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, June 27, 2011

Van Alystne's Diary, Part V

We continue with the diary of Lawrence Van Alystne was part of Co. B, 128th New York Infantry. His regiment was assigned to Louisiana in December of 1862. The 128th New York served in our state until July 1864, when it was transferred to Virginia. Van Alystne put together a book that included his diary he kept while serving in the 128th New York, Diary of An Enlisted Man(1910).

This is the first part of Chapter VIII: Port Hudson. It is a very large chapter of Alystne's book so I have broken it up into several parts. This section covers May 21 - 28, 1863, the beginning of the Siege of Port Hudson.

Hudson, La.

Good-bye Camp Parapet—Going up the river—Stop at Springfield— Landing—Before the works—Capt. Gifford missing—The first assault Stealing honey—Scared by a snake—The second assault—The " Forlorn Hope"—Captain Gifford comes back—Vicksburg surrenders—Port Hudsonfollows suit—The laying down of arms.

May 21, 1863.

WE left Camp Parapet about eight last night and marched to Carrolton, only a mile or two below camp, where we stopped in the street. Getting no further orders we, one after another, sat down and finally lay down on the cobblestone pavements and slept till morning. We then went on board a steamer, the United States, lying at the dock and found it crammed full of soldiers. We soon cut loose and started up stream, and as we passed Camp Parapet, I wondered if it would ever be our home again. Lieutenant Pierce is in command, and says Captain B. has left us to become major for a negro regiment. Some are glad and some are sorry, but all are indignant at his way of going off. Never as much as said good-bye. Sneaked off in the night, it is said, and it looks like it. Maybe he feared we would remind him of his many voluntary promises that he would never leave Company B as long as a man was left in it.

At noon I asked one of the boat crew if it was possible to buy or beg a cup of coffee and he took me to the forecastle and gave me a full dinner. Up the river we went until night and then began to look for a spot big enough to lie down on.

May 22, 1863.

Friday morning. We awoke from the little sleep we were able to get and found ourselves at anchor opposite Baton Rouge. The dropping of the anchor nearly scared the life out of me. I slept under a built up portion of the deck where the anchor chain lay coiled and when it went out it made a terrible racket. I wonder none of us were hit by it, for every space around it was occupied by a sleeping soldier. The city lies on high ground, which gave us a pretty good view of it. There seems to be a few fine buildings, but the most are small and not over two or three stories high. About 9 A. M.we went alongside the steamer Creole and got some rations, which we needed badly. We soon started, still going up stream and felt certain Port Hudson would be our next stopping-place. We stopped finally and landed in the woods. Not a foot of cleared land in sight. There are four regiments here with ours. The Sixth Michigan, Fifteenth New Hampshire and a negro regiment. Boats kept coming and unloading all the afternoon. The Indiana Mule Battery is here and it appeared to be a gathering-place for all sorts of troops. It rained most of the afternoon, but it rained warm water, so we didn't mind it. The troops all moved forward during the night, leaving only a guard for the commissary and quartermaster's stores.

May 23, 1863.

In the morning Isaac Mitchell and I set out to find the I28th. We followed the road, which was now a quagmire, but were met by an ambulance with wounded men and a cavalry guard, who told us that only an armed force could get through and that it was eight miles to where our brigade was then. We decided to wait. The wounded were put on the Sallie Robinson, to be taken to some hospital. About midnight the mortar fleet, which is farther up stream, began firing and made a noise worse than several Fourths of July. We could follow the shells by the burning fuse, which looks like a shooting star. This we see first, then hear the boom of the mortar, then the hiss of the shell through the air and last the explosion when it strikes the ground.

Sunday night. A team for the quartermaster's stores came early and we were all day getting through to the regiment. Soldiers covered the ground. I have no idea how many there were. We were near the breastworks, but a belt of timber hid our view of them. We were in a clearing maybe one-half mile square, with woods on all sides. There was a house near us, the only building in sight.

May 25, 1863.

Monday morning. We had orders to advance last night and our brigade formed in column, where we remained all night, and where we are yet. One by one we dropped down and went to sleep on the grass, where the dew soon soaked one side while the wet ground soaked the other. A man lying near me jumped up and raved around like a crazy man; he kept pawing at his ear as if in great pain. A doctor sleeping near was soon at him and found a bug had crawled into his ear. After the sun had dried us off we began to look for rations. The mail soon after came, and I had two letters. One of them contained a photograph of my dear old father and mother. I won't try to tell how rejoiced I am to have this with me. I don't think either of them ever had one taken before. Dear old couple, how glad I am they cannot see their boy and his surroundings just now!

Night. Lots of powder has been burned to-day, but Port Hudson is still there. Our brigade has been skirmishing and one of the Sixth Michigan is wounded. Roads are being cut through the woods, and everything looks and acts as if busi~ ness would soon begin. It does no good to ask questions, no one seems to know any more than I do, and I only know what goes on right close by me. Generals with their staffs are racing about, and everything is in a whirl. Evidently something is going to happen. All sorts of rumors are in the air. Human nature shows even here. Some news gatherers seem to know all about it, but I notice that what happens rarely agrees with their predictions. One of Company B, I won't write his name, is nearly scared to death. The doctor says he will die of fright if kept in the ranks. Another is nearly as badly off, and he has been the biggest brag of all; has hungered and thirsted for a chance to fight and now that he has it, has wilted. I hope he will be kept at it. I have often envied him his courage, but I shall never do it again. I don't deny that I am a coward, but I have so far succeeded in keeping it to myself. The I28th is nearest the point where the road enters the woods in the direction of the biggest noise. The skirmishers that have been down this road say it soon reaches the corner of another open field; that a house and outbuildings are on the side next the fortifications and only a short distance from them; that rebel sharpshooters are in those buildings and it is they who are picking off every man that sticks his nose out of the woods on that side. From one of the Sixth Michigan who was on the skirmish line I have such a vivid description I have mapped out what he says is about the thing.

Every now and then a shell comes tearing through the woods, and so far, in the direction of the I28th. None of them have yet burst, but from an examination I made of one, they are intended to. This one was perfectly round and painted black. A big screw head shows on one side, and is turned off smooth with the shell. It is about six inches in diameter. It hit the ground beyond us and rolled up against the foundation of the house I have mentioned and stopped. It was then I examined it.

Later. Just as I had written the above, one did burst right over Company B. The pieces, however, kept on in the same direction the shell was going and no one was hit or hurt. Such dodging though I never saw, and I didn't see all of it at that. Myself and two others were filling our canteens from a kettle of coffee which sat on the ground near a big tree. When we heard the shell coming through the tree tops we expected it would go past as all the others had done. But it burst when right over us. We all jumped for the tree, and our heads came together with a bang. The first thing I saw was stars, and the next was men all over the field dodging in every direction. This was our first experience under fire. One could not laugh at another, for so far as I could see all acted alike.

Later. They keep coming, and we dodge less and less. If they keep at it long enough I suppose we shall get used to it, as we have to a great many other things. A cavalryman went down the road marked with an arrow, and his horse has just come back without him.

Night. About 5 P. M. a detachment from another regiment and Companies A, C, H and I from ours, went down this same road, and soon the most infernal racket began. They drove the rebels out of the "Slaughter House," and set fire to every building there. (The man who owned the house is named Slaughter). Only one man was wounded, but Captain Gifford of Company A has not returned, and we fear the Rebs got him. The house near us has been taken for a hospital. From appearances we will need it. Our brigade remains where first halted, but troops of all kinds are constantly on the move about us, some going one way and some another. It is plain that a general movement is soon going to be made. It seems to me as if all of Uncle Sam's army must be here, there are so many. The I28th is only .a small affair just now. We have thought our brigade was about all there was of it, and that that was largely composed of the I28th New York. I will put up my diary, and get what sleep I can with all this confusion about me.

May 27, 1863.

Was awake early. In fact was often awake all night long. No news of Captain Gifford yet. His men have searched everywhere it is possible to go, and we think he must have been captured, just how, none of his company can imagine, for he was with them all through the squabble at the Slaughter house, and himself gave the order to fall back. Heavy firing is heard to the right and left of us. This must keep the Rebs in our front busy, for no shot or shell have yet come our way. Commissary sergeants have orders to be ready with rations all the time. It looks as if the fight would be over and the I28th have no hand in the taking of Port Hudson.

Later. The noise grows louder all the time. A general assault on Port Hudson must be what is going on, and Dow's Brigade seems to be forgotten. On the right and left, as far as sound can be heard, there is heavy artillery firing, and now and then the rattle of musket firing gets through the noise of the bigger guns.

May 28, 1863.

