Tuesday, November 24, 2015

President Davis' Thanksgiving Proclamation

President Jefferson Davis
(Library of Congress)
WHEREAS, it hath pleased Almighty God, the Sovereign Disposer of events, to protect and defend us hitherto in our conflicts with our enemies as to be unto them a shield.
And whereas, with grateful thanks we recognize His hand and acknowledge that not unto us, but unto Him, belongeth the victory, and in humble dependence upon His almighty strength, and trusting in the justness of our purpose, we appeal to Him that He may set at naught the efforts of our enemies, and humble them to confusion and shame.
Now therefore, I, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States, in view of impending conflict, do hereby set apart Friday, the 15th day of November, as a day of national humiliation and prayer, and do hereby invite the reverend clergy and the people of these Confederate States to repair on that day to their homes and usual places of public worship, and to implore blessing of Almighty God upon our people, that he may give us victory over our enemies, preserve our homes and altars from pollution, and secure to us the restoration of peace and prosperity.
Given under hand and seal of the Confederate States at Richmond, this the 31st day of October, year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty one.
By the President JEFFERSON DAVIS - 1861

Friday, October 30, 2015

Lt. Cicero M. Allen: Adventures of a One Armed Scout

[Excerpted from Military record of Louisiana; including biographical and historical papers relating to the military organizations of the state; a soldier's story of the late war, muster rolls, lists of casualities in the various regiments (so far as now known), cemeteries where buried, company journals, personal narratives of prominent actors, etc , by Napier Bartlett, 1875, New Orleans, La., Pages 38-43.]

