The goal of Louisiana in the Civil War is to provide an online resource of information and links to our great state's involvement in the war. Topics expected to be commonly covered are: Battles fought in Louisiana, battles that Louisianians participated in, unit histories, rosters, uniforms and equipment of Louisiana soldiers, personalities to include not only the leadership of the state and armies but the common soldier, flags and resources to research/read on the state's role in the war.

Louisiana in the Civil War strongly supports the input of the Civil War community. Submissions of stories, information, etc. are welcome and full credit will be given for what we share.



Sketch of the Battle of Bayou Bourbeaux, November 3, 1863. The sketch is drawn from behind Union artillery facing west to northwest as Texas cavalry swarms the 67th Indiana.

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Colonel Charles Cooper Nott, 176th New York "First Impression"

Image of Colonel Charles Cooper Nott, 176th New York

Colonel Charles Cooper Nott of the 176th New York wrote an account of his experience in Louisiana and Texas in 1863 titled Sketches in Prison Camps: A Continuation of Sketches of the War.

An interesting angle to the war are Yankees' first impression of Louisiana. Nott provides a detailed account of South Louisiana in 1863 on pages 25-28 of his Sketches in Prison Camps:

WESTWARD from New Orleans stretches the Opelousas railroad, and along this road we are now doing guard duty. Guarding a railroad is the most unwelcome task that can be thrust on the Colonel of a new regimentscattering the companies, demoralizing the men, destroying the regiment, and therefore a Colonel, under such circumstances, has a right to be a little discontented, and very cross...Up the neighboring bayou of La Fourche, too, come miniature canalboats, tugged along by little creole ponies, and laden with fish and oysters, which the swarthy French fishermen catch in the not distant Gulf. The surrounding woods are filled with game that finds its way constantly to camp, and from every one of the large plantations
Page  26that abound here, are brought vegetables, eggs and poultry. Yet I do not relish this ease and indolencethe rough cavalry service suits me better, and I wish a hundred times a day that I were back in Tennessee. It is the spring-time of the year, yet there is but little of the reality of spring to us. The grass has long been green, the flowers are plentiful, the sun is hot and burning, but the leaves come leisurely along, and for a fortnight have only moved. These flowers, too, have generally no fragrance, though now and then there is one that overpowers us with its sweet, sickening odor, and the birds that fill the trees are songless, save the "merry mocking-bird," who, like the perfume-giving flowers, has more than his share of noise and song. There is, therefore, none of the glad bursting forth that makes so brief and beautiful our northern spring. This is a muster-day in the army, and it is the forerunner of the Pay-MIaster. I have been busy since daybreak calling the rolls of the companies along the railroad, and I have now to ride twelve miles and muster one that is doing Provost guard duty in the village of Houma. It is not a pleasant ride to Houma; the road runs along a bayou, as straight and stagnant as a canal. Occasionally there comes a boat, freighted with a dozen barrels of molasses or a few hogsheads of sugar, furrowing its way through the green scum that covers the water, and breaking down the rank-growing weeds that choke the channel. The vagabond-looking ponies that drag it along, travel on the "levee," which has the
Page  27appearance of a tow-path, and makes the bayou look more than ever like a canal. This bayou, is a hideous frog-pond, long drawn out, filled with black, slimy mud, and teeming with hideous reptiles. My horse starts as I ride beside it, and snuffs the tainted air nervously, for two turkey-buzzards fly up from the huge carcass of an alligator, and alight close beside me on the fence. Two more remain on the alligator, gorged so that they cannot rise. Their rough, dirty feathers remind one of the uncombed locks of a city scavenger. No one ever shoots them, but draws back and says, with unconcealed disgust. " What a foul bird that is." Yet on the other side of the road, spreading back to the poisonous swamps in the rear, lie some of the rich plantations of Louisiana. There are the sugar-houses, with their heavy brick chimneys, as large and clumsy as those of a foundry; and near by stand the planter's house, the overseer's house, the engineer's house, and a little village of contraband cabins. The vast fields are cut up into square blocks by ditches, sometimes ten feet deep, reminding one of the graded lots in the outskirts of a city. On one side of each range of these blocks is a raised plantation road, which crosses the ditches on substantial bridges, and runs, perhaps for miles, arrow-like, as a railroad. It is probable that the plantation is surrounded by a levee, to keep the water out. The large ditches then empty into a canal, and at the end of this canal will be found a " pumping machine," driven by a steam engine. which pumps the plantation dry and keeps
Page  28it above water. Such wealthful agriculture we have nowhere in the North. The broad, dull thoroughfare on which I ride is an unpleasant contrast to the shaded bridle-roads of Tennessee. Yet it furnishes our only ride, and for twelve miles there is but one turn-off, or intersecting road, and not one hill or hollow. So far as the eye can reach in all directions-so far as one call ride on any road he may choose to take, is one weary, continuing, unbroken flatness. I feel a constant longing to mount a hill, and often have to repress an impulse to climb a tree, where I can look around and breathe a little freer air. Houma looks somewhat like a deserted village. The shops are shut, many of the houses empty, and the scowling people wear an idle, listless air. The:re is no love lost between them and the troops. Some months ago a few sick soldiers of the Twenty-First Indiana were massacred not far from the village, and it was done by some of the most "' respectable " planters. I believe all of the guilty parties escaped to the enemy's lines, except one, and he, poor wretch, lived for months in the gloomy swamps near us, a fiightened maniac. His body was lately found, showing that he had lain down, worn out and sick, and died alone in the dreary solitude. In one of these deserted houses I find my officers established, and after finishing the muster of their company, I spend with them a pleasant evening and quiet night. Another dull and solitary ride carries me back to my headquarters...

