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.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Last Words from a Yankee Killed at Port Hudson

Colonel Sidney A. Bean, 4th Wisconsin
Killed at Port Hudson, May 28, 1863

The Wisconsin Historical Society has done a great job in collecting information on their involvement in the Civil War. They put together several newspaper clipping on the 4th Wisconsin, which fought in Louisiana. I have put below a letter written by the Colonel of the 4th Wisconsin, Sidney A. Bean, about his regiment's role in the attack on Port Hudson on May 27, 1863. These were the last words Bean penned for he was killed the following day.

The Fight before Port Hudson

Extract from a Letter by Col. Bean, of the 4th Wisconsin, written the Day before his Death.

The New York Herald has a letter from New Orleans, giving some account of the battle before Port Hudson, on the 27th and 28th ult. The writer gives the following extract from an unfinished letter found on the person of Col. Bean, of the 4th Wisconsin, after his death. Col. Bean was killed on the 28th. The letter relates to the events of the previous day, and shows how desperate the fighting was:

“I will give you the first day of the battle of Port Hudson. It is the morning of the second day on which I write. I came off the field last night after the battle had ceased, crippled so that I was just able to make my way a few rods to a horse. I lamed myself by some violent exertion, jump or fall in the abatis. When or how I can’t recall, so that my leg is stiff and I cannot walk.

“I wrote you from Simmsport when I received ‘s letter. We marched from that place to Bayou Sara, then crossed the river and marched here. Here we found ourselves in a dense Southern forest one mile and a half through, our pickets and the enemy’s meeting midway. The day before we had driven them so far in, losing one hundred men killed and wounded. On the further edge of the forest, there are a series of deep ravines, beyond high bluffs. On these bluffs, the enemy’s forts are built-strong redoubts, flanking each other, covered and connected by rifle pits. There is a cleared space in front of the forts six to ten hundred yards, the trees having been felled so as to form a formidable abatis. Our negro regiments had cut a road through the forest for our artillery, as far as our pickets extended. At four o’clock in the morning we marched in line, driving in the enemy’s pickets, and in a few moments more falling on their infantry in rifle pits this side of their abatis, driving them through it over into their forts. When we commenced the march we were in three lines, and two were in front of my regiment. When we got through it, I was in front of everything. We pressed down through the abatis and halted on a crest of hills within near rifle shot of the breastworks. Of course, when we got through there was the most inextricable confusion, and it was the diligent and excessive work of hours to bring the regiments together and into line again. The abatis and woods were filled with stragglers, cowards and men looking for their regiments. I finally succeeded in getting my men an da hundred others, hopelessly separated from their commands, organized and in position, and, as I said before, in the front of the whole army. It took time to make our way through the abatis, and we were under the murderous fire of then or twelve cannon and of all the infantry in the rifle pits. I cannot give any description of this fire, because, as at Baton Rouge, I was perfectly unconscious of it, and didnt hear a cannon ball or a rifle shot whiz, though the men were fast falling on every side of me. My anxiety to press my regiment forward and to keep it in order wholly absorbed me. But during these few fatal moments in which we were crawling over and under the felled trees and through the branches, some of my best men fell. Captain Craigon was hit with a musket ball, not mortally I hope, and the poor fellow lay there among the threes bleeding like an ox, laughing at his wound, and cheering on his men.- Captain Herron had his leg knocked off. It has since been amputated, and life is questionable, and he lies on his bed crying, now for his leg and now that he did not get into the forts. Lieut. Pierce, of the same company, was shot in the arm, but seemed quite consoled when I told him the regiment was ahead of everything. Lieut. Chittenden was hit in the breast; how badly I do not know. Our whole loss during the day was about seventy killed and wounded, and three hundred was all I took on the field.

“Having passed the worst abatis, and finding shelter for the men under the crest of the hill, I halted, and in half an hour the men drove away the gunners from their pieces and silenced every cannon but one-that being out of range-nor dare a man of the rebels show his head above the breastworks. The number of their killed and wounded must have been great before they abandoned their guns.

“I have just been reading the Herald of the 7th of the battle of Chancellorsville, and of the attack made on Saturday by the rebels on Sykes’ division of regulars, the rebels outnumbering them three to one; of the terrible fire ranks and courage beyond comprehension of our men in withstanding the fierce attack; and no doubt it was a fine thing; but the whole division, it stats lost only one hundred and fifty men, while my single regiment lost half that number in the same time, and their spirit, dash and good humor rose every moment. My admiration for my men is beyond bounds.”

