Excerpts from Poché's remarkable diaries, recounting the events of 100 years ago, are printed below
These selected portions of Captain Felix Poché's voluminous journals begin on a date about two weeks before the Battle of Mansfield. The principal figures referred to in the diary include Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks, commanding the Union forces; Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor, leading the Confederate forces in the North Louisiana campaign, and some of Taylor's key officers. These include Brig. Gen. John G. Walker and his Division, made up of William Scurry's, Thomas Waul's and Horace Randal's Texas Brigades; Brig. Gen. Alfred Mouton and his Division made up of his own brigade and those of Henry Gray and Camille Polignac, a French prince who joined the Confederate Army and was a hero at Mansfield; and Brig. Gen. Thomas Green, who was killed a few days after the Battle of Mansfield while leading cavalry forces against Federal gunboats on the Red River. Mouton was killed in the Mansfield fight.
Poché a commissary subsistence officer, volunteered to serve asAide de Camp to Gray at the Battle of Mansfield.
As these diary entries were written, Rebel forces had been retreating from South and East Louisiana in the face of a superior enemy until Gen. Taylor decided to make a stand at Mansfield.
MARCH 26: The enemy is not advancing today. General (Thomas) Green didn't arrive today and everyone is greatly disappointed, as with him we are strong and without him very weak as we haven't enough cavalry. Gen. Taylor is much too prudent abandoning all of beautiful Louisiana to the enemy and accumulating his armies in these sad and monotonous pine forests
MARCH 29: I left Natchitoches and descended the river and arrived at Mr. T. Chalus' We heard tonight that the enemy had positively crossed at Monette .and that our cavalry was burning all the cotton as they retreated . . . I saw the planters getting their cotton out of their mills and other buildings, preparing to sacrifice it. The wind was very strong and the cotton that was not baled was scattered in all directions and caught in the little branches of the trees and reminded one of a snow scene in a cold country.
MARCH 30: . . . At three o'clock the road was covered with a cloud of dust from the wagons and men of the cavalry going in great haste, Which gave proof that the enemy advancing in great numbers had made a forceful attack on our cavalry, and that those remaining were retreating in haste with the enemy pursuing them closely . . . I left and followed the hurried retreat of our cavalry. The cotton spoilers were very busy at their task and the quantity of cotton victim to their flames was unbelievable . . . The road all the way to Natchitoches, a distance of 18 miles, was, one could say, a solid flame and the air was permeated with the smell of burning cotton. My heart was filled with sadness at the sight of those lonely plantations obscured by flames and to see the work of an honest industry followed by those good old Creole planters destroyed in the twinkling of an eye. I hope later I shall understand the advantage which the Confederacy hopes to obtain by destroying the very element of their might, as at this time I cannot see the wisdom of it . . . Tonight the enemy is encamped 15 miles from Natchitoches and not knowing whether the enemy would come tonight, I went to bed "tout rond" (completely dressed) . . .
MARCH 31: This morning Natchitoches was completely evacuated by our authorities and I set out this morning going toward Pleasant Hill and traveled through interminable pine forests . . . Our company did not arrive at Pleasant Hill. Tonight the enemy arrived at Natchitoches at five o'clock after a serious skirmish with our cavalry. ..
APRIL 1: . . . I forgot to make a note yesterday that two of Green's regiments had arrived and left immediately for the front, accompanied by the famous Battery of Valverde, and had taken part in yesterday's skirmishes. Our company had almost reached Pleasant Hill, but were stopped . . . I went to spend the night at the camp. (Gen. J. G.) Walker's division camped close to Pleasant Hill. It’s the general opinion that our generals will join in combat around these parts.
APRIL 2: This morning our army went in toward Pleasant Hill and camped on the Natchitoches Road . . . Our generals were prepared to put up a fight. Tonight our company . . . retreated ten miles higher toward Mansfield. Leaving at 11:30, we marched all night and pitched camp this morning at sunup. The army has been on horseback all night I spent a miserable and terrible night . . .
APRIL 3: We heard this morning that yesterday Gen. Taylor had tried to engage the enemy in combat but they had absolutely refused to advance . . . I was not at all well today, with an upset stomach.
APRIL 4: The army began their march early this morning toward Shreveport and passing through Mansfield camped five miles further on the road to Kingston and Shreveport. Mansfield is the county seat for DeSoto Parish and is an ugly little town situated in the pine forests on a rather high hill. The countryside of that parish, even though it is pine country, is better than the pine country north of Red River, and the farms seem a little better.
APRIL 5.: Today the army remained stationary and the troops were given a much-needed rest after marching more than 200 miles, overwhelmed with unheard of fatigue and privations without parallel in history, and especially humiliated by having to flee before an implacable enemy and -leaving their homes and lands for them to pillage and their women and children to their insulting violence . . .
APRIL 6: Today we did not budge. The camp is full of rumors more or less contradictory. However, it would seem that the enemy advances and . . . we will have a fight shortly.
APRIL 7: Our army remained in camp again today . . . After dinner we heard a great deal of cannonading toward Pleasant Hill . . . Our enforcements have all arrived and are a short distance from us. We are filled with hope that we will repulse the enemy.