Monday, February 23, 2015

Yankee's Impression of Texans in Louisiana

Below is the account of a soldier of the 176th New York Infantry after his capture at Brashear City in June of 1863:

"THE TEXANS.A word before I close this epistle about the Texans, whose prisoners we had been for a month. I have called them half savages, and it is about true, but they have some of the noblest qualities of savages. They are brave to rashness, and will endure with patience any amount of exposure and suffering to accomplish their end. They are generous, good natured, and treat their prisoners with much kindness. They are splendid horsemen, fine marksmen, and can go for days with but a morsel of uncooked food to eat. They are cheap troops to support, because they don't care for tents, will wear any kind of clothing, and will live on bacon and hoecake, or forage for themselves and their horses.But though brave, they are perfectly undisciplined and regardless of orders, and will fight every man on his own hook, breaking ranks as soon as they commence firing. So that although they are excellent bushwhackers, they are often scattered and routed in the open field. They consider themselves the equals of their officers, and it is a risky matter to punish them for insubordination. When there is no fighting going on they soon tire of the re¬straints of camp life and often leave for home, coming back when it suits them. Then they will steal, even from their own officers; they will brag beyond all the bounds of truth, and they wont wash themselves or their shirts. They don't consort readily with the Louisianians, whom they call "lazy, cowardly Creoles," and by whom they are cordially hated and termed "Camanches and thieves," and both charges have, I expect, some foundation. To give you an example of the Texan way of doing things: Two or three days ago some of them broke into the stores of their Post Quartermaster, and came riding past our hospital decked out with their spoils—captured federal clothing. One long, lank country boy had a hat and a cap on his head and another cap in his hand. One of our wounded men, looking over the balcony, called out: "I wish you would give me one of those caps, I have'nt got any?" Not expecting, however, that his request would be granted: "All right," cried Texas, and chucked the cap up; it fortunately proved a good fit."

Monday, February 9, 2015

New Yorker on Opelousas

On May 8, 1863, the 114th New York Infantry Regiment marched into Opelousas, Louisiana. In History of the 114th Regiment, New York State Volunteers, its author said the following about Opelousas:

"This is a post-village and the Capital of St. Landry Parish. It is an old dilapidated looking town, built by the French and Spanish, and contains the Franklin College and a Nunnery."

Monday, February 2, 2015

176th New York in Louisiana Part II

The two articles below record the role of the 176th New York during June of 1863 while facing Dick Taylor's advance on Brashear City and the Lafourche.

Published in the New York Times on August 8, 1863:

The Capture of Brashear City by the Rebels The Ironsides Regiment.
To the Editor of the New-York Times:
As various statements have reached home concerning the capture of Brashear City and the One Hundred and Seventy-sixth New-York State Volunteers, known as the "Ironsides," and as it is desirable that our friends should learn the truth, I will endeavor to give you a sketch of the whole affair. 
Our regiment encamped at Brashear City on the 1st of June; two companies (A and F) were sent to Fort Buchanan, at the head of Berwick Bay, about two miles from the town; another (I) was sent down to Fort Chene, at the mouth of Bayou Chene, a small bayou running into the Atchafalaya River, about twelve miles below Brashear; Company K was left at Terre Bonne in charge of the stockade, and a portion Company D remained at Thibodaux, under command of the Captain on provost duty. Hence it will be teen that we had at headquarters but five fall companies and a portion of a sixth. While we remained at Brashear we made frequent scouts across Berwick Bay and up the Teche, but without teeing any considerable force of the enemy. At a result or this arduous duty many of the officers and men fell sick, to that not more than one half of the force were actually on duty. Rumors, of the approach of the enemy, under Gens. Mouton and Dick Taylor, were frequent, but no definite information being given, they were not credited.On the morning of June 20, an attack being apprehended at La Fourche, all the available force not sick or on duty left Brashear City for that piece. One battalion numbered 120 men and eight officers, under command of Maj. Morgans; the Twenty-third Connecticut took some 80 men, under the Major, and a company of about 40 men of the Forty-second Massachusetts. When we reached La Fourche, we found about one hundred men of the Twenty-third Connecticut stationed there. Hearing nothing of the enemy, we were about to return to Brashear in the afternoon, when a courier dashed in, reporting their approach. 
They captured Thibodeaux and a portion of our force there, which only numbered about 100 in all -- mostly convalescents. The remainder came safely to La Fourche Crossing, closely pursued by the enemy, who were mounted. Our artillery opened upon them and drove them off, with a loss of two killed and several wounded. An extra train was then tent to Terre Bonne for Company K of our regiment. Just before it reached there, some fifty of the enemy approached under a flag of truce. Lieut. Lyons went out to meet them. During his parley the train arrived, and the Company embarked, seeing which the enemy made' the Lieutenant prisoner, and charged on the 'train, which moved off, and reached La Fourche in safety. This made an accession of twenty-five men to our force. No further demonstrations were made that night. We remained under arms. The rebels were reported as numbering 3,000 men. The next morning we received reinforcements of two companies of the Twenty-sixth Massachusetts, We were underarms all day. At 10 o'clock it commenced raining and continued all that day and night. Our scouts reported the enemy's approach late in the afternoon. The attack was made about 6 1/2 o'clock, just before dark, the enemy advancing through the weeds on our front and endeavoring to turn our right flank. Our line of battle was formed with the One Hundred and Seventy-sixth New-York on the right, supporting one 12-pounder field piece, one company of the Twenty-fifth Connecticut and Twenty-sixth Massachusetts in centre, and Twenty-third Connecticut on the left, at each of which points a piece was planted. The balance of the artillery, 3 pieces, were posted on the railroad bridge -- the Forty-second Massachusetts in reserve. As regards the action itself, I can only speak from personal knowledge of that portion in which the One Hundred and Seventy-sixth regiment was encased, and the right flank, which was held by a company of the Twenty-third Connecticut. The heaviest fire was on the right, where we were engaged. We drew their first and second fires, and then fired from rank at close range, the enemy being not more than three rods distant. This fire proved very destructive and broke them, but rallying, they renewed the fire; but our rapid volleys proved too much for them, and they fled.