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Delta Rifles, Part I

The Delta Rifles were a militia company out of West Baton Rouge Parish. When the Civil War started the Rifles were eventually formed as Company C of the 4th Louisiana Infantry. A member of the company's original roster was John McGrath of Baton Rouge. McGrath's service with the company was brief. He resigned his position as 1st Sergeant in the company and became 1st Lieutenant (and later Captain) of Company C of the 13th Louisiana in September 1861. Following the war, McGrath wrote a series of articles in the Woman's Enterprise about the Delta Rifles. Below is McGrath's first piece which ran on November 18, 1921:

When and Where Organized and
Its Rank and File.

When the result of the national election of 1860 became generally known throughout the south intense indignation and uneasiness spread throughout the land such as was never experienced before or since. That war was inevitable was the opinion of all classes of citizenship, including the most peace loving and conservative, and in order to be prepared for eventualities steps were at once taken to organize new military companies and to recruit existing ones up to full war strength. In every city, town and village of Louisiana armed bodies sprang up like unto mushrooms over night. No urging, no persuasion was required and appeals to one's patriotism altogether unnecessary as every able bodied individual knew in the direction duty pointed, and was resolved to follow the path.
Baton Rouge responded nobly to the demands of the hour and in less than a month's time several strong companies were armed and equipped and ready to face what the future held in store for them. Two companies, the Pelican Rifles, Captain W. F. Tunnard and the National Guards, Captain H. A. Rauhman had been in existence for some years and were well organized, armed and drilled and to supplement the old commands the Delta Rifles, Captain H. M. Favrot. Fencibles, Captain Andrew S. Herron, the Creole Guards. Captain J. L. Fremeaux were organized.
The Delta Rifles was organized in and credited to West Baton Rouge but as some forty odd men were from this city and some fourteen or fifteen from Pointe Coupe it might truthfully be considered a tri-parish company. In time what with promotions and transfers the personel of the Deltas was composed with few exceptions of Baton Rougeans even to its Second Captain. Let its domicile he West Baton Rouge or elsewhere only picked men were received as recruits and as the material necessary for a company of war strength could not be secured in the upper portion of the parish a number of acceptable recruits from other sections were enrolled.
Another strong company of infantry was being recruited about the same time in the neighborhood of Bruly Landing known as the Tirailleurs which was composed almost entirely of French speaking Creoles and by the way let me say this company rendered excellent service to the Confederacy. Two companies out of the small population was rather too much for West Baton Rouge. But of the Delta Rifles only do I wish to write at this time so I will continue without further discussion.
At the moment of most intense excitement and when it was generally understood that war would result through the victory of what was known as the Black Republican Party word was spread throughout the parish that a meeting would be held in the court house upon a certain day of all young men willing to assist in forming a military company and in response nearly every able bodied man of the upper part of West Baton Rouge was present ready to serve Louisiana in case of war and to go wherever their services were required.
Now I was pleasantly situated and drawing a good salary as Station Agent of the old Baton Rouge, Grosse Tete and Opelousas railroad, had been back from a war in Central America but two years, had not entirely recovered from a wound, had seen cities destroyed, people impoverished, comrades killed and maimed in sufficient numbers to satisfy the most blood thirsty and felt reluctant to enlarge that experience, but said I, "Young man you traveled a thousand miles to get into a fight and right at home looms one of considerable magnitude if the kid gloves will accept a railroad clerk you will be a soldier one again before the plantation bells ring for the sontide meal." Not only was I accepted but much to my surprise was elected first sergeant or as the latter day veterans say "top." Among the privates the first name on the list was that of Henry Watkins Allen and I ever after felt exceedingly proud of having in my capacity as sergeant ordered the man around who afterwards became Lieut.-Colonel, Colonel, Brigadier General and Governor of Louisiana all within four years. A great man indeed was Allen.
The officers chosen were: H. M.Favrot, Captain; 0. M. LeBlane, First lieutenant; L. Y. Hereford, Second Lieutenant; N. W. Pope, Second Lieutenant Junior.
Non-Commissioned Officers: John McGrath, First Sergeant; .1. C. Patrick, Second Sergeant; E. M. Dubroca, Third Sergeant; G. C. Lemmon Fourth Sergeant. Corporals: A. D. Barrow, first; F. Richard, second; L. L. Lobdell, third; A. B. Dubroca, fourth.

