen. Beauregard himself was presented to them, and until the sound of his voice was heard amongst them. Never have I witnessed so much enthusiasm as when the General assured them of the gratification he experienced in hearing their enthusiastic cheering, and that he hoped to hear the same voices again on the field of battle and in the hour of victory.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

William Stoker Letters, 18th Texas Infantry

William Elisha Stoker belonged to Company H of the 18th Texas Infantry. His letters are posted online at the House Divided at Dickinson College. The 18th Texas served in Louisiana parts of 1863-1865. Stoker's letters cover camp life and parts of the Red River Campaign in 1864. When you click on the link you will have to click on the tab titled "Documents." That will bring you to a list of his letters. If you click on the links to the right it'll bring you to the individual letters. Once you click on a letter there is a tab to click on the transcribed version of his letter.

Here is a quote from Stoker's letter of January 3, 1864 about the ladies of Opelousas, La:

Our prisoners that was taken at opalousas [Opelousas] has ben exchanged and they hav just got in. James Courtney has got back safe. I havent never thought to say any thing about the lades [ladies] of opalousas how well they treatted us. They taken our wounded men and waitted on them like brothers. On examineing the hos-pital they found that there was too wounded men from our regament to arry another ones one. When we went to leave they had our regament marched up to the female ecademy and the lades of opolousas presented us a flag. A yung lady stepped out to the edge of the pieser with it in her hand and made one of best speaches that I ever herd. I did wis you was there. When she was threw the Col. hollowed out three cheers for the lades of opalousas. You ought to of heard us hollow. We had a merry time for a little while.

Interested in finding more information on the 18th Texas Infantry? Visit Randall Howald's GREAT site on Texas Units.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rebel Yell

Time for some updated accounts on the Rebel Yell!

At the Battle of Brashear City on June 23, 1863, a member of the 23rd Connecticut described the Rebel Yell released by Major Hunter's men as the rushed the Union forts and camps:
At about 8 o’clock on the morning mentioned, the Confederates, consisting of about 800 men, mostly Texans, with a yell that made one’s hair stand on end “like quills upon the fretful porcupine,” came rushing in from a piece of woods just back of the village upon a thoroughly surprised Union camp. (Andrew Sherman, In the Lowlands of Louisiana in 1863, An Address to the at the Forty-Second Annual Reunion of the Twenty-Third Conn. Regimental Association, 1908)

Another Yankee Source described the attack and Rebel Yell of Hunter's attack:
"It is at this moment a yell arose, in the rear; a mingling of Indian whoop and wolf-howl; the charging cry of Major Hunter and his ragged desperadoes..." (Camps and Prisons: Twenty Months in the Department of the Gulf by J.H. Duganne, 148)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Yankee Enjoys South Louisiana Summer

Ohio State University is really doing some great stuff with Civil War primary information. For example, we posted here months back that they posted all of the Official Records and the Atlas of the Official Records online. REALLY GOOD stuff. They make it available for you to download the plates of the atlas as well.

With that being said, I ran across the letters of John Follett. His regiment was posted at "Brasheur" City (Modern day Morgan City) in the summer of 1864. I really like Follett's letter. Here's a Yankee "enjoying" a fine Louisiana summer full of heat, humidity and mosquitoes.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Louisiana Zouaves in Richmond Daily Dispatch

Dr. Terry Jones forwarded news pieces to us from the Richmond Daily Dispatch about "Louisiana Zouaves." It is always interesting to read the impression of non-Louisianians in their interaction with not only our state but our soldiers. Thank you Dr. Jones:

Below are various articles lifted from the Richmond Daily Dispatch, 1861-1863 concerning the “Louisiana Zouaves.” Although the Zouaves are largely unidentified, the articles appear to be referring to either Gaston Coppens’ Louisiana Zouave Battalion or one company of St. Paul’s Foot Rifles.

As I passed through the public square to-day a column of the Louisiana Zouaves marched in, and wheeling into line before the Equestrian Statue of Washington, presented arms, and stood for a while immovable as statues, gazing with reverential respect and awe, the like of which I never saw before, and can scarcely expect to see again, upon that magnificent work of art and sublime memorial of gratitude and affection which his mother Virginia has consecrated to his memory. It was a noble tribute, simply and unostentatiously manifested by patriotic and gallant Southern hearts, which might have called forth a tear from every manly eye that was looking on.


There was more curiosity to see the Louisiana Zouaves yesterday, on their passage through the city, than I have seen manifested on any former occasion. Judging from the crowds at the depot, the squads on the streets, and the crowding of every room affording a good view, they were doubtless subjected to the critical observations of almost every person, male and female, within the limits of the city.


Quoting a Northern newspaper report from Fort Monroe, Va.: “The shipgunboat Mount Vernon has just arrived from Newport News with two deserters from the rebels and two prisoners, all belonging to the Louisiana Zouaves. The former came into the camp at Newport News yesterday morning. They are intelligent Germans, and state that having been impressed into service they escaped on the first opportunity. Most of the company to which they belong serve unwillingly. Their uniform so closely resembles that of Col. Duryea's Zouaves that the deserters came into camp without being stopped by the guard.