The action lasted about an hour; the force engaged on our side did not exceed 225 men, that of the enemy was 500 infantry, with 200 cavalry in reserve who did not take an active part. The enemy's loss was, to our certain knowledge, 68 killed and 70 wounded, including Col. Dixon and Lieut.-Col. Walker, of the Second Texas Mounted Rifles, who were both badly wounded. We have reason to believe that a much larger number of the enemy were wounded than they acknowledged at the time. Our loss was 7 killed and 32 wounded, including two killed and 15 wounded from the One Hundred and Seventy-sixth. Our force being worn out with exhaustion and fatigue, and uncertain as to the number of the enemy, did not attempt to pursue them. A word or two concerning the conduct of the One Hundred and Seventy-sixth, while under fire: Although it was the first time they had been in action, not a man flinched, but all stood like veterans. Our Ma[???]e, MORGAN MORGANS, Jr., distinguished himself by his gallantry and bravery. This was his first fight, vet his orders were delivered as coolly as if drilling the battalion; receiving no orders, he fought as long as there was a rebel to be shot at.
On Monday reinforcements arrived, under Col. Cahill, consisting of the Ninth Connecticut and the Fifteenth Maine. On Tuesday the One Hundred and Seventy-sixth New-York and the Fifteenth Maine, with a section of artillery and a company of cavalry, advanced to Thibodeaux, and found the enemy had left the night previous for Brashear City. Our battalion remained at Thibodeaux till Wednesday, when, receiving intelligence of the approach of a large body of the enemy, we fell back to La Fourche, from whence the entire force fell back to Boutte Station. Our battalion was sent to New-Orleans, where we first heard of the capture of Brashear. 
On the arrival of the men who had been paroled we learned the full particulars. It seems that Lieut. Col. Duganne left Brashear with all the force, infantry and artillery, be could get together, on Sunday, June 21st, and cams down to Bayou Boeuf Station with about 300 men. The enemy made some offensive demonstrations to attract attention, meanwhile crossing a portion of their force in sugar coolers and piroques, at the head of Bayou Boeuf, whence they went up to Brashear City. At four o'clock on Tuesday moraine, June 23, the enemy opened upon Brashear from across the bay with a battery of ten or twelve pieces; heavy firing was continued for several hours, attracting the attention of the few men there, who were, with few exceptions, sick and convalescents, when suddenly the Confederate yell was heard in the rear, and a force of about three hundred was discovered close at hand. There being no leader, the men fought in little squads for a short time, but were overpowered by numbers. Our gallant Colonel, Charles C. Holt, who had been sick for nearly three months, mounted his horse to endeavor to rally the men, but fell twice. A colored company of the Second regiment Ullman's brigade made a good stand, but were cut to pieces, and, I understand, alt killed -- the last seen of them, their Commander stood with a few men about him, fighting desperately. The Provost-Guard, some 12 men under Lieut. L.W. Stevenson, also did well; the Lieutenant and three of the men were wounded. It is currently reported that the commanding officer of the post. Major Anthony, of the Second Rhode Island cavalry, did nothing to rally the men or to defend the place in the least. 
After the surrender, the enemy sent a portion of their force to attack Bayou Boeuf in the rear, and on Wednesday morning, Lieut.-Col. Duganne, finding himself completely surrounded, and believing resistance to be useless, surrendered. Unfortunately, in the haste of leaving Brashear on Saturday, the regimental colors were not taken, and were consequently captured by the enemy. 
The only officers of the regiment not captured were Maj. M. Horgans, Jr., Capts. Homer, Terry, Barbor and Johnson, Adjt. Edsall, Lieuts. Irving, Landers, Kehr, Goodsell, West, Stephenson and Weed, These were all with the battalion at La Lourche, with the exception of Capt. Johnson, who was sick in New-Orleans.

The paroled prisoners report that the officers and men were treated with great kindness by the Texans who would share their rations with them, but that while they were guarded by the Louisiana troops their treatment was severe. T.

The below article appeared in the Goshen Democrat (posted at the New York State Military Museum):