1st Lt. Cicero M. Allen
Co. A, 1st Battalion (Rightors) Louisiana Infantry
& the Briarfield Rebels
     Cicero M. Allen enlisted in Company A, Crescent Rifles, on the 15th
of April, 1861, for Pensacola. From this point they were ordered to
Virginia, and stationed at Young's Mill, on the Peninsula. Nothing
important occurred here, except the skirmish near Newport News, and
much hard marching in sand ankle deep, night and day ; and with no
rest for the wicked, or anybody else. In the skirmish at Newport News
Dreux was among the first killed. Allen and his twin brother, together
with Bailey P. Vinson and McVickor, participated in this fight, and
carried Dreux's body from the field. A small wagon was then obtained,
in which was placed the body of Col. Dreux and those of the other
members of the Battalion who had been killed (Private Hackett of the
Shreveport Grays, and others whose names are not known), and William
Beaufort of the Crescent Rifles, wounded.
     In February, 1862, Allen was promoted First Lieutenant in Colonel
Edmonston's Battalion but threw up his commission to join a company
of Louisiana Cavalry, raised in Carroll parish — the Briarfield Rebels.
Phifer's [Lt. Col. A.J. McNeill's] Battalion — just as they, with other Confederates,
were evacuating Nashville. He did duty with this company up to the time of his
last capture, and participated in most of the cavalry fights that occurred.
     At Britton's Lane, Tenn., the Confederates, under Gen. Frank Arm-
strong, had a hard fight with the Federal Cavalry. Allen was wounded
and his horse killed in the charge, and he himself made prisoner. He
was carried to the Federal Hospital, and had the wound in his arm, of
which he never afterwards recovered the use, dressed. This having been
done, Allen walked out of the building. The surgeon, then busily en-
gaged with his patients, had rode to the hospital on an elegant gray
horse, which he conveniently hitched outside. Allen, catching sight of
this, leaped into the saddle and rode rapidly off. The shades of night
soon after coming on, he safely made his way through the enemy's lines.
     At Farmington and Shiloh he was actively engaged, and in the latter
engagement he carried the battle flag of his regiment until ordered by
General Hindman to replace his twin brother, who had been detached,
on the evening of the battle, to act as aide- de- camp to General R. Gr.
Shaver, Commanding Hindman's old Brigade of Hardee's Division, and
who had been severely wounded. Here Allen displayed his soldierly
qualities, and the brothers were complimented for good conduct. After
this battle small fights occurred so constantly that they were almost of
daily occurrence.
      At Ponchatoula, La., where the Briarfields, with two companies from 
the first Mississippi Cavalry, Col. Pinson, had been ordered from North
Mississippi, with the view of picketing and watching the enemy, who
were threatening to advance on Port Hudson, Allen was elected 2nd
Junior Lieutenant. His first affair was with a small tin-clad Federal
gunboat, the Lafitte, which had been prowling around the Amite river
for the purpose of reconnoitering. With a small force of his company
and detachments from other camps, he attacked this boat, and made
matters so uncomfortable that, the Lafitte, in her efforts to get away, run
on a stump, and was abandoned and blown up.
      It having been discovered that she had a splendid globe-sighted rifled
gun on board when she went down, several officers, among them Allen,
managed to get possession of a small schooner, and recovered the gun.
This was accomplished by one of the men diving down and placing a
slip-knot around the piece. Allen was now left, with a detail of two
men, to bring the schooner and gun to where the piece could be shipped
to Port Hudson. While passing through Lake Maurepas, he was inter-
cepted by a yawl boat filled with nine Federals. Allen quickly run
his schooner into a small bayou near by; and, jumping ashore, prepared
an ambush. The Federals meanwhile came up, confident of an easy
prize. As they did so, they received a well directed lire from Allen's
small force, which effectually closed the career of one Sergeant Kline.
The balance hastily tumbled from the boat into the water, from which
they emerged to enter the woods. There they were speedily attacked ;
and, after retreating through the marsh for nearly a mile, the white flag
was hung out. Alien, fearing to disclose his real force to the enemy,
gave the command to " Cease firing then, calling upon several imag-
inary companies to " Halt," boldly marched forward and received the
surrender of the whole party. This consisted of two lieutenants and
five privates. Single handed, and after divesting the prisoners of their
arms and moving them to a convenient distance from the stack of guns,
he ordered his two men up, and marched his prisoners on board of the
Schooner and then to camp. Gen. Frank Gardner, who was then com-
manding at Port Hudson, sent an order complimenting Lieut. Allen on
his gallantry. 
       While the Company was doing duty at Ponchatoula, Allen took eight
men, crossed Lake Maurepas in a yawl, and leaving the boat in one of
the numerous bayous (near Pruniere), waded with his men waist-deep
through the swamp marsh He here crossed the railroad to Lake Ponch-
artrain, and there discovered two Federal schooners lying at anchor.
He now found a little dug-out, boarded the two schooners, made pris-
oners of the crews, and got away with his prizes to Madisonville. The
one on which Allen remained was safely brought to shore ; and a grand
blow out with the large quantity of fluids and commissary stores on
board, testified to the success of the expedition. The second schooner,
owing to the ignorance of the four men in charge about the manage-
ment of the centre-board, drifted too far to the leeward, and was recap-
tured by the Federals.
     On another occasion, while scouting with his command, he discovered
a picket of Federal Cavalry (1st Texas Regiment), which he quickly
charged. After killing three men and wounding another, he captured
the balance. He had many such affairs, and invariably handled his
men so as to scarcely ever have one hurt.  
     The Briarfields did some fine service during the siege of Port Hudson,
and were notably prominent in an attack on a Federal wagon train,
which Colonels Powers and Logan captured. The advance guard in
this affair was commanded by Allen's twin brother, who, though only a
private, had been mistaken for the Lieutenant by Col. P., who ordered
it. The brother, thinking there was a chance for a joke, and seeing his opportunity to get
a little surreptitious glory, rode rapidly off, and was soon engaged with
the enemy. Lieut. Allen, however, came up in time to pitch in on the
flank of the Federals and do excellent fighting with his detachment.
The skirmish resulted in the capture of one hundred wagons, four mule
teams, forty odd prisoners, with twenty of the enemy killed and wounded.
When the affair was over, and Lieut. Allen discovered the ruse adopted
by his brother to get command of the advance guard, his rage knew no
bounds. An excited interview occurred between him and his brother,
which was finally settled amicably by an agreement that the latter
should get a transfer to some other regiment.
        At daylight one morning the Colonel sent an order to Allen to take
a detail of men and pursue and capture some seven deserters. This
Allen did. After marching over forty miles in one day, the Mississippi
river was reached, only to find that the deserters idle had taken refuge on
the gunboat Rattler. While resting from the long, and squatted on
the side of the road, much disappointed at his poor success in recaptur-
ing the missing men, an old lady came riding by in her carriage. She
speedily informed them that the crew of the Rattler were daily in the
habit of landing in Rodney and holding high revel in the street, boast-
ing, at the same time, of their ability to thrash any number of butter-
milk cavalry, and do it with cornstalks. Allen thereupon camped in
the woods near Rodney. A watch was stationed in the graveyard just
above town ; and during the entire night the sentry's " All's well," as
the boat's bell struck the hour, was heard by the picket concealed
behind a time-worn tombstone. Sunday morning, at ten o'clock, a con-
siderable stir was visible on board the gunboat. Soon three boats shot
out from her side, filled with gaily dressed officers and marines. These
soon after landed and it now became evident that cornstalks would
have to come into play. Allen now mounted his men and ordered his
few followers forward, and rushed into the town at a gallop. The pop-
ping of pistols soon demonstrated that the work had begun. The Fed-
eral Captain and his Lieutenant were evidently men of pluck and
quickly getting their men into the church, attempted to barricade the
doors. But this move was foiled by the rapidity with which Allen dis-
mounted his men, and, pistol in hand, led them into the building
As he forced his way in, a marine met him, and their pistols went off
simultaneously. The shot of the marine cut through Allen's hat, and a
piece of percussion cap struck him across the nose, causing it to bleed
profusely. But, on the other hand, the marine was shot through the
body and fell in the aisle of the church. Meantime, the Confederates
had entered through another door, and the close proximity of the muz-
zles of their carbines decided the marines in surrendering. The number
of prisoners taken were fifteen marines, and the Captain and First
Lieutenant — the enemy having three killed. This little affair happened
while church service was being performed and a congregation assembled
for worship. It need hardly be stated that a terrible commotion existed
for a brief period, particularly among the fairer portion of the worship-
pers. Allen withdrew in safety with his prisoners, notwithstanding the
battery promptly opened fire upon the town.
     After a series of adventures and much hard fighting, Lieut. Allen at
last fell into the hands of the enemy, while on a scout in the Federal
lines, and was taken on board the steamer Iberville- While surrounded
by his guards, Allen leaped from the deck of the steamer and, after
desperate struggles in the water, being greatly retarded by his broken
arm, which was then unhealed, and notwithstanding the volley fired at
him, made his way to the bank, and thence to camp.
      On the hurried retreat from Colliersville, Tenn., by the Confederates,
the Briarfields were ordered to the rear, to hold the Federals in check
until the balance of the command could effect a crossing at a difficult
ford on the Coldwater river. Here, with his small command, Allen
made a most obstinate defence ; until the Federals, discovering the
smallness of his force, charged in largely superior numbers. They act-
ually rode over Allen, he having been thrown from his horse and again
he fell into their hands. He was then placed on the cars, en route
for the old Capitol Prison. The night was pitch dark, and the train
dashing along at the rate of thirty miles an hour. This, however, did not
prevent Allen, when near the city of Baltimore, from snatching the
guard's overcoat and leaping from the cars. He soon met with some
noble hearted Southern ladies, who aided him in crossing the lines.
       He was again captured before the final close of the war, and
once again did he escape. He reached the Confederate lines to find the
struggle ended. Hoping it would be continued on the Trans-Mississippi
side, he made his way to Alexandria, to find there also that the war was
nearly over. The Confederacy he loved so well was in its death throes
The South had played and lost, and the curtain fell; the great tragedy
of the Southern struggle was ended.
     Sadly retracing his steps, Allen reached New Orleans, promptly en-
tering the business walks of life. He endeavored to build up his shat-
tered fortunes; and, meeting with success, he embarked, in conjunction
with Capt. J. Frank Hicks, in cotton planting, near Lake Providence,
where he died. His remains are now interred in Greenwood Cemetery.