A soldier named Dennis McGuire was brought to the cage at six o'clock last evening, charged with having feloniously stabbed another soldier (name unknown) at the drinking saloon of Maurice Dennis, adjoining the Central Railroad depot. The party arrived at the lock-up very bloody and excessively dirty. He belongs to the 5th company of Louisiana Zouaves. The circumstances attending the cutting we could not learn. The locality in which this deed of blood was perpetrated is becoming quite famous for its rude encounters.


Our attention has been called to a thrilling duel which occurred on the battle-field of the "Seven Pines" between a member of Capt. Bordenave's Louisiana Zouaves and a Yankee desperado. At one stage of the combat, when the battalion of St. Paul, to which this company is attached, were driving before them the enemy, a Yankee soldier was observed in deadly conduct with the gallant Louisianian. The latter was so near his adversary that a set-to with fisticuffs appeared to be imminent, when the Yankee, quick as thought, drew his pistol and blazed away in the face of the Zouave, without, however, hitting his mark. The Zouave, though slow, made sure, and drawing in turn his own trusty weapon, sent a ball through his enemy's vitals. The cheers of his comrades rent the air in taken of his prowess, and marked inappreciably their sense of his meritorious behavior.


Quoting a Northern newspaper: The rebels in Winchester. Opposite the Taylor House the Louisiana Zouaves were fast becoming inebriated over some one hundred and fifty bottles of brandy, which the Medical Purveyor though he had destroyed, but had not, and all through the town the rebels, famished by three days' hard marching, with but little to eat, were gorging themselves with the fat of the land. Secession was rampant. Flags floated from every house. Females, arrayed in their brightest colors, paraded the streets, and every house was open for their long-hoped-for but almost despaired-of guests. Jackson was in a towering rage that his orders had not been followed out. If they had been, one of Ewell's brigades would have got completely around our right, gained the rear of the town, and cut off our retreat entirely. They assert that they had us completely in a trap, and are greatly mortified at our escape.


Prison items. The following parties were put in Castle Thunder yesterday: Samuel Levy, co. K, 15th La, desertion; J. H. Mudder, co S. 2d N. C., desertion; Wm Riley, Jos Wassen, Chas Price, John Ualt, Louisiana Zouaves, sent in by Col Coppens; S. B. Quaries, co. I, 5th Va cavalry; Geo W Todd, co C. 2d La, for being absent without leave; H. D. Saunders, co. K, 10th La, desertion. Castle Thunder is now quite full, but the pressure is daily relieved by sending off to the army large numbers of straggling soldiers, who find a lodgment there under the general head of deserters. Thos Glenn, Courtney's Artillery, desertion; Lieut John Brandon, Privates Lewis Steele and Joseph Stephens, arrested and sent in by city police for drunkenness and disorderly conduct; Joseph King, co C. 14th La, desolation;

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Letters from the 2nd Louisiana

William and Francis Posey were brothers that joined the "Vernon Guards" at the start of the Civil War. Their company became Co. F of the 2nd Louisiana, was transferred to Virginia where it served on the Peninsular and eventually part of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Francis Posey served until the 2nd Battle of Manassas on August 30, 1862, where he was wounded. Francis was furloughed to Louisiana but never returned to the regiment and was dropped from its rolls. He eventually joined Confederate forces in Louisiana and worked as a teamster to his paroled at Monroe on June 9, 1865. William Posey was wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville and died of his wounds on June 4, 1863. During their service in Virginia, the two brothers wrote a total of 27 letters (William wrote 26 and Francis 1). Their letters are provided by Mr. A.L. Walker at this site.

Aldin Hospital Virginia
September 2, 1862

Dear Father and Mother,

You see from the address of my letter that I am at the hospital. I am here waiting on Cobey. He got wounded in the recent fight at Bull Run. Shot through the thigh by a Minnie ball though not serious, the ball passed pretty high up passed between the bone and main artery. He is doing very well at this time; in no pain only when moved. As soon as he is able to travel, I intend to get him a furlough if there is any possible chance. I have two balls shot through the leg of my pants. One of them cut a gash in my ankle which stops me for a few minutes. Mine was done on the first day. Cobey’s on the second.

It will not be necessary for me to give you the full details of the battle. You will get that through the papers. The battle commenced on Thursday and lasted 3 days. Our brigade opened the fight two days out of three. We drew the enemy off from the field both days. Killed a great many; captured a good many prisoners. The last’s days fight our brigade fought three columns of men for 1 and ½ hours before we were reinforced and a good portion of the time in 40 yds of each other. But we routed them at last. I never seen men run so in my life. They went like they had wings right in front of our brigade. There is acres I can walk over on their dead bodies. The Richmond fight at Malvin Hill is no comparison for I was in both fights and went over both battlefields after the fight closed. Our loss is very heavy. I will give you the list of the killed and wounded in our company: Corporal Gandy, killed; Leutinant Bond, badly wounded in the thigh; Cobey, wounded in the thigh; myself, slightly wounded in the ankle; Ted Hamilton, wounded slightly in the calf of leg; Windon, in the leg below the knee; Dave Richardson, in the thigh pretty bad. They are all here together and I am detailed to wait on them. The balance of our regiment lost in proportion (I suppose half was killed and wounded). I have not been able to get the exact number of our loss.