The Ironsides Regiment.As a portion of this regiment is composed of men from this vicinity (who enlisted under Colonel Wood and were subsequently consolidated with the Ironsides), the following letter, which we find in the Goshen Democrat, will prove of interest:NEW ORLEANS, LA., JUNE, 26, 1863.FRIEND T____ :Having fulfilled the promise of writing to all my near friends, I will occupy a few spare moments I have in writing you a short letter. 
Well, the Ironsides Regiment is laid on the shelf for the present, as far as active duty is concerned. There remains but about one hundred and forty members for duty, the remainder being taken prisoners with our Colonel and Lieutenant-Colonel. The regiment has been at Brashear City for the past month, skirmishing daily with the enemy across the bay and up the Teche country. 
Last Saturday morning we received a dispatch from Thibodeaux, that a large cavalry force had got in the rear of us and marching on that place, hereupon a detachment of the One Hundred and Seventy-sixth was ordered to take the cars to Lafourche Crossing, distant from Thibodeaux four miles, and from Brashear City twenty-five. We arrived at Lafourche in due time and found everything quiet, remained until night when we were ordered to return. Just then in came a courier, stating that fifteen hundred mounted Rebels were within two miles of Thibodeaux. We accordingly began preparing for them. Their advance guard rode in town, capturing some twelve of our company, who were on foot, and one company of the Twelfth Maine. 
Our Captain, who was mounted, escaped with some others, and came into camp closely pursued by the Rebels. They rode to within thirty rods of our lines, when we sent a shell from a 12-pound howitzer among them, dismounting about half a dozen of them, when they retreated back toward Thiboudeaux. Nothing more was heard from them except picket firing until the next night, when they advanced under a drenching rain, driving our pickets before them. We were formed in a line of battle, our left resting on the bank of the bayou, our regiment in the centre, a 12-pounder on each flank, supported by a company each, of the Twenty-Third Connecticut, and a rifled piece in the centre. 
They opened first with canister from a piece they had concealed behind a distant sugar house, but we silenced it after firing three rounds. They then charged with a yell through the thich [sic] weeds, in front, firing at the same time. Our boys did not fire until their line was within thirty feet of ours when we opened on them with a murderous fire and it cheeked them immediately. They rallied and charged again on the left flank, getting one of our guns in their possession, but only for a moment.—One Rebel Lieutenant layed [sic] his pistol across it and demanded the surrender of the piece, when he was picked up instantly on at least six bayonets. Three others met the same fate, and seeing they could not break our lines they fell back in the darkness, evidently not well satisfied with their evening's entertainment. 
The groans of their wounded were terrible. They lost eighty killed and one hundred wounded. Nearly all fell within fifty feet of our lines. We lost ten killed and twenty wounded. We took about thirty prisoners. It was the Second Texas that charged on us; they were three hundred and fifty strong, while we had but two hundred and twenty-five engaged in the fight. They fought desperately and bravely, but they could not break our lines, our boys never give way one foot, but stood and fought like veterans. We had only one hundred and ten of our regiment engaged. They say it is the first time they were ever whipped, and indeed they were as fine looking men as I ever saw. They were with Price in Missouri and Arkansas, and at the taking of the Harriet Lane. 
The next day we went in force to Thibodeaux, but they had retreated and left their Lieutenant-Colonel there badly wounded; the Colonel was wounded in the arm and leg, but escaped with them. We killed two Captains and four Lieutenants outright. Our company had seventeen men in the fight, including the Second Lieutenant, and we had six wounded. I myself had a very narrow escape. I was capping my gun, with my head slightly bent, when a bullet grazed my temple and cheek, leaving a mark as it went and striking the button on my shoulder and cut the cloth strap nearly off. It turned my head around for a few moments. 
Old John Finley has sustained his reputation as a marksman. Being out on picket, three Rebels rode by at some distance off, when he fired, bringing one of them to the ground. Our Adjutant, T. Henry Edsall, is a very brave and skillful soldier. He was in the thickest of the fight with a rifle in his hand, but he over-exerted himself and was carried to the rear before the firing ceased. The day after the battle, a negro came riding in, stating that seven thousand Rebels were advancing on us, which we soon found out to be true. Not having one third of their force we began retreating, burning bridges behind us as we went. We arrived opposite New Orleans the next night, and there learned that our Colonel, Lieutenant-Colonel and the remainder of the regiment had been captured, with all our knapsacks, but heard no particulars of the battle. We have not had a blanket to lay on for the past week, and it has rained near all the time. We are staying at present on a race course, about four miles above New Orleans. The Rebels now occupy the country between Oppelousas and New Orleans. Magruder is in the state with about 15,000 men, but Banks will take care of him, if things go right at Port Hudson, and no doubt they will, as the news from there yesterday was very favorable. If we ever do get back in the Lafourche country again, we will lay waste everything. The very planters whose property we protected, and even supplied them with guards, fired on us on our retreat.Mr. Alexander Ross, formerly of Goshen, was doing a fine mercantile business at Thibodeaux. He was absent at the city at the time, and being the only Union merchant in the place, his store was pointed out instantly to the Rebels, who entirely emptied it of its contents. But I must close. Give my respects to all the friends and answer soon. 
Yours, HARRY GORDON,Acting orderly, Co. D., 176th Regiment, N. Y. V.P. S.—I send you a list of our wounded of company D, which I wish you would have the Democrat publish for the benefit of their friends.Corporal A. Nelson Smith, of Chester, mortally, in the groin, now in the hands of the Rebels. Privates.—J. E. Redner, Chester, through the wrist; William H. H. Hall, Chester, legs off, prisoner; George Slauson, Monroe, leg, prisoner; Edwin Sanders, New York, hip, prisoner; Richard Shortall, New York, in shoulder.Sergt. S. K. Wood, Newburgh, accidentally, jaw. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

176th New York in Louisiana, Part 1

The 176th New York Infantry "Ironsides" Regiment served in Louisiana from January 1863 to July of 1864. Found several news articles on the "Ironsides" that provide detailed accounts of its role in Louisiana in several of its campaigns.

A brief account of the 176th New York in Louisiana is drawn from The Union army: a history of military affairs in the loyal states, 1861-65 -- records of the regiments in the Union army -- cyclopedia of battles -- memoirs of commanders and soldiers. Madison, WI: Federal Pub. Co., 1908. volume II.

"It left the state under command of Col. Nott on Jan. 11, 1863, and embarked on transports for New Orleans. On its arrival it was stationed in the defenses of New Orleans for several weeks and was attached to Augur's division of the 19th corps, when that corps was organized. It formed part of the garrison of New Orleans during the siege of Port Hudson, and took an active part in repelling the advance of the enemy under Gen. Taylor. During June, 1863, detachments of the regiment participated in the skirmishes at Pat-tersonville, La Fourche crossing, Thibodeaux, Fort Buchanan, Bayou Boeuff and Brashier City. In the action at La Fourche crossing, the regiment was commanded by Maj. Morgan and behaved most gallantly; in the actions at Fort Buchanan, on the Atchafalaya, and at Brashear City, the regiment met with serious disaster, over 400 men being captured. This disaster was not due to lack of bravery on the part of the men. There was no one in command, but the men fought with all the bravery that could be expected. The loss of the regiment in the above actions amounted to 464 killed, wounded and captured or missing. In the spring of 1864, attached to the 3d brigade, Grover's division, 19th corps, it took part in Banks' Red River campaign, being engaged at Mansura and Simsport. In July it returned to Virginia..."

