Civil War Louisiana (CWLA)

Civil War Louisiana (CWLA)
CWLA seeks to provide an online resource of any and all material of the Civil War relating to Louisiana with a special interest in the war in Acadiana in southwest Louisiana.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

30th Massachusetts' Tour in Louisiana, Part V

Henry Warren Howe was a member of the 30th Massachusetts during the war. Howe's regiment was organized in December of 1861 and served in Virginia before it was sent to Ship Island. From February 12th - April 15th, the 30th Massachusetts garrisoned Ship Island. The regiment was attached to the Department of the Gulf in August 1862 and served in Louisiana until the summer of 1864. Howe wrote a book following the war titled, 
Life of Henry Warren Howe, Consisting of Diary and Letters Written During the Civil War, 1861-1865: A Condensed History of the Thirtieth Massachusetts Regiment and Its Flags, together with Genealogies of the Different Branches of the Family.

Howe's April-May 1863 entries:

April 1, 1863. Pleasant. Inspection at 12.30 by the A. A. Inspector of the Division. No drill in the afternoon. General Emery's division has gone down the river. General Auger's is the only one left, consisting of two brigades, the 3d brigade, General Weitzel's, being down the river. Received a letter dated March 1.
April 2, 1863. Nothing new. Drills in the morning and in the afternoon.
April 3, 1863. Pleasant. Company drill in the morning, battalion drill in the afternoon. Lieutenant-Colonel has gone to New Orleans. Received some stores for our mess. Last week it cost us $6.27 each.
April 4, 1863. I am on guard.
April 5, 1863. Sunday. Our pickets have been drawn in. The details are quite large. Detailed to-day: four Captains, six Lieutenants, and two hundred men. The enemy are hovering about us and are growing quite bold. Some of our men have deserted. The vedettes were fired upon last night. I was relieved at 1 o'clock p. m. Visited the barracks in the afternoon. The entrenchments are very strong and built to resist any attack. Have been relieved from the command of Company H, as the officers have reported for duty.
April 6, 1863. Pleasant. Drills as usual. The trees, underbrush, etc., are being cleared away on the old battle grounds where we had the fight last Summer.
April 7, 1863. Tuesday. Pleasant. Drills. We are a well drilled regiment; ought to be by this time. Made out my company's quarterly return.
April 8, 1863. Pleasant. Quiet. No battalion drill to-day. Orders to fix up our tents so it will be cooler. I have a floor in mine, and raised it to allow air space underneath.
April 9, 1863. Quiet about camp. Men are at work on tents.
April 10, 1863. Pleasant. I am detailed as Acting-Quartermaster, because Quartermaster Tenny has been sent out on an expedition. Drew ten days' rations for the regiment.
April 11, 1863. Pleasant. Saturday. I am quite sick with the summer complaint.
April 12, 1863. Pleasant in the morning, showers in the afternoon. I am feeling better to-day. The sentence of the Court Martial was read at inspection this morning; four of our regiment were sentenced, some to Ship Island, to serve out the balance of their term of enlistment without pay.
April 13, 1863. Am better. This is the first time I have been off duty since last August.
April 14,1863. Showery last night. I am feeling better. Went to the mess to dinner. Wrote to mother.
April 15, 1863. Pleasant. Brigade drill in the afternoon. I reported for duty to-day. One year ago our regiment left Ship Island for New Orleans.
April 16, 1863. Pleasant. We practised at target firing this morning. Brigade drill in the afternoon. Captain Fiske is still serving on Court Martial.
April 17, 1863. I am on picket with Lieutenant Loring, his company being detailed on the Bayou Sara Road, which leads to Port Hudson. All quiet. I passed a lady and four children through the lines to Port Hudson. Was relieved at 7.30 the next morning.
April 18, 1863. Saturday. My company is detailed for picket. Lieutenant Porefi, Company C, is on with me. I am captain of the guard, which numbers forty men. We are on the Port Hudson road. Quiet all day. The officer of the day visited us at noon; said a cavalry raid was expected; seemed quite excited. I didn't scare worth a cent; in fact, hoped it would come off. However, I arranged my men so as to be ready, but instead a heavy shower came around, and the lightning struck a tree near us. The shock was felt by us all as though -we had been connected with a galvanic battery.
April 19, 1863. Sunday. Relieved at 9 a. m. Inspection at 4 o'clock p. m. It turns out that our forces had quite a fight at Brashear City.
April 20, 1863. Pleasant, but warm. Target practice in the morning, battalion drill in the afternoon. Fiske has gone to New Orleans to see his brother, who was wounded at Brashear City.
April 21,1863. Target practice this morning. Battalion drill this afternoon, after which I dressed in white pants and linen coat. Quite comfortable.
