Friday, April 30, 2010


Louisiana WFSI sites should be preserved
By Mike Jones

LOUISIANA HAS a colorful history, and in the War For Southern Independence, 1861-1865, it was one of the main battlegrounds.

There were six major military campaigns fought in Louisiana, including the capture of New Orleans and the Bayou Lafourche campaign in 1862; the Bayou Teche, Port Hudson and Acadiana campaigns in 1863; and the Red River Campaign in 1864. Each involved major battles, minor skirmishes and many casualties.

More than 12,000 Louisianians died in the war and whole sections of the state were laid to waste.

That alone should be enough for the Louisianians to make sure Louisiana battlefields get proper recognition and historical preservation.

Private individuals and organizations interested in battlefield preservation need to shoulder the burden. A sterling example of this avenue is Camp Moore historic site near Tangipahoa. This was a State Commemorative Area shut down due to budget cuts.

A group of interested citizens wanting the save and preserve this important site in Louisiana's history formed an organization, got a long-term lease from the state and raised its own funds. It is now reopened and has a promising future that will boost tourism for the state.

In addition, Burr's Ferry -- which is the site of a Confederate earthworks — is being preserved by the local camp, Anacoco Rangers, of the Louisiana Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The grounds are receiving upkeep and a nice Confederate flag display has been erected.

Also Niblett's Bluff Park near Vinton, which is another site of well preserved Confederate earthworks, is also being well preserved by the park's board of commissioners. Part of the Pleasant Hill battlefield is being preserved through private sources and is the scene of the state's largest annual reenactment.

While most battlefields in the state have in no way been preserved, the state has established historic sites at Port Hudson, Mansfield, Fort Pike and Winter Quarters State Historic Site. Fort DeRussy is in the process of being preserved. There are many more sites that need to be protected and preserved, including Bayou Lafourche, Bayou Teche, Calcasieu Pass, Buzzard's Prairie, and many more.

Private, state or federal grant money sources can be accessed. Louisiana has a colorful history and many battlefields that are well worth preserving.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