APRIL 8: This morning at two we received orders to send our troops on the road ahead to Pleasant Hill .... Being very anxious to see the battle, I went to Col. Grey (Henry Gray) at an early hour and offered him my services as aide de camp and my services were accepted. Mouton's division started their march at 6:30 a.m. and passing through Mansfield arrived at the Morse plantation where they arranged themselves in battle formation 21/2 miles below Mansfield. Polignac's brigade formed at our right and Green's division, placed on foot for action, formed the extreme left. Four or five batteries were placed from distance to distance at the most advantageous points
Our position was on a rather high hill at the edge of a forest behind a fence with a large field before us which ended in a forest on a very high hill opposite us. In that position we awaited the enemy, whose cavalry made its appearance about midday on our left at the very moment when our brigade was marching by the left flank to spread more to the left.
The Yankee cavalry, numbering about 500, silently emerging from the woods and coming very bravely toward our line, were at first mistaken for our own men until our generals suddenly recognized them only after they were about 200 feet from our line. General Mouton then ordered the 18th Louisiana to open fire on them, which orders were promptly obeyed, and with the second discharge the enemy's cavalry broke and fled in great disorder, leaving about a tenth wounded and as many prisoners were taken as horses were killed.
The sight of that cavalry advancing so fearlessly, thinking they would meet only a few cavalry men of the rear guard and receiving a heavy volley of musketry and fleeing in disorder, followed by our own cavalry, inspired much enthusiasm among our troops and at General Mouton's request, our company gave three cheers for Louisiana whose sons had let the first blood of the day. General Taylor passed in front of our lines and informed. us that it had been his wish and that we had acquitted ourselves nobly. A second later, the infantry and cavalry of the enemy arrived and arranged themselves in battle formation facing us at the edge of the woods at the extreme edge of -the field which separates us by a half mile distance. Immediately three or four companies of our brigade were placed forward as sharpshooters and boldly exchanged shots with the enemy until 2:30. The enemy's shots fell all around us and wounded quite a number. The Yankee artillery shot at us but with no effect.
At 2:30 General Mouton ordered Col. Grey to increase his sharpshooters and to follow the enemy. Immediately after that we were ordered to leap over the fence and began running and with resounding yells we stormed the enemy. At a distance of 150 feet the enemy opened fire and we were severely battered with musket and cannon shell. The balls and grape shot crashing about us whistled terribly . . .
It was there that Col. Armant and Beard, Lt. Col. Walker and Clack, Major Canfield, Captain Martin of the staff, Capts. Field, Fuller Moore, Poché, Hyatt, Hardenburg and others, a multitude of officers and soldiers, fell, dead or mortally wounded, forming a total of at least 200 out of 1,500. At this point, Adjutant Blackman, seeing the effect the firing was having on the troops, rushed to the front and seizing the standard of the 28th, led that regiment up to the Yankees' line; the latter fled into the forest which was very thick and served as a great protection. The 18th and the Crescent were not as fortunate. They stopped to return the Yankees' firing and suffered a great deal more - the Crescent, especially, was literally shot to pieces.
We passed the thick woods in a continuous terrific shower of shots and arriving at the fence of the next field we received a concentrated shelling which killed a great number of men. It was there where our well-loved general fell dead, the faultlessly brave General Mouton, whose loss will be keenly felt by the Confederate Army. He fell, pierced by five shots, while he alone was routing some 15 Yankees.
There also fell mortally wounded my good friend and companion, Adam Beatty, to whose help I immediately rushed. There also the brave old General Lewis was wounded in the head, although it did not stop him. Polignacs brigade, breaking through the enemy's line then came to our help on the left and in those woods we took almost a thousand prisoners, and two of the enemy's batteries coming up from a third position hastily fled, throwing their arms and equipment on the ground and abandoning their artillery. To the right they still held their position, but Walker's division soon arrived and after a mutual terrific bombardment the Yankees were routed and all their army fled, hotly pursued by our men killing at every step and continuing the chase until nightfall, a distance of several miles.
Thus the day of the 8th ended in a brilliant and complete victory and particularly, rich in results, as the following fell into our hands: 1,500 prisoners, 22 pieces of artillery, 250 wagons filled with provisions left behind in their haste, ammunition, tents, clothes and medicine.
Tonight we slept so near the enemy that we could hear their drums and the roll call.
About 9 o'clock they fired a charge of musketry which made us all lie flat on the ground.
Under the circumstances it is easily understood that we didn't get much sleep, but at two o'clock I set out toward our brigade which I had left five miles further down, but I did not find them as all the army had gone further down in pursuit of the enemy.
I arrived at Pleasant Hill at eight o’clock, immediately following a battle which the army had with the enemy. The victory over our enemy, who abandoned their dead and wounded.
APRIL 9: This morning at Col. Grey's request, I returned to camp to order rations for our men, a distance of about ten miles. Both going and returning, I passed, through Mansfield where I stopped to visit the hospitals which were filled with the wounded and dying. I could not find my friend Beatty for quite awhile, and he was already dead, as also was Capt. Martin. I saw my friends Alex Poché, September Weber, Lt. Ganier and Louis Becent, who had been brought to a private home. What a pitiable sight were those hospitals crowded with the wounded, the dying and the dead, friends and enemies, side by side, some calling for help, others groaning so pitifully that I left with a heavy heart.
But on the other hand, the ladies running on all sides bringing meat and sweets, food and drink, amid the suffering of their country was a spectacle upon which the patriotic eye feasted . . .