It was understood that every member furnish an outfit at his own expense which consisted of one full dress uniform, one fatigue suit, cap, blanket, canteen, knapsack and everything I necessary in the way of military equipment except arms and cartridge boxes which were furnished by the State. Believe me, it cost a neat sum to become a member of the Delta Rifles and many a young fellow was compelled to dig deep down into his pockets to pay the price. But then the social recognition was supposed to be worth it. Poor mistaken boys! Could they have peered into the very near future while drilling around Port Allen and saw themselves toting sand bags in company with roughnecks, uncouth ditchers and steamboat roustabouts their eyes would have been opened to the fact that social position in army life reaches no lower than the junior lieutenant and then in slight
At the second meeting Thomas Gibbs Morgan, Dudley Avery, Bailey Stuart, Robert Waddill, Steve Henderson, Fern McHatton, Burris Magruder, Penn Skolfield and a number of others considered eligible were admitted to membership, while George and Mark McCausland, Dan Gorham, Ben Cooley, Fred Jewel, Deplane Viene, E.A. Carmouche and W. J. Jetter came down from New Roads to join.
When the rolls were pretty well filled Captain Favrot ordered drills three times weekly and thereafter until ordered away we tramped around the old depot ground for hours at a time much to the disgust of the young soldiers and the evident satisfaction of the old men looking on. Thus things dragged along until to our great delight orders were received from the Adjutant General,. to appear upon North loulevard at 10 o'clock next morning fully equipped for active service. This was preparatory to capturing the trarrison and arsenal several accounts of which have appeared in newspapers quite recently I shall only say that atftr two or three days service the Delta Rifles were relieved and ordered home.

During the month of December the State organized two regiments of regulars, one of heavy artillery to garrison the forts below New Orleans and one of infantry to guard the arsenal at this place and right then the Deltas lost three of its most popular members, Mr. Willie Robertson was appointed Captain of artillery, J.H. Lamon a lieutenant of artillery and William Sparks of infantry.
The Constitutional Convention called for that purpose passed an ordinance of secession and declared the bond heretofore existing between the States of the Union dissolved and decreed State sovereignty. Then began in earnest the beating of drums, the waving of flags with uniformed young soldiers marching and counter marching through streets with ladies bestowing their brightest smiles upon them and cheering them on.
In the meantime the ladies of West Baton Rouge had manufactured a large handsome silk flag which was presented to the company by Miss Dubroca in presence of the largest assembly ever previously seen in that parish. In eloquent words our lovely sponsor presented the precious gift which was received by the Captain who most eloquently and earnestly promised that it should never be surrendered to a foe while a man was left to defend it. A grand feast prepared under the direction of mothers of the boys was then partaken of which wound up with a popping of champagne corks of a volume equal to a fire of musketry. Champagne, mind you! Any liquor less costly was too common and vulgar a beverage for the swell Delta Rifles. How we did promise to bring back that flag with emblems of victory entwined around it or perish beneath its folds. Oh, yes, when that champagne began to work right lively we not only felt we were of heroic mould but were sadly grieved that each of us was not facing at least five Yanks that we might display our prowess in their presence. The time came, however, when one foeman would have satisfied us and he a small drum boy at that.
During early April days orders came for the Delta Rifles to proceed to Camp Moore where regiments were being formed and the excitement grew while messengers were dispatched throughout the upper part of the parish and as far as New Roads with orders to the members to report next day to leave for our destination. It was short notice, nevertheless next morning 118 officers and men answered roll call.
How gallant ,you appeared my brave comrades, a. you stood at attention, to answer that last roll call upon your native heath and to take a last glance over the fields where happy childhood was spent and of which some were fated never to behold again. Gone, gone, each and every one of you leaving he alone who called the roll that day the sole one of your number to answer "Here" when the Supreme Ruler of the universe issues the order to pass through death's dark portals into the Eternal camping grounds.
With apology for taking up so much valuable space in Woman's Enterprise I will discontinue my story of the Kid Glove Company until the next issue.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dr. Donald Parker to Speak at CWRT of Central Louisiana

I wanted to take the time to give a plug for Dr. Donald Parker who is going to be the guest speaker at the Civil War Round Table of Central Louisiana next month. Dr. Parker will be speaking on the Battle of Henderson Hill and the 2nd Louisiana Cavalry. Here is a link to the CWRT of Central Louisiana's website if you are interested in attending.

CWRT of Central Louisiana

April 7, 2011

Dr. Donald Parker, Author – Elkhart, IN

“Henderson Hill Reconsidered: The Rediscovered Diary and Letters of a 2nd Louisiana Cavalry Officer”

Monday, March 21, 2011

Massachusetts' Captain Tour in Louisiana Pt. I

Captain Joel A. Stratton, Co. A, 53rd Massachusetts

Captain Joel A. Stratton of the 53rd Massachusetts made an address in 1919 that recounted his experience in Louisiana in 1863. Stratton participated in the Teche Campaign of April-May 1863 and the Siege of Port Hudson where he was wounded. He has left behind an interesting perception of life in south Louisiana-especially while his regiment was camped around Opelousas in April. I found Stratton's account at The Patriot Files: Dedicated to the Preservation of Military History.