April 22, 1863. Pleasant. Am on picket with Lieutenant Brown, Company I. On the Clinton road. Some pretty girls came in from the country, but were obliged to take the oath. Occasionally one returns and will not take it. Then she is sent outside the lines.
April 23,1863. Believed at 9 a. m. Captain Ferris of our regiment was officer of the day. His wife went the rounds with him on horseback.
April 24, 1863. Friday. Our brigade are throwing up entrenchments in front of our camp.
April 25, 1863. Detailed for guard. Am not feeling well.
April 26, 1863. Pleasant. Nothing new. Am excused from duty. Letters from home; father received $50 from the express company for the loss of my trunk on the steamer which was sunk when coming out to New Orleans.
April 27, 1863. Am still off duty, but feel somewhat better. The men signed the pay rolls to-day. General Banks and his troops are up the Red River, having marched over the country from Brashear City, driving the enemy before them, with quite a loss on both sides.
April 28, 1863. Am still off duty. One year ago we were on board the ship North America at Forts Jackson and Philip.
April 29, 1863. Pleasant. Am feeling better to-day. The regiment is being paid to-day. I cannot receive any pay because I have not been mustered as an officer nor discharged as a Quartermaster's Sergeant. I have acted as Lieutenant since August 31, 1862, and yet have never received pay as such. I hope the matter will be settled soon.
April 30, 1863. Pleasant. Muster and inspection to-day. I feel about the same. My cold has settled on my tonsils and they are badly swollen.
May 1, 1863. Pleasant. Friday. Still sick.
May 2, 1863. Am feverish to-day and bilious.
May 3, 1863. Very hot, but convalescent. Have not had Surgeon. May 4, 1863. Pleasant. I am quartered in a house near our camp. Lieutenant Johnston is in the same room, ill with a fever.
May 5, 1863. Showery. Feel better to-day. My negro was cleaning my pistol when it went oft and hit another negro in the leg who was fooling with him. In the melee a soldier stole the pistol.
May 6, 1863. Pleasant. Found my pistol and preferred charges against the thief, one of Company B's men.
May 7, 1863. Pleasant. A regiment of cavalry arrived on the 2d, having come through from General Grant's army, Tennessee. It was a great raid, and they destroyed a large amount of property. They looked very rough and hardy.
May 8, 1863. Pleasant. I feel right smart to-day. Went to the mess room to dinner. Mail arrived; no letter for me.
May 9, 1863. Pleasant. Am feeling tip-top. All quiet about camp.
May 10, 1863. Dry and dusty. Inspection and review. May 11, 1863. We are under marching orders with two days' rations.
May 12, 1863. Our brigade marched at 4 o'clock on the Clinton road; the Illinois cavalry are in advance. Marched twelve miles, driving the enemy's pickets back; then crossed over to the Bayou Sara road and bivouacked for the night; a hard march and hot; made seventeen miles. My Captain was taken sick at night with congestive chills; he was very sick. Lieutenant Fay and I watched with him all night. Firing was heard at Port Hudson by tbe gunboats. We were nine miles from the Fort. I think we are to threaten while the cavalry make a raid on Clinton. I came near giving out on the march. It is reported that a brigade of the enemy are four miles from us.
May 13, 1863. Cloudy. Started at sunrise, the cavalry ahead. My Captain has gone to Baton Rouge. He is a little better. I thought he would die.
May 14, 1863. Resumed march at sunrise; went three miles, halted, while the cavalry went in advance and destroyed two hundred feet of railroad on the Clinton road. Some skirmishing Very dusty, hot. Returned to camp where we started from in the morning. We intend to destroy a bridge on the Clinton road. The cavalry drove fifty head of cattle in. Bombarding was heard at night. The Fiftieth still remain on the Clinton road. Chapin's Brigade is expected to the front to join us. Rain last night.
May 15, 1863. We still remain at Alexander's Plantation. Something has bitten me on one of my eyes, and it is badly swollen. Captain returned to-day. Good news from Joe Hooker's army. Fredericksburg captured, with many prisoners.
May 16, 1863. Saturday. Sixteen Confederate prisoners were brought in. Long roll at 4 p. m. Rain in the night.
May 17, 1863. Sunday. Inspection. Our muskets were discharged to-day. Eight officers quarter under two tent flies, lying on rails with blankets over them. The cavalry are busy.
May 18, 1863. Pleasant. Long roll at 1 a. m., occasioned by contrabands coming in.
May 19, 1863. Tuesday. Took a bath and changed my underclothing. I feel better.
May 20, 1863. The swelling has gone from my face. A scouting party went out to-day. Went to the rifle pits near Port Hudson. Two brigades and artillery are now here.
