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 and is available on that web site as well as 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.”

Monday, August 17, 2015


Courtesy of Sabine Pass Battleground
On September 8, 1863, the battle of Sabine Pass turned back one of several Union attempts to invade and occupy part of Texas during the Civil War.

The U.S. Navy blockaded the Texas coast beginning in the summer of 1861, while Confederates fortified the major ports. Union interest in Texas and other parts of the Confederacy west of the Mississippi River resulted primarily from the need for cotton by northern textile mills and concern about French intervention in the Mexican civil war. In September 1863, Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks sent 4,000 soldiers by transport from New Orleans under the command of Gen. William B. Franklin to gain a foothold at Sabine Pass, where the Sabine River flows into the Gulf of Mexico. A railroad ran from Sabine Pass to Houston and opened the way into the interior of the state. The Western Gulf Blockading Squadron of the U. S. Navy sent four gunboats mounting 18 guns to protect the landing of the transport troops. The Union commander, Lt. Frederick Crocker, formed a plan for the gunboats to enter the pass and silence the Fort Griffin guns so the troops could land.

At Sabine Pass, the Davis Guards –– a Confederate Army unit composed of 45 enlisted men, one engineer, and one surgeon, all Irish and all in their 20s or younger –– manned Fort Griffin, which was constructed by 500 conscripted slaves. The fort consisted of an earthwork that mounted six cannons, two 24-pounders and four 32-pounders.

The U.S.S Clifton shelled the fort from long range between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. on September 8. The Confederates remained under cover because the ship was out of reach for their cannons. Behind the fort, Confederate officers gathered reinforcements, although their limited numbers would make resistance difficult if the federal troops landed.

At 3:40 p.m. the Union gunboats began their advance through the pass, firing on the fort as they steamed forward. Under the direction of Lt. Dowling, the Confederate cannoneers emerged to man their guns as the ships came within 1,200 yards. One cannon in the fort ran off its platform after an early shot, but the artillerymen fired the remaining five cannons with great accuracy. A shot from the third or fourth round hit the boiler of the U.S.S. Sachem, which exploded, killing and wounding many of the crew and leaving the gunboat without power in the channel. The following ship, the U.S.S. Arizona, could not pass the U.S.S. Sachem and withdrew from the action. The U.S.S. Clifton, which also carried several sharpshooters, continued up the channel near the Texas shore until a shot from the fort cut away its tiller rope. That left the gunboat without the ability to steer and caused it to run aground, where its crew continued to exchange fire with the Confederate gunners. Another well-aimed projectile into the boiler of the U.S.S. Clifton sent steam and smoke through the vessel and forced the sailors to abandon ship. The U.S.S. Granite City also turned back, thus ending the federal assault.

The Davis Guards fired their cannons 107 times in 35 minutes of action, a rate of less than two minutes per shot, which ranked as far more rapid than the standard for heavy artillery. The Confederates captured 350 Union prisoners and two gunboats. Gen. Franklin and the Union forces turned back to New Orleans, although Union troops occupied the Texas coast from Brownsville to Matagorda Bay later that fall. The Confederates, who suffered no casualties during the battle, received the gratitude of the Confederate Congress for their victory. Careful fortification, range marking and artillery practice had produced a successful defense of Sabine Pass.

Source: Handbook of Texas Online

Monday, July 27, 2015


Color Sergeant Joseph C. LeBleu of Co. K,
10th La. Inf. He carried the regimental
battleflag in the bloody Battle of Malvern
Hill, July 1, 1862. His flag staff was shot in two
but he survived the battle and the war.
(Photo courtesy of Dan Jones)
[Excerpted from the Southwest Louisiana Biographical and Historical, 1892]
JOSEPH C. LeBLEU, Lake Charles.—Joseph C. LeBleu, one of the pioneer planters of Calcasieu parish, who resides at English Bayou, Ward 3, is a native of the parish, born April 8, 1841. He is the son of Arsine and Eliza (Milhomme) LeBleu, natives of Louisiana, born 1783 and 1800, respectively. Arsine LeBleu emigrated to California in 1849l; he died in Sacramento in 1850. His wife died in 1883. By occupation Arsine LeBleu was a planter and stock raiser.
                Our subject is the youngest of a family of eight children, two of whom are now living. Mr. LeBleu spent his youthful days in Calcasieu parish. At the beginning of the civil struggle he entered Company K, 10th Louisiana Regiment [Ed. Note: the original story mistakenly gave his unit as the 18th La. Inf.], under Captain A.B. [Actually William H.] Spencer. He was in the battles of Williamsburg, Seven Pines, [In the 10th La. Inf.] Mansfield, Pleasant Hill, [In the 7th La. Cav.] and numerous other minor engagements. He was paroled at  Natchitoches, Louisiana. After the war he returned home and resumed farming, which he has closely followed ever since. He owns a good plantation where he resides, and upon which he raises, principally, rice. He is president of the Lake Charles Farmer’s Union, 587, and was the organizer of the Union in Calcasieu parish. Mr. LeBleu was married, in 1867, to Leoneze [Laonaise] Hebert, a native of Louisiana. They are the parents of ten children, five sons and five daughters, six of whom are living: Beatrice (widow of Arthur Rosteet), Grace (wife of J.W. Rosteet), Polignac, Evelina, Farrel and Ella.
[Excerpted from the Lake  Charles Daily Press Special Edition, 1895]
      When the war drum sounded, Mr. LeBleu and fourteen other young men in the neighborhood came at once to Lake Charles and started toward the front. At Opelousas they joined a company being organized by Capt. W.H. Spencer, which became connected with the 10th Louisiana Volunteer Infantry.
      He served with this regiment for two years in Virginia, when he was transferred to the 7th Louisiana Volunteer Cavalry, serving for the remainder of the war in the South.
      Since the war Mr. LeBleu has held a number of official positions, among them chief constable of the parish until that office was abolished, and he is at present a member of the police jury from the third ward.