...We marched back to camp, thence to New York, where we were quartered in the Franklin street barracks. Here we were hived up until December 17, went we went on board the steamer Mississippi to embark for New Orleans. I presume you are all familiar with the way of stowing away such a cargo; on decks, between-decks, and in the hold, laid up on shelves, etc. We lay in the harbor till the 20th, when scarlatina appeared to an alarming extent. We went back to the old quarters, where we remained till January 17, 1863, when we went aboard the steamer Continental bound for New Orleans. The first day's sail was beautiful. The rest of the way was rough; my desire for a storm at seas soon vanished. The storm was terrible, waves like mountains appeared fore and aft and the thing I most desired was land. We passed the Bahama Islands and stopped for coal at Key West. It was Sunday and we all "coaled"-had our own vessels filled to the brim or all they could carry in fair smooth weather. As the storm came on we were uneasy, loath to part with anything obtained at the sunny isle, but, as the storm raged, to tell the truth we fell kinder sick and over went the cargo to save the ship from sinking, as most had a sinking feeling.

But on we go; the mouth of the Mississippi river is in view; we enter Southwest Pass and steam on for New Orleans; arrived January 30, landed at Carrolton, five miles above the city, and camped on the shell road. The first night I was very much annoyed by two things; the barking of dogs and a thundershower. I never have been able to decide which was worse of the two. It rained and the water was about four inches deep all over the field; where I lay I guess there was two feet-or at least two wet feet-etc., up along, but we have dried off since. Here we drilled, fired at targets, and sometimes hit them. By the way, there was a fellow connected with the regiment at this time that did a heavy business in "gun oil." I presume those that were there will remember the quality.

But the time has come for the troops to move; up the river to Baton Rouge, camped there a few days, then on to Port Hudson. March 6, we broke camp, embarked on board the steamer Crescent City for Baton Rouge, arrived there next day, and camped three miles below the city at Magnolia Grove, a beautiful place, trees in full bloom; you know not their beauty except you see them. This beautiful brings to mind a little trip with Colonel O. P. Goodwin of the Thirty-first Massachusetts Volunteers; he was our brigade commander, Third Brigade. It was past ten o'clock at night, all was still except the tread of the guard when Martin Falan of Company E sang out, "Halt! Who comes there?" Col. Goodwin-"Just let me pass." Falan-"Dismount and give the countersign." Colonel-"Why, let me pass. Don't you know who I am?" Falan-"Dismount, sir, and give the countersign." Colonel-"Let me pass. I am Colonel Goodwin! commander of the brigade." Falan-"Faith, and I am happy to make your acquaintance, but dismount and give the countersign." Thus the talk went on for a few moments. The sergeant of the guard was called before the brigade commander could pass, but as soon as he was over the line he ordered poor Martin arrested for doing his duty.

On Mar. 12 the regiment was ordered up the river on a reconnaissance. It embarked on two steamers under the escort of the gunboat Albatross, went up about five miles, landed, and with an escort of a few cavalry scoured the country and returned the same night with a few fat cattle. On the evening of the 13th we marched with the division in the expedition to Port Hudson till near midnight, when we filed right into an old cornfield and camped. This makes the best of campgrounds. Just lie between two cornrows and you are all right. On the afternoon of the 14th we arrived within three miles of Port Hudson. This was the night of the bombardment and passage of part of the fleet past the batteries. We slept on our arms expecting an attack at any moment. A general order from General Banks was promulgated in the morning, stating that the object of the expedition had been accomplished. I presume it was, but we could not see the point. We changed front to rear of Baton Rouge our division halted in a swamp and remained until the 20th. This was a lovely spot. Mud, water, stumps, rattlesnakes, and everything the nature of the place was heir to, enough of everything that was disagreeable and nothing to eat except sugar. I sent a darkey out for sugar and he brought in his hat full. I should judge from the appearance of the hat that it had been worn for the last twenty years, but I presume the sugar did not hurt the hat any and I don't know as it hurt me, but presumed it didn't do me any good. The first night we were here it rained and I should judge the water was less than a foot deep where I lay, but not much less-it was hard to judge the exact depth because the ground was soft.