I learned that our brigade was in the fight last Monday near Fairfax. C.H. Have not heard the particulars but it seems that they intend for us to do all the fighting (the LA brigade). We are under General Jackson and his old division. In General Stark’s brigade, we are known as the Louisiana brigade and commanded by as good General as there is in the Confederate Service.

You will please excuse me for not writing more as the boys need my whole attention. I will write you again as soon as I have time. Tell Lizzie I have received her letter of the 3rd of August. Will answer it as soon as possible. Mother said something about clothing, to let her know if we needed any. We need them but if we had them, we would have to throw them away. We have to march so hard, we can’t carry anything but the suit we wear; one blanket and our knapsack of provisions.


P. S. Write as soon as you receive this; direct your letters to Richmond c/o Capt. Redwine. Camp LA, 2nd Regiment, Louisiana Volunteers

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Diary of Jewish Louisiana Soldier

The diary of Captain Alexander Hart of the 5th Louisiana is posted online at the Jewish-American History Foundation. What is posted is Hart's diary from July of 1864 to his return home in New Orleans on May 17, 1865. The 5th Louisiana Infantry is possibly the most obscure regiment of "Lee's Tigers" in the Army of Northern Virginia. Its good to see a piece of primary material like this. There's nothing real ground breaking but simply provides another first hand account of a lot marching in 1864 Valley Campaign during the late Summer. I especially liked Hart's last entry:

4 P.M. Once more at home (thank Gd). Did not get in town ‘til 10 P.M. Went up to the house. Woke up Uncle Abe, Mother. All came down in dishabille. Such shouting and kissing. All were full of thanksgiving. Retired at after midnight.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Washington Artillery Letters

We highlighted letters from a Louisianian Jew, Captain Alexander Hart of the 5th Louisiana, that were made available online at the Jewish-American History Foundation. They have also posted online the letters of a Corporal Edwin I. Kursheedt of the Washington Artillery.

Louisiana Rebel Yell...Snowball Style!

Below is a news piece that ran in April of 1864 describe a snowball battle in the Army of Northern Virginia. The Louisiana Brigade referred to in the article is that of Brigadier General Leroy Stafford composed of the 1st, 2nd, 10th, 14th and 15th Louisiana Regiments.

DAILY CONSTITUTIONALIST [AUGUSTA, GA], April 15, 1864, p. 3, c. 2
A Snow Fight on a Large Scale.—A young officer in Gen. Lee’s army, writing to his father in the city, gives the following account of the passtime [sic] of the gallant boys of the army of Virginia:
Camp of the 1st Virginia Battalion,}
8th, 1864.}
Since the date of my last we have had two severe snow storms, which have put the roads in a horrible condition. The soldiers seem to enjoy the snow exceedingly; for, as soon as it covers the earth, they commence snow-balling—first a company, then a regiment, and, finally, an entire brigade. During the last deep snow I had the pleasure of witnessing one of these sham-battles; it came off between Gens. Johnson’s and Rhodes’ divisions, and it was really amusing to see how they would fight for their ground. They were led on by their officers. Gen. Johnson commanded his division and Brig. Gen. ------- that of Rhodes . The snow-balls fell like hail; for a time the surrounding scenery and the combatants were completely obscured. Rhodes’ men had nearly driven Johnson’s force into the woods, when the Louisiana brigade was ordered to the rescue. Down they came with a terrific yell, led on to the charge by their gallant Brigadier, who rode in front of his line, crying out, “Boys, charge the tar heels!” He had scarcely got the words out of his mouth, when a snow ball, as large as a 36-pound ball, struck him directly in the mouth with such force that he came near vacating his saddle. Then came a yell which could be heard for miles, and the General was carried off the field hors du combat. Seeing this, Rhodes’ men rallied and made a desperate charge upon their foes, and again Johnson’s men had to “skedaddle” to the woods, with Rhodes at their heels. There was only one bridge over the creek which the pursuing party would have to cross if they continued their pursuit of Johnson’s boys, who still retreated. The command was given then to charge over the bridge, which they did; but they soon regretted it; for, as the last regiment passed over the bridge, a brigade of Mississippians and Texans came up, and where they came from nobody knew, for they swarmed from the woods like bees from a hive, every man with his hat or cap full of snow-balls. Rhodes’ men were in a bad fix now—between two fires.—As soon as Johnson’s men saw that their allies had arrived, they turned round and ran Rhodes back to the bridge, which, however, the Mississippians had barricaded, and he had to surrender just when he thought his victory was complete.—Gen. Rhodes acknowledged that Johnson had completely out-generaled him.

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