[Editor's notes: He was born about 1840 in Holmes County, Miss., and died at Lake Providence, East Carroll Parish, Louisiana Sept. 8, 1869. His twin brother was Columbus H. Allen. His older brother was Augustus Calhoun Allen, who was colonel of the 19th Texas Infantry during the war.]

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Compatriots and friends,   

Since June the Sons of Confederate Veterans, as an organization and as individual members, have endured much. Unfortunately we will continue to endure all those who hate us. I am proud how each of you have persevered, and like our ancestors who were outnumbered, we shall be victorious in the end. With all this in mind, I would like to reflect on another piece of history. Today, 25 October is not only Saint Crispin's Day but is also the 600th Anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt. This battle is forever immortalized in William Shakespeare's play Henry V. It is in Act 4, Scene 3, where King Henry gives a speech to his outnumbered men as they are about to go into battle. This speech is motivational and uplifting in any century. As we, the SCV, continue to move forward in the current culture war, take the time to read the words below and remember your ancestors, those band of brothers who fought outnumbered for what they knew was right!
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say "To-morrow is Saint Crispian."
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say "These wounds I had on Crispian's day."
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

You know your places: God be with you all!

Deo Vindice!

Charles Kelly Barrow
Sons of Confederate Veterans

Friday, September 25, 2015

Calcasieu Confederates--1st Lt. Daniel Barlow Gorham, 4th Louisiana Infantry

[Obituary excerpted from Lake Charles, La. Daily American Press, 20 March 1911]

Distinguished Citizen of Lake Charles Laid to Rest

1st Lt. Daniel Barlow Gorham,
4th Louisiana Infantry Regiment
(McNeese State University Archives)
     D.B. Gorham, an old resident and a prominent attorney at the Lake Charles bar, passed-away at his home, corner of Kirby and Hodges streets, on Sunday morning a few minutes before 7 o'clock, death following an attack of apoplexy on Saturday morning about 11 o'clock. The veteran attorney regained consciousness for only a few minutes after he was stricken.
      At the bedside of Judge Gorham, as he has generally known by his friends and fellow members of the bar, were all of the attorney's children, with the exception of W.A. Gorham, who at present is in a hospital at Santa Fe, N.M. He had been wired of the serious illness of his father, but another telegram was sent after the death, stating that his father had passed away and advising him not to make the trip home, as he himself is in very poor health.
      The deceased is survived by seven children, four sons and three daughters, as follows: Elmer L., Lake Charles; W.E., Jennings; W.A., Santa Fe, N.M.; Drew, at home; Mrs. George Streeter, Lake Arthur; Mrs. Louis Barbe, Lake Charles; Miss Minnie, at home. One sister, Mrs. W.O. Hines, of Clinton, La., also survives.
      Judge Gorham was born Feb. 15, 1838, in East Baton Rouge parish, on his father's plantation. Here he remained until in the later '50s, when he entered Bardstown University, Bardstown, Ky., following the course of academic instruction with a law course in New Orleans.
      At the outbreak of the Civil war, Mr. Gorham, then about 23 years of age, entered the Confederate army as a private. He served through the four years of the struggle, emerging at its close with the rank of major. Most of his service was in the armies under Generals Johnston and Beauregard. Major Gorham made a brilliant record for himself as a soldier as is evidenced by the rapid manner in which he rose from the ranks to hold the high commission.
       At the close of the war he returned to Louisiana and for a year operated his mother's plantation near Clinton, East Feliciana parish. In 1867 he moved to Catahoula parish in the central part of the state, taking up the practice of law there. His home was at Harrisonburg. He was elected and served as district attorney for one term while a resident of Catahoula. The reputation he then made for himself as a zealous official has been an asset of which he had reason to be proud.
       In 1873, Mr. Gorham was united in marriage to Miss Zoe Lombard. This this union eight children were born of whom as stated seven still  survive. One son died of yellow fevor in 1898 while a student at Tulane University.
       Twenty-five years ago Mr. Gorham removed with his family to Lake Charles. He resumed law practice here with Colonel Mitchell, father of Attorney A.R. Mitchell, as partner. The office of the firm was on South Court street for a few years, being changed to the Calcasieu National Bank building when the latter was erected over twenty years ago. In 1908 his son, W.A. Gorham joined the firm, Colonel Mitchell having retired some years before. In 1907 another son, William, entered the firm, the latter being located at Jennings.
       At his death Judge Gorham was the senior member of the local bar. He was a man well liked by all who knew him, both in his profession and as a man. Always of a genial and kindly temperament, he made friends with everyone he met. He had been in good health practically all of his life, until stricken with the last fatal illness.
      The funeral services were held this afternoon at 3 o'clock, being conducted at the home by the local Masonic orders, of which deceased was a member in high standing. Judge Gorham had held positions in the local lodges, and was thrice illustrious grand master of the state. He was a Knight Templar and a Mystic Shriner. Preceding the ceremony by the Masons, Rev. W.W. Drake, pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church (South), held the regular service of the church. The burial was made in Orange Grove cemetery. The mortal remains of the deceased were followed to the grave by a large concourse of his special and professional friends.