On the 20th we returned to our old camp and remained till April 1, when we left for Algiers, where we arrived on the 2d. Here we had bread and to spare. We had a sulter here and a fellow bought a loaf of soft bread to him every morning but would not sell to us. One morning his horse stopped-some of the boys took a few loaves from the hind end of his cart and he went for them. While he was at the back end they picked out of the front end and so they kept it up till all was gone; then he went. That was the last we saw of him. On the 9th we went to Brashear City by rail to join in the movement through the Teche country. From Algiers to this point it was swampy most of the way and plenty of alligators.

April 11 the army began to move up through the Teche country; we marched to Pattersonville, about eight miles. At 12 o'clock next day moved a little further up-about two miles. There was music ahead, we could hear it-the enemy's pickets were falling back-and we pushed on. The batteries and earthworks were in sight and they were sending shot, shell, and railroad iron among us. We were in a sweet potato field and that railroad iron dug potatoes in a hurry, but was very careless with the dirt. It was nearly dark, so we were moved back a little out of the way of the dirt, the firing ceased for the night, and we squatted right there on our arms; but next morning things opened up lively from both sides. The first thing was to support a battery and in the afternoon we skirmished towards the enemy; we were under heavy fire for five hours. Perhaps it might be well to give a little description of the field and earthworks. The Rebs had fortifications on both sides of the bayou. Our Brigade was ordered over on the North side early in the morning. Here we found a plain field for one hundred yards or so, then a long line of catalpa trees so thick they concealed nearly everything in front. Here by the sides of these trees we left our haversacks, blankets, and chaplain, then moved through a thick cornfield. As we came out, on the other side was one of our batteries sending its compliments in full force and quick time. The bayou was on our left. A level field was in front between us and the fort with ditches running across every few yards. We took advantage of them and advanced from one ditch to another in quick time. In these ditches was where the blackberries grew-they were lined with them, all ripe and delicious. Of course we ate and enjoyed them very much, with one exception-the shot and shell came ploughing through the earth that was thrown from the ditches and scattered it all over the berries. It was very vexing to be so intruded upon while picking berries. But it was our turn to the front to release the Thirty-eighth Massachusetts and they fell back. Now we had it face to face-it was tit for tat. We drove them all inside the works and were within 100 yards of their earthworks when darkness gathered around us and all was still, except now and then a stray shot from either side to remind us that they were there; some even fired at shadows. We were ordered to fall back a few yards to a ditch and to stay and hold this point for the night. It was a long, weary, and dark one without supper or blanket. Nothing but the sky above, enemy in front and earth beneath and a bright prospect of an early attack on the morrow.

But as the darkness lifted and the eastern light shone in upon us our gallant colonel came along the line with he usual "Good morning." "Take ten men and advance on the works." (Fort Bisland). This seemed to me like a small army to take the fort with. I wondered what the rest of the army was going to do if ten of us were enough to do this little job. They were counted off from the right of Company C and told that we were ordered to take the fort. Forward we went, expecting every moment to see the Rebs running with such a formidable force coming. But on we went, mounted the works, captured the fort, and looked for other fields to conquer. The regiment advanced and the flag of the Fifty-third was planted upon the works; of course while the regiment was coming up we did the cheering the best we could. But the inside showed that our batteries had made sad work with them. Horses were piled up one upon the another. Everything indicated it had been a hot place; cold and deserted now. The relics were few; I believe that a jack-knife, a few Confederate postage stamps and the like were found and I have them here.

But the orders were "Forward!" after the retreating foe. Our company and one other were detailed to scour the country and drive in all the cattle, mules, horses, etc., we could find. We came into Franklin that night driving in the cows and they were all guarded and stall fed. At this point I will say that marching had been wearisome and as the cows were all in, I thought I would try my hand at milking just to have milk for the coffee. I milked some and was kicked over a few times by the wild steers, but the cows were what I was after and I finally got about a quart of the precious liquid for family use. I treasured it as gold, yea, more precious, and guarded it anticipating a delightful cup of coffee with milk, but alas how soon our bright prospects are blasted! As we awaited the boiling of the coffee we gathered around that dish of milk with get expectations of the delicious beverage, but alas! Lieut. Hall spilt the milk all in the sugar and as we had more sugar than milk it was lost. The sugar consumed the milk and called for more, and so did we, with all the bitter thoughts you could imagine toward our gallant Hall, who spilt the milk, spoiled our sugar, blasted our hopes, and broke our rest as we did his. But silent and sad we ate our supper and nothing was said except to sift out our vengeance on that d--d Hall. But what is the use of crying for spilt milk now? Oh, never did I again try to imagine how milk would taste.