There was too much going on yesterday for me to write any more. Dow's Brigade was not forgotten. Soon after noon it went through the woods to the open space beyond, and was soon in the thickest of the fight. The guns in our front, that had sent us no message all the forenoon, soon began to send them rattling through the tree tops again. We noncombatants were in a terrible suspense. Finally my curiosity got the better of my fears and I started after them, for I wanted to see what a real battle was like. When I got to the cleared space I saw very little but smoke. I met a wagon with a wounded man on the seat with the driver, his face covered with blood, which ran over it from a wound on his head. He was mad clear through, and swore vengeance on the Rebs, when he got at them again. In the wagon, lying on his back, was another who was groaning terribly, but so far as I could see was not likely to die from his wounds, for only a little finger was gone from one hand, which he tenderly held up with the other. I was glad to note he did not belong to the 128th. I ventured on and came upon Sergeant Bell of Company G standing beside the dead body of Colonel


Cowles. Bell said the colonel was killed when the Rebs first opened on them, his uniform making him a marked man. Bell said he was near him when he fell and helped him to a sitting position, turning him about, as he said he wanted to die facing the enemy. Captain Keese of Company C was also near when the colonel was hit and was directed to take command. Several others lay around where they had fallen. Venturing on I came to the magnolia grove in which the Slaughter mansion stood. Company B was here, in support of a section of the Indiana Mule Battery. Having nothing to do but defend the battery, if an attempt was made to capture it, they were lying close to the ground behind the big trees. The battery was shelling the Rebs, and the Rebs were shelling the battery, and the shot or shells had furrowed the ground. The boys said Philip Allen and Sergeant Kniffin were both badly wounded, and had been taken off the field. Riley Burdick, our orderly sergeant, was missing, as were several others. I could see nothing of the rebel works for the smoke, but the noise was deafening. As it might be an all-night job, I decided to go back and try and get something for them to eat. I got back as fast as I could and with the cooks started with a big kettle of coffee and some hard-tack. We kept in the edge of the woods to a point nearest the company and at right angles to the line of fire and then I scuttled across with the coffee. After passing it around I returned for the hard-tack, and was giving them out when a shell came through, hitting the ground and throwing dirt all over us. Soon another one came, hitting a big tree a glancing blow, and went on into the woods beyond. The sergeant of the battery said he could see the flash and would sing out, which would give me time to fall before the shell got there, and I legged it for all I was worth. About halfway across he yelled, and I tried to fall, but before I hit the ground the thing was beyond me. In fact it didn't come very near me. I was going at right angles to the line of fire, and might have known they couldn't see me for the smoke, and would not waste a big shell on one man. The musket firing was on lower ground and nearer the breastworks, but I only knew by the popping of the rifles and what the boys told me, for the smoke hid everything. We got back just in time to see the doctors fix up a shattered shin bone for General Sherman. He lay on a stretcher and was talking constantly, though the doctors said he knew nothing and felt nothing. From the hole in his leg, something bigger than a bullet had gone through it. They pulled out the loose pieces of bone with pincers, taking hold and yanking at every end that showed. Then they ran their fingers in and felt for more. Finally they stuffed it full of cotton to stop the blood and then bound it up with long strips of muslin. The firing grew less and less, but the wounded came faster and faster. Colonel Cowles's body was sent under a guard to the landing, on its way to New Orleans, where it will be made ready to send home. Sergeant Bell went with it, taking his sword, watch, and other personal effects, also his dying message, "Tell my mother I died with my face to the enemy." General Dow, our brigadier, was shot in the foot and taken to the house right by us. George Story is detailed for his bodyguard. One of the boys said the Rebs began at the wrong end of the general. The dead soldiers were left where they fell. After we got settled down and the excitement began to wear off the question of something to eat came up. The boys on duty at the front would be hungry by morning, and we wondered if we couldn't find something more filling than hard-tack. John Pitcher had found out that not far away some Irish potatoes were growing and big enough to eat; also that directly behind the house where General Dow was nursing his foot was a yard with a high board fence around it, with two bloodhounds on guard inside, and that along one side of it was a bench upon which were several hives of bees, and that a gate or door in the fence opened out, and only a little way from the end of the bench. We got a rope from the quartermaster sergeant and set out. The potatoes were easy — simply had to crawl into the patch and dig with our fingers until our haversacks were full. The bees, however, were not so easy on account of the dogs. As they had barked pretty much all the time since we landed in the neighborhood, no one came from the house to see about it. We found they would follow on their side of the fence wherever we went on ours. John then went along the fence, and the dogs followed, leaving me at the gate. When they were at the farthest side, I opened the gate and having made a slipnoose in the rope, I had just time to slip it over the nearest beehive and get out before they were there. I kept still and soon John had them on his side of the yard again, when by quick work I yanked the hive through the gate and closed it before they got to me. The hive had landed on its top, and the bees and honey were all smashed together. But enough of them could crawl to make it lively for us before we got the mixture into a mess pan. We were stung several times before we got home, but we got there and all hands had a feast of hard-tack and honey. We had no way to strain the bees out, so we spread bees and honey on the hard-tack and then picked the bees off as well as we could. As it was, I got a stinger in my tongue, which soon began to swell. It kept on until I was afraid I would need a doctor and in that way give the whole thing away. But it finally stopped and by morning I was all right again. This brings us up to this morning, May 29th.

Monday, June 20, 2011

NY Times Publishes Letter on the Teche & Port Hudson Campaigns

THE SIEGE OF PORT HUDSON.; Interesting Letter from an Officer in Gen. Banks' Army. The Movement up the Atchafalaya and Down the Red River to Bayou Sara. Particulars of the Assault and Repulse.

The following entertaining private letter from an officer in Gen. BANKS' army has been handed to us for publication: It contains a rough-and-ready view of affairs, from the time the command broke camp in Western Louisiana until the close of the late battle at Port Hudson.

WILLIAMSPORT, Thursday, May 21, 1863This morning we were a waiting orders, when suddenly we were ordered to move. We hastily packed up and at 10 o'clock were off. The day was hot and dusty, and we suffered at first from it. We proceeded two miles up the Atohafalaya to its head on the Old River, where it enters from the Red River. On out way we saw three houses which had been burned by Lieut. ELLET last year, on the Queen of the West. He adopted a very simple rule. Whenever any shots were fired at his vessel from any house, he shelled it until he had demolished it. The blackened chimneys were all that remained. The Atchafalaya here is pretty wide. Soon we left it and took the Old River bank. The Old River is the old Mississippi, which once made a huge bend here; but it was cut through at the narrow neck, and the cut-off is the river, and this goes by the name of Old River. Where it enters the Mississippi the debris and mud have made a bar. In time it will entirely fill it up and thus make it a lake or pond. This filling-in is called the batteau and is everywhere formed where the river makes a cut-off in some of its great bends. Shortly afterward we left the bank of the river and entered a wood, where the water stood deep and stagnant; it extends to the bank of the Old River. It ran so until we came to a new and very high levee. The old one had broken and overflowed the country, so the people had made this, and as the road was gone we took the top of the levee. It was pretty ticklish. It is not as wide as a wagon. Our artillery would now and then tip over and then we had great times in righting it. It took us three hours to go three miles with ten Parrott-guns. When going thus we made a long halt at Red River Landing. It is where the Red River, the Old River and the true Mississippi all join. The flagship Hartford was lying in sight. The village of Red River Landing consists of a store and a house; the house had its front caved in during the time the levee burst, and hence settled about six feet in front. It consequently looked like a house tipped over. We examined the store; it was kept by a Secesh woman. Her husband had fled to the woods. She had no stock except butter, and that she would sell for Confederate money only. We laughed at this idea and bought her out, telling her we were willing to pay her pound for pound. She was very indignant, and said her money would be good long after ours was. A terrible rain-storm now came up. The wind blew with its tropical fury, and we all wrapped ourselves into our india-rubber blankets and trudged on through it. I had to hold on my blankets with one hand and the horse with the other. He was very much disposed to rush through at a heavy pace. I restrained him. After a couple of hours the rain stopped and we had a fine marching time, no more dust, no more heat. We continued down the bank, and at 4 o'clock encamped at Williamsport, making about nineteen miles in our march. The Colonel and myself called on an Episcopal minister to find out the distances in this country. He was a Welchman and very much of a book worm, he knew many of my acquaintances. He seems to be a very good fellow. He was in favor of things as they were, but yielded to the current of events and floats down with them. He does not indorse Bishop POLK's course. We are pretty tired and will retire quite early, to resume our march at 5 o'clock to-morrow morning.

THREE MILES FROM PORT HUDSON, Saturday, May 23, 1863.