A Brilliant Lawyer

      Judge D.B. Gorham was accounted one of the most professional lawyers in southwest Louisiana. His knowledge of the law was wonderful, his memory was exceedingly alert and his ideas were mixed with fundamental things rather than exigencies and trivial circumstances. He was scholarly in his legal attainments and withall was broad, deep and well-rounded in his knowledge and insight of law, both as represented by books and as seen in nature and society.
     He was patriotic to an unusual degree; true and faithful in creating for the good of the whole country. He was exceptionally unmindful of influences of his immediate life, and although he was a disciplinarian of more than average attainments he was entirely informal and straight-forward in attempting to arrive at right and fairness. As a friend he was warm and cordial. He gained the confidence and esteem of his fellow lawers, and once a friend he was loyal and true and thoughtful. His life was modest, his desires few, and the enjoyment of the friends he loved and the association with them up the full measure of his life. Hundreds of people throughout Calcasieu will carry a burden in their hours for the passing of Judge Gorham. -- R.S. Harrison

Military Record of Daniel B. Gorham

 Gorham, Daniel B. (also Gorham, D. H.), Pvt. 1st Lt. Cos. F and H, 4th La. Inf. En. May 25, 1861, Tangipahoa. Present on Rolls to Dec., 1861. Regtl. Return for Jan., 1862, On extra daily duty as Special Police. Present Sept. and Oct., 1862, as 2nd Lt. Roster dated Aug. 6, 1863, shows him appointed 2nd Lt., May 19, 1862, or June _, 1862. Roster dated March 5, 1864, shows him promoted 1st Lt., Nov. 25, 1862; L. A. Courtad, successor. Rolls from Nov., 1862, to July, 1863, Present as 1st Lt. Col. W. H. Allen, Comdg. 4th La. Inf., in his report of April 10, 1862. His Regt.
in Battle of Shiloh, Series 1, Vol. X, Part 1, Records of Union and Confederate Armies, gives: Honorable mention of D. B. Gorham, Color Guard, who, amid shot and shell and a hail storm of balls, held the flag firm and erect, and brought it back torn into tatters by the bullets of the enemy.
[Records of Louisiana Confederate soldiers and Louisiana Confederate commands : in three volumes
by Booth, Andrew BPublished 1920, Baton Rouge, La.]


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Dick Dowling's report of the Battle of Sabine Pass

Mural of the Battle of Sabine Pass at the Sabine Pass State Battleground.

1st Lt. Richard W. "Dick" Dowling's Report from the Official Records

[The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 1 - Volume 26 (Part I), Page 311]