[Obituary of Joseph C. LeBleu, Lake Charles Daily American Press, Saturday, Nov. 7, 1914]
     A most distinguished and venerable figure strongly associated with Calcasieu history and Calcasieu up-building, passed from human ken last night when Major Joseph C. LeBleu, president of the police jury and son of Calcasieu’s pioneer settler, passed away at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Henry Little in Seventh street. For the past few years, Major LeBleu has been in failing health, but his energy and strong will triumphed for weeks over the ravages of his ailment. Some weeks ago he came from Chloe to that of his daughter to be in better reach of his physician and here last evening about six o’clock the end came.
      The funeral will take place from the Church of the Immaculate Conception Monday afternoon at 3 o’clock. Interment will be at the Catholic cemetery on Common street. The funeral will be attended by Calcasieu Camp, United Confederate Veterans and Calcasieu council, Knights of Columbus in a body, and by a host of people prominent in public and civic life.
      Joseph C. LeBleu was born April 8, 1841, the youngest of eight children of Arsene LeBleu and Eliza Milhomme, at the old LeBleu homestead east of Lake Charles. His father, Arsene LeBleu, was born in 1787 and was the first settler in Calcasieu east of the river. He made his home on the prairie east of Lake Charles over a hundred years ago, and in this locality Major LeBleu was reared to manhood and spent his whole life. His father was attracted by the California gold discovery in 1849 and was one of the first to cross the plains to the new El Dorado, but did not live to return. He died in Sacramento in 1850. His mother died in 1883, aged 83 years.
      When the war between the state broke out, Major LeBleu enlisted in Co. K, Eighteenth [10th]  Louisiana, and served throughout the war, participating in the battles of Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Mansfield and other engagements. He was mustered out at Natchitoches and returning to the old home, took up residence on the home farm east of Lake Charles where the rest of his life was spent. He was one of the organizers of the Farmers’ union in Calcasieu parish in the 70’s and served as president of the local organization. Eleven years ago he organized the LeBleu Rangers, a troop of cavalry in the Louisiana National Guard, which at that time had no unit in western Louisiana, and officiated as its commander and later as major commanding the cavalry force of the state national guard. Thanks to the interest aroused by his initiative, several other national guard commands were formed later in western Louisiana.
       Major LeBleu was elected a member of the Calcasieu parish police jury in 1888 and served twenty years in that capacity until 1908 when his precarious state of health forced him to retire for a time from public affairs. He was re-elected in 1912. During most of his service he was president of the governing body of the parish and was always a worker for the public improvements which have made this parish pre-eminent throughout the state.
      Mr. LeBleu was married to Leoneze [Laonaise] Hebert who survives him, with five of the ten children. The surviving children are Mrs. Grace Rosteet, Mrs. Beatrice Richard, Mrs. Evalena Little, Mrs. Aarons and Mr. P.D. LeBleu.
Other Historical Notes:

        According to LeBleu’s military service record, he was appointed color-bearer of the 10th Louisiana Infantry 1 Sept. 1861. He carried the regimental battle flag in the Battle of Malvern Hill, July 1, 1862, one of the bloodiest battles in the War for Southern Independence. Lt. Edward A. Seton of his company, wrote that LeBleu’s flag staff was shot in two during the charge, but the color sergeant was miraculously not wounded. The 10th Louisiana was the only Confederate regiment to penetrate the Federal line and temporarily captured 10 Yankee cannons. When the regiment was not reinforced, they were driven back by a powerful Yankee counterattack. His record also states, “Deserted his regiment and joined the Confederate cavalry.” LeBleu later explained he was home on furlough when Vicksburg fell and couldn’t return to Virginia. He then joined the 7th Louisiana Cavalry with the rank of second lieutenant and fought in the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill in the Red River Campaign. The 7th Louisiana Cavalry also helped eradicate Jayhawkers in Southwest Louisiana, who were terrorizing the population. During the Spanish-American War, he raised a cavalry unit, called the LeBleu Rangers, serving as the major, in the Louisiana State Militia. He was an active charter member of Calcasieu Camp No. 62, United Confederate Veterans, and organized the first Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp in Calcasieu Parish in his police jury office in 1911. Joseph Camarsac LeBleu died Nov. 6, 1914 and is buried in the Old Catholic Cemetery in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Charge of the 10th Louisiana Infantry at the Battle of Malvern Hill, Va., July 1, 1862.