We Have had a pretty hard time of it, but are now at striking distance from the enemy. Yesterday morning at 5 o'clock we took up our encampment and matched about ten miles to a place just beyond what is called "the village." It consisted of some small plantations owned by half-breeds or mulattoes. They all owned slaves, are said to be strong Pro-Slavery men and Secesh. However, several were very desirous of taking the oath of allegiance, and so the Judge-Advocate of our division and myself concocted an oath and swore them. We made it quite as strong as the usual one could be, but as we did not learn that, used this extempore one. We made them swear good and strong, and then went on our way rejoicing. They will now have to go us stoutly, as the rebs will hang them if they catch them. The niggers tell us they are all a hard set and cannot be trusted. We find the genuine negro hates the yellow man, as he is very hard as a master. We had a pretty easy march. When we reached the river we found three steamers to take us down to Bayou Sara. We had but a few minutes rest when we took the steamers and our brigades were soon steaming down the Mississippi. On our way down we took our dinners, and in about an hour and a half we reached Bayon Sara. Landing here, we were in a place consisting of four houses still standing and the ruins of fifteen or twenty more. Commodore PORTER was here last August, and as the guerrillas fired upon him he gave them fair warning not to fire again, or he would burn down the town. That night the guerrillas fired upon his steamers, wounding a man. The next morning PORTER burned down Bayou Sara. The walls of the brick buildings are still standing, and likewise the foundations of the wooden ones. Bayou Sara is a little bayou running in there, and the village took its name from it. It is at the foot of a bluff. On the top of the bluff is another village, which is called St. Francisville. On our landing, we saw a lady waving her handkerchief to us. The Colonel and myself called on her. She was very friendly, and said she had never been so happy in her life; that she was a Northerner.(?) She was born in Missouri, and had been insulted as a Northerner, an Abolitionist, &c., &c. I had a very fine fall; finally we were obliged to leave, and soon we formed our line of march toward Port Hudson. In the meanwhile a storm broke out, and for two hours raged with all the violence of a Louisiana storm. We started as it commenced, knowing that it was necessary to be in communication with Gen. GROVER, who had gone by boat to Bayou Sara from Semmesport. We were drenched to the skin in a few minutes. I had no overcoat, so I wrapped my india-rubber blanket around me. My long top-boots soon filled up, and I was in a delightful state. On the way, an old negro woman said that some soldiers were in the back part of her house with a quantity of Louisiana rum, So we proceeded to put a guard over it, broke up six barrels of rum, and arrested a lot of soldiers. We then called at a house where a lady desired very much to see an officer. She told us she was a widow; that her daughter (now dead) had married a son of Gov. WICKLIFFE, of Kentucky, a Unionist, who had been arrested; she wished us to procure his discharge. We told her we could do nothing for her; so left her, and on inquiring about WICKLIFFE, found that he was a rebel and strong sympathizer with secession. It was very singular, in my opinion, that Gov. WICKLIFFE's son could be other than either a Copperhead or a Secessionist. We had very little differently in determining to do nothing in the matter. Meanwhile, we would climb up hills almost perpendicular. If Port Hudson is as steep as these, it will be impossible to take it by storm. However, we are informed that on one side the approach is nearly level. There we have a very fine place to attack. For five miles we passed through a long hedge of roses about ten feet in height. We have had a long march, and finally hailed at a sugar-factory, where we [???]aid for the night. We were tired, wet, cold and hungry. The general officer of the day posted his pickets for the night, and finally I had a chance to go to our headquarters in a small hut where was a fire burning which we had had made for us. At 6 o'clock we were off, and alter three miles march. [???]ook up our present position on the north side of Part Hudson. We are in a strong position to prevent the enemy's escape. However we have great fear that they may cut, through Gen. GROVER. Two attempts have already been made by them without success to get out, and as I write this we hear the roar of artillery and musketry about two miles off. We regard it as a feint to distract us while they will cut at us here. We are ready for them. The splendid victory of Gen. GRANT at Raymond, taking six thousand prisoners and seventy-two guns, inspirits our army, and when the enemy hear of it must dispirit them in an equal ratio.

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I had a view of the famous nine hundred cavalry, under Col. GRIERSON, who made the raid, to-day. Our men cheered them as they passed. They are a splendid set of men, and I should like to command them in a charge. We had a good dinner to-day, thanks to an old negro woman, who insisted on my taking it, as we were "down here freeing her." She spoke with a hearty feeling against her Massa CHAMBERS. She says she loves us. I paid her, as she was too poor to give away anything. This letter is written on an old stool in a cane-field and in the midst of our brigade. I have not as comfortable a writing desk as I might desire, but it does very well in the absence of a better.

In the fight of day before yesterday the One Hundred and Sixteenth New-York fought with great bravery. It held its own against a very superior force until the rest of Col. CHAPIN's brigade came up, when the enemy were driven back into Port Hudson. The fight was a sharp one for a time. The works in front of us are said not to be very formidable. A negro, who was working on them to Sunday last, says they are not strong on this side. The ditch is not over breast deep, and the embankment breast high. If so we can take it by an assault, after giving them a good artillery raking so as to silence their heavy guns. Our brigade has with it Capt. MACK's battery, six 20-pounder Parrotts, and Capt. DURYEA's battery, six 6-pounders. The Parrotts can rake them at a distance of two miles and the others give them grape at a mile distance.

SUNDAY MORNING, May 24, 1863.

We rose quite early this morning, and had an early breakfast. Last night we were posted in order of battle, rather expecting that the enemy would attempt to escape by cutting through our lines; consequently, we had a line so placed that if they attempted to cut through our division, our brigade could give them grape from the guns, four of them 20-pounders, while four regiments, from behind a dense hedge, would give them musketry. It would have crushed any column that attempted it. The night passed without an attack.

BEFORE PORT HUDSON, Monday, at Sunrise.

We have just got up, and are awaiting orders for an advance to attempt the approaches to the enemy's works. Yesterday we advanced a mile and a half to Sandy Creek, a short distance the other side of which are the enemy's out-works. Our brigade was afterward ordered back to cover a road where it was feared the enemy might escape. Lieut.-Col. FOSTER took ten cavalry men and made a reconnoissance down it to see where it led to, and how dangerous it might be. With his escort close in band he rode two miles and a half, and then found it made so devious a course that it would be almost certain destruction for them to attempt to escape by that route, so he placed four vedettes on the extreme point almost in the enemy's works and returned. Here there was a rebel with his whole family. They were very indignant because yesterday morning, as some of our men were passing that same road they were fired on, and our soldiers gave them the very welcome assurance that if it happened again they would have their buildings burned down. They said that it was outrageous. They were told that if their own men were to find a family here who talked in favor of the Union as freely as they did of the South they would hang them in their door-way. They did not seem to understand the parallelism of the cases. They think the Unionists have no rights, except to guard the rebel property. We gave them a very lucid account of our policy, and then told them all the news, to let them enjoy it. There was a man and wife and three daughters. The sons were in the rebel army. The man said he had not voted for either side. We told him that was whipping the devil around the stump; that the open rebel had more manliness, and commanded some respect, while the sneak was nobody. We left him, telling him that if any more shots were received from the direction of his house, he must expect to see it in ashes, and he and his family would have to look out for other quarters. The man and wife both expressed their hope that the war would soon end. We told them they might expect it before this year was out; that they were nearly or quite played out, and we expected to employ the Summer in polishing them off. We took a position at the junction of Thompson's Creek and Great Sandy Creek. A few boats are up Thompson's Creek, and GRIERSON, with his famous cavalry, have gone after them. We must take or destroy them, as they could use them for bridges to make their escape. Yesterday Gen. GROVER's division advanced, but the enemy opened on our line so sharp a fire, that he fell back. Gen. AUGUR came to his rescue, and soon disabled two of the enemy's guns, compelling them in turn to retire. We had more of the details of Thursday's fight. It seems that the Forty-eighth Massachusetts were hotly pressed, and fell back. Two 20-pound Parrott guns were lost. The One Hundred and Sixteenth New-York charged them, and recaptured the guns. They say the spot our division is to try is the hardest of the whole works to take. That nature has done everything for it. We are to climb up a very steep bank, through which run gullies and streams. They expect us to storm it.

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In a few days the whole question of who are to be the victors will be decided. Gen. DWIGHT is above us, and we fear they will put us in the reserve, so that we will not get a chance to do much, unless we are repulsed.

TUESDAY, May 26, 1863.

A mile from Port Hudson, in the enemy's intrenchments.