 By Mike Jones
CAMERON -- Louisiana history books don't mention the Battle of Calcasieu Pass, which took place May 6, 1864, but the men who fought here never forgot it.
    The commander of the Confederate forces in the battle was Lt. Col. William Henry Griffin.
    A native of South Carolina, Griffin graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., on July 1, 1831, 27th in class standing. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 7th U.S. Infantry Regiment and resigned his commission on April 30, 1837.
    Griffin took up farming and lived in Alabama before moving to Texas in the 1840s. He settled in East Texas where he raised a family in Rusk and Upshur counties.
    In 1861, when Texas seceded from the Union, the West Point graduate was called upon to command an infantry battalion, which was assigned to guard the upper Texas and Louisiana coasts at Sabine Pass, Texas and Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana.
    Griffin's battalion saw action in the Battle of Galveston, Jan. 1, 1863 and and at the Battle of Calcasieu Pass.
    At that time Cameron Parish was part of Calcasieu Parish and a number of local men took part in the battle as members of Company F of Griffin's battalion, and possibly also Daly's Texas Cavalry, which later became known as Ragsdale's Texas Cavalry.
    Louisiana state Confederate Pension records make it possible to identify some Cameron Parish residents who served in those units.
    Among them were James Monroe Welch, Belazier Duhon and Norbert D. Duhon, all of Company F of Griffin's battalion.
    Serving in Ragsdale's Texas Cavalry were Frederick Vaughan, Valery Doiron, Pierre B. Boudoin, J. Armstrong Smith, Adolphe Hebert and Auguste Gillett.
    Calcasieu pensioners who served in units involved included David Gordon, Spaight's battalion; Caesair Peloquin, Octave Benoit and Valmond Doiron, allin Griffin's battalion; and in Ragsdale's battalion Alexandre Arceneaux, Cyprien Ardoin, James S. Cole, Joseph Derouen, Arvillien Derouen, Francois David, John J. Hayes, John Pinder, James M. Reeves, Arsene Sallier, W. C. Teal, Joseph Carr, Leo Derouen, Tolliver Hayes, Charles Doiron, Edward Doiron and Eurelien Sonnier.
    Other residents who did not apply for pensions probably served as well.
    A rare eyewitness description of the battle is contained in a letter written by one of the participants, C. Walter von Rosenburg of the Creuzbaur's 5th Texas Artillery, made up mostly of German Texans from Fayette County, four days after the battle:
    ''Camp of Creuzbaur Light Battery,
    ''May 10, 1864.
    ''Dear Brother William:
    ''We are in camp on the coast, six miles from Sabine Pass, having just returned from Calcasieu Pass, La., where we had a fight with the Yanks. Brother Alex and I came out of the fight without injury. William Kneiss was killed by the first shot from the enemy.
    ''On the 4th of this month at noon we received orders to get ready to start for Calcasieu by dusk, so that the United States gunboats out in the Gulf observing our coast could not see the movement. A detachment under Lieut. W. Meitzen was up in the country, where part of our horses were grazing, leaving from forty to forty-five officers and men on duty. With what teams remained we had to move the battery to Sabine Pass. There, after completing the teams with mules, the battery was loaded on a steamboat, and we went up Sabine Lake and into one of the bayous, where we unloaded about noon on the 5th and in the latter part of the evening started on our march. The men had to walk on account of the deep sand, which caused slow progress. However, before day we were in position facing two gunboats. Our battery consisted of two twelve-pounder guns, No. 1 and No. 2, and of two six-pounder guns, No. 3 and No. 4.
    ''Captain Creuzbaur was in command of the battery, Lieutenant Welhausen commanded guns Nos. 3 and 4. No. 1 was manned by brother Alex, orderly sergeant, myself gunner, H. Kneiss, W. Kneiss, W. Peters, W. Guers, John Winn, and ------; the drivers were F. Koch and F. Kiel. Guns Nos. 1 and 2 were on the right, facing the gunboat Granite City; guns Nos. 3 and 4 were opposite the gunboat Wave. We were about twelve hundred yards from the gunboats when I was ordered to open fire. Our fire was soon answered, and W. Kneiss fell at the first shot. We continued firing, notwithstanding the fact that we were subjected to a heavy crossfire from the gunboats which were lying in position, a bend in Calcasieu Bayou between them. In a short time gun 3 became disabled; F. Fahrenhold, H. Foerstermann, J. Lynch mortally wounded. Gun No. 4 bravely kept on firing, but could not advance for want of teams, the horses by mistake having been ordered back.
    ''We could not observe whether our shots were effective and Captain Creuzbaur ordered us to advance. Only guns No. 1 and 2 could advance, No. 3 being disabled and No. 4 without horses. At about nine hundred yards I was ordered to throw shells to obtain the distance to the Granite City. Then I followed up with solid shot. We continued to advance, thereby getting out of the cross-fire. Gun No. 1 led the advance up to about six hundred yards, when the Granite City hoisted a white flag just as I gave an order to load. About the time gun No. 2 sank in a swamp, and all efforts of officers and men to raise it were unsuccessful; it was, however, dug up after the fight was over. We had now only two guns left for action; but gun No. 4 being still in the first position without horses, gun No. 1 was the only one that could be advanced in action. There being no officer near, I as gunner ordered an advance on the Wave. This order was executed so quickly by the drivers that when we halted about three hundred yards from the Wave, I was the only man with the gun, and, noticing some infantry to the right behind a plank fence, I called on them to assist in bringing the gun into position. They cheerfully responded, and upon the arrival of the men of No. 1 on a run, led by H. Kneiss, we immediately commenced firing. We were short of men at our gun. W. Kneiss had been killed and W. Guers wounded, although he had heroically attended to his duty for some time kneeling. I sent solid shot at the Wave, and, as subsequently disclosed, our balls went lengthwise through the gunboat. An effort to raise gun No. 2 had been given up, and soon gun No. 1 had men enough to work her and bring up ammunition, which Alex had done for some time alone, for we had exhausted ours.