On the morrow onward was the command; day after day we marched. On the 15th we marched in pursuit of the retreating enemy and reached Opelousas the 20th. As we approached the town or city the authorities sent out the white flag for protection. As we halted just before entering the town, supposing we were going into camp there, there were some fine-looking cattle just a little ways from us and we were all hungering and thirsting. One of our sergeants and one man were detailed to provide meat for supper. They attended to that duty, but while so doing we were ordered to march, went through the town, and camped about two miles from the place where the beef was last seen. Here we were in an old cornfield, dark and all worn out with the long marching, and nothing to eat. Most of the men lay down where they were. I was a little worried about the sergeant and the one man, but about 10 o'clock I heard a sound. I harked, it sounded a little like the puffing of a locomotive going upgrade with a heavy train, but it seemed to grow nearer and nearer till lo and behold! The sergeant and the one man and a hindquarter of beef appeared. The beef stopped but the men disappeared for the night. They had swung it on a pole, one at one end and one at the other, and had brought it some two miles in this way and they thought the beef was worth $1.00 per pound sure. I did not believe it was, so thought I would try it. So for a knife to cut it with I found a common case knife and went at it. The meat was still warm, the knife dull, but my courage was good and with much difficulty I sawed off a few chucks. For a spider I took an old till plate. So I had one knife, one spider, and three chucks of beef, no salt and a little fire. I stewed and fried and brunt the three chucks, no salt to add, but it all went down. Then for the rest so sweet, with the soft earth for a bed between two corn rows, so you see there was not much chance to fall out of bed and my covering was large as the east is from the west, the beautiful blue shy; but I never rested better on downy feathers or hair mattress. I have often thought since if I had not eaten those three chucks the cornrows would have squeezed me to death before morning; but the morning dawned upon us and we regulated our camp and remained for two weeks at this point.

Most of the duties were drill and picket duty. Had plenty of cracked corn and onions that added to our regular bill of fare. There were one or two little incidents that occurred while here that I will speak of. One morning a corporal came in from the picket and said he was ordered to report himself as under arrest. He said Lieut. So-and-so, officer of the picket of a certain New York regiment, would call and see me about it soon. I questioned him in regard to the cause, etc., and the facts, as near as I can recollect, are these. Said corporal had charge of the post. They were dressing a nice little porker about mid-day, had him hung to a limb of a tree and had just got him nicely dressed. They were looking the property over and thinking what a nice fellow he was, also discussing the best plan for dividing the spoils, when the colonel commanding the brigade, and his staff rode what. The brigade commander says, "Who killed that hog?" Nobody knew. The corporal was called, asked his duty and instructions, which he gave all right. Brigade commander says, "You know your duty. Why disobey in this way?" The corporal says, "My orders were to let nothing pass the picket line. This hog was bound to go over and I just charged bayonets on him and let him come on, but he did not go over and there he is." But the explanation not being satisfactory the corporal was ordered to report to the commander of the picket as under arrest; he obeyed and the commander and corporal both gave me the facts. The corporal wanted to know what he should do. I told him to go on duty and if I did not hear anything from headquarters about it, it was dismissed, and that the end of the arrest and also the pig.

One bright, pleasant morning while at this point, about sunrise we saw coming in the distance a long train of six or eight teams, moving fast. As they neared us we observed they were mule teams and colored people. They came right into our lines with their beds and crockery and all their fixin's and the old people in the carts. They had left the plantations about twenty miles away, taking all they could fetch with them, and come to see Marse Lincoln's men. You never saw a happier set of people anywhere. They felt as soon as they were within our lines that they were free. I asked one of them how they got away. "Oh," he said, "we comed away in the night and the dogs didn't bark and the cocks didn't crow," and he threw his old hat in the air about twenty feet and went up half way after it with three cheers for Marse Lincoln. In fact, everywhere on the whole line of march from Brashear City to Alexandria they came in the same way and with the same expressions on their faces and the same songs in their mouths; "Three cheers for Marse Lincoln." They felt that Marse Lincoln was a Moses to them and that the Union army came to bring deliverance. No wonder they had not words to express their feelings, to be delivered from bondage and to feel that they were free. No one could imagine their joy unless they saw it. The emancipation proclamation of Abraham Lincoln is one of the greatest and grandest proclamations that was ever written in this country or any other. It liberated five million people, and I thank God that it came in our day, and that we lived it to see it fulfilled. There is a feeling in our innermost hearts that we have done something to help carry out that proclamation. It is worth something living for, yes, dying for, but I must hasten.