Here we are working slowly into Port Hudson, and for a moment there is a full, awaiting the conjoined attack on the other side. Yesterday we received orders to advance, and went up a mile, and were left as a reserve to the First brigade, and there remained for orders. Meanwhile I learned that the One Hundred and Seventy-fifth regiment had arrived somewhere on our lines, and received permission to hunt them up. Mounting a small creole pony which JOHN had procured, I rode around our lines to the Baton Rouge road, and not finding them, or hearing from them, took the Bayou Sara road and rode down to Bayou Sara, passing Gen. WEITZEL's brigade on the march to our advance, and made all the inquiries about the regiment. I have no doubt that they are across the river, about six miles from the ferry, and will probably arrive to-day. Then I returned to our old camp, pretty well knocked up with a thirty-mile ride. Arriving there, I found our brigade had advanced toward the works of the enemy. I found JOHN, changed my pony for my pony for my large black, and rode on the field, finding that we had a sharp skirmish. Our division had advanced in the woods, keeping up a very severe firing, and steadily driving the enemy before us. They had fought pretty well, and we had not escaped. Dismounting, I advanced to the front, in the line of skirmishers. The firing was pretty sharp. The left of the Thirty-first Massachusetts had carried two small abattis, behind which their sharpshooters were placed. At the second one they came near taking a 12-pounder -- the enemy drove off with it, closely followed by the left company, under Lieut. MORSE. They were within ten rods of it, but the enemy whipped up their horses and escaped. The One Hundred and Thirty-third New-York relieved the Thirty-first Massachusetts, and I accompanied them. They could not find the Thirty-first, and I advanced alone, with my revolver in hand, through the gully, and found that the Thirty-first was there. I then was returning when they hailed me, and were about firing on me when I hailed them or, and told them who I was. Finally they were posted, and the Thirty-first Massachusetts drawn in, when an incident occurred which convinced me that very great prudence is necessary. The One Hundred and Thirty-third's left rested on the Port Hudson road, and in front of us, and about twenty rods in advance was a work covering their road. Suddenly five men appeared, then advancing. Had the pickets understood themselves, they would have let them advanced and taken them prisoners. Instead of that they challenged and fired. One fired back and the five skedaddled. Instantly our pickets fired in every direction and ran. In attempting to stop them I was knocked down, and had my clothes torn generally. After a while they rallied. The One Hundred and Seventy-fourth New-York in reserve, in the rear of the Fifty-third Massachusetts, and just to the left of the One Hundred and Thirty-third, hearing their firing, fired without orders, killing two and wounding three of the Fifty-third. Finally, when all was quiet, and everybody promised to do better I left and came back to our headquarters, and had my dinner at 11 o'clock P.M., and in a few minutes was sound asleep. This morning I was up at 4 o'clock, and in the advance again. Our men were all in the same position as last night. I had no trouble in finding them, and from prisoners taken learn that less than half a mile are a line of breastworks not very high, commanded by ten field pieces and a Parrott gun. They have had all their men massed on our front, believing that here is their only vulnerable point. Our forces are distributed as follows: Gen. SHERMAN, with his division, on the Baton Rouge side of Port Hudson, and extending to the Mississippi on that side; Gen. AUGUR, on SHERMAN's right, extending east of Port Hudson to Gen. GROVER, who connects with us. We have the extreme right, and consist of Gen. EMORY's division, and Gen. WEITZEL and Gen. DWIGHT's brigades, all under Gen. WEITZEL. We expect to have SHERMAN, AUGUR, and GROVER attack when we will push on. We have in the army seventy pieces of artillery, and the sound will be immense, especially as it will be echoed in the woods. Meanwhile, we are awaiting the moment for the ball to commence. If successful, we may be in Port Hudson in a day. Our dead are now being buried near me. It is a mournful sight. The rebels probably suffered more than we did. I find that they do not shoot as carefully as we do. They fire ball and buck, which make ugly wounds, but the buck seldom kills, hence our wounded bear a greater proportion to the killed than theirs do. In the Thirty-first, they have lost six killed and perhaps twenty wounded, while we find a dozen dead rebels, who lie where the Thirty-first were fighting, showing at least two killed to our one at this place. One of them they tell me is a Mason. I shall go and see the body. Meanwhile, before I am too busy for that I shall take a final look at the field.

WEDNESDAY, May 27, 1863.

(Page 4 of 6)

Same position as yesterday, We lay on our arms all yesterday. We had supposed the charge would be made, but some parts of regiments were delayed in coming up, and so the general attack was postponed until this morning. The order of attack is as follows: The left, under Gen. SHERMAN, to make a fierce attack to compel the enemy to send a portion of his force there to meet it, meanwhile his artillery playing very heavily; Gen. AUGUR and Gen. GROVER on the centre with their heavy artillery, and we to make the real attack. Our right is to be the extreme right, under Gen. DWIGHT, with two black regiments to storm the works. They to be supported by MACK's Parrott battery; Gen. WEITZEL the right centre, with his own brigade to storm at the same moment, we to be in the second line. They expect to take the first line of works, and then fall back on our division, who will take the second line, and Port Hudson will be captured. The plan is a good one. But there are so many chances in war, that we may be totally defeated by evening, and perhaps prisoners. I have much confidence that we will enter in several places, perhaps we will make a general race for the first entry. Give me but a good chance and I will try and get in myself. There is a cessation at present. It is the pause of changing pickets preparatory to the final attack. Good bye. If successful I shall continue this in Port Hudson.


Same position as yesterday. We have had a very hard and bloody battle, and have not yet reached Port Hudson. Yesterday morning the ball was opened by the center of DWIGHT and WEITZEL charging on the first outworks, and after a severe engagement they took them. The enemy retired, taking with him his artillery, and after severe skirmishing retired to his second line, where he made a desperate stand. Our artillery played on him and was answered by his own. The Seventy-fifth New-York, Eighth New-Hampshire and Ninety-first New-York, were engaged in driving them in, being supported by the whole of EMORY's division. After driving them into the intrenchments, they advanced the skirmishers, and finally made a desperate charge, carrying the second line and driving the enemy to his last line. This was all up a hill, nearly perpendicular, and the enemy had cut down trees to lay across the river, making it so much the more dangerous, from the very slow pace at which it was necessary to charge. The artillery was meanwhile pouring in grape. The brigade entered less than half its original strength. EMORY's division, meanwhile, led by Gen. PAINE, were under the same severe fire, being the supports. They suffered very much. Our men now began to move upon the rifle pits before the last line. The fire was so heavy as to stagger them, and for a time no headway was made. A battery on the enemy's left was firing on our flanks, completely enveloping us with the fire. For an hour we stood it, losing immensely, when WEITZEL sent to GROVER for reinforcements. GROVER, in an hour, came with his division and supported us, relieving those regiments who were most cut up. After giving them ammunition another charge was made, carrying the rifle pits and the ditch in front of the last works. The works themselves they could not carry. Time and time again it was attempted, but when the heads appeared over the parapet they were met by a volley which mowed them down. We sent now to AUGUR for reinforcements, and Gen. DUDLEY came in with his brigade. A last charge was made and failed. Meanwhile a, little to the right, a part of our brigade advanced until they too were before the last works, but a bayou here jutted in front and prevented a movement, as sounding with poles showed six feet of water. Here their sharpshooters were very effective. If a man showed his head in sight he was picked off. On their extreme right the two negro regiments advanced over the bayou on a pontoon bridge, and advanced toward the enemy's works. They found them almost perpendicular to a bayou twenty feet across and seven deep in front. A fire of musketry opened from the top of the bluff and from the rifle-pits all the way down. The fire was supported by their batteries; one of them, the heavy one used to shell our gunboats on the river. Their Colonel showed me one eight-inch and one ten-inch shell which had been thrown in on them. They stood up nobly, out it was impossible to cross the bayou, and a retreat was ordered. Slowly they fell back -- the enemy not daring to follow them. Hearing our heavy fire, another charge was made, and another and a fourth with a like result. They could not get across the bayou. DWIGHT meanwhile ordered them to take the battery. They failed. Col. GOODING was now ordered by DWIGHT to go to them and try and take it. He went over and found the two regiments could not muster over 900 men. Col. GOODING was satisfied that they could not take the work, for the reason that the bayou as effectually restrained them from attempting it as if it was the Mississippi itself. He communicated his orders, however, and a fifth charge was made with a like result. They stood like veterans, and were mown down, and finally a retreat was ordered, which was made as if by old soldiers.

(Page 5 of 6)

I find that many sneerers are very polite to Col. NELSON, of the Third Louisiana. They have to admit that no regiment behaved better than they did. They never staggered under a fire from a superior force and batteries of the largest guns known to warfare. On the left, Gen. SHERMAN made an attack and was repulsed, being wounded in his leg with a solid shot, He will propably survive it. Gen. ANDREWS, Chief of Gen. Banks' Staff, assumed his command, Gen. AUGUR also made an attack, and was likewise repulsed in the final work, alter taking the outworks and a number of prisoners. On the whole, during the day we lost many men and failed to take the real works of the enemy, capturing but four guns, and they field pieces. I judge we will hardly make another attack like that of yesterday.

An interesting episode occurred during the afternoon fight. Suddenly the firing ceased, and it was announced that a flag of truce had been sent in. We all thought they had surrendered, and very few regretted it. All had had enough fighting. It turned [???] that a Ma[???]ar of a new-Hampshire regiment had put up his handkerchief for a flag of truce to inquire about his killed. The enemy seized the pretext and hung out one, pretending to inquire what was wanted -- really to relieve their exhausted men. It took over an hour to find out what the mistake was. The firing then was resumed and continued until night, when it ceased, almost completely, by mutual consent, both parties holding the position they had held at the commencement of the flag of truce. I lost many friends. Col. CHAPIN. One Hundred and Sixteenth New-York, was killed at the hand of his brigade; Col. RODMAN at the head of his regiment. RODMAN was my most intimate friend. We had bid each other good-bye just before going into battle, jesting on our last words; little did we dream that it was to be our last meeting [???]live. Capt. HUBBARD and Lieut. ROMANOWSKY of Gen. WEITZEL's Staff, were both killed. We had taken a drink together from my canteen but an hour before. They were men of the finest talents, and must have made their marks wherever they had lived. Quite a number of my friends were wounded. Fortunately, I was not touched. My position is much exposed, being mounted, and yet is all the safer for that reason. It is like shooting on the wing. We had our headquarters on the field, and were sound asleep soon after the close of the battle. About 2 in the morning we were awakened by a heavy shower of grape, which flew around us. It seems that the Ninety-first New-York commenced shooting at the enemy's pickets, and they answered by a shower of grape. Unhappily, both Gen. WEITZEL and Col. GOODING's headquarters were in range, and the grape whistled over our heads, but no one of us was hurt. Gen. WEITZEL, however, had a ball strike in the tree, a root of which served him for a pillow, and not more than a couple of feet from his head. In the morning we examined our forces, and gave them the necessary instructions about lying down. &c., and cautions against unnecessary exposure. About 9 o'clock the firing began to slacken, and shortly after ceased. We went to Gen. WEITZEL for the news, and found that Gen. BANKS had sent a flag of truce, proposing a cessation until 2 o'clock, to allow us to bury our dead, and pick up our wounded. We then went to the Negro brigade to cut a road between them and our brigade, and to see whether we could not silence the battery which had so annoyed them. I cut my way through, and ascending the trees in the neighborhood, had a good idea of our position. I met Gen. ANDREWS evidently reconnoitering. He looked thoughtful. I fancy he fears we will have to turn this into a siege, and starve the rebels out. They are much stronger than we supposed the number we expected to meet. I have had many hairbreadth escapes, and do not hesitate to say I do not desire a continuation of the scenes of yesterday. Two Colonels, who were in the seven days' fight at Antietam, say they never saw a more severe fire than the second hour's work at the right centre. We were in the centre of the cross-fire. You may imagine my position. The cracking of limbs around me; the whizzing of balls and shell; seeing the mangled wounded and dead, made such a horrid and sickening sight that, but for the excitement and hope of victory, I should have vowed I would never go into another battle. It we take Port Hudson, it will finish the Campaign here. It is now 5 o'clock, and a solitary roar tells me the time has expired, and I must go to the front. Again good-bye.