I left Mansfield at three and passed by the battlefield on the way to meet my brigade which I had left five miles further south, but I didn't find them as the entire army was pursuing the enemy.
Because of a slight confusion in our ranks, our victory today was not as brilliant as yesterday and certainly not as rich in results, as night fell at the moment of victory and we could not pursue them and only captured several hundred prisoners.
As yesterday, the enemy had the choice and therefore the advantageous position, the troops having been place in a very thick forest at the summit of a rambling hill. Likewise, they far outnumbered the Confederates. They numbered more than 20,000, of which one whole company was composed of fresh troops. While we, though we had been reinforced by Churchill's division and Price's army, numbered barely 12,000. Despite all their advantages, the enemy was beaten and lost more men than yesterday. It is estimated that their dead and wounded number between 800 and 1,000.
Due to the thickness of the forest, and the approaching night, a part of our troops, especially Mouton's brigade and that of Polignac at one end of the line and Scurry's brigade and Churchill's division in the right, did not recognize one another and exchanged shots for quite awhile, fortunately without much damage.
The same confusion was in the enemy's ranks and General Taylor verified it that several minutes after he removed his troops the Yankees fought boldly amongst themselves.
Today our losses were much less than yesterday.
APRIL 10: This morning the entire army fell back several miles in a creek,. the only place where water could be procured, and we spent the day resting. However, the cavalry was ordered to advances and about 7,000 strong they began their pursuit of the fleeing enemy. The large numbers of prisoners which passed by us today attested that our cavalry were not amusing themselves.
After dinner, I visited the battlefield of Pleasant Hill and we saw countless numbers of dead, dying and wounded. The field presented a very mournful and touching sight with its dead, the greater number of which were mutilated, some
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Saturday, August 21, 2010
I thought I would post another first hand account of the Siege of Port Hudson. This is a letter from a member of the 75th New York that was written to the New York Herald dated June 17th. The below letter describes the attack of the 75th New York and its brigade on the trenches surrounding Port Hudson on June 14th. The 75th New York went into this attack with 550 men and lost 74 (Cayuga in the Field, page 128):
Saturday evening the order of attack was determined upon at headquarters and communicated to the generals who were to command the assaulting columns. Most of the details were arranged by General Grover. The point of attack was the extreme northeasterly angle of the enemy's breastworks. Five or six days previous to the assault several pieces of the enemy's artillery, which had been in position behind their fortifications, immediately in our front, were dismounted by our guns and abandoned. Those still in position were rendered useless to the rebels by our sharpshooters.
The works consist of an abattis of felled trees for at least 100 yards, then a ditch of 50 feet wide, with four to six feet of water in it, then the glacis of about 20 feet high, sloping gradually to the parapet, on which is a protection for sharpshooters, behind this, say 200 yards, is another line of works on which heavy and field artillery is mounted.
The plan of assault was briefly as follows: the 75th N. Y. under command of Capt. Gray, and the
12th Ct.led by Lieut. Col. Peck, were detailed as skirmishers, forming a separate command, under Lieut. Col. Babcock, of the 75th N. Y. The 91st N. Y., Col Van Zandt commanding—each soldier carrying a five-pound grenade, with his musket thrown over his shoulder—followed next in order. The skirmishers were to creep up and lie in the exterior slope of the enemy's breastworks, while the regiment carrying the grenades were to come up to the same position and throw over the grenades into the enemy's lines, with a view to rout them and drive them from behind their works. The 24th Ct.with their arms in like manner to the grenade regiment, followed, carrying sand bags filled with cotton, which were to be used to fill up the ditch in front of the enemy's breastworks, to enable the assaulting party the more easily to scale them and charge upon the rebels. Following these different regiments came, properly speaking, the balance of Gen. Weitzel's whole brigade, under command of Col. Smith, of the 114th N. Y. The two divisions—Gen. Weitzel's and Gen. Paine's were under command of Gen. Grover, who planned the whole assault after Gen. Bank's order to advance was received by him. Hence the mode of attack was entirely his own. Gen. Weitzel's division was expected to make a lodgement inside, of the enemy's works, and in that manner prepare the way for Gen. Paine's division. After the inside of the enemy's fortifications had been reached skirmishers were to push forward and clear the way while both columns were to be deployed in line of battle and move towards the town of Port , where a grand citadel which forms the last means of rebel defense, is situated. Hudson
After the advance of the 75th and 91st regiments, Gen. Weitzel's entire command commenced moving forward. Several days previous our army engineers had been preparing a covered way, which extended from the woods where our troops lay up to within about 150 yards of the enemy's position. Through this our troops marched in single file up to the point where the first line of battle was formed. Our troops as soon as they had left the cover of the woods, which were scarcely 300 yards from the enemy's breastworks, were subject to the constant fire of the rebel infantry. A portion of our artillery, which was planted some distance in the rear of our advancing forces, kept up a continuous fire at the rebel works. After our skirmishers had picked their way up to within about 30 yards of the enemy's works, they sprang into the ditch, expecting to be able to shelter themselves under the cover of the rebel fortifications, and keep the enemy down while the regiment, with the hand grenades, should advance and perform their part of the work in driving the rebels from their position. The portion of the 75th which succeeded in reaching the ditch were immediately repulsed, and nearly all of them were either killed or wounded. In consequence of the repulse of the portion of the 75th that succeeded in reaching the ditch, the hand grenades could accomplish but little. In fact, although they made many desperate and gallant attempts to be of service, they rather damaged than benefitted [sic] our prospects of success; for as they threw their grenades over the rebel breastworks the rebels actually caught them and hurled them back among us. Meanwhile Gen. Weitzel was making a series of desperate but fruitless attacks. Gen. Dwight's loss in killed and wounded will probably exceed 200. Augur's loss will fall considerably short of that number. The most desperate fighting was done by Gen. Weitzel's old brigade. Col. Smith, leading these veterans, the heroes of many fights, fell early in the action, mortally wounded. A ball pierced his spine and passed round to the right side. The rebel glacis was the worst barrier. Brigade after brigade stormed the works, but all were repulsed.