Battle of Sabine Pass FORT GRIFFIN, Sabine Pass, September 9, 1863.
     CAPTAIN: On Monday morning, about 2 o'clock, the enemy were signaling, and fearing an Attack, l ordered all the guns at the fort manned, and remained in that position until daylight, when there were two steamers evidently sounding for the channel on the bar; a large frigate outside. During the evening they were re-enforced to the number of twenty-two vessels of different classes.
     On the morning of the 8th, the U.S. gunboat Clifton anchored opposite the light-house, and fired twenty-six shell at the fort, all in excellent range, one shell landing on the works and another striking the south angle of the fort without doing any material damage. The firing commenced at 6:30 o'clock and finished at 7:30 o'clock when the C. S. gunboat Uncle Ben steamed down near the fort. The U. S. gunboat Sachem opened on her with a 30-pounder Parrott gun. She fired three shots which passed over the fort and missed the Ben. The whole fleet then drew off, and remained out of range until 3:40 o'clock, when the Sachem and Arizona steamed into line up the Louisiana channel, the Clifton and one boat, name unknown, remaining at the junction of the two channels. I allowed the two former boats to approach within 1,200 yds, when I opened fire with the whole of my battery on the Sachem which, after the third or fourth round, hoisted the white flag, one of the shots passing through her steam drum. The Clifton in the meantime had attempted to pass up through Texas Channel, but receiving a shot which carried away her tiller rope, she became unmanageable and grounded about 500 yds. below the fort which enabled me to concentrate all my guns on her, two 32-pounder smooth-bores; two 24-pounder smooth-bores and two 32-pounder howitzers. She withstood our fire some 25 or 35 minutes, when she also hoisted a white flag. During the time she was aground, she used grape, and her sharpshooters poured an incessant shower of Minie balls into the works. The fight lasted from the time I fired the first gun until the boats surrendered - about three-quarters of an hour. l immediately boarded the captured Clifton, to inspect her magazines, accompanied by one the ship's officers and discovered it safe and well stocked with ordnance stores. l did not visit the magazine of the Sachem, not having any small boat to board her with. The C. S. gunboat Uncle Ben steamed down to the Sachem and towed her into the wharf Her magazine was destroyed by the enemy flooding it.
     I was nobly and gallantly assisted by Lt. N. H. Smith, of the Engineer Corps, who by his coolness and bravery won the respect and admiration of the whole command. Ass't. Surg. George H. Bailey, having nothing to do in his own line, nobly pulled off his coat and assisted in administering Magruder pills to the enemy, behaving with great coolness. During the engagement the works were visited by Capt. F. H. Odlum, commanding post; Maj. (Col. ) Leon Smith, commanding Marine Department of Texas. Capt. W. S. Good, ordnance officer, and Dr. Murray, acting ass't. surgeon, with great coolness and gallantry, enabled me to send re-enforcements, as the men were becoming exhausted by the rapidity of our fire; but before they could accomplish their mission, the enemy surrendered. Thus, it will be seen we captured with 47 men two gunboats, mounting thirteen guns of the heaviest caliber, and about 350 prisoners. All my men behaved like heroes; not a man flinched from his post. Our motto was "victory or death." I beg leave to make particular mention of Private M Michael McKernan, who, from his well-known capacity as a gunner, l assigned as gunner, and nobly did he do his duty. It was his shot struck the Sachem in her steam drum. Too much praise cannot be awarded Maj. (Col.) Leon Smith for his activity and energy in saving and bringing the vessel into port.

I have the honor, captain, to remain in your most obedient servant,

R. W. Dowling, 1st. Lt., Cook's Artillery.

Dick Dowling Statue and Monument at Sabine Pass, Texas
(Photo by M.D. Jones)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Louisiana Zouaves were wild and deadly 

       A new book on one of the toughest and wildest Confederate units in the War for Southern Independence, 1st Louisiana Zouaves: Jeff Davis' Pet Wolves by Michael Dan Jones, tells the story of this unusual group of Southern fighting men.
      The battalion was made up mostly of Louisiana Frenchmen and foreigners of many nationalities, including French, Germans, and Swiss, among others. They proudly wore colorful uniforms that were patterned after those of French Zouaves, who became world-famous for their gallantry during the Crimean War of the 1850s.
      They were led by the Coppens brothers, Gaston and Alfred, during some of the bloodiest battles of the war in Virginia and Maryland. President Jefferson Davis took a special interest in them in March, 1861, when he personally met with Lt. Col. Gaston Coppens in Montgomery, Alabama and accepted them into the Provisional Army of the Confederate States of America. Davis continued showing interest in them and it wasn't long before they gained the nickname, "Jeff Davis' Pet Wolves.
        The Louisiana Zouaves were also controversial for the off-duty antics and even criminal behavior of a small number. It was widely circulated that the mayor of New Orleans had given Gaston Coppens permission to recruit men from the city jails, which the criminal behavior of some the men seems to validate. When they were moving from Pensacola, Fla. to Richmond, Va. in June, 1861, the men stole the troop train they were on in Alabama, leaving the officers behind eating breakfast at the train station. The men then went on a drunken spree in Garland, Alabama and were only subdued when their officers caught up with them and pistol-whipped them back into the ranks. The few days they stayed in Richmond, they terrorized the public and saloons with their rowdy behavior.
       By the end of their first year of service, most of the criminal element had been eliminated and the battalion became one of the most effective frontline light infantry in Robert E. Lee's Army of North Virginia. They fought their first battle at Williamsburg, followed by Seven Pines and Fair Oaks, Mechancisville, Gaines' Mill, Frayser's Farm, Malvern Hill, Cedar Mountain, Second Manassas, Chantilly, Sharpsburg and Fredericksburg.
       Their numbers had been so depleted by those battles, they were put on garrison duty in Richmond and then guarded the Weldon, N.C. to Richmond, Va. railroad line in Southern Virginia and North Carolina for the rest of the war. But there, they took part in extreme in the Siege of Suffolk, Va. and a number of skirmishes in Virginia and North Carolina. The Louisiana Zouaves also went on a number of special scouting missions behind enemy lines for Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Secret Service. It is all detailed in the book.
       The book also gives a roster of the battalion, with over 800 military service records highlighted. There were numerous photographs, maps and illustrations. The 1st Louisiana Zouaves: Jeff Davis' Pet Wolves, is published by CreateSpace.com and is available on that web site as well as Amazaon.com and other online booksellers.