(Page 6 of 6)

MAY 28. -- Same position as yesterday. Our truce was yesterday extended until 7 o'clock, and then we went at it again. But we had improved our opportunities; had a good line of fortifications run up to protect our guns and sharpshooters. The sharpshooters are protected by rifle pits, our guns by a breastwork composed of cotton bales faced with earth. We saw the enemy improving their time and so did we. When the firing commenced again, we had a very strong line of sharpshooters, and it was plain they could not drive us. They tried it on the First Louisiana (white) and were repulsed. Our brigade has a skirt of hill level with the enemy's works -- between us is a deep gully and a small bayou. We could easily storm it if we could afford the loss of life. I made a reconnoisance along our right, and have found a place where a storming party might carry the works. We are debating whether to try it. The colored brigade will probably try it. We expect to have 10,000 men from GRANT in a few days. Meanwhile the enemy's rations are giving out. They cannot fight and fast. Report says that we have killed Gen. BEALS, second in command. It may be false. We hare suffered very severely. GOVERNEUR CARR was shot at the head of his regiment, as was also Col. SMITH. They do not give us the names of minor officers.

Before closing, I will say that I do not expect any more fighting. I think both sides are tired of it, and the affair will be turned into a siege.

We can starve them one in a short time, if our means of information prove correct.

I had an opportunity of witnessing the bravery of the Third Louisiana (colored) regiment. They fought with great desperation, and carried all before them. They had to be restrained for fear they would get too far in unsupported. They have shown that they can and will fight well. I hope the Copperheads will now stop their abuse.

Our army fought with great bravery and determination; but we were unable to storm their works without too great loss of life. Our brave and gallant commander will soon, I trust, be able to announce the capture of Port Hudson, which will practically end the war in Louisiana.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Eunice Rotary Club Speaking

I was the guest speaker yesterday at the Eunice Rotary Club. It was my pleasure to give a presentation on my book Louisianians in the Western Confederacy. We had a lively crew on hand and entertained some great questions. I really enjoyed myself and I'm looking forward to going back again sometime.

One of the members of the Rotary took a short video of my presentation and posted it on his YouTube account. Its about 2 minutes long.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Confederate Snow Ball Fight at Dalton

This article really doesn't mention Louisiana soldiers specifically but it is a great write up about a massive snow ball battle at Dalton, Ga. in January of 1864. The Army of Tennessee was recuperating from its disaster at Missionary Ridge in late November. Reflecting the psychological recovery of the Army of Tennessee were the frequent snow ball fights the men engaged in. This is from the New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 8, 1902. Enjoy!!!

The Delta Rifles, Part V

This is the fifth posting of John McGrath's account of the Delta Rifles of the 4th Louisiana Infantry. The author briefly served as a Sergeant in the company before being elected a Lieutenant in the 13th Louisiana Infantry. This account of The Deltas appeared on February 10, 1922 of the Woman's Enterprise.

The Delta Rifles
The First Hardships Faced; First Loss of Life;
A Mess of Fish; Drunken Soldiers and Social Entertainments

The trip from Camp Moore to New Orleans was uneventful and tiresome. It was when placed aboard an old wreck of a steamboat, the Greg Cloud for passage to Mississippi City the Deltas experienced the first hardships. The boat had been out of commission for years and with the exception of the hull, which had been sufficiently repaired to keep her afloat, all other parts were in most ruinous condition. The upper or cabin deck was so open that daylight could be seen between every beam and as rain came down in torrents while on our way, every soldier of the company was drenched as if outdoors. The Deltas were quartered in the cabin while another company was on the lower or boiler deck. The last named was the most fortunate as the floor of the cabin deck protected its men from the downpour.

It was while on this boat the first loss of life occurred. Among the soldiers of East and West Baton Rouge, the victim being Lieutenant A. J. Bird, of the company from Brusly Landing. Lieutenant Bird remained with his men on the boiler deck and sometime during the night stepped off into the lake, there being no railing along the sides of the boat.

His absence was not noted until morning and his fate really unknown until his body was found some days after. Lieutenant Bird, a son of a wealthy planter of West Baton Rouge, was one of the most popular officers of the Fourth Regiment, and one who notwithstanding, was ready and willing and did partake of the hardships and inconveniences faced by the privates of his company and it was for this reason that he declined to leave his mean and quarter with the other officers in the dryest [sic] part of the boat he lost his young and useful life.

The Grey Cloud was slower than a snail and it was not until the afternoon of the second day we arrived at Mississippi City and in the meantime we had nothing to satisfy the craving for hunger. We had prepared rations before leaving Camp Moore consisting of hard tack and boiled bacon, both contained in open barrels and set on the forward deck bu the downpour of rain lasting several hours made loblolly of the bread and made the bacon appear as if soaked in the lake a week or more, and the boys would not eat the watersoaked stuff. Surely we were getting a fore taste of what was to come. We were learning that a soldier's life was not altogether a matter of dress parade, reviews, blaring bands and waving flags.

About noon old Sol broke out in all its refulgent splendor and after a trip of 24 hours the warf at Mississippi City was reached to the delegate of the water-soaked soldiers. Wet, hungry and weary by being penned up on an overcrowded boat, the boys nevertheless with slight complaint assisted the boat's crew in landing our camp equipage and were then marched to the place selected for the encampment, leaving me to superintend the loading of wagons employed for the purpose.

Noticing on the wharf a fishing line and a lot of shrimp some one had left, perhaps a guest at the hotel, i started in to catch my supper while awaiting the return of the wagons. Fish were biting eagerly and rapidly, so by the time the last load was starting camp ward, I had a long string of sea trout with them I intended to treat two or three of our Kid Soldiers. Reaching camp, I found the tents pitched and fires burning and calling to the youngster, "Here, Charley, Marty, Time, come clean fish while I rend out some pork and I'll give you a treat." This they refused to do declaring they would rather go hungry than clean fish. "Well, go hungry, you lazy little devils," said I, and performing the work myself, it was not long until I had a large dish of fried fish, all to myself.

It seems when the company arrived at the grounds they found rations prepared in advance of their arrival and hunger was fully appeased. Nevertheless, when I began my feast the youngsters sat around my fire gazing loengfully while I feasted.

"Say, Sergeant," said one, "you can't eat all those fish give us some."

"What I can't eat, I'll throw away you trifling scamps," I replied.

"Oh, give me a fish, Sergeant," was urged by one and all.

I intended all the tim to share with them and did so after a while, much to their gustatory satisfaction.

The day after our arrival, a small cabin was constructed in which to store medical supplies, the custodianship of which was in the hands of Dr. Marshal Pope, and it had scarcely been finished when three or four mean of the National Guards of Baton rouge, Company A of the Fourth Regiment, appeared in camp fighting and howling drunk. To confine them in tents would be useless as they could not be held there so the surgeon's shack was converted into a prison and that, too, without removing the medical stores.

Among the several boxes and packages of Dr. Pope's hospital supplies was a case of cognac brandy which the prisoners discovered while throwing and breaking and tearing open the goods and of this brandy, the rookies not only drank in surprisingly large quantity, but shoved several bottles through an opening between the roof and top plate to comrades on the outside causing more drunkenness and more prisoners.

The result of this spree was that orders were issued that the men of the four companies in that encampment were confined to quarters with passes suspended. Of course, discontent became general as innocent parties could not understand why they should be punished for the misdeeds of others.

It was not for punishment, however, that we were kept close in hand, but from the fact that the Massachusetts, a Federal War Ship, lay off Ship Island, the boats of from which often appeared out in the bay as if about to raid somewhere along the coast and it was to prevent a landing we were kept near our rifles.

To compensate in a measure for our close confinement the Deltas were recipients of many social favors extended by Louisianians summering along the coast and quite often the company as a body, armed and equipped, headed by our captain was marched to the one of the homes where we were royally entertained, a social recognition tending to excite jealousy on the part of the soldiers of other companies not so favored.