    ''The Wave had steam up, and we could see men in the pilot house, whereupon Lieutenant Welhausen ordered me to send canister into the pilot house. After a few shots the pilot house seemed to be abandoned. By this time we had plenty of ammunition brought from gun No. 2. Lieutenant Welhausen ordered me to aim for the engine. After a few more shots the steam was seen escaping. At last gun No. 4 came up and took position by No. I, but fired only one shot, when a white rag was raised on the Wave. There being no officer near, I as gunner ordered the guns to cease firing. We called on the gunboat to lower her boats in order to board her, but none were sent. Whereupon Major McReynolds, who had come up, asked: 'What is up here?' I reported to him the above facts. He then called for boats to be put off to shore and, as none were coming, ordered gun No. 4 to send a warning shot over the gunboat; then, turning to me, he said: 'Give it to them.' This done, the white flag came up like lightning, and a skiff left the steamer for shore. Major McReynolds, accompanied by me and several comrades, boarded the Wave. We found that she had suffered fearfully.
    ''Our infantry did splendid service by their constant fire, sweeping the decks of the gunboats and making it difficult for the Yanks to handle their guns on deck. I saw an infantryman standing out by himself in the open field toward the Wave firing unflinchingly. I was anxious to learn his name, but could not. This man's bravery was noticed on the Wave, and afterwards prisoners inquired for him, stating that his daring irritated their men when firing at him.
    ''The battery was ordered back to Sabine Pass and to this camp; the infantry was left in charge of prisoners and gunboats. We captured sixteen guns and one hundred and sixty-six men (Griffin reported 174 captured).
    ''The other forces engaged with us were the 21st Texas, Major McReynolds, and part of Daly's and Spaight's Battalions, in all 250 to 300 men. All the forces engaged were under command of Col. W. H. Griffin, of the 21st Texas Infantry.''
    ''(signed) C. Walter von Rosenburg.''
    A view of the battle from the Union perspective is contained in a letter written by C. W. Lamson, commander of the Granite City:
    ''Sabine Pass, Texas, May 8, 1864.
    ''I am under the painful necessity of informing you that I was captured at Calcasieu Pass on the morning of the 6th. The Wave was also captured at the same time. We fought for an hour an forty minutes; but the enemy's sharp-shooters picked off our men so that we could not keep our guns manned, and their batteries hulled us every shot.
    ''The Granite City had sixteen shot-holes in her hull, near the water line; two officers were wounded, one severely so badly that his right arm was obliged to be taken off at the shoulder. Ten men were wounded; two since dead.
    ''The enemy's sharp-shooters annoyed us most, although we were pretty well cut up by shot and shell.
    ''I am uninjured and in good health. I have met so far with hightoned polite officers, who have shown me every proper attention.
    ''We go from here by steamboat and railroad to Houston. Our destination from there is now to me unknown.
    ''C.W. Lamson, Commanding U. S. Steamer Granite City.''
    The bloody encounter of May 6 left both the field and gunboats littered with dead and wounded.
    Col. Griffin reported that eight of his men were killed in action and 13 wounded. Later, two of Creuzbaur's artillerymen, one of Daly's cavalrymen, and one of Spaight's infantrymen died of wounds.
    The Union casualties have never been fully accounted. Lamson admitted to ten wounded on the Granite City, and two later died. Loring said he had 24 wounded on the Wave, four of whom later died. But indications are there were many more.
    Five days after the battle, Col. Griffin said in a report:
    ''I thought it very strange when I went on board the Granite City that there were so many seriously wounded and so few dead.
    It will now be explained. Five dead bodies have washed ashore, to which weights had been attached and then thrown overboard.
    The probability is, therefore, that some 15 or 20 of the enemy were killed in the late battle.''
    But the mystery as to why the bodies were weighted and thrown overboard in the first place remains unresolved to this day.
    The Confederates also took a total of 174 prisoners, 16 cannons, the stolen livestock, and a large quantity of food, on which the weary infantrymen delightedly feasted. The poor artillerymen had been sent back to Sabine Pass and missed out on the loot.
    Wounded from both sides were taken to Lake Charles and from there to Goosport where they received the best of care in Captain Daniel Goos' home.
    Union gunboats didn't molest area residents for the remainder of the war.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

