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.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

165th New York, 2nd Battalion "Duryee's Zouaves" during the Siege of Port Hudson

Below is taken from History of the Second Battalion Duryee Zouaves: One Hundred and Sixty-fifth Regiment New York Volunteer Infantry (1905), pages 16-20.

A Duryee Zouave

May 20. Arrived at Baton Rouge; all knapsacks were 

May 21. Early left for Port Hudson, arriving in time to 
support the ist Vermont Battery; fight at Plains Store. 

May 23. General Thomas W. Sherman, 2d division, and 
three brigades with 15 pieces of artillery moved to the left, 
resting on river at Port Hudson, La. 

May 24. Our line advanced and occupied the camps de 
serted by the enemy (and we got more than we bargained for) 
they having retreated inside of their fortifications; day and 
night the bombardment from Farragut s fleet kept up ; at night 
we could see the shells fly through the air, make a graceful 
curve, hear them strike and explode; motor batteries were 
placed along our lines at short distances during the siege and 
mostly used at night to keep the besieged wide awake and 
to tire them out; it was a grand sight while on picket to 
witness the display during night bombardment. 

May 25. The day is clear and pleasant, the men having 
no tents are making themselves as comfortable as possible. 
The bombardment all day and night from the fleet; constant 
firing on the line during the day; many men wounded. 

May 26. Skirmishing continued all day, also the bombard 
ment; Co. D went on picket at 4 P.M. Bombardment all 
night long; no sleep on the picket-line on account of the noise. 

May 27, 1863: First major assault on Port Hudson

May 27. Early in the morning we were informed that 
there was to be an assault on the works; 9 A.M. we advanced 
our line of pickets and acted as skirmishers; a lively time 
we had until 2 P.M., when we were called in to join our regiment 
which was designated to lead the brigade in the assault; as 
we advanced through the woods, coming to a clearing, we found 
trees for several hundred feet felled in all manner of directions; 
as we emerged from the woods the enemy opened on us with 
infantry and artillery; we managed to get through the fallen 
timber, but hardly a man had a decent pair of pants on him; 
our Colonel formed in division front on color division; this 
was done under constant fire; as soon as formed the men 


were ordered to lie down in their positions, waiting for the 
rest of the brigade to come up ; they did not get up to our 
line, so the Colonel ordered the charge; when about 150 
yards from the works the enemy gave us grape and canister 
at short range; I never saw anything like it; our men were 
mowed down; the firing was terrific; Corporal Nels Rosen- 
steiner, Co. D, carrying the State flag was killed; private Flah 
erty, of Co. F seized it and bore it through engagement, after 
wards appointed to carry the flag; our Colonel, Major and line 
officers wounded, the men by natural instinct deployed as 
skirmishers taking to whatever protection they could; we 
finally fell back the best we could. Such a sight; the dead 
and wounded lay thick ; the wounded groaning and calling for 
water (of which we had little to give) and calling upon us not 
to desert them; the firing from the enemy slackened; six of 
us made an effort to bring in the body of the Colonel ; we 
finally reached him and brought him in carefully over the fallen 
timber ; the enemy came out from their works to take as many 
as they could prisoners; what was left of the regiment re 
formed in the woods under Captain Agnus (now General Felix 
Agnus, proprietor of the Baltimore American); the whole 
army was repulsed with terrible slaughter; everything in our 
lines was confusion and turmoil; our overcoats, blankets, 
and haversacks had been left in the woods before making the 
charge. Night coming on the men were unable to find them ; 
the battalion was composed of 6 companies and did not 
number over 350 officers and men; the regimental loss was 18 
killed, 70 wounded, 12 missing, prisoners; Co D, i lieutenant 
and 7 privates killed, 14 wounded, and 3 wounded prisoners; 
At the time of the assault the 2d division was under com 
mand of Brigadier-General Thomas W. Sherman; our 3d 
brigade under command of Brigadier-General Frank S. Nicker- 
son, composed of the i4th 24th and 28th Maine Volunteers, 
1 65th (2d Duryee Zouaves) and 17 7th New York Volunteers, 
supported by the 2ist New York and ist Vermont Batteries; 
General Sherman, Division Commander, lost his leg, and 7 staff 
officers were wounded. 

Lieutenant Colonel Abel Smith
Wounded on May 27, 1863 (Died from wounds June 27, 1863)

May 28. Flag of truce; the wounded were brought in and 
dead buried. 