The fighting ceased at in the morning. We, having been repulsed in every assault, our soldiers under command of their officers, laid themselves down under the shelter of the gullies, trees, covered ... in fact ...... way--in fact, everything that could afford them protection, and waited for the day to pass and darkness come on. Our total loss in this attack upon Port Hudson will probably not fall much short of 1,000. Gen. Gardner was in command, and rebel deserters report him to have been very drunk on the day of the fight. They say so long as there is any whisky in the place he will not surrender Port Hudson.
The fight on the part of Gen. Dwight's command was exceedingly severe, and scarcely less so with Gen. Grover's. The charges made on the rebel works by our brave soldiers showed a determination to carry them at all hazards; but human bravery on this occasion was not adequate to the accomplishment of their object—The most formidable obstacle that presented itself as a barrier to our success was the rebel glacis, which at the point attacked had been constructed in such a manner as to make evey [sic] bullet tell that was fired from the rebel breastworks while our troops were endeavoring to make the ascent.
Immediately upon the fall of Col. Smith, Lieut. Col. Von Petten, of the 160th N. Y., took command of the brigade, and gallantly led the charge until all further hope of driving the rebels from their position was gone. Brigade after brigade followed in rapid succession storming the rebel works, until compelled to fall back under the terrible fire of the enemy. Conspicuous among the brigades that did the most desperate fighting were those under the command of
's Kimball, Morgan and Birge. They were all, however, eventually repulsed with great slaughter. Col
Many of our wounded who were accessible were carried from the field by squads detailed for that purpose. It is a shameful reflection on humanity, that a large number of our soldiers, carrying the wounded and dying from the field on stretchers, were shot down by the enemy, and in several instances the wounded were killed while being borne from the field—at nightfall, however, we commenced the burial of our dead, and succeeded before the morning in carrying most of our wounded from the battle ground
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
I could not dislodge the enemy's sharpshooters from behind the logs, stumps, ravines etc., in front and around my position, for they were well sheltered. In addition, they threw up some deep rifle pits all around my works, distant about two hundred and fifty yards, and from all of these, aided by artilery, He kept up a terrible and steady fire upon every part of my position, until the morning of the 14th June. During this time, I worked almost in-cessantly, principaly at night - owing to the fire through the day which prevented me from work - and by the 14th June, my works were far advanced toward com-pletion at every point. Some nights I caused my men to work all night, and by of the next day I would find all of my work destroyed by the heavy artilery, fired from the enemy's guns. By the 14th June I had lost in addition to the losses on the 27 May, about thirty more men in killed and wounded and my sick list, not withstanding every effort of mine to prevent it, was quite large. And even many of my men that I compelled to remain and report for duty, were so worn down with ague and fever, and desentary as scarcely to be called soldiers or be of any service to me. But they could fight, and so I kept them. When all was summed up, I could muster only about one hundred and twenty five men. With about forty additional, from the 49
regt. who were at the back of my camp as a reserve. Anticipating a furious assault on the morning of the 14th, I ordered, the night before, every man into the ditches, from about my camp, who were able to load and fire a gun. For nearly an hour before daylight on that morning, my position was subjected to the most terrible cannonade that I had yet experienced, which continued until day began to dawn, when the artilery ceased, and the infantry of the enemy began to advance to the assault with about the same numbers and in the same [formation]- the crescent - as on the 27th May, encircling my entire position except my extreme left flank, or northern front. I acted as I did on the 27th and likewise, broke his center twice, but instead of moving his right wing as before toward his center, he moved it by the "flank" under cover of his artilery and sharpshooters up to my ditch again and by digging a small place, or bank ¹ [front?], that intervened between the head of the ravine and said ditch, which was not more than one foot in thickness, filed into the same, with however a much smaller force than before, most of whom however were either killed, or wounded in attempting to storm my works, and afterwards in attempting to effect his retreat. A portion of the 173 Ala. while in this ditch made a most determined effort to drive me from my position, and [so] close was the contact that the guns of the combatants were [mingled?] together at one point, and it was only by the most desperate fighting that they were driven off. About half of this party were killed upon the top of my parapet. And amongst the killed was the Major of the regt. I had a small flanking pit, constructed on the outside or rather under my works, and on the left through and from which I kept continued a deadly fire, until he left the ditch. This pit was subterranean, and could not be seen from the outside, and could not betaken by the enemy, unless he should first take my entire ditches or rifle pits. This was the last ground assault made upon me, and so terrible had been the fighting at this point, that the position was called " New York ". Fort Desperate
Near Port Hudson,
17th June 1863
Last Sunday we had the second attack on the strongholds of our enemies, more severe than the first one. The 173d Regiment being in front, I received the order to advance with my men. As soon as we commenced our advance, a rain of balls came on us and caused a good many casualties, killing and wounding a large number of us. Many of our officers were sick, and only 3 captains remained to command, and we three were fortunately not hurt. Lieut. Schah was killed by my side, when advancing in double quick to the entrenchments. About the same time Serg. Nalte received a shot in the arm, and between them I was fortunate enough to escape.