To be continued...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Van Alystne's Diary, Part IV

We continue with the diary of Lawrence Van Alystne was part of Co. B, 128th New York Infantry. His regiment was assigned to Louisiana in December of 1862. The 128th New York served in our state until July 1864, when it was transferred to Virginia. Van Alystne put together a book that included his diary he kept while serving in the 128th New York, Diary of An Enlisted Man(1910).

Camp Parapet, La.

Captain Bostwick gets married—In the hospital at last—Good care and treatment—The slow process of getting well—The Ponchatoula trip— Mosquitoes and alligators.

February n, 1863.

JUST at night, as I had finished the above, the Laurel Hill, the boat that brought us from quarantine to Chalmette, tied up in front of camp and down came our tents and on board we went. We came up the river past New Orleans and between that city and Algiers, which is quite a large place on the left hand shore. New Orleans seems a big city, but lies as low as the river. A high dock all along its front is built up with timber and is so high only the upper parts of the buildings show from the river. No streets are seen at all. We also passed a place called Carrolton and very soon after landed at what is said to be Camp Parapet. There are no tents near the river but there are thousands a short distance back. The outskirts of Carrolton come close up on the down river side, while the up river side has a high bank reaching from the river back as far as I can see. Beyond that is an unexplored country (to me), and away in the distance appears to be just such a forest as was in sight back of Camp Chalmette. A good-looking dwelling house and a few small buildings are near by and the ground is tramped bare of all vegetation, as if soldiers had just moved away. We came down the Levee and put up our tents and crawled in, for it was night by that time. We have had some rain and some sunshine, but the weather is warm and altogether I like our present place of abode the best of any we have yet had since we left Camp Millington. Another case of smallpox has developed, but he was hustled to a tent way back of camp and I suppose our arms will have to be pricked again. Mine looks as if a setting hen had picked it now. Miss Kate Douglass, from Amenia Union, came to camp yesterday and Captain Bostwick and several officers have gone to the city with her. Report says the captain and she are to be married to-night. Six months in the service and I have so far been only an expense to Uncle Sam. But I have seen something of the big farm the Rebs hope to rob him of and I hope I may yet do something to put him in full possession of it again. Letters from home, also one from Walter Loucks, who is in the hospital at New Orleans.

February 16, 1863.

In the hospital after all. Dr. Andrus came last night to our tent and ordered me into the house I spoke of. I had a warm, dry bed and a good night's rest and feel much better to-day. The doctor has his office downstairs and the upstairs part is crammed full of sick men. A big tent is being put up and cot beds put in to put the fever patients in. Captain Bostwick was married last night, so it is said. Corporal Knox died in a fit this afternoon. It tires me to write so I must stop. Good-night.

February 20, 1863.

Captain Bostwick came to see me to-day. Two men died last night, one in the hospital and the other in his tent. I don't feel as well to-day.

February 21, 1863.

Think I am really better to-day. If I keep on I'll soon be out of this and with the boys again. But they all come in to see the sick as often as they can and so we keep track of each other.

March 4, 1863.

Wednesday. I have been very sick. This is the first time I have felt able to make a mark with a pencil. I was taken in the night, after the day I thought myself so much better. Was taken out in the tent, from which I judge I have had fever.

March 5,

Am very weak yet. A little tires me out. A letter from Herman just a month old. Coon died last night, but we none of us knew it till we saw him carried out.

March 6, 1863. Getting better fast, but can't write much yet.

March 7, 1863.

Was carried back into the house to-day and put among the convalescents. I must be getting well, but it is slow. Most all the time I was worst off Dr. Andrus let me have anything I wanted to eat, but then I couldn't eat it. Now I can eat, he has cut me down to nothing. What he allows me only makes me crazy for more.

March 8, 1863.

Had a wash and a shave and am tired out. The regiment has marching orders. Wish I was out of this to go with them.

March p, 1863.

Gunboats are said to be going up the river every day. I wonder what's up.

March 10, 1863.

Don't feel quite so smart as I did. This getting well is slow business.

March n, 1863.

The boys say they are ready to march, but don't get any further orders. Letters from home. Have written to father — wish I could see him.

March 14, 1863. Not feeling so good these last few days.

March 15, 1863.

Sunday. Have my pants on and have made up my bed. If this keeps on I'll soon be able to hunt for something to eat.

March 16,

Ben Crowther is awful sick. He is a fine fellow and we hate to lose him. He is of better stuff than the average of us. I wish I could kill his nurse, for he has him tied down to the bed and stands laughing at his efforts to get loose. But it is the only way to keep him in one place, for he is out of his head. Talks to his wife as if she was right by his side.

March 17, 1863.

Last night I got a little box from home. That I may never forget a single thing in it I'll put them right down now. On top was a New York Sun, next a dear little letter from Jane. A little package of tea, a bottle of Arnold's Balsam, a pipe, a comb (wish it had been a fine tooth comb), a little hand looking-glass, a spool of thread, a lot of buttons, a good lead pencil, a pair of scissors, a ball of soap, half a paper of pins, a darning needle and a small needle, a steel pen and way down in the bottom a little gold locket which made the tears come. God bless the dear ones at home. How thoughtful and how kind of them to think of so many things, and all useful, too.

March 18, 1863.

Too much excitement yesterday and I feel like two weeks ago. The doctor says I will have these setbacks though and it is only a part of the process of getting well. A man named Kipp died to-day. I don't know how many die out in the tent.

March 19, 1863.

Poor Crowthers died very peacefully about noon to-day. His cot is next mine and he seemed like one of the family to me. The company has undertaken to raise money to send his body home.

March 20, 1863.

Orderly Holmes is very sick. His discharge is under his pillow (or knapsack). He lies in a room next to this and I can hear him talk, giving orders to the company as if he were well.

March 21, 1863.

Saturday. This is a hard spot to get well in. Two poor fellows are near their end to all appearances, and it is trying to hear then rave about home and their families. I am glad their friends cannot see and hear them. And yet the hardened wretches called nurses find something in it to laugh at. I wish I could change places between them and the sick ones. Wrote three letters to-day and don't feel so very tired. Begin to think Dr. Andrus was right. If he would only let me eat about four times as much, what a jewel he would be.

March 26, 1863.

Thursday. The finest morning yet. The air is just right. The birds are singing, the sun shining bright and everything seems just right for getting well. A man named Barker died last night about midnight. He has seemed to be dying for week and we have watched to see him breathe his last any minute. Orderly Holmes is better and may get well after all. Some of the boys killed an alligator to-day and cooked and ate his tail. They say it is just as good as fish and looked like fish.

March 27, 1863.

Have been downstairs. My legs just made out to get me there and back. Will they ever get strong again? But I am getting there, slow but sure, as I can see by looking back only a short time.

March 28, 1863.

Another fine day, and another trip downstairs. My legs behaved better this time. Am not near so tired. Now that I can write without getting tired I must put down some things I remember, but which I could not write at the time. I shall always remember them of course, but I want to see how near I can describe them on paper. First I want to say how very kind my comrades have been all through. I can think of many acts of kindness now that I paid little attention to then, but they kept coming along just the same. Whatever else I think of, the thought of their care for me and how they got passes and tramped miles to get me something to eat, always taking it to Dr. Andrus first to see if it would do for me—these thoughts keep coming up and my load of gratitude keeps getting heavier. Can I ever repay them? God has been good to me, better than I deserve. I was first taken to the room where I am now writing. I remember but little of what happened before I was taken out and put in the big hospital tent. It is a large affair, made up of several tents joined together endwise and wide enough for two rows of cots along the side, with an alley through the middle, towards which our feet all pointed.

I remember the head medical man coming through every day or so and the doctors would take him to certain cots, where they would look on the fellows lying there and put down something in a book. I soon noticed that most always such a one died in a short time, and I watched for their coming to my cot. One day they did, and I remember how it made me feel. Dr. Andrus was so worked down that a strange doctor was in charge, but under Dr. Andrus, who had charge over all. When he came through I motioned to him and he came and sat on the next cot, when I told him I would get well if I could get something good to eat. "All right," said he, "what will you have?" I told him a small piece of beefsteak. He sent one of the nurses to his mess cook and he soon came back with a plate and on it a little piece of steak which he prepared to feed me. But the smell was enough and I could not even taste it. The doctor then proceeded to eat it, asking if I could think of anything else. I thought a bottle of beer would surely taste good and so he sent to the sutler's for it. But he had to drink that too, for I could not. He laughed at me and though I was disappointed, it cheered me up more than anything else had done for a long time. When I got so I could eat, I surely thought he would starve me to death.

A poor fellow across the tent opposite me got crazy and it took several men to hold him on his cot. The doctor came and injected something in his breast which quieted him for the night, but when it wore off he was just as bad and he finally died in one of them. On my right lay a man sick unto death, while on my left lay another whose appetite had come and who was begging everybody for something to eat. His company boys brought him some bread and milk which he ate as if famished. The next morning when I awoke and looked about to see how many faces were covered up I found both my right and left hand neighbors had died in the night and their blankets were drawn up over their faces. The sights I saw while I was able to realize what was going on were not calculated to cheer me up and how I acted when I was out of my head I don't know. At any rate I got better and was brought back to this room, where I have since been.