[The below story is excerpted from Confederate States Rangers of the 10th Liouisiana Infantry by Michael Dan Jones, 2014. The Battle of Malvern Hill, Va. was the final one of the Seven Days Battles, which halted and drove away Major  General George B. McClellan's Federal Army of the Potomac from the doorsteps of Richmond.]

When [Lt. Col. Eugene] Waggaman [of the 10th Louisiana Infantry] was notified by [Brig. Gen. Paul] Semmes to bring his regiment up, he ordered the men to “Fall in!” They advanced within 300 yards of the enemy, then halted in a dip in the ground. The lieutenant colonel then walked to the center of the soldiers and said, “Men, we are ordered to charge the cannon in our front and take them. The Tenth Regiment has been in reserve all week, and every other Louisiana regiment has been in action. All of them have distinguished themselves, and I trust that the Tenth will not be the first to falter. Not a shot must be fired until we get to the guns. Now, men, we are going to charge. Remember Butler and the women of New Orleans. Forward, charge!”  Waggaman was referring to the infamous and insulting declaration of the military governor of New Orleans, Benjamin “Beast” Butler that any woman acting disrespectfully to the Northern occupiers could be treated as a prostitute. 
      As Semmes noted [in his report], the 10th, with 318 men in the charge, was placed on the right of the brigade. First Sergeant Joseph C. LeBleu, regimental color bearer, was in front as the regiment with Waggaman leading them all, far in advance. They marched forward through a storm of bullets and bomb shells as the Louisianians entered a smoke shrouded nightmare of death and destruction. Semmes watched as Waggaman and the other men of the 10th  disappeared into that cloud of smoke.        
     Lieutenant [Lt. Edward A.] Seton remembered seeing the flagstaff held by Sergeant LeBleu  shot in two. Somehow LeBleu was not wounded. Others, however, were “biting the dust” with every step, especially in the last 50 yards. Then, almost miraculously, they breached the Federal line and captured 10 of those death dealing cannons. Suddenly, the famous 69th New York “Irishers” came up and Waggaman commanded the men from Louisiana to open fire. 

     The 69th fell back. Waggaman told the men to lie down and wait for reinforcements, which of course would never come. They were  then raked by a volley of musketry from right to left. Waggaman thought they were being fired on by their own men. He turned to Sergeant Major [Leon] Jastremski and said, “For God’s sake Sergeant Major, go to those men and tell them to cease firing; they are killing their own men.”  
     Jastremski approached the unknown soldiers, but discovered they weren’t Confederates, but the 12th U.S. regulars and the 69th New York firing at them. Rather than ceasing fire, they made Jastremski their prisoner. The 10th Louisiana was then overwhelmed in a bayonet charge by the 69th New York. Private Daniel Dean of Company H received a bayonet wound in the throat but survived. Next to Dean, cries of “Kill him!” and “Bayonet him!” were directed at Waggaman, who deflected the bayonet thrusts with his sword but was surrounded. He threw away his heirloom sword so the Yankees wouldn’t get it. Private Richard Kelly with the 69th New York was credited with capturing Waggaman. He received a battlefield commission for his feat. About 30 men in all were taken prisoners, but the other survivors of the charge made their way back to Confederate lines the best they could. 
Lt. Col. Eugene Waggaman
(Courtesy of Mrs. Babette Brodie)
      The gallant, but futile, charge of the 10th Louisiana at Malvern Hill has been compared to the “Charge of the Light Brigade” at the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War. The men of the 10th were the only Confederates to penetrate the Federal line and temporarily capture 10 cannons. Federal artillery commander Colonel Henry J. Hunt said of the charge, “The last attack was very nearly successful [and] we won from the fact that we kept our reserves in hand for just such an attack . . . .”
      The 10th Louisiana lost 18 men killed, 36 wounded and 38 missing. In Company K, the Rangers’ losses were Corporal Nathan Howell killed; Corporal Guillaume Durio and Private Joseph Dulva Farque, wounded. Father [Louis-Hippolyte] Gache [regimental chaplain] wrote in a July 8 letter in Richmond his feelings at getting the news that Colonel Waggaman was missing. He said in his letter, “My dear friend Colonel Waggman is listed among the missing. Please God he has not been wounded; although he must surely have been, as he was at the head of his regiment when it made a charge against a battery of thirty-two cannons. I miss him very much; his loss is and will be irreparable. The night before the battle he took me aside and said, ‘Father, I’d like to make another confession so the two of us withdrew from the rest of the troops for a few moments and I obliged his request. The following morning before I finally settled down to get some sleep (we had marched during most of the night and weren’t able to snatch even a few winks until 3 a.m.), I noticed that the colonel spent a long time at his prayers. This much is for sure: if he has to face death in some Yankee prison, he’ll not be unprepared.”