Lieut. Heinrich Wills was detailed to command 60 men to fill entrenchments with cotton bags, for the purpose of marching over; while he performed this duty a ball entered his leg, which had to be amputated above the knee shortly afterwards. He was taken to the hospital in
. New Orleans
Of my company there were 7 wounded. Wenzlik is in good health. Gass, Koch and Kehm of the 133d regiment have visited me to-day and are also well.
A third attack is expected in a few days, by which General Banks surely thinks to get the place. Capt. Cottshoe, one of the three captains above mentioned, was also killed alongside of me, and only we two captains remained from the whole regiment.
Monday, August 16, 2010
I am also the laundryman; --this profession has less charm than the other. I replace the beater with a shoe brush. Last week, I was washing a shirt; finding that the brush was not removing the accumulation of pork grease and dust quickly enough, I took some yellow sand and obtained the most satisfactory results. But the next day, when I put on this shirt, upon which the eye of the finest laundress could not have found a spot, I experienced an itching that was less than agreeable. I though for a moment that all the little animals usually resident in neglected heads of hair had chosen to live on my back. Immediately removing this inconvenient garment, I shook it vigorously, and then I saw what happens in the desert after a gust of wind, --there fell a rain of sand.
I was on guard again last Sunday. This time, they placed me on one of the numerous roads that lead to the village. I passed my twenty-four hours happily enough. I had around me a magnificent tableau: pines so tall they made me dream of the ends of the earth; laurels and oaks on which the squirrels were playing; great dead trees upon which the woodpeckers were climbing and making drum rolls with their beaks that the famous Rosas himself would have envied. IN the leaves were birds of all sorts, except for the mockingbird, which seems too civilized to inhabit this lost country. In the afternoon, we had some rain, but we didn't suffer thanks to the foresight of our captain, who furnished us with great rubber coats. During the night, I was disturbed only by the plaintive cries of the owls and by the barking of village dogs, who were no doubt flirting with some lovely in amorous ardor.
Since our diet is of a uniformity and a monotony that hardly stimulates the appetite, we often go to 'Aunty's' for a diversion. 'Aunty' is the round and powerful hostess of the most popular restaurant in
We are having six hours of exercises a day. Our captain, who since our arrival has smiled only with his forehead, now begins to smile with his lips--proof that we are making progress.
Our battalion or regiment is not yet organized in a permanent fashion. While waiting, our Captain Roman fills the functions of major, Lieutenant E. Jacob those of adjutant-major, and our sergeant Ed. Barthe'lemy those of sergeant-major.
We receive your newspaper regularyl.
Everything goes well.
To the Meschacebe'
Our Creole battalion is finally organized. Captain Alfred Mouton is lieutenant-colonel and Captain Roman, major. The adjutant-major and the sergeant major are not yet named. The nominations of messieurs Mouton and Roman seem to have satisfied the unanimous wishes of all the companies. If the high intelligence and the military talents of Monsieur Mouton were not already established, his giant height, his herculean torso, and his stentorian voice would suffice to inspire the confidence of the most timid. Monsieur Mouton is the chief of the brave men who banished the brigands of the Attakapas. As for our Major, he is well known.
Here is the list of the companies that compose the battalion:
3rd Company, Acadian Guards, Captain A. Mouton, now lieutenant-colonel; 1st lieutenant, Wm. Mouton; 2nd Lieutenant, F. T. Comeau; 2nd Lieutenant, junion, Arthur Bailey (77 men)
4th Company, St. Landry's Volunteers, Captain Garland; 1st lieutenant, C. D. Bullard; 2nd lieutenant, L. Jacob Auselin; 2nd lieutenant, junior, Ad Debuillon (100 men)
5th Company, Natchitoches Rebels, Captain J. D. Wood; 1st lieutenant, W. B. Owens; 2nd lieutenant, T. Lattier; 2nd lieutenant, junior, R. Emile Cloutier (88 men)
6th Company, Lafourche Guards, Captain Louis Bush; 1st lieutenant J. K. Gourdain; 2nd lieutenant, John Collins; 2nd lieutenant, junior, Tucker (109 men)
Besides these six companies, we are awaiting for Captain Hays and a company from
I reproach myself for not yet having made you acquainted with General Tracy, commander-in-chief of
He acts very spry, and his short legs clamp lightly around a proud charger that must have been young twenty years ago.
He makes his rounds every morning, on foot or on horseback. He is very polite, and his face, in spite of its angry color, radiates constant goodness. He lives in the village in a house just a couple of steps away from the corps guard. He has a parrot that amuses or annoys the sentries.
