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, April 28, 2011

Mississippian Writes from Port Hudson

Camp at Port Hudson, La.
September 27th, 1862

Dear Col.,

It affords me gratification to be able to report my safe arrival at this post after so long & tedious a march. A detailed account of the march will be forwarded with the monthly report for this month. It may be interesting if not useful in the future, as part of the history of your regiment’s operations, judging from the immense preparations the enemy is making through the western waters generally, & particularly at St. Louis, to wrest away the river from our control. Your regiment if retained for its defence will have an arduous task to perform. If its batteries are kept well manned & horsed, it will by its efficient service, do honor to the State & prove a formidable barrier to the enemy’s progress on land or water. In this connection I must say that the action of the Government, or rather its inaction, in not keeping our companies full enough to man the guns with which we were mustered in, is rather inexplicable. If there were no men in the country to spare, except such as are honorably & nobly employed in the provisional infantry, then the question might be barely addressable whether they were not already in as useful a sphere to the Government as they would be in our batteries, but when we see parts of Mississippi & Louisiana actually overrun with ill disciplined & worse armed guerrillas & partisan rangers riding the best horses & drinking the worst whiskey in the country, often without leaders of any merit or daring & generally far away from any land forces of the army. I am at a loss to discover any policy in it & am forced to conclude, out of respect to the wisdom & patriotism of the Secretary of War, that he only needs his attention called to the matter in a proper way to grant us all we desire. There are a great many such bands in this vicinity. Many of them have nothing but shot guns & they confessedly are mostly worthless. They have fine horses & keep them in fine order doing nothing. I understand one of these companies will be disbanded as conscripts. As they will nearly all desire to join my company & sell their horses to the Government, I will try & have them assigned to me to man my other two guns. If I succeed in this, I would desire to know whether you could furnish me two rifled pieces instead of the 6 pounders I left at Phillip’s foundry. From the lights now before me it is probable I will be retained in this part of the state during the winter & in that case two good rifled pieces would be more valuable in preventing the navigation of the river than any other kind of gun. Capt. Feimer [?] with his battery is at this post. He has been allowed to recruit to nearly two hundred men. I was forced to leave my tents at Natchez coming down. The wet weather had been so continuous that it made the roads very bad & my four mule teams were insufficient to pull the baggage. I have not yet been able to get them, but expect them soon. Capt. Hickle expected to be able soon to furnish each company an additional wagon with six mules & also an additional pair of mules for every wagon now having but four. It is plain from the nature of this low region & the wet weather of winter that double the amount of transportation required for summer would be necessary for winter. I would like very much to know what progress the Captain is making in supplying this want. My men have no shoes. He will not furnish them nor give the men their pay that they may purchase out of that pittance. I dislike Col. to find fault, but I also dislike to be censored by penniless soldiers for inattention to their wants. I have had thirteen horses condemned. The trip was severe upon them. Towards the last it rained every day & the roads were the worst I ever saw. I lost one man on the trip, Milton Smith. He was inferior to none as a soldier & an exemplary man in all his private relations of life. All the other men, horses & material were brought through safe. I will have to go to Jackson, Miss. for material, &c & will be there about the 4th Oct. If you would answer me at that point as to the rifled pieces it would be a favor. No prospect of an attack on New Orleans soon. We have a splendid hospital at Jackson, La. Please remember me kindly to my friends.

Your friend & obt. Servant,
J.L. Bradford

[to] Col. Wm. T. Withers

Vicksburg, Miss.

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Coppens' Zouave Battalion

Coppens' Zouave Battalion
Lt. Colonel George Coppens (seated) and brother, Captain Marie Alfred Coppens.Image sold at auction on Cowan Auctions, for $14,375