This following newspaper article is posted at the New York State Military Museum - an amazing collection of Civil War material relating to New York. This letter was written from Houma, La on May 6, 1863 from the 176th New York: 

CORRESPONDENCE FROM THE SOUTHWEST.A Letter from one of the 176th Regiment.PARISH OF TERRA BONNE,HOUMA, LA., May 6th, 1863.To the Editor of the Times:Knowing the great interest you take in the affairs of our Nation, and supposing that it would be interesting to you to receive & few lines from the Pelican State, I will give you a brief history of my experience since I left home. You will remember that I was left behind lame when the Ironside Regiment sailed for New Orleans. As soon as I was able I came on in the ship West Point, and when I reached New Orleans I was sent by mistake to Baton Rouge, where my regiment was at the time supposed to be. I arrived there soon enough to be a distant spectator of the night bombardment of Port Hudson, and to witness the destruction of the frigate Mississippi. While on the way up the River, and at the city of Baton Rouge and vicinity, I had a good chance to become acquainted with the real condition of national affairs in this State. The whole country has resting upon it the gloom of political death, for the few white people that still remain here are mostly the aged, the widows, children, and the infirm. Scarcely a healthy white man seen, and the few pretended loyal people remaining have a dishonest hang-dog look, that stamps them as villains [sic], hypocrites, and traitors, as soon as you see them. The only real friends the soldier finds here are the poor contrabands, who, deserted by their masters, to starve in the hour of danger, are in the fullness of their grateful hearts ever ready to help us. I thought, with a great many other's, that the Emancipation Proclamation would only increase the troubles of the country and be of no material benefit. But I am glad to find that the Copperheaded idea is erroneous in every particular. The colored men of this State enlist very willingly. There are now five regiments. They learn fast, take a great interest in doing their duty, and do not manifest as brutal and as savage a disposition toward their former masters as our peace Democrats and Copperhead traitors have predicted. I find the colored men a far more intelligent race than I supposed. Brought up as they have been, they would in most cases, if left to themselves, have before now devastated this entire section of country, and would have spread terror on every side. But either led by the hand of God, or possessed of a full knowledge of the position of affairs, they seem to assimilate themselves with the new order of things. They grasp eagerly after knowledge. The primmer is seen in the hand of the colored soldier and he learns his A, B, C's at the same time that he does his military evolutions. Here there is a great field for men who have true American hearts to benefit themselves, their country, and at the same time elevate a long down-trodden and oppressed race. I never before felt how really this is a war of freedom. But it surely is not only to the Blacks, but also to the Whites, for the spirit that influences the slaveholder has no feeling in common with his fellow man. It has been truly said of it that it is the sum of human villany [sic]. I could fill a quire of paper, had I the time, with cases of outrage of the most terrible character, and each of which could be verified in this parish of Terre Bonne. But it is useless to add to already existing proof. Let the political grave in which this beautiful country will soon be buried cover its crimes; a glorious resurrection awaits it.  
After I left Baton Rouge, I came out to this parish, where I found our regiment on the New Orleans and Opelousas Railroad, under General Weitzel. We were soon ordered to Berwick's Bay, opposite Brasher City. Our forces were found to be too weak to hold the position, as the rebels observing General Banks advancing on Port Hudson, prepared to attack Berwick and retake the railroad. Weitzel fell back with two companies of the Ironsides and covered the retreat for 48 hours. One of our reconnoitering parties, returned with the gunboat Diana, and was captured. General Banks immediately moved his whole force from Baton Rouge, passed rapidly to Berwick Bay, crossed over towards Bayou Teche, and in a series of engagements during the past three weeks has defeated and driven the Rebels 150 miles, recaptured the Diana, Queen of the West, and destroyed the Rebel fleet on the Atchafalaya. He also captured 2,000 Rebels, and thousands of horses, mules, cattle, cotton bales, sugar, etc., and destroyed important salt works. To-day we hear the retreating Rebels have made a stand at Washington, La., where they are being reinforced from Texas. If so, reinforcements must be sent to Banks, for we have to hold all the important places taken, which spreads our forces over a great extent of country. A desperate conflict, I think, will take place soon, somewhere on the route to Texas, as the Rebels will suffer more from the loss of supplies from that direction than they would from the loss of Richmond or Charleston at the present time. But after another grain harvest in the States east of the Mississippi, Texas would be of less value to them, as they could get supplies from there. At present those States have nothing to spare. 
Our regiment now does the Provost duty over a large extent of country, holding confiscated plantations, guarding the Blacks at work on them, scouting the country to prevent the operations of guerrillas, enforcing the laws of the United States, etc. The mail closes. I will write more fully and take time to inform you of passing events. Yours, respectfully, The Ironsides Regiment.

Monday, January 19, 2015

31st Massachusetts in Teche & Port Hudson Campaigns

Found a blog on the 31st Massachusetts Infantry Regiment in which the author put together a nice write up on the 31st Massachusetts in the Teche and Port Hudson Campaigns. Follow the link to read about this regiment's role from March - early July of 1863 in Louisiana. This website was formed after a large number of 31st Massachusetts primary material was discovered at the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History in Springfield, Massachusetts. 