In my last letter, I told you something about Aunty. Allow me today to tell you something about her neighbor, our worthy friend Tatout. -- Tatout is the proprietor of the major store of
70 years old. His infernal babble is as incessant as that of the general's parrot. His store of ten square feet is built in the shape of a hen-house. On the front is a large window that raises up like a trap and reveals to astonished eyes a thousand and one articles, each one more useless than the other, but which the soldier cannot dispense with. These articles are displayed in the most magnificent disorder. Even in the bazaar, one sees the effect of art. Pipes and tobacco lead the sardines to the oil and ham; onions fraternize with cheese and sugar, etc., etc.
Tatout is truly a man of genius. While selling us his merchandise at five times what its worth, he manages to persuade us that he is giving them to us as half price. At Tatout's place there are always lotteries, where the tickets are sold for half the value of the objects offered as prizes. The happy mortal whom destiny favors cannot resell the prize that he has won for the price of the ticket. --At Tatout's, as at Aunty's and her confreres, the bottle plays the role of chandelier. This necessary object seems completely unknown here in its natural form.
We are all happy--each in his own way. The lovers stroll about and invent distractions in order not to think too much about their ladies; the married men and those who are indifferent to love loll in their tents or play with the little pebbles.--We shall be called into active service as soon as we are well enough trained to get ourselves killed in a decent manner.
The 16th [actually the 17th] regiment of Louisiana Volunteers--Creole Americans-- was formed last Thursday at
Tomorrow or the day after we shall have an election to find a successor to Captain Roman. Lieutenant Mire will probably get the rank, and there will be several changes in the company. We think that our sergeant, Ed. Barthe'le'my, will be named adjutant-major of the battalion.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Dr. Terry Jones forwarded this interesting post-war account of Tigers that paid a visit to Gettysburg in 1888. Thank you Dr. Jones. Great story.
GALVESTON DAILY NEWS, JULY 22, 1888
FOUR OF THE TIGERS
WHAT A PARTY OF PENNSYLVANIANS HEARD AT GETTYSBURG—TIGER LOYALTY
The bugler of the Third United States Artillery woke the town with reveille. Early as the hour was the crown of East Cemetery hill was occupied by a small detachment. It consisted of four men and two women, the latter evidently mother and daughter. The men were pointing toward the north and east. As they were gesticulating a party of Pennsylvania veterans approached within listening distance. They heard one of the four men say: “We rushed up that slope, had a hand-to-hand fight right here where those guns are; some of our boys got as far as the road back there, but it was of no use. We did our best, but were driven back, all who were alive.”
“I think it’s a wonder,” said the older woman, that any of you got back.”
The listening veterans looked at each other and then, as if of one mind, moved forward until they closed in on the party of six.
“We heard you say you had rushed up that slope,” said one of the veterans, “and the only men who reached the top, except the men who guarded it, were Louisiana Tigers.”
A smallish man, of wiry frame, his hair and goatee flecked with gray, stepped forward a couple of paces and said, with a smile that was lamb-like, “We are four of the Tigers, sah.”
The veterans made a forward dash, and such a shaking of hands was never before seen on the top of East Cemetery hill. The wife and daughter of one of the “Tigers” participated in the hand shaking and laughed and blushed earnestness with which the northern veterans welcomed the representatives of the most desperate fighters the south produced.
The news jumped quickly from point to point that the “Johnnies” had come. It was lamented on all sides that they had not come in greater numbers, but it was conceded that four Louisiana “Tigers” would cover a multitude of short comings. The four who came all the way from New Orleans to shake hands with the men they were so desirous of killing twenty-five years ago are John J. Wax, Frederick A. Ober, Thomas Higgins, and L. J. Cordes, Mrs. and Miss Ober accompanying the party.
The men wore blue silk badges, and on these were the letters A.N.V., which stand for the Army of Northern Virginia. Mr. Ober acted as a spokesman, and when he was asked for his card he handed out a square bit of bristol board, on the face of which was engraved in colors the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. Under the flag was the words: “Louisiana Tigers. Here we are again.” In an hour after the first of these cards saw the light at Gettysburg, Mr. Ober hadn’t one left. The demand for them was hardly equaled by the number of people who visited the battle field during the day.
Those who were hottest on the trail for them were members of organizations that carried in conspicuous places upon their persons the names by which they were familiarly designated by the war. Among such organizations already on the ground are the Razors, the Hawks, the Lambs, the Doves and the Orange Blossoms. The Bucktails are known by the tail of the buck that curls around the band of their caps. Veterans who wear felt hats rather than fatigue caps have them decorated with corps badges. Veterans of all ranks and all ages showed an immensity of interest in the four Tigers, and the latter were so pleased with their treatment that Tiger Ober was induced to tell why he came, why so few of them came, and what they thought of the nickname given to them by the unionists.
He did not think the south knew much about the reunion until it was too late to take measures to attend it. It was only three weeks ago that the subject was first discussed among the Louisiana Tigers. They wrote to General Sickles for information. He answered by telegraph, telling how and when to reach the battlefield. They replied that it was so late that few of them could attend. Their organization held a meeting and the four whose names were given were deputed to represent the organization. Its president had instructed Tiger Ober to say that if defenders for the stars and stripes were needed the Louisiana Tigers were and would always be ready to furnish their full quota.
Growing excited “Tiger” Ober said: “I tell you, sahs, we are American citizens. I am an American citizen and I am proud of it, and if it ever becomes necessary, I will fight for that citizenship and for the men I once fought against, and for whom I now have a feeling I can not express. I am American born and I am for America.”
There was a shout of approval. “How would you like to take a crack at England?” asked a bystander who wore a brogue.