Publication Date:
Aug 24 2015
1511616768 / 9781511616768
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
6" x 9"

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

CALCASIEU PARISH CONFEDERATES -- 2nd Lt. Hardy Coward Gill, 1st Louisiana (Nelligan's) Louisiana Infantry

Reminiscences and an Appreciation

[Lake Charles Weekly American Press, July 18, 1924]

By May Kirkwood Wasey

2nd Lt. H.C. Gill
1st La. Inf. Reg't.
A picturesque figure on the horizon of the southwest section of Louisiana is H.C. Gill, for years a leading citizen in the political, church and general activities of Lake Charles and Calcasieu parish.

A commanding silhouette against the sunset of life, is this old soldier: one of those still holding the line of the fast-thinning gray. He stands at attention, as it were, not able to be about awaiting the next command.

Speaking of this one day, he said, “The sweetest words I could hear today wound be the order from my commanding officer to move my baggage into the next country. When that welcome command comes, I’ll leave all this suffering here and go to the land of peace and happiness.” Like another soldier of long ago, he has, “Fought a good fight, and has kept the faith.”

“Uncle Doc” Gill was born in Mississippi, near Brookhaven, the 17th day of February 1844 but, as he says, he couldn’t help that and with his parents, he moved to Louisiana in the 9th month of his first year; “at the very earliest opportunity.”

He claims two native states, anyway, and tells in his peculiarly witty style of his crossing the Mississippi as it was told to him. It seems as they ferried over the river, the nurse girl gave him a piece of beef melt, on which he choked, and it was not until they reached the Louisiana side they were able to bring him back to life. “So, you see,” he concludes, “Louisiana is really my native state, for I started all over here.”

The family settled on Castor Creek, near Leesville, in Vernon parish.

Surprised when I asked him how he spent his time when he was a boy, he said, “Why I picked cotton, picked peas, did everything; I was raised on a farm.”

About the schools of those days there was not much to tell. “They rank about three months in a year. The country was sparsely settled. There were few children to go to school and almost no teachers. And some of the teachers we had didn’t know anything to teach.” But, like most of us, he that stands above all the others in his memory. She must have been an inspiration for he talks yet about her lovely voice and the realistic way she read or told stories to her classes.

He entered Mt. Lebanon college at 14, but left at 17 to join the Confederate army.

After a visit to the old Gill home on the lake front, three years ago, I wrote my note book; “When I am 77, I hope I shall be as jolly and interested in life and folks as is our dear Uncle Doc Gill. We visited him yesterday, the day before his 77th birthday, and he told us of his first visit to Lake Charles, when he was 8.”

“I remember it as if it were yesterday,” he said. “I had  never seen so much water and to me it looked like the [illegible] the Atlantic ocean.” He was visiting Bagdad on the other side of the lake and not being able to read the future, he did not know that he would build his home on the edge of this lake and become a pioneer of a town like Lake Charles.

 His vision of a beautiful residential section along the lake was never realized, and today the commercial interests are edging closer and closer on either side of his wide lawn with the shady trees. Speaking of this, he said, “I fought them all I could.” After all, this was too bad for Lake Charles especially since there were so many miles of river front on which to build warehouses and railroad tracks.

His story of this first journey from Leesville to Bagdad, is something like this: “Mother decided she wanted to see her mother who lived in Bagdad. There were no roads in those days, only a blind trail, so we made the trip down on horseback. Mother and all the children had a horse apiece except me, and I rode behind. I remember how I fussed because I liked a comfortable seat and wanted always to ride behind the one who had a pacing horse. But I had to take turn about with first one and then another, and all the horses didn’t pace. Between home and Bagdad, we only passed one house. We carried our provisions and camped at night along the way.”

The Bear Story

“About half-way down, one day, a black bear crossed the trail just in front of us. Now my big brother was a ferocious fellow and, dare-devil-like, he threw the saddle bags and all the heavy weight from his horse and, with his rope, started off to lasso the bear.

“One of the horses we rode was ‘Old Nance.’ With her, all the young ‘uns on the place, white and black, had learned to plow. Well, when Nance got to the place where the bear crossed the path, she started a rebellion. Brother tried to ride her over, whip her over, or back her across it, but she wouldn’t cross that bear’s track. Finally brother tied her head up, with several thicknesses of sack and started her engine to going round and round. Then reversing her, she went round and round the other way, till she lost her ‘geography’ and as she couldn’t see nor smell, nor hear, she went over. After we got Old Nance on grandmother’s side of the bear path, we were on our way again.”

It was on this visit when he was 8, that he enjoyed his first “excursion on the lake, when Miss Laura Bilbo took us for a ride in a skiff. Her father, Joe Bilbo, lived where Bel’s mill is now.”

Also, he tells of visiting the homes of some of oldest settlers here. One of these was Valentine Moss’ home on the river and he says, “I thought he must be a prince, or something, because he had statues of Jesus and Joseph all around.”