The march from Opelousas to Alexandria was one of those hot, quick ones of a hundred miles in less than four days through the dirt, mud, and mire, with the lines of the roads and fences well stocked with the colored aristocracy of the South sending up cheer after cheer for Marse Lincoln and with the genuine expression of joy gushing forth from their very souls. You could see it in their eyes, their faces, and in their very walk. They expressed themselves all over; there was no more work for poor old Uncle Ned, for Marse had gone away. None could imagine the joy and satisfaction of these fellows except he saw it; it was real, genuine, unadulterated, simon pure; they were willing to leave all and follow the army wherever it might go. I presume they would have followed us till this time if they could, nut they did their part as best they could and were willing to do anything-give three cheers for marsa Lincoln, fight, dig, or draw rations. Some noted officers in the Rebel army lived in this section-Dixk Taylor, Governor Moore, and many others. Mrs. Governor Moore said the Yanks would steal all she had, but I don't think they did. I presume she had less after the army passed by, as I feel sure that most of them did not gain much, excepting a more extensive acquaintance with us and our comrades, as we did call and take something, but I don't think we took anything that we could get along without. Some preferred milk, others eggs, other the mothers or father of the eggs; some turned the hives of bees so that their exit was more easily observed by those that followed after, while others, like myself, marched quietly by with slow and steady tread except now and then a halt to rest our weary little feet, as we all had them that walked a-foot.

We arrived at Alexandria May 8, went into camp, and remained there until May 15, when we resumed the march, going to Simmesport, a distance of 75 miles, where we arrived May 18. On the 21st both divisions left for Bayou Sara. Our regiment was left at Simmesport for guard until the evening of the 22d, when we embarked on the Laurel Hill and proceeded to Bayou Sara, thence marching some twelve miles to join the division which had arrived in front of Port Hudson. The whole regiment was placed on picket duty for the night. Our march from Bayou Sara to Port Hudson was through St. Francisville, where we halted for a few moments. The courthouse was entered and the mailbags brought out, opened, and distributed among the boys. The mail was mostly composed of letters from the Rebs defending Port Hudson, some from their loved ones, etc., some idea of the strength of Port Hudson and some news importance. But "Forward, march!" was sounded down the lines and on we went through the town. The women of that town will ever be fresh in my memory. Such faces, such threats, with a shake of a broom and with the wish that not one of us would ever return alive! I suppose the cause of such unladylike expressions was unknown by me, but in return the soldiers complimented them with the most flattering words that they could think of, such as "Oh, what a pretty women, anit she handsome?" and many others too numerous to mention.

May 24 the army moved for Port Hudson...

To be continued...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Louisianian Buried in Kentucky

Found an account of Private John A. Kile of Company C, 18th Louisiana. Kile was wounded at Shiloh, captured and north to Louisville Prison. Kile never made it to Louisville Prison. Instead, he died on the trip and his body was dropped off at Owensboro. An account of his burial was found at The Lost Cause: Journal of the Kentucky Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans. Please click on the link to read the nice write up about Kile.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Louisiana Jewish Surgeon

Dr. Joseph Bensadon

Dr. Joseph Bensadon was born in New York in 1819. In 1840, he graduated with honors as a Doctor from Charleston University. He served as a surgeon in the U.S. Army during the Mexican-American War and when war erupted in April of 1861 he joined the Confederate service as well. Bensadon served with the Army of Tennessee throughout the war and was paroled at Meridian, Mississippi on May 15, 1865. From 1847-1871 (minus his four years in the field with the Confederate army) Bensadon practiced medicine in New Orleans. A significant portion of that time was with the Touro Infirmary.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Master Thesis Highlights Orleans Guards Battalion

While doing some research on Pond's Brigade at Shiloh I came across a Master Thesis written by Michael Pasquier. Pasquier's work is titled Catholics in Southern Culture. Starting on page 27 to 36 Pasquier chronicles the role of the Orleans Guards Battalion in the Shiloh and Corinth Campaigns. It covers the time span of March - June 1862. It is a great write up about this battalion.

  • I plan on posting more on the role of Pond's Brigade (including the Orleans Guards Battalion) at Shiloh in the future.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

7th Louisiana Tiger Visits Gettysburg in 1913

A.B. Briant
7th Louisiana Infantry, Co. B

The True Democrat out of St. Francisville, La. published an article in 1913 that recounted the trip of a Confederate Veteran to Gettysburg. The solder was A.B. Briant of Co. B, 7th Louisiana. In 1913, he was serving as the Mayor of St. Francisville and here is the story of his trip.