'The Civil War Reminiscences of Major Silas T. Grisamore, C.S.A.'

    ''The Civil War Reminiscences of Major Silas T. Grisamore, C.S.A.'' edited by Arthur W. Bergeron Jr.; Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, LA 70893; 227 pages; photographs, maps; footnotes, bibliography, index; $34.95 hardback.
    One of the best accounts of the War Between the States in Louisiana can be found in ''The Civil War Reminiscences of Major Silas T. Grisamore, C.S.A.''
    Grisamore first served as an enlisted man, and then as an officer in the 18th Louisiana Infantry Regiment, which took part in most of the major battles fought on Louisiana soil.
    Grisamore, a native Yankee from Indiana, moved to Louisiana in the 1840s and sided with his adopted state when the conflict between North and South erupted in 1861.
    A resident of Thibodaux where he ran a store, he joined the Lafourche Creoles, which became Company F of the 18th Louisiana that was mostly made up of French-speaking Acadians.
    Grisamore, who had the eye and writing talent of a newspaper reporter, kept a diary during the war and later wrote his memoirs from it for the Thibodaux newspaper.
    He recounts the early experiences of adapting to military life, many of them humorous, the difficulties of life in camp and on the march, and especially the horrors of battle.
    Grisamore gives one of the best eye-witness accounts of the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee on April 6-7, 1862.
    In the fall of that year, he and his regiment were transferred back to Louisiana to defend the state from an invasion led by Union General Benjamin ''Beast'' Butler.
    The regiment took part in the Battle of Labadieville soon after, and in 1863 fought in the Battle of Bisland.
    Grisamore also gives a stirring account of the Battle of Mansfield on April 8, 1864, where General Alfred Mouton and the colonel of the 18th Louisiana, Leopold Armant, died heroic deaths.
    Serving much of the war as the quartermaster of his company and regiment, Grisamore gives rare insight into how Confederate soldiers in Louisiana were uniformed, fed and sheltered.
    He also presented biographical sketches on the leading officers in the regiment and the book contains outstanding uniformed photographs of Cpl. Paul Thibodaux of Company F and Colonel Armant, among others.
    This book is a valuable addition to the literature on the history of the Civil War in Louisiana.

Friday, April 23, 2010


By Mike Jones

Pleasant Hill Reenactment 2010
(Photo by Mike Jones)
One of the major events in Louisiana history was the Red River Campaign of 1864. The campaign raged up and down the state from March-May 1864 and resulted in nearly 15,000 military casualties and left thousands of civilians homeless and starving. Vast sections of Louisiana were reduced to utter ruin.

Although meeting with initial success, the Union Army invasion met fatal setbacks at the Battle of Mansfield on April 8, 1864 and at the Battle of Pleasant Hill April 9, 1864.

The Red River Campaign was launched by President Lincoln who wanted to bring Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas back into the Union before the

1864 presidential election, confiscate Southern cotton for idle New England textile mills, counter French adventurism in Mexico and satisfy the ''Texas Lobby'' in Congress which had long been pressuring the government to subjugate the Lone Star State.

The invasion was to be mounted by Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks' Army of the Gulf coming up from New Orleans, and Gen. Frederick Steele's Army of the Frontier coming down from Little Rock, Ark. The two armies were to converge on Shreveport and, with a combined total of 44,000 men, invade East Texas.

Banks' army was supported by a powerful Naval flotilla under Admiral David Porter, which came up the Red River.

Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor
(copy print, Mike Jones collection)

To meet this massive invasion Confederate commander of the Army of Western Louisiana, Gen. Richard Taylor, had just 8,800 men, with another 4,000 later coming from Arkansas to reinforce him. The overall Confederate commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department was Gen. Kirby Smith but he stayed in his headquarters in Shreveport through most of the Louisiana phase of the campaign.

Banks met with initial success and won minor victories at Fort DeRussy on March 14 and Henderson Hill on March 21 as the combined army-navy force moved up the Red River Valley.

Taylor, who knew he was greatly outnumbered, fell back in good order waiting for reinforcements and favorable ground upon which to make a stand.

The Union Army brought with it civilian cotton merchants who were to confiscate all the Confederate cotton they could lay their

hands on. Taylor countered by having his men burn all the cotton they could find and they burned thousands of bales between Alexandria and Natchitoches.

One witness wrote, ''In fact the road all the way to Natchitoches, a distance of 18 miles one could say was a solid flame.''