“I am not Irish enough,” was the unexpected reply. It caused a roar of laughter.
Everybody visits Little Round Top, the apple of Longstreet’s eye, and examines the monuments of the Forty-fourth New York, the Twentieth Maine, and the Eighty-third Pennsylvania and the Sixteenth Michigan regiments and the ramparts of hastily-piled stones from behind which the union soldiers poured death into the ranks of their assailants. Everybody visits the peach orchard and Culp’s Hill, but at none of these points do visitors, either military or civilian, spend so much time as at East Cemetery hill, and all because of the desperate conflict that occurred on this hill between the Louisiana “Tigers” in their mad attempt to demolish Weederich’s [sic] and Rickett’s batteries and their supports. Veterans never tire of telling how the gunners used the rammers upon the heads of the “Tigers,” and how the latter fought like wild beasts.
They never tire, of either listening to “Tiger” Ober tell how disgusted the name of “Tiger” made them when it was first applied to one company and then gradually spread to all Louisiana troops, and how proud they now were of the title. (Gettysburg Correspondence to New York Times)
Booth’s Records gives the following information on the Tigers mentioned.
Ober, Frederick A.,Pvt. New Co. A, 5th La. Inf. En. May 10, 1861, New Orleans, La. Roll to June 30, 1861, Present, with remarks: "Detailed as Commsy. for company" (words in quotations cancelled on Roll). Rolls from Jan., 1861, to Feb., 1862, Present. Rolls Sept., 1862. to April, 1863, Present. Roll for May and June, 1863, dated Aug. 11, 1863, Absent, sick, since July 10, 1863. Roll for July and Aug., 1863, Absent, sick, July 10, 1863, Lynchburg, Va. Rolls from Sept., 1862, to Dec., 1863, Absent, sick, since July 10, 1863, at Richmond, Va. Roll for Jan. and Feb., 1864, Present. "Transfd. to C. S. Navy April 1, 1861. Absent, sick." (words in quotations cancelled on Roll).
Higgins, Thomas, Pvt. Sergt. Co. B, 2nd La. Inf. En. May 9, 1861, New Orleans, La. Present on all Rolls to Aug., 1863, from time of enlistment. Roll for Sept. and Oct., 1863, Present. Promoted Sergt., Oct. 1, 1863. Rolls from Nov., 1863, to Feb., 1864, state Present. Roll for May 1 to Sept., 1864, Absent, captured May 21 at Spottsylvania C. H. Federal Rolls of Prisoners of War, Captured at Spottsylvania, May 20, 1864. Sent to Pt. Lookout, Md., from Belle Plains, Va., May 23, 1864. Forwd. to Elmira, N. Y., July 6, 1864. Paroled and transferred for exchange Feb. 9, 1865. Recd. at Boulwares and Cox Wharf, James River, Va., Feb. 20-21. 1865. and exchanged. On Roll of Prisoners of War, Paroled at Meridian, Miss., May 12, 1865. Res. New Orleans, La.
There is no L. J. Cordes listed in Booth’s Records.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Assassination of a Federal Soldier.
The New Orleans correspondent of the Boston Traveler sends that paper the following account of the assassination of a Federal soldier:
As we reached Vermillionville Bayou on Friday, one of our soldiers, Corporal Appleton W. Rackett, of Co. A, 159th New York Regiment, went up to a well for the purpose of filling his canteen with fresh water. He was alone and nothing was seen of him for several hours, until soldiers belonging to other Regiments went up to the well for water, and found the Corporal lying dead upon the ground, when Dr. C. A. Robertson, surgeon of the 159th New York regiment came up, and examining the wound he became convinced that the soldier had been shot from the adjoining house. He knocked at the door and was met by a French Creole, who pretended he co'd speak no English. The surgeon inquired if he knew anything of the soldier's death, and he replied he had not. The Doctor determined to search the premises, and upon examination he discovered a shot gun, bullets and powder, the gun evidently having been used within a short time. He also found a complete Rebel uniform belonging to an orderly sergeant. The window fronting the well was open, and the evidence was so strong that the man was placed under arrest. The soldiers were so enraged upon learning the particulars of the murder that they gutted the house and set it on fire. A blackened pile of smoking ruins now marks the former dwelling place of this heinous traitor.
We presume the destruction of this murderer's house will be regarded by disloyal men as another piece of "wanton vandalism" on the part of our soldiers, calculated to repress the growth of Union sentiment among our "Southern brethren."
Saturday, August 7, 2010
U.S. Grant’s push into western
It was also at this time that the Confederate Government put a requisition on
On February 26th, Governor Thomas Moore approached the Secretary of War with an idea to stimulate volunteers: “Raising war troops is extremely difficult and slow. If Beauregard's need of re-enforcements be as great as we here consider it, and you will accept volunteers for that special service for a few months, I can send him relief immediately. Answer quickly, and state shortest time.” Despite having made a call for soldiers to enlist “for the war”, Benjamin accepted
Throughout February, Lovell remained very supportive and optimistic of the concentration at
On March 9th, Lovell stressed his concern to Benjamin, after having listed all the units stripped from his command for
“These troops have all been fitted out completely by the State. I have only furnished ammunition, subsistence, and transportation…You will thus perceive that this department has been completely stripped of every organized body of troops. To replace them I have called upon Governor Moore for 10,000 volunteers and militia for the defense of the lines about
When April 24th-25th came and Lovell faced an overpowering U.S. Navy breathing down
“I will here state that every Confederate soldier in New Orleans, with the exception of one company, had been ordered to Corinth, to join General Beauregard in March, and the city was only garrisoned by about 3,000 ninety-day troops, called out by the governor at my request, of whom about 1,200 had muskets and the remainder shot-guns of an indifferent description.”