June 14. Sunday, at 2 A.M., our regiment left camp, pro 
ceeded some distance to the left; at daybreak four companies 


were sent out to the front as sharpshooters, with all the am 
munition we could store away in our pockets ; canteens filled 
(no haversacks), we advanced from stump to stump on our 
hands and knees as far as we could, every man to a stump; 
the day was intensely hot; the 6th Michigan was on the 
line parallel with us to our left (a very good regiment) ; 
our orders were to keep up a regular fire, to keep the enemy 
from concentrating their men on the center where our main 
assault was to be made, which assault proved another failure; 
great bravery was shown by our troops; after repeated 
charges our army was driven back with another great loss of 
life; our line of sharpshooters suffered for want of water; 
several attempts were made, by crawling from one to the 
other, to gather a few canteens then crawl back; when the 
detail thought he could up and run a ball would roll him over; 
after a number of attempts, every man wounded who attempted 
it, it was given up, and we had to suffer for want of water; 
several times the enemy s artillery tried to drive us out by 
grape and cannister, but we held on, remaining on the line all 

June 15. Early in the morning we went back into the 
trenches. At 10 A.M. we were relieved and returned to camp, 
and had something to eat and drink after 32 hours fasting. 

June 19. The regiment went into the rifle pits and con 
tinued there for 48 hours. 

June 24. Word came that our Colonel (Abel Smith) died 
in a hospital at New Orleans. (A great loss to us. He was a 
strict disciplinarian; had drilled the regiment in infantry, 
light and heavy artillery, bayonet exercise and skirmish drill 
by bugle. He went upon the principle that idleness breeds 
disease. He kept the men busy, demanded cleanliness, drilled 
the non-commissioned officers personally, and they the squads, 
so that before we left camp Parapet the regiment was a unit 
in drill. He looked after the health of the men, inspected 
cook-houses and rations daily, holding the Commissary-Ser 
geants responsible, and personally saw that the men got what 
they were entitled to from the Quartermaster and Commis 
sary. Company funds were started to buy vegetables and other 
: ,necessary articles for the comfort of the men. Captains of 
.companies were held responsible for the appearance of the 
linen. He encouraged amusements, together with strict sani- 
tary regulations. The consequence was that during the season, 
the men becoming acclimated, the death loss was small. The 
Sanitary Commission that visited the Department to look 
after the health of the troops, stated in their report that the 
1 65th New York Volunteers had the cleanest and healthiest 
camp in the Department of the Gulf, and that the officers 
looked after the health of the men. Although nearly every 
man was sick with fever we only lost three men one by disease, 
two others accidentally shot. The result wa^ that the men 
were ready for any duty they were called upon to perform. 
The camp was in a swamp, and was called Camp Death by the 
previous regiment that formerly occupied it. They lost a 
great many men by death, and looked back to it with sorrow. 
And in our future service we more and more missed his faith 
fulness to his command). 

June 26. This afternoon left camp and laid in support of 
some batteries, at night returned to camp. 

June 29 and 30. Night assaults with hand-grenades on 
the water batteries and citadel on the extreme left of our line 
at Port Hudson; Captain Chas. A. Walker, Co. A, had com 
mand of the three right companies, and Lieutenant John P. 
Morris, of Co. E, the three left companies, the detail from each 
company being under command of a non-commissioned officer 
of that company, the detail from Co. E being under command 
of Second Sergeant A. G. Mills, now the president of our Veteran 
Association; supporting the 6th Michigan Infantry, left, our 
approaches which were close up to the trenches in front of the 
citadel drove, the Confederates from their trench, but the posi 
tion was intolerable and we retired with the loss of i private 
killed and 6 wounded. 

Lieutenant John P. Morris

                  Captain Chas. A Walker             

July 1. Regiment returned to camp from attack on water 
batteries . 

July 2. Rebel cavalry made a raid on Springfield Landing; 
our regiment with others were ordered there; returned to 
camp; July 5 Vicksburg reported surrendered. 

July 8. Surrender of Port Hudson; 6,000 prisoners, 60 
pieces of artillery. 

July 9. The regiment complimented in orders for its 
share of the victory, and selected to represent our brigade in 
receiving the surrender July 9th, marched inside the works, 
and formed line in front of the Confederate garrison, who at 


command of General Gardner, their commander, "grounded 
arms." The American colors were run up to the masthead. 

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