He remembered when they went to the home of Judge Reid, there was a Frenchman named Jean Baptiste La Cox, wrestling with a bear, and that, when asked what he did for a living, he said, Just ‘rassle the bear.”

“However, later, Le Cox built a schooner named John Le Cox,” says Uncle Doc, “and the christening of the craft was a great event in this section. Everybody came from all around. Aunt Babe and Uncile Bill Smart rode in a carriage with two mules. Aunt Babe wore her best silk dress, the only one, I guess, in the country at that time.” Here, he begins to chuckle remembering their son, Tom, and adds, “”Tom rode another mule and somehow or another, Tom got run over before he got home.”

When he went to the Pithon home, he saw Dorice Touchy of whom he says, “I thought she was the prettiest thing that ever made a track in the sand.”

A Fight at Hortman’s Ferry

“We had no prize fights in those days, but there was always a bully in each neighborhood: the strong man, and the men of the different neighborhoods would begin carrying tales of them until finally they would fight.

“All arrangements were made this way for a fight between my grandfather and Martin LeBleu, and they met one day on the high bluff at Hortman’s Ferry. There was a big crowd to see the fight for grandfather’s friends of the west country had gone with him and a crowd from the east country came with LeBleu. They stripped to the waist. LeBleu was bigger than grandfather and I remember that the boys of Big Woods had cut grandfather’s hair off so that LeBleu couldn’t get hold of it, and they had him greased so that he would be hard to hold.

“They fit, and fit and fit and neither one could lick the other, and first thing we know they had rolled down that steep bluff and into the river. The men had to fish them out or they would have drowned.”

I asked him a question of which was the best man was ever settled, and he said. “No, they never fought again.”

His War Record

In 1861, at 17, he came home from Mt. Lebanon college and joined “Red River Rebels” of Rapides parish organized at Alexandria. James C. Wise was elected captain and the company was mustered into service at New Orleans from where it was sent immediately to Virginia to become a unit of the 1st Louisiana Regiment, then stationed at Hampton Roads. “One of the companies of the regiment had become an artillery unit, s0 we filled that vacancy.” He told me, “becoming Company B of the 1st Regiment Louisiana Infantry.

“We enlisted for 12 months only,” he said, “but at the expiration of that time, we reorganized and reenlisted for the war. I had been in a year and was at the turn of 18.

At this reorganization of the troops Mr. Gill was elected junior lieutenant of his company. He was present at the seven days battles around Richmond but was not regularly engaged until the battle of Malvern Hill the last and most severe of the series. After Malvern Hill his company was attached to the corps of the great Stonewall Jackson and served with it through all of the campaigns until the end of the war At the close of the battle of Sharpsburg or Antietam, where his regiment was severely handled, Lieutenant Gill was left in command of the regiment at the age of 18.  He was perhaps the youngest officer who ever commanded a regiment on a field of battle.

He was severely wounded at the battle of Chancellorsville on May 3, 1862 and again at the battle of the Wilderness May 5, 1864.  He said, “After fighting all over the country I came right back there to Chancellorsville and got shot again.” Here he gives  a graphic account of how his life was saved by Aaron Doyle, who rescued him from the battlefield when the others thought it was no use. He always expresses his gratitude and appreciation of this friend who throughout the war took an especial interest in him, remembering him when he had any provisions and calling him “Ye little fellow.”

Camped at Hampton Roads, on March 8, 1862, he witnessed the naval engagement between the Confederate ironclad Merrimac and the frigates Congress and Cumberland and land batteries at Newport News. On the following day he saw the battle between the Monitor and Merrimac. He missed being in this engagement having volunteered and submitted to an examination as one of the crew of the Merrimac, but was refused on account of his youth.

“Talk about your fireworks” he said, speaking of the battle between the Merrimac and Congress and Cumberland, “We had a real one when one of the ships caught fire and its magazine blew up.”

During the valley campaigns of General Early, he became Captain Gill, of the brigade sharpshooters and while commanding them in the battle of Fisher’s Hill was taken prisoner, and confined at Fort Delaware until the close of the war.

“How did the Yankees treat you?” I asked. “Just kept us tied up there. Didn’t give us much to eat but that was a good thing. I guess. We didn’t make ourselves sick eating.”

When they had released him he returned to Alexandria. He said, “We were given transportation to Alexandria and I hired a pony there and rode home.”

      He found later that he had a twin in the Union Army, in the late Col. J.W. Eggleston, who moved to Lake Charles in 1890. Those two soldiers became close friends at the coincidences of their lives were often discussed over their 10 o’clock cups of coffee.

Col. Eggleston made his home in Shreveport during the last years of his life. The picture of the two was taken when he visited Lake Charles on November 24m 1916 and as Uncle Doc says, “It typifies the burial of the hatchet forever.

These two men were both born on February 17, 1844, Mr. Gill in Mississippi and Col. Eggleston in Phelps, N.Y. Each enlisted in his own state in 1861, and served throughout the war. Both were wounded twice each time on the same day and in the same battle. May 3, 1863 at Chancellorsville and May 5, 1864 in the Battle of the Wilderness. Mr. Gill married December 31, 1867, and Col. Eggleston was married in November of the same year. There were three children in both of their families only Mr. Gill’s were two girls and one boy and Col. Eggleston’s were one girl and two boys.