Below is a brief history of the 31st Massachusetts:

 The 31st Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf. was raised by Gen. Butler in the fall of 1861 and early part of the winter following. It was first known as the Western Bay State Regiment. It was organized at Camp Seward, Pittsfield, and its members were mustered into service mostly during November and December. A contention having arisen between Governor Andrew and Gen. Butler over the latter's authority to raise troops in Massachusetts, the 31st was at first in charge of Acting Lieut. Col. Charles M. Whelden of Pittsfield. About Feb. 1, 1862, the regiment was transferred to Camp Chase, Lowell, and on the 20th it embarked for the seat of war. After delays at Fort Monroe and Port Royal, on March 23 it reached Ship Island in the Gulf of Mexico. The questions in dispute between Governor Andrew and Gen. Butler having been settled, Oliver P. Gooding, formerly first lieutenant in the 10th U. S. Inf., was commissioned colonel to date from Feb. 8, and most of the other field and staff and line officers were commissioned to date from Feb. 20. The regiment was now officially known as the 31st Mass., and was assigned to Gen, Thomas Williams' (2d) Brigade.
     After the fall of Forts Jackson and St. Philip it was sent to New Orleans where it was the first regiment to land. During the summer and fall it did guard and provost duty at New Orleans and the forts. With the organization of the 19th Corps in January, 1863, seven companies of the 31st became a part of the 3d Brigade, 3d Division, the three other companies being stationed at Fort Pike. The main body of the regiment now joined the forces at Baton Rouge and in the middle of March cooperated with the fleet in its passage of the batteries at Port Hudson.
     It now proceeded to Algiers and joined the Teche expedition, Col. Gooding being in command of the brigade. It was engaged with loss at Fort Bisland, April 13, then advanced through Opelousas to Alexandria on the Red River. Returning thence via Simsport and Bayou Sara to Port Hudson it was present during the siege, losing 64 men mostly in the assault of the 14th of June, 18 being killed or mortally wounded. After the formal surrender, July 9, it accompanied Gen. Weitzel's expedition to Donaldsonville, returning to Baton Rouge, Sept. 2. On the 9th it was rejoined by the three companies from Fort Pike, and now became a part of the 2d Brigade, I at Division.
     In December, 1863, the 31st was armed and equipped as cavalry and stationed at Carrollton, being commonly known as the 6th Mass. Cav. During the winter 330 men re-enlisted and were re-mustered Feb. 23. The regiment now formed a part of the 4th Cavalry Brigade under Col. N. A. M. Dudley.
     Feb. 9, 1864, it crossed the Mississippi to Algiers and proceeded up the Mississippi to Donaldsonville, thence via La Fourche Bayou to Thibodeau. Turning west and northwest it followed its old route of April and May, 1862, through Opelousas to Alexandria on the Red River, reaching the latter place March 20. Advancing from here up the Red River toward Shreveport, on April 8 it met the enemy at Sabine Cross Roads above Natch- itoches, where the main Union force was defeated, the 31st losing 62, of whom 11 were killed or mortally wounded.
     Retreating southward it was engaged with low at Cane River, Hudnot's Plantation, Moore's Plantation, and elsewhere in the neighborhood of Alexandria. Diverging toward Simsport it was engaged at Yellow Bayou just north of that city May 18, losing 32 men of whom nearly half were killed or mortally wounded.
     Arriving at Simsport on the 19th, three days later the regiment reached Morganzia on the Mississippi. On July 3 the regiment returned to Algiers, the re- enlisted men proceeding thence to Cairo and homeward to Massachusetts on veteran furloughs, starting from Algiers July 21, and returning September 19. Before leaving for home they turned in their horses, but on their return they were again equipped as cavalry. They were then stationed opposite Donaldsonville to keep down the guerrilla bands, and were later engaged in the operations against Mobile, Ala., occupying that city after its surrender until the close of the regiment's service.
     It was mustered out Sept. 9, 1865, transported to New Orleans, and from there sent to Massachusetts. Boston Harbor was reached Sept. 24, and on the 30th the regiment, since February only a battalion of five companies, was paid off and discharged.

Monday, January 12, 2015

91st New York in the Teche Campaign

In March of 1863, Nathaniel Banks began moving the balance of his army toward Brashear City (modern day Morgan City) to march through the Teche-Opelousas region. The goal of this movement was to flank the Confederate bastion of Port Hudson which sat just north of Baton Rouge. Below is the account of the 91st New York Infantry Regiment from April 7 - May 1, 1863. This accounts for the regiments movements from Bayou Boeuf to the town of Washington, just  a few miles north of Opelousas.

Itinerary of the 91st New York March-May 1, 1863:

Duty at Baton Rouge, La., until March, 1863.
Operations against Port Hudson March 7-27. 
Moved to Donaldsonville March 26, thence to Brashear City.
Operations in Western Louisiana April 9-May 14
Teche Campaign - Fort Bisland April 11-20 
Madam Porter's and McWilliams' Plantations at Indian Bend April 13 
Irish Bend April 14 
Vermillion Bayou April 17 
Opelousas April 20

Letter from the 91st New York Infantry Regiment

Graphic Account of an Expedition in which the 91st (Albany) Regiment took part.

Saturday, May 2d, 1863.
My Dear Mother—
Our regiment left Bayou Boeuf about the 7th or 8th of April, for Brashear City, some 10 miles, on foot, arriving about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. The city, so called, is about as large as our Greenbush; but the amount of business in peaceable times is immense. It is situated on Berwick Bay, capable of floating the largest vessels, and also connects with New Orleans by railroad, and a railroad graded to Opelousas. 
On the afternoon of Saturday, April 11th, our division were put aboard gunboats, steamboats, and steamers of various kinds—the 91st Regiment taking the steamer "John C. Calhoun," a vessel taken from the rebels. The vessel had on board three of the heaviest guns, besides a crew that were willing to do duty in any case. On Sunday morning [April 12th], being all ready, we steamed up Grand Lake, somewhat cautious, and came opposite Indian Landing, where we laid-to until morning, when all hands landed as orderly as possible.
The 6th Regiment and 1st Louisiana went on shore, and were met by some rebel cavalry, but finally drove them into a sugar house, where our artillery gave them some shells, which sent them on a "right smart" run into the woods, where we left them for the night.

The 91st were stationed at the road, and opposite the residence of Madam Porter, an old secession lady, but as we were not on women, we left her to her own fate, taking, however, a considerable number of wagons and mules, and all the negroes disposed to go.