May 21, 1863. Orders to march at 5 a. m. No white troops in Baton Rouge except the Provost Guard. Two years ago to-day I enlisted for three years and sailed from Boston for Fortress Monroe, Va., in a Lowell company called the Richardson Light Infantry, Captain P. A. Davis. How short the time seems; I am now quite a veteran soldier. Marched four miles, when four companies of our regiment were ordered to the front for skirmish duty, my company being one of the four. Proceeded about half a mile when we discovered rebel cavalry, fired at them and they returned the fire; deployed and tried to flank them, when they opened with field pieces on us, consequently we learned their position. Our main force advanced and our artillery opened on them. After awhile they retired and we advanced to their works, called Plain Store. The roads cross here, running to Port Hudson, Clinton and Jackson. In the afternoon the enemy advanced from Port Hudson and the Bayou Sara road and opened fire. Chapin's brigade was then placed in advance. I never wish to see hotter firing. They charged on a battery we were supporting, on the Port Hudson road, but were put to flight by the 116th New York and the 49th Massachusetts; the 48th Massachusetts broke and ran. On the Bayou Sara road the artillery silenced them. During the day our regiment was skirmishing and supporting batteries; my company was the first to arrive on the Plains after the enemy evacuated. They had six pieces of artillery and four hundred infantry supporting them, Arkansas troops principally. Reinforcements have arrived from New Orleans. At night our regiment was ordered to support a battery at the cross roads. I think our division lost one hundred men in killed and wounded. Lieutenant Fred Norcross and two privates were wounded in our regiment. Hot fighting.
May 22, 1863. Cloudy; some rain. No demonstration by the enemy to-day. I visited the grounds where the enemy charged on the 48th Massachusetts. Some dead were lying about. A flag of truce for two hours. The enemy say they lost in killed, wounded and missing about four hundred. General Sherman's brigade has arrived from New Orleans. Banks has crossed the river from above.
May 23, 1863. Pleasant. Good news! Banks is three miles above us with Grover's division. Clinton railroad bridge is ours. General Grant has whipped Johnston at Jackson, Miss., and captured sixtyone pieces of artillery. Rain.
May 24, 1863. Pleasant. Orders to-day to march. Two days' rations. The troops proceeded up the Bayou Sara road. Two brigades went the Port Hudson road two miles, then went right and left of the road. Our brigade camped a mile and a half from the enemy's rifle pits, which can be seen plainly. An artillery fire on both sides opened and continued until sunset. Shells flew thick and fast. Grover's division on the right, Auger's in the centre and Sherman's on the left, at Springfield's Landing. General Banks passed us on the way up. Two of our companies supported a section of the New York battery, thirty-pound Parrots, at night. No firing at night.
May 25, 1863. Pleasant. The troops still hold their position. The enemy opened on our section in the afternoon and we replied. An attempt has been made by the enemy to cut their way through our right, but they were driven back. Our brigade marched over and formed a line of battle. There were four lines. Remained all night and returned in the morning; distance three miles. A shell burst right over my bunk in the afternoon; a piece went under my bed.
May 26, 1863. Quiet in the morning. General Dudley called us together and said the place was to be bombarded for five hours to-morrow, then stormed by the infantry. Volunteers were called for from each regiment in the division, numbering from 25 to 35. One Captain and Lieutenant to each squad to advance as a storming party. Fascines were being made to carry to fill the trenches. No trouble about volunteers. All our officers volunteered except one, consequently lots were drawn and Lieutenant Tom Johnston and Lieutenant N. K. Read drew the numbers. Although we are going into a terrible conflict, the boys feel gay and happy. We came to fight for our country, and why should we falter? The Stars and Stripes must be planted on their entrenchments. I think we have about sixteen thousand men, all told, the enemy about seven thousand.
May 27,1863, to June 14,1863. Advanced towards the fortifications from all points. Our brigade took the centre; drove the enemy inside their works. I was never so exhausted in my life. It was very hot. There were narrow escapes from day to day. We arrived to within from four to six hundred yards of their works and held our position behind trees, stumps, etc., firing at them whenever they showed their heads above the works. Private Mullen and myself stood behind one tree and a bullet struck him. I thought he was fatally wounded. Two grand assaults were made on them; both failed. For three weeks our regiment acted as sharpshooters in front of the entrenchments, after which we were ordered to Plain Store, where we remained until they surrendered. Our Color Sergeant, Francis Shattuck, was shot in the ankle. One of my Corporals, Martin Smith, 2d, takes the colors.

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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