And a Louisiana officer, Arthur Hyatt, wrote in his diary about the frustrating 200 mile retreat. ''During all this march we have not a single tent, and when it rains which is frequently we have to lay and take it.''

He also wrote, ''We have nothing but bull beef, corn bread, dirty clothes and sore feet.''

But the Union troops were brimming with confidence, in fact over confidence. One Union officer scoffed when he heard, ''They said the rebels were boasting that here (Mansfield) was the place they were going to begin to bury the Yankees.''

Banks' over confidence led him into making a critical tactical error when he separated his army from the Union fleet on the Red River in order to take the road going through Pleasant Hill and Mansfield to Shreveport.

Taylor had learned from Stonewall Jackson in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley in 1862 how a small army could defeat a much larger one. It was by catching the enemy by surprise and beating him in detail. These were exactly the tactics the Louisiana general employed.

He said, ''The value of the 'initiative' in war cannot be overstated. The 'defensive' is weak, lowering the morale of the army reduced to it.''

Taylor declared Banks would have to pass over his dead body to get past Mansfield. A Texan wrote, ''Fight, fight was the expression of the boys. I never saw men so eager for a chance to try their pluck, and that against overwhelming odds.''

The Northern troops were stretched out along the road with supply wagons mixed in between units, totally unprepared for what was to come.

The first hint that resistance was stiffening was a sharp dismounted cavalry clash April 7 at Wilson's Farm north of Pleasant Hill. After the Union cavalry cleared the way, the advance continued.

On April 8 Taylor had his little army placed in an ideal tactical position three miles south of Mansfield. The Southern army was blocking the road to Shreveport with an open field before them giving a firing range of about 1000 yards.

As the Union Army approached, Taylor rode his horse up to Mouton's Louisiana Infantry Brigade and told them he wanted them ''to draw first blood'' because they were ''fighting in defense of their own soil.''

At 4 p.m. General Alfred Mouton led his men forward in one of the most gallant infantry charges of the war. The Louisianans slammed into the center of the Union line head on and later Walker's Texas Division struck the Union left flank on Honeycutt Hill. Taylor later wrote, ''The charge made by Mouton across the open was magnificent.'' A Federal soldier who was on the receiving end of the charge wrote, ''Masses of rebels, no less than four lines in depth, emerged from the woods and charged with impetuous force, yelling like crazed demons.''

Brig. Gen. Alfred Mouton
(Alexandre Mouton House, Lafayette, La.)

Soon the Northern army crumbled and a retreat turned into a rout, but Mouton was dead along with hundreds of his men.

Falling back to Pleasant Hill the next day, the Federals had recovered enough to fight the now advancing Confederates to a standstill. But Banks, realizing his army was whipped, retreated back to the protection of the Union fleet on the Red River.

Although the campaign continued until May 18 with almost constant fighting, the Union army and navy slowly retreated back toward New Orleans. The Federals became vindictive during the retreat and burned every home, outhouse and chicken coop in their path. Observers said the path of the Union Army could be followed by the flames of all the burning houses and barns.

In Arkansas, Gen. Steele turned his army back toward Little Rock when he heard of Banks' defeat.

Although the Red River Campaign was a victory for the Confederates, the cost in lives and property was enormous. Total Southern casualties in the two month campaign in killed, wounded and missing, were 4,275 in Louisiana and 2,300 in Arkansas.

Union losses were 5,400 in Louisiana and 2,750 in Arkansas. In addition Lincoln's troops lost 187 wagons, 1007 draft animals, nine naval vessels and a minimum of 28 naval guns.

The Confederacy was left in control of most of Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas for the rest of the war.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Sons of Confederate Veterans Rejects False and Unfair Smears of SCV and their kinfolk, the late Confederate Veterans

From Sons of Confederate Veterans Headquarters, Elm Springs, Tennessee

Press Release - April 18th, 2010 - For Immediate Release

For more information contact:
J. A. Davis
Public-Media Relations Committee
Sons of Confederate Veterans
770 297-4788
Gainesville, Georgia

The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) and the historical truth have come under attack from media outlets like MSNBC, CNN, syndicated columnists such as Roland S. Martin ( and Leonard Pitts, Jr., of the Miami Herald. They are attempting to lynch Virginia Gov. McDonnell and others of goodwill who recognize April as Confederate History Month --- which has been observed for many years in states across the country.