I will mention that when the "rebs" left, they undertook to burn the bridge, and the "darks," for once, done us good service by putting it out. The 91st laid here till dark, when they were ordered to cross the bridge, which was done in good order; and all hands took a sleep for the night.

Tuesday morning, April 14th, the troops were again on the march, shortly after daylight, without even coffee or crackers, and marched up the road, opposite to a sugar-cane brake, where the artillery and 13th Conn. were engaged with the enemy on one end of the field on the edge of the woods, and the 26th Maine and 159th New York more in the centre and on the right. These two last regiments were getting cut to pieces terribly. The 159th had their Colonel wounded and Lieut. Colonel killed, and the men being thrown into confusion, were firing too high or too low; and the Maine regiment taking themselves to the drains to avoid the fire of the enemy, were of no service.

Then came our turn. Gen. Grover rode up and ordered these regiments to retreat; and I heard him say, "Send the 91st." We got the order "right flank" into the field, and then the order "front," and went up in line of battle, so that we could cover the retreating regiments, and within about forty rods of the enemy, who were perched in trees, behind fences, and in the cane brake, sending their leaden messengers at us in good style—whistling over our heads and dropping at our feet. Our whole regiment gave them two rounds of balls, which staggered them considerably. We then dropped on the ground and fired several rounds in that situation, when we up and ran for the woods, and drove them completely out, picking up their wounded and taking some prisoners. We kept the woods until the afternoon—the rebels with their gunboat "Diana" shelling us—while they retreated over the bayou, and set fire to their gunboat and let her drift down the bayou. We then started out after them again, and came to a sugar house on a large plantation, the owner of which had left with his rebel friends, and here we went in for sugar, chickens, sheep, and everything that would satisfy the cravings of hunger.

The troops, after getting a sufficient supply, and supposing to have a good meal, were ordered back some two miles, where we started from in the morning, being obliged to leave their food behind. We encamped that night in a corn field, hungry, tired, foot-sore and reckless in regard to ourselves. About 9 o'clock we got some coffee and crackers, the first we tasted since the night, before. This was on Tuesday, April 14th.
On the morning of the 15th we were off again, and passed some of the most splendid residences to be met with anywhere; as rich a soil as I ever saw North. On each side of the road were thousands of blackberries, pears, onions and vegetables of every description. The 16th and 17th we still marched on—resting at night—and arrived on Friday evening at the Vermillion Bayou, where we had the rebels almost in our reach. Here they burnt another bridge, which stopped our further progress. They held up and gave us a slight skirmish, to make their work sure of burning the bridge.

We camped here until Sunday afternoon, the 19th. The 91st Regiment being located near a farm house, we had plenty of good water, sweet potatoes and fresh meat—one blessing, thank God. We rested here until Sunday afternoon 4 o'clock, when, the 91st being the rear guard, and the baggage crossing over, we then proceeded at almost "double quick," only resting once in 13 miles, part of the way over a prairie some eight miles in width, and at night it was almost impossible to keep the right road. 

I will mention that, Sunday afternoon, we went through a small village called Vermillion, where white flags were as thick as snow flakes, the owners of which no doubt were firing at us on Friday night. That's my belief in their friendship. All along our march we get the curses of the whites and the prayers of the blacks. I may be somewhat mistaken in regard to the whites, but I think not. The negroes are sincere. 

Monday, April 20th, we started again, chasing the "rebs" pretty close, and at 5 o'clock came within a mile of Opelousas, the capital of the "rebs" in Louisiana, where we heard that they had surrendered, and the Legislature broke up. Here we took a rest until Wednesday morning, the 22d, when we again started for Washington, passed through, and came to another bridge which they had burned; this delayed us till morning, when we were off again  at daylight—all the time at their heels; but they being better runners, kept ahead. 

Thursday night [April 23rd] we put up at a large plantation, which we took possession of, and helped ourselves to cotton, sugar, chickens, sweet potatoes and beef, and all the young "darks." 
Friday afternoon we went into another plantation, and laid up until Tuesday morning, living very well.

On Saturday [April 25th], between daylight and dark, I witnessed a sad sight—the shooting of one of the 131st Regiment for stealing from loyal citizens. 

On Tuesday morning [April 28th] we started again for Washington, and came within four miles, where we encamped until Friday morning, the 1st May, and as we were about breaking up camp, the rebels gave our cavalry some trouble, but three or four shells sent them back in the woods. The cavalry being reinforced, drove them some 11 miles back. We have traveled some 300 miles taken some 2,000 prisoners, as much as a million dollars worth of cotton, any quantity of sugar, lots of horses, mules and "darks." The army and the expedition has been as successful as possible in a strange country.

With the bright side of our doings comes the dark. Our regiment lost some three men killed and eleven wounded. Other regiments were more unfortunate, which you will see by the papers. I think after these trials no man need be ashamed of belonging to the 91st Regiment.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Louisiana Account of Sharpsburg

At the Battle of Sharpsburg, September 17, 1862, Brigadier General Harry T. Hays' First Louisiana Brigade (5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 14th Louisiana Regiments) was subjected to a short, intense and bloody fight near Dunker Church. About sunrise the brigade was ordered out of the West Woods, across Hagerstown Pike, and into the clover field between the West and East Woods. This put Hays' small command of about 550 men in a cross fire from Miller's Cornfield, East Woods and supporting batteries from behind each Union location.

Below is the account of Captain Fred Richardson of Company F, 5th Louisiana Infantry as it appeared in the Memphis Daily Appeal, October 11, 1862:

Map showing Lawton's (Douglass') and Hays' Brigades engaged in the clover field between West and East Woods. 