March 29, 1863.

Sunday. Had a thunder shower in the night and some sharp lightning. Was not allowed to go out to-day on account of the ground being wet. We hear of hard fighting up the river, but reports get so twisted I put little stock in them. Still I hope they are true, for they are most all favorable to our side.

April 1, 1863.

Nothing worth writing for a few days. To-day those we left at quarantine came up looking hale and hearty. Most of them have had smallpox or varioloid. The weather is warm and the boys who have been out of camp report alligators are plenty in the swamp back of us, and snakes of many kinds also. I am rambling about camp nowadays, but am not discharged from the hospital yet. General Neal Dow found a place next door to camp to-day where liquor is sold. He took every bottle he could find and smashed them across the porch rail after first locking up the landlord. Camp is being cleared and every precaution taken to keep away yellow fever. There is none of it yet, but it is expected this summer on account of so many soldiers that are new to the climate. Lew Holmes has been worse for some days and we fear we shall lose him yet.

Midnight. I am sitting up to let a tired out nurse get a nap. Holmes died a few minutes ago. He tried to tell me something, but his tongue was so swelled I could not understand what he said. He pulled me clear down to his face and his breath was awful. I pretended to understand, and he settled back as if satisfied and only breathed a few times more. His troubles are over, and those of his old father and mother and his wife and child will begin when the news reaches them. I am glad they did not see the end.

April z, 1863.

Company B chipped in for a metallic coffin and Holmes will go home. A hearse from the city has just been here and taken him away. He was one of the best of fellows, and very popular with the men. I wonder now if Kniffin will be tried on us again. There is some reason for it now, but it should go to Riley Burdick, who is next in line.

April 3, 1863.

Two funerals to-day. We have quite a graveyard started. From all I can hear, by talking with soldiers of other regiments, none of them have been hit as hard as the I28th New York. And it all comes from our being stuffed into the hold of the Arago a month before we sailed. A big responsibility rests somewhere.

April 4, 1863.

Saturday. Cleaning house day in the hospital. I have been helping so one of the nurses can get off for a walk outside. We found a burying ground where I counted fifty from the I2th Connecticut Volunteers. Nearly all died in August and September last. So we have not had all the sickness and death. I will try and not complain as much as I have. There were only eight from our regiment besides two we have sent home. From there we followed the parapet to the Jackson & Mississippi R. R., which runs not far back from camp. Saw a regiment of negro soldiers, who seemed to feel fine, were having all sorts of games and were in first-rate spirits. Their camp was clean and at the head of each company street were flower beds. Just outside they had planted a garden and onions and other things were growing. The commissioned officers were white. Everything else was black. But for get-up and style they beat any white regiment I have yet seen. It made me ashamed to go home. When I get out of the hospital I mean to try and get the boys to be more like them.

April 5, 1863.

Sunday. Some time while I was sick Chaplain Parker left us. I hear he had some differences of opinion with the officers, but don't know what. Major Foster was in it in some shape, for his name and the chaplain's are the most common in the yarns that are told about camp. I used to believe all I heard, but I have learned to wait for the truth, and that doesn't always come out. Lieutenant-Colonel Smith is a rough and ready customer and stands in no more awe of the officers than of the men. So long as we behave half way decent he is kindness itself, but disobey orders and he is a raging lion. But he is our best friend, and is the only real soldier in the whole outfit. He is a regular army officer and his chief concern seems to be the welfare of the enlisted men. Now that I am able to be about camp and have no duties to perform, I enjoy seeing the captains and lieutenants put through their paces as well as the rank and file. For meeting to-day Major Foster read a chapter from the Bible, read a hymn and then sang it, after which he pronounced the benediction.

April 6, 1863.

One of Company A's men died to-day. His name was Burch. A boat-load of negroes landed here to-day and were taken down towards the city, what for I did not learn. Many of the men in camp are having diarrhea, and some have to go to the hospital, where the diet can be regulated. Some corn and contraband goods were seized to-day a short distance up the river. A man has been suspected for a long time and to-day was seized upon with all his goods. We are expecting letters every day now. We watch the papers for the mail steamers, and if we get no letters are much disappointed.

April 7, 1863.

Two steamers due and yet no letters. Been loafing about camp so long I feel as if I was an unprofitable servant. But as there is nothing doing I am about as profitable as the rest.

April 8, 1863.

A little excitement to-day. An attempt was made to spike some puns near the negro troops headquarters. A few shots were fired but no one hit, hurt or captured. A letter from my sister, Mrs. Rowley. All well at home. For a change I have a troublesome boil on my leg. The weather is beautiful. Everything is growing—I never saw leaves and flowers come so fast.

April 10, 1863.

Yesterday I took the place of a nurse who was ailing, and to-day have been with several others to explore the country roundabouts. We came to an orange orchard and found and cut some sprouts for canes. General Dow and his staff were riding past, and seeing us, rode full tilt towards us, as if to run over us. The general was so busy watching us he never saw a ditch, and into it he went. The horse went down and the general went on his head, landing in the tall grass on all fours. He was not hurt, and after his staff had caught up and helped him on his horse, he came up and said, "To what regiment do you men belong?" Being told, he snapped out, "Report to your quarters at once and don't be seen cutting orange trees again." It is said he roams about like this, driving in any he finds outside, and in other ways making himself unpopular with the boys. However, he didn't take our canes and we have some nice ones to show for the trip.

Two letters to-day, and although they were a month old, they were full of news to me.

April 11-12, 1863.

About camp and hospital yesterday, getting well every minute. Except that I am skin poor and tire out easily, I am well. My little looking-glass first told me what a change my sickness made in my looks, but I can see my old self coming back every day now. A short meeting to-day, the only thing besides my diary to remind me it is Sunday, God's day. He only asks one day in seven, and it seems as if more attention should be paid it.

April 13, 1863.

Wrote and mailed some letters this morning. Wm. Partington died in this room this morning. He and I came here the same time and lay side by side. I was taken to the big tent and he left here. We were both hard sick and when I came back Bill was in just about the same condition I was. We both got round together and began to go out at the same time. A day or two ago diarrhea hit him and now he is taken and I left. So it goes. We plan for to-morrow and to-morrow we are wrapped in a blanket and out we go.

April 14, 1863.

A letter from John Van, with one in it from George Willson and one from T. Templeton of the 15oth. They are feeling fine and the regiment has little or no sickness to report.

April 15, 1863.

Reported for duty with the company this morning, but have to report to the doctor every day until I get my discharge from there. Have been appointed commissary sergeant. See to drawing the rations for Company B, and shall look out that they get their share. This relieves me from guard duty and from everything that interferes with my duties as commissary. It relieves me from duty in the ranks, adds another stripe to my arm, and two dollars per month to my pay. I am glad to have something to do. At night a citizen tried to go through camp and when halted by the guards started to run and was shot. What he was, or why he acted as he did I don't know, and he can't tell.

April 16, 1863.

Thursday. A letter from Walt Loucks asking me to come and see him. Shall surely go if I can get a pass.

April 17, 1863.

Friday. Went to see Walt. I had a first-rate visit. He is about well. I did little but answer questions about what has been going on since we parted at Camp Chalmette, who is living and who have died and what sort of a place we are in. Found three letters for me when I came back.

Later. Marching orders with two days' cooked rations and 100 rounds of ammunition, blankets and overcoats. I am going, too, unless Dr. Andrus stops me. Must stop and write a letter before taps.

April 18, 1863.

Saturday. The regiment has gone and I am left. When will I get clear from the hospital? One of the hospital cooks, E. Furguson, died to-day. There are hardly enough men in camp to bury him, only the sick and convalescent being left.

April 19, 1863.

Sunday. We buried Furguson to-day. The grave was full of water and we had to punch the box down with sticks until the earth held it. Hear nothing from the regiment.

April 20, 1863.

No real news yet. Lots of rumors though, one of which is that they are all cut up and the rest captured. We don't believe it.

.April 21, 1863.

Drew ten days' rations to-day, so I guess there is some of Company B left and that they will be back to eat it.

April 22, 1863.

Wednesday. The regiment came back to-day. Have been gone four days. Had some hard marching and lived high on pigs and chickens found by the way. They went up the Pearl River, and captured a small steamer loaded with tar and rosin. They feel fine and to hear them talk one would think this matter of putting down the Rebellion is nothing if only the I28th is given a good whack at it.

April 23,1863.

The officers have drawn new tents and the captains have given the cooks their old ones for cook houses. We tore down the old shanty, and put up the new house in short order.

April 24, 1863.

The morning paper gives a glowing account of the great expedition of the I28th. Speaks well of the behavior of both officers and men and their great respect for private property. But Colonel Cowles has been lecturing them and his account differs from the newspaper reports on nearly all points.

We were paid off to-day and the money flies. We have floors in our tents now. An order has gone forth for camp inspection once each day. The tents, the cook houses and cooking utensils and everything will be inspected, and must be as clean as possible or trouble will come. Taking it all in all we have good times. One of the boys has a fiddle, and some are good singers. We have only enough to do to make us hungry when meal time comes.