Immediately upon return home at the close of the war Captain Gill moved from Vernon to Calcasieu, settling at Bagdad on the river above Westlake where he engaged in the mercantile and milling business. He built and operated the first steam tram in Calcasieu parish. Selling this interest, he moved to Lake Charles and for a number of years was engaged in the livery business.

In 1892, Mr. Gill was appointed clerk of the district court to fill the unexpired term of C.D. Welsh, deceased. He held this office for three successive terms and of his work in this capacity it was written in a special edition of that time, “Mr. Gill has made a regular and efficient public officer, always prompt, courteous, accurate.” The same article  went on to say: “He has been for years identified with the progress of the parish and city. His residence on the lake front is not only one of the most tastily arranged and picturesquely surrounded. Mr. Gill has an interesting and intellectual family who enjoys an enviable position in the society of the lake city.”

The Confederate Monument

The following is an address delivered by Mr. Gill at the unveiling of the Confederate Monument at Lake Charles, Louisiana, June 3, 1915, which is characteristic of him:
Mr. Chairman, R.E. Lee Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Comrades, Ladies and my Fellow Citizens:

The Daughters of the Confederacy, having charge of these dedicatory ceremonies, have placed the responsibility upon me of responding on behalf of the veterans, and having closed all avenues of retreat there was nothing left me to do but capitulate.

An occasion of this kind is one of reminiscence. More than fifty years ago the North and South were seriously divided upon a great political and constitutional question. It has always seemed strange to me that the question was not appealed to the Supreme or some diplomatic court, but it was not. Every state in the Union appealed to arms, both sides with equal enthusiasm and patriotism lined up on the question, both sides called their witnesses and the argument was promptly opened at Fort Sumter. When Thomas Overton Moore, governor of this state, called to the colors its citizens, I claim those who responded performed as highly patriotic duty, as any man who responded to the call of Abraham Lincoln.

For more than four years the argument raged with tremendous energy and fury.

Looking backward a half century from the 9th of April last, we catch a vision of Appomattox. On that eventful and historic day two giant characters, two strong men, two great captains met on a patch of nature’s greensward, under an apple tree, in the full fruitage of flower, and without blare of trumpets, without noise, but in the simplicity of greatness, made a covenant honorable to both sides, and closed the argument forever. The commissary wagons were pulled in, refreshments were served and a plug of Brown’s Mule was passed and everybody took a bite, the blue and the gray withdrew to their homes to mend the broken and heal the wounds. How faithfully that covenant has been kept and how well the blue and the gray have wrought, you have but to observe today with what unanimity the hundred million of loyal Americans are standing behind and supporting our chief magistrate and his policies, and not enough Jingoes on the gunwales to rock the boat. Gathered under the shadow of this monument are veterans of the blue and the gray, that squatted on the greensward around the apple tree at Appomattox on the 9th of April, 1865. We have forgiven. Today we send our children to the same schools, we attend the same churches, have extended the right hand of fellowship and would eat chuck together if we had the chance. But we have not forgotten. Would you have us forget? This monument and every Confederate and Union monument in the land answers in one universal chorus — No. We stand for something.

Back in the eighties, when our western frontiers were infested and dominated by a restless, reckless, desperate, lawless, wild and woolly element of daredevil cowboys and rustlers, on one of their carnival occasions at the end of a gun play one of the gang quit the trail and they laid him in the little village cemetery. His friends erected a little modest memorial over his grave. Strolling through the little cemetery, and coming to the plain marble slab, I found this simple inscription: “Bill Boone,” and underneath this unique epitaph, “Bill always done his derndest.” Catching the inspiration of the thought that brought out that inscription I pulled off my hat to that epitaph, and my hat is off to it still.

H.C. Gill in middle age
Search the literature and classics of the world, could you find five words and group them that would give a higher or loftier encomium to human endeavor? If the drapery should be removed from that statue and there should be anything lacking to make it complete and I were called upon to supply it, I would say copy the epitaph in the little village cemetery, and write on that shaft “They always done their derndest.”

And now to this splendid band of women, the R.E. Lee Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy, who have been so faithful and worked so hard, consistently, persistently and successfully to this end, and to every donor to the fund that has made this splendid memorial possible, on behalf of these veterans and on behalf of our fallen comrades, whose graves lie in the green bosom of every battlefield from the Rio Grande, and the Round Tops of Gettysburg, I sincerely, reverently and affectionately extend our thanks.

These veterans assembled here have all reached their three score years and ten and better, and in a few more years, at best, will be the lost generation. Their faces are turned toward the sunset of life, and as they move across the stage of action, with warped frames and halting gait, and whitening crowns and visions growing dim, you may catch the faint echo of their receding steps, as they enter upon their last campaign the thin gray line growing shorter and thinner and thinner and thinner as the years go by until they reach the border land and, as the rear guard of the heavy battalions straggle over the line, taps will be sounded, lights extinguished and the thin gray line will fade forever into a memory. The rear guard will cross over the river and mingling with the spirits of their comrades, who have gone on before, together they will lie down to rest under the shade of the trees, on “Fame’s eternal camping ground, the bivouac of the dead.”