The Memphis Daily Appeal – October 11, 1862
From the Battle-Field – Loss of Louisianians
EDITOR’S APPEAL: The following is an extract of a letter from Captain Fred Richardson of the Orleans Southrons, Company F, Fifth Louisiana Volunteers, to a friend at Arcola, La., giving the casualties of the company, and also among the officers of the regiment.  We send the extract particularly for the benefit of numerous friends of our lamented friend, Lieutenant N. A. Caufield and his brother, William, many of who are residents of our ill-fated Crescent City, hoping by some chance it may reach the afflicted parents.                                                                                                                            
Lieutenant Caufield was in Richmond at the time our regiment joined the 8th brigade under Jackson, and did not join us until after our battle at Slaughter Mountain.  He participated in the subsequent fights at Bristol, also the three days battles at Manassas and the battle of Chantilly, which followed, and was present during our advance into Maryland, and at the capture of Harper’s Ferry, again crossed the Potomac, and was killed at the battle of Sharpsburg.  The circumstances attending his death are as follows:  Our brigade was ordered into a corn-field to the support of two batteries, which were firing from either flank.  Shortly after obtaining our position, the enemy’s shells came so thick and fast that General Hays ordered us to lie down.  Our c0mpany was small, and we (the officers) laid down behind it.  William, Lieutenant Caufield’s brother, was leaning immediately in his front.  Nick was reclining on his elbow, conversing with Lieut. [James] Gubbins of our camp.  Lieutenant Fitzpatrick, of Company B, by the side of him, was struck, and Nick remarked: “Fitz, you are hit.”  Many of those surrounding us were uttering exclamations of “Oh,” etc., as they were shot, when, all at once, a shell from the enemy plunged through my poor camp, passing first through the body of Willam, then cut off the leg of John Fitzsimmons, then both feet of D[avid] Jenkins, and passed through my poor friend Nick, entering at the small of the back, coming out at the breast, tearing out and exposing his heart.  I immediately jumped up, but he was beyond the possibility of being assisted.  I advanced my face close to his and called him by name, but his eyes were fixed, and he was supporting himself on his elbow in his last throes.  Oh! the anguish I feel at the sight of my poor friend, who, a moment before, was buoyant in spirits, even whilst the leaden messengers of death were dealing destruction around us, now in the hands of his Maker, and the thought rushed fast to my mind of the feelings of his poor mother and family on hearing of the loss of her two boys, the pride of her heart.  In Lieutenant Caufield we have lost a brave and efficient officer, one idolized by our company, and beloved by the officers and men of his regiment.  By the one shot I lost three killed – Lieutenant Caufield, William Caufield and John Fitzsimmons. Beside David Jenkins, who had both of his feet cut off.  The regiment went into the fight with about one hundred men, and lost in killed and wounded 57.  Our brigade suffered terribly having but 95 men in line of battle next morning.  The loss of the brigade was more than one-half.  It consists of the 5th, 6th, 7th and 14th Infantry Louisiana Volunteers and the Louisiana Guard Artillery battery, Captain D’Aquin, (late Girardey’s).  The 7th alone lost 14 officers.  Among the killed are Colonel Strong of the 6th and the Captain of Company A of that regiment besides others.  The killed and wounded officers of the 5th Louisiana at Sharpsburg are as follows:……….
Besides the above, there are others who were wounded but not disabled, viz, Captain McGuire of company B, struck four times and knocked down twice, and myself knocked down once by a piece of shell in the shoulder. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Gallant Creoles by Michael Marshall

A link has been added to Michael Marshall's history of the Donaldsonville Canonniers on our page "Books on Louisiana Units." 

Here is the write up on the book as it appears at the UL Press website (link above): 

Composed of Creole and Cajun citizen-soldiers, the Donaldsonville Canonniers were originally organized as a militia company in 1837 and were one of the most active and highly regarded Louisiana units during the American Civil War. Known as the Donaldsonville Artillery during the conflict, the Canonniers were a conspicuous part of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, participating in a number of skirmishes, artillery duels, and battles, including: Yorktown, Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Seven Days, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, North Anna, Second Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and Appomattox Station. The Canonniers reorganized in July 1875 and were eventually accepted into Federal service during the Spanish-American War, before disbanding for good in November 1898. 
 Gallant Creoles: A History of the Donaldsonville Canonniers records the history of this Louisiana militia company and also includes extensive biographies of each Donaldsonville Canonnier who served during the Civil War. 
"An obvious labor of love, Michael Marshall’s history of the Donaldsonville Battery Volunteer Artillery leaves absolutely no source unturned. . . . It is a welcome contribution to anyone’s Civil War library." --Chris Calkins, author of The Appomattox Campaign and The Battles of Appomattox
"Michael Marshall paints a detailed and intimate portrait of a group of young men who left their homes on the Mississippi River and Bayou Lafourche to try and make good on the Confederacy’s claims of independence. These rugged gunners faced the shot and shell thrown at Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia with pluck and nerve, all the while standing to their duty—and their guns—resolved to see this chore through to its end. When the smoke cleared, a battle tested remnant returned to the Pelican State confident they had done their duty.  A great story, well told."
--Donald S. Frazier, author of Fire in the Cane Fields and Thunder Across the Swamp 
"Thoroughly researched, rich in detail, Michael Marshall’s Gallant Creoles is a stunning tribute to a little known artillery unit from southeast Louisiana—Le Canonniers de Donaldsonville. Marshall’s mastery in chronicling the history of this colorful group of artillerists who faithfully served in the Army of Northern Virginia is a must read for any Civil War enthusiast."
--Christopher G. Peña, author of Scarred By War: Civil War in Southeast Louisiana  
About the Author
Michael Marshall is a retired New Orleans Police Department detective and sergeant. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Southeastern Louisiana University. He is also a former World History and Publications high school teacher and U.S. Marine. His interest in the Civil War began at a very young age during the conflict’s centennial commemorations and family visits to battlefield parks. The proud father of two sons, he currently resides in Hammond, Louisiana, with his wife.

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