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.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

May 1865: End of War in Louisiana

May of 1865 saw the unraveling of the Confederate war effort in Louisiana. Robert E. Lee, Joseph E. Johnston and Richard Taylor had surrendered all their armed forced by mid-May. Word was spreading fast and veterans from Lee's and Johnston's armies were beginning to drift into Louisiana in May. Below are two communications from D.F. Boyd, Assistant Adjutant General to Colonel L. A. Bringier of the 7th Louisiana Cavalry.

Headquarters Forces Front Lines,

Alexandria, May 13th, 1865.

Colonel L. A. Bringier,

Commanding Seventh Louisiana Cavalry. Colonel:

General Brent has directed me in his temporary absence to open all communications to him marked "personal" or "private," and if they related to official matters requiring immediate attention to refer them to Col. Vincent, commanding the front.

In accordance with those instructions your communication of the 16th instant was referred to Colonel Vincent, who would respectfully direct you to use your own discretion in granting leaves of absence to your men for such time and purpose, as you think best consistent with preserving Regimental organization. Indeed, with the whole country filled with deserters with arms in their hands> the question would naturally arise whether many of those, who have thus far remained true and fast to their colors should not be allowed to go home to defend their families. The fact can no longer be concealed, that the whole Army and people, with scarce an individual exception, are resolved to fight no more, and to break up the Army at all hazards. All is confusion and demoralization here, nothing like order and discipline remains. Heavy desertions and plundering of Government property of every kind is the order of the day. There are but eighty-six enlisted men at the forts. All the commands of every arm of the service at and near Alexandria are destroyed, viz: Yoist's and McMahan's Batteries; the Heavy Artillery and Infantry at the forts, the Third and Fifth Louisiana Cavalry. The Second Cavalry still retains its organization,, but there have been heavy desertions, the men are thoroughly demoralized and all may leave at any moment; in a word, Colonel, the army is destroyed and we must look the matter square in the face and shape our actions (personally and officially) accordingly. The Colonel Commanding commends you highly for your success in preserving thus long your organization and so many men. He thinks that all that can be expected of you is to use every mild and conciliatory means to preserve your Regimental organization, but any violent measures to restrain desertions now is believed both by him and General Brent to be conducive of no good results, and would only tend to exasperate the soldiery and cause them to commit depredations on citizens, besides endangering the lives of officers uselessly. The Colonel Commanding hopes the tenor of this communication will be properly understood; it is designed to be merely advisory, and you are left free to act as you think best and at the same time to preserve regimental organization.


D. F. Boyd,

Asst. Adjt. Gen.

Headquarters Forces Front Lines,

Alexandria, May 20th, 1865.

Colonel L. A. Bringier.

Commanding Seventh Louisiana Cavalry. Colonel: The Colonel Commanding congratulates you on your safe arrival at Tanner's with your train. He directs that you remain at or near Tanner's till further orders, and if you find yourself unable to preserve your train, you will distribute your wagons and teams to responsible planters in the neighborhood of your camp, taking a receipt, "to be returned on your order." It would be worse than useless to attempt to bring your train here. Every wagon and mule would be stolen in less than four hours after your arrival. There is corn at Tanner's, at your own depot, it is said, and also Government beeves in the swamps near by. Col. Vincent believes, therefore, that you will have no difficulty in subsisting your command. He furthermore impresses upon you the necessity of preserving your regimental organization intact, and for that reason, and the fact that General Brent expressly ordered that your leave of absence be withheld till further orders. Colonel Vincent, in the absence of any order from General Brent on the subject, does not feel authorized to send you your leave of absence. He regrets, that he feels it his duty to contravene your wishes in that regard, but your presence is so necessary at all times to your command, and especially at this juncture, that he feels confident, that you will cheerfully acquiesce in his decision. General Brent is now on the Mississippi River attempting to negotiate a surrender of General Hays' command, District of West Louisiana. The Louisiana Generals are acting independently of General Smith and General Buckner, who are determined in no event to surrender, have now no hope of success, and would bring ruin on Louisiana and Texas merely to enable them to escape with a Corporal's Guard into Mexico. For these reasons Louisiana must look out for herself, and there is but little doubt, that in a few days the district will be surrendered on the terms granted General Taylor. Enclosed please find copy of General Order from Headquarters. Should you have any difficulty to subsist, let it be known; an effort (but in vain we fear) will be made to relieve you.


D. F. Boyd,
Assistant Adjutant-General.


  1. Very interesting, Brent and Vincent and commanded the cavalry of Louisiana at the end of the war, but who commanded the infantry? Colonel Richardson was in command of the division Mouton-Polignac-Hays, Colonel Winchester Hall commanded the brigade of Thomas, but who commanded the brigade Mouton-Gray
    may 19, 1865?

  2. From what I know Gray was in command of the brigade to the end of the war.

  3. When Hays left the command of the division, by going to deal with the surrender of his district, command passed to Colonel Richardson (OR). Thomas had asked to license for illness, May 10, 1865 and Richardson was the next in order of seniority in the 1st brigade (Thomas). But in the 2nd Brigade (Gray), if the general was there, he should have been the commander of the division. Other doubt that no evidence of parole for Gray.
    Greetings Claudio

  4. I thought Gray's appointment as General did not reach him until around that time (close to surrender) with the commission back dated to April 8, '64?

  5. The general took his leave from the brigade October 31, 1864. Gray was elected to represent his northwestern Louisiana congressional 5th district. At least held the post until March, 1865. Only Wikipedia (sic) says that he returned to the brigade: “Gray rejoined his brigade in Polignac's Division until the end of the war. There is no record of his being paroled”. All my sources do not provide the commander of Mouton Gray brigade during November 1, 1864 - May 19, 1865. even if Gray returned to the brigade but still remains a gap in the period fall '64 - spring '65 neither Official records not help me.

    PS i read your Book, very nice!!

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Interesting. I'll dig further and see what I can find out.

    Thank you for the kind words on the book!


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