Lovell went on to say:
“I had nothing in the shape of infantry except the militia of the city, who had but few arms, and those mostly shot-guns, and two or three regiments in process of formation under the last call of the President, who were entirely unarmed.”
It did not take Lovell long to reach the conclusion that men, no matter the number, armed with muskets were no match for the U.S. Navy. He sought to avoid the destruction of
“A good many of the State troops and twelve-months' men have remained in the city, thus breaking up regiments and companies, and it is next to impossible to get them into any sort of shape for some days.”
In a telegram to Beauregard, Lovell explained his decision to leave
“I beg you will do me the favor to say to persons who ask where General Lovell and his army were when New Orleans fell, that all the troops that I had organized and prepared were sent to Corinth in March, and took a prominent part in the battle of Shiloh, leaving me with the heterogeneous militia of the city, armed mostly with shot-guns, against 9 and 11 inch Dahlgrens.”
With such a daunting task, Lovell went to work. Before he could defend the entire
What exactly was Lovell able to extract and reform at
“I had nothing in the shape of infantry except the militia of the city, who had but few arms, and those mostly shot-guns, and two or three regiments in process of formation under the last call of the President, who were entirely unarmed. I removed all the troops I could control to this point, where, by taking the arms from the militia and men over age, I have managed to get five regiments pretty well armed.”
He was able “to get five regiments pretty well armed.” Let us take a look at the units Lovell was able to extract and rebuild and became of them:
- The 22nd Louisiana Regiment was decimated by the fall of
. The 22nd Regiment (General M.L. Smith’s old regiment) lost Companies H and I when Fort Jacksonsurrendered and of the remaining 8 companies there were only enough men to field 4 companies when the regiment was reorganized at Camp Moore. A total of four full companies called it quits when the regiment left New Orleans . New Orleans
- The 23rd
fared the same fate as the 22nd. The 23rd Regiment (Colonel Paul E. Theard’s regiment) was spread out all across south Louisiana on garrison duty. Company I of this regiment was lost at Louisiana and of the remaining 9 companies the regiment was only Companies E, F and K made it to Fort Jackson . All three of these companies were stationed at forts outside of Camp Moore . These three companies divided themselves up to form a four company regiment. New Orleans
escaped from Louisiana with no issues. Being raised from southLouisiana units it did not face the issue that New Orleans based units did. It was sent toJackson on May 6th. New Orleans
was actually organized at Louisiana and from what I know it was not inNew Camp Moore at the time of its fall. On May 1st, it was dispatched to Orleans . Vicksburg
- The 30th Louisiana Regiment saw three and half companies desert and stay at home rather than leave the city. Once at
, Lovell rebuilt it back to a 10 company regiment. Then, for some unknown reason, Company K was able to go home on furlough – TO NEW ORLEANS. They never returned to duty. The regiment remained part of theCamp Camp Moore garrison until early August. Moore
Lovell did not confine his efforts to these units only. He was very busy at
- 29th Louisiana Regiment (Colonel Allen Thomas’ 28th Regiment) was organized at CampMoore when Lovell added newly organized companies to a battalion that Thomas had already organized. The regiment was formed on May 3rd and was dispatched to
on May 20th. Vicksburg
- 9th Louisiana Battalion (17th Battalion or Stewart’s Legion) was organized at
on 15th by Lovell with three infantry companies and one cavalry company. Camp Moore
- 32nd Louisiana Regiment (Miles Legion) was thrown together on May 16th or 17th at
that escaped from Camp Moore . New Orleans
This was an impressive little army that Lovell was able to arrange within just a few weeks of total disaster! So, what became of this of this force? Lovell had long identified
May 1st: 27th
Early May: 8th
May 6th: 26th
May 20th: 29th
May 29th: 3rd
Early June: 23rd
On the night that it was apparent the city was going to fall to the U.S. Navy, Lovell wired the Confederate Government: “The enemy has passed our forts. It is too late to send any guns here [
To man this new bastion, Lovell immediately went to work reorganizing units at
· 1st Louisiana Heavy Artillery Battalion manned the heavy guns around
· The 8th Battalion was so decimated by its retreat from
In less than month, Lovell dispatched six companies of heavy artilleryman to
Lovell was proud of his little force he had accumulated at
From April 25 – May 20, the period that Lovell was a
Lovell did an excellent job in the month following
- Official Records of the War of the Rebellion (ORs). Volumes 6, 13, 15.
- Arthur Berger Jr., Guide to
Confederate Military Units, 1861-1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989; paperback edition, 1996) Louisiana
- Arthur Bergeron Jr., “Mansfield Lovell,” Confederate Generals in the Western Theater: Classic Essays on
’s Civil War 1 (2010), 45-63. America
- Daniel E. Sutherland, “Mansfield Lovell’s Quest for Justice: Another Look at the Fall of New Orleans, “ Louisiana History 24 (1983), 233-259.