A Louisiana Tiger -
At Gettysburg.
Three Local Veterans Visit Celebrated Battlefield.

Hon. A. B. Briant, Mayor of St. Francisville, and a Confederate veteran I that saw as muchl heavy fighting, or possibly more than any other man in West Feliciana, has returned from the memorable love-feast, of the Blue and the Gray atGettysburg, commemorating the semi centennial of the famous battle at that place. Mr. Briant was a member of Co. B., 7th Louisiana Infantry, Hays' Brigade. He was, in fact, one of the Louisiana Tigers that charged Ripley's Battery on Cemetery Heights and captured two cannon. To revisit the scenes of that long-time-ago strife was of particular interest to him, and well did he enjoy the experience. The batteries, he says, occupy their same positions as of yore, remaining as much unchanged as well could be. It was likt reading over a glorious page of history.
Mr. Briant relates that strolling around Cemetery Heights, he was accosted by a gentlemen, who said, "Old man, were you here then?" Mr. Briant replied, yes that he was of the 7th La. which proved to be introduction enough as it transpired that it was Capt. Ripley, who exclaimed, "Then it was you who took our cannon." "Yes, but we couldn't keep them." His former enemy said, "Well, I shall capture you now," which he did, taking Mr. Briant around to enjoy all the sights and later entertained him at dinner. With many others, Mr. Briant says that his being a Louisiana Tiger was of special interest, a general from Maine asked especially to come to his tent.Mr. Briant says that the arrangements at Gettysburg were perfect, everything for the comfort of 50,000 soldiers being done without a hitch or a flaw. He and Mr. Ernest Newman, a comrade from home, had a large tent
to themselves. The food was excellent, and the water pure and cool. On the Fourth an especially good dinner
was served, although the fare at all times was fine. The streets of the tented city were as clean as constant attention could make them. Mr. Newman, who was of the party of three veterans from West Feliciana, speaks in equally glowing terms of the trip and the accommodations of every description. He left Gettysburg a little in advance of Mr. Briant, visiting Baltimore and Washington on the way home. From a letter to his son ,we quote the following bits: "The Washington Artillery is out in all its glory. Some wear white trousers and all have new suits, and- the officers with gilt braid on their sleeves." "Mr. Briant makes up the beds and sweeps, I get water and run errands. I am so sorry Mr. Lavergne couldn't come. He would have enjoyed it." "It is quite cool at
night. I had two blankets, and my coat but woke at half past three rather cool. Tried to sleep some more but our back neighbors talked so much that I could not sleep." "The Yankees that I have met are very friendly."
Dr. O. D. Brooks, Asst. Adj. General on Gen. Shaffer's Staff, La. Div. U. C.V., the third veteran whom we had the pleasure of interviewing, speaks enthusiastically of the trip and the reunion. He and Major Higgens of (Gen.Shafer's staff were together, taking rooms at F Fairview, about twelve miles from Gettysburg. He says that the attention given ;the Louisiana veterans was particularly cordial, from Federal veterans, officials and ladies alike. For himself, his hand was shaken so much that he almost got presidential hand cramp. Pretty girls willingly accepted -and wore La. Div. badges as souvenirs.
Capt. Brooks walked all- over the battlefield and made a study of the celebrated conflict which waged those hot July days, fifty years ago. The "ifs"and "might have beens" in connection~therewith speak very eloquently to the student of the battle, but to the reverent minded comes also the realization that it was all in the hands'of God, and He brought the issue, best for all concerned.
Dr. Brooks while at Gettysburg sought in vain for an old comrade from Georgia, David H. Ross, now of Minneapolis, Minn., who had been in the Union prison with him for twenty-two months at Rock Island, Ill. Mr. Ross was seeking Capt. Brooks as well, but in the vast throng they were unable to meet each other. Since reaching home he has had a letter from his old comrade. He of,the few living inmates of the Rock Island prison wear buttons made from a mussel shell, shaped into a seven-pointed star. It is a mystic
button, which was made in Rock Island prison by one of his prison mates and Capt. Brooks says it is probably
the only one left. The seven-pointed star indicated an organization of the Confederate prisoners, the letters on the seven points standing for the Latin sentence: "Dulce et decorum eat pro patria mori."
Neither of these veterans was called upon to die for his country; but for many years, as useful citizens, have
lived for their country, something just as hard to do, though less romantic. Of the thousands also that survived Gettysburg and who were spared to enjoy this reunion, each has served his country as-truly as those who paid death's toll at Culp's Hill and Seminary Ridge.

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