April 30, 1863.

Walter Loucks has returned to camp and looks well. He feels some sore from sleeping on a board, after his stay in the hospital, but that will wear off. General Dow has cleared the peddlers out of camp and torn down some shanties near, where pies, etc., were sold. My throat has got sore again and I must get Dr. Andrus to fix it up. We have had marching orders a couple of times, but each time they were countermanded.

May 6, 1863.

Nothing unusual has happened since my last entry. I have written and have received several letters; have been on duty all the time, although I am supposed to be in the hospital yet. Have seen the doctor every day and he keeps tinkering at me. We hear all sorts of rumors of big battles and big victories and believe what we are a mind to. My office, commissary of Company B, is not very exacting while in camp. It keeps me out of the ranks though and until I get round again I am glad of it.

May 10, 1863.

Sunday. Yesterday this regiment and many others were reviewed by General Banks. Evidently something is going to happen soon. The health of our regiment is fairly good now. I begin to find out that some had rather be sick than to be on duty, and they play it till Dr. Andrus sends them back to camp. We have some very hot weather, and then again some not so hot. Mosquitoes are the pest of our lives. They hide in our tents, ready to pounce upon us the minute we enter, and the only place we are free from them is in the hot sun outside. At night and on cloudy days they give us no peace. Their name is legion.

Monday. Charles Wardwell, and a fellow named Hamlin made me a call to-day. I was as much surprised as if they had risen right out of the ground before us. I did not know Charlie had enlisted. He is in the 2^d Connecticut, which is doing guard duty along the railroad between Algiers and Brashear City, which they say is not very far from here. It in a nine months' regiment and their time is out in August. Though the news they could tell was rather old, I was very glad to see someone from God's country again, and we had much to tell each other of our experiences. They had only about a week on the transport and came through in good shape. They swallowed hard and tried to take down what I told them of our experience on board the Arago and in camp and hospital since, but I don't feel like blaming them if they did think I was lying. But in the short time we were together the half could not be told.

Night. Marching orders. Three days' cooked rations and ten days' raw, to be packed for an early start to-morrow. Wardwell and his friend stay with us to-night.

May 12, 1863.

"pass Man Shak," or South Pass, La. Tuesday. We left camp in charge of an officer and the convalescents and marched out on the plain about a mile, where a train stood waiting early this morning, and after a short ride stopped here, the most God-forsaken looking place I have yet seen. It is a sort of connecting link between Lake Ponchetrain and Lake Marapaugh.* Our regiment and the 6th Michigan came. We soon came to the woods we had so often looked at from camp, and from that on it was one unbroken forest of the biggest and tallest trees I have yet seen. There was water in pools all along and on every hand as far as can be seen. The

* Spelled as they sound.

railroad is built on piles driven in the mud, sawed off on a line and huge hewn timbers laid on them to support the ties and track. Not a foot of dry ground anywhere and not a ray of sunshine could get through. But mosquitoes, I thought we had them in camp, but we did not. It was only the skirmish line; the main body is here. I am writing this with one hand while the other is waving a bush to keep them from eating me alive. The men were ferried across on a small steamer and they went on out of sight, scrambling over the ties as best they could, for in places the woodwork has been burned out and then they had to climb down and wallow through the mud and then up on the ties again until the last of them were out of sight. I have really no business to be here as the captain objected, fearing I would be more bother than I was worth. Dr. Andrus was not even consulted. When the train started I could not resist the temptation to go and I swung on and here I am with the quartermaster and the commissary stores, which are to go up the pass to where the men have gone. There is a large space planked over, and we are in the dry and waiting for the boat to come for us. Men are busy rebuilding the burned out places in the trestlework and bridging the river, which is narrow here. Everyone calls it a "pass," but it has quite a current and is a river just the same.

May 13, 1863.

We heard firing this morning and think the boys may be at work. A man came back about midnight last night. How he ever did it I don't see, but he said two soldiers fell through the trestlework and were hurt and had to be left behind.

jo a. m. The men who got hurt have crawled back and are here, just bruised up a little. I guess they didn't try very hard or they might have gone on.

2 p. m. Another straggler has come back and says the boys captured fourteen Indians after a short skirmish. They are being sent back under guard and will soon be here. Here they come, and a tough-looking lot they are; fourteen of them are said to be Indians, but they look more like plain niggers to me. There are three white men. Rebels I suppose, but they don't act like very ferocious ones.

May 18, 1863.

We slept in a drizzling rain, but the mosquitoes kept us so busy we took no cold. A boat came in the morning and we loaded the stores and started up the river, reaching a small lake called Lake Marapaugh (don't know how these names are spelled, so put them down according to sound), which is rather a widening of the river than a lake. The river is narrow and very crooked. The boat would run up to a bank, send a rowboat across with a line, which was made fast to a tree and the boat turned around a corner. This was done many times on the way up. Alligators lay on fallen trees and on the bank and many were swimming in the river. One came close to the bow of a barge which was lashed to the steamboat, and I hit him a whack on the snout with a piece of coal. From his actions he didn't like it. The water and the land seem to be on the same level. The tall cypress trees grow thick all the way and no opening appeared of any size. Some trees hang over the water so it was all we could do to get past and one did sweep the commissary's scales overboard. We finally came to hard ground and the live oaks and other trees took the place of the cypress, which only seems to grow in wet ground. A curious thing about the cypress is the way the roots grow up out of the ground. Cypress knees, they call them. They grow straight up, sometimes as high as ten feet and all the way down from that. No branches or shoots grow from them and they vary in size as much as in height. We finally tied up at a place called Wadensburgh, a small village which proved to be the end of our journey by water. Sergeant Drake and a couple of men went back in a boat and were fortunate enough to hook onto the scales that were lost and bring them up. In getting ashore I landed right beside a cotton-mouth moccasin snake, said to be as poisonous as a rattlesnake. He lay in some weeds and raised up as if to strike at me. I still had hold of a pole I had used to jump off with, and with it I hit him and broke his back. A man standing by told me what it was. Quartermaster Mace, who came up with the regiment, soon appeared with some teams and as soon as loaded we started for Ponchatoula, where the regiment is. It was dark when we started. It was said to be three and a half miles, but they were long ones. We got stuck in the mud, the wagon broke down, and we were wet to the skin with rain before we reached our destination. We had no lights and only knew we were in the road because we were not in the bushes which grow thick along it. We reached Ponchatoula about ten o'clock, wet, tired and hungry, but not cold, for the weather is quite warm. Our coming alarmed the guards and the entire force turned out to receive the enemy. We lay down on the floor of an empty building, and wet as we were, slept sound until morning. The sun shone bright the next morning, May I5th, and as soon as our joints began to limber up, hunted for and found Company B. They are in good spirits and have enjoyed the outing from camp very much. But they were glad when the cook called them up for coffee and hard-tack. The ground is high and dry for this country. A pine forest of immense trees is close by on one side and in sight everywhere. The Jackson & Mississippi R. R. goes through here, and is the one that the troops came on. A picket line is somewhere outside and cavalry videttes outside of that. Fresh beef is plenty and there is now and then a chicken. The people are as civil and respectful as can be expected, when we remember what a lot of uninvited guests they are called upon to entertain.

May 16, 1863.

A cavalryman came in for a horse this morning, his having been killed in the night. We heard firing in the night, but it seemed a long way off. Company B went on the picket line this morning and I find being commissary in camp and being commissary in the field are two different things. The company must be fed no matter where they are. I got hold of a horse and cart and with it made the rounds. A couple of cavalrymen who were wounded during the night have been brought in. At night a report came that a rebel detachment had got past the vidette guard and would most likely be heard from before morning. Orders are being given out and ours is to stand fast in case of an attack. That sounds easy at any rate.

May 17, 1863.

No attack came. The only enemies that found us were the mosquitoes and how they did punish us! My hands, face and ankles are swollen full, and this when I was awake all night and fighting them off in every way I could think of. Seventeen prisoners have just been brought in and after a feed started on toward Pass Man Shak.

May 18, 1863.

There has been much shifting about to-day. Orderlies riding here and there, and a move of some sort is the next thing to look for. Have orders to be ready with coffee and a day's cooked rations. That doesn't mean a long journey.

Later. The quartermaster's stores have gone towards Wadensburgh.

May 19, 1863.

Night. Camp Parapet again. We started from Ponchatoula about 4 A. M. and at n reached Pass Man Shak, by way of the railroad. The trestlework is burned in places and across these we passed the best we could. One man dropped a frying pan he had stolen, and in getting it stirred up an alligator, and decided he didn't want the frying pan after all. Several fell and were more or less hurt, but we all came through and were nearly the rest of the day being taken across in small boats. Then without mishap we came on to a point opposite camp and were soon here. The trip has done me a world of good. I don't ask any odds of any now that I am well again. I guess I only needed parboiling, and that I got sleeping in clothes soaking wet. The men are all feeling fine and the stories they are telling such as did not go are wonderful to hear.

May 20, 1863.

Camp Parapet, La. We settled down early last night and on account of the little sleep we had had were not called this morning. I slept right through the night and until after twelve to-day, then found orders for another move. Must get two days' rations ready right away. I wonder where we go this time.

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