We applaud the recognition of various groups and organizations interested in the study of their heritage and their part in American history. Black History Month (February), Women's History Month (March), Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May), Native American History Month (November), Hispanic Heritage Month (Sep.15-Oct.15) and many others stand as examples.

Governors and mayors often issue proclamations observing such events and virtually always without controversy of any kind. Why is it that a Virginia governor is singled out for public pillory and character lynching for recognizing Confederate history? Where is the “tolerance” for diversity these malicious voices profess to revere?

The SCV is a strictly historical and educational organization, and neither embraces nor espouses acts or ideologies of racial and religious bigotry. Membership in the Sons of Confederate Veterans is open to all male descendants of any veteran who served honorably in the Confederate armed forces, regardless of race, colour or creed.

Our Jewish SCV members, like the rest of us, take exception to being labeled as “Nazis”. Our SCV members of Native American, African and Hispanic ancestry, like the rest of us, take exception to being called “racists” and having our ancestors falsely called “terrorists.

CNN's Roland Martin has repeatedly referred to Confederate soldiers and officials as “terrorists” both on televised talk shows (CNN) and in syndicated columns ( Martin" April 9th column was entitled, “Confederates, Al-Qaida are the Same: Terrorists”. Comparing Confederate soldiers, recognized as American veterans by an Act of Congress (1958), to Al-Qaida terrorists is over-the-top, absurd and offensive. All Americans of goodwill should condemn this outrage, but it seems that too many media outlets consider it acceptable discourse to smear certain groups.

Syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr., of the Miami Herald, recently authored a commentary contending that “The South fought to keep slavery, period.” In it, Pitts refers to the Confederate government as a “white racist government” guilty of “high treason.” Pitts' assertions are as false as they are malicious. Pitts cannot explain why President Lincoln and the U.S. Congress repeatedly asserted that the purpose of the war was to “preserve the Union” and denied any linkage to slavery. Pitts makes no effort to explain why Confederate President Jefferson Davis was held in prison for two years without trial after the war. The U.S. government realized that it could NOT convict Davis of treason in a public trial without convicting the Founders of treason for the Declaration of Independence.

In letters to various newspaper editors, SCV Commander in Chief Charles E. McMichael directly refutes Pitts' nonsense:

“Pitts projects a biased and false motivation on the part of Confederates and their union attackers which is not supported by the historical record. The South did NOT fight to preserve slavery nor did the North attack to abolish it. Despite the relentless repetition of absurd distortions by Pitts and other revisionists, the truth doesn't change.”

The Sons of Confederate Veterans stands ready, willing and able to defend the true historical record and the good name of Confederate soldiers who are officially American veterans by Act of Congress. We unequivocally refute and condemn any suggestion that they were “traitors” or “terrorists” as recent revisionists have maliciously asserted.

The complete letter from Commander McMichael is reproduced below.

McMichael adds, “My great grandfather was a poor Georgia farm boy of 16 whose family owned no slaves and who endured four years of disease, starvation and deprivation, not to mention being shot at. It borders on the absurd to suggest that he suffered the ordeal of war to defend slavery for the benefit of six percent of the population.”

“The 30,000 members of the SCV will never accept the falsehoods of these malicious revisionists seeking to smear Confederate soldiers as “traitors” or their proud descendants as “racists,” McMichael said. “We challenge media outlets to give the SCV fair opportunity to respond to such smears and distortions with equal space and air time,” McMichael added.

For more information about the Sons of Confederate Veterans, its members, and activities please visit:

Charles E. McMichael
Sons of Confederate Veterans

For more information contact:
J. A. Davis
Public-Media Relations Committee
Sons of Confederate Veterans
770 297-4788
Gainesville, Georgia


Sons of Confederate Veterans
General Headquarters
P.O. Box 59
Columbia, Tennessee 38402-0059

April 17, 2010

Dear Editors:

Leonard Pitts, Jr. of the Miami Herald opines that “The South fought to keep slavery, period.” Please indulge a contrary view.

Confederate soldiers fought to defend their families and homes from an invading and destructive army. President Lincoln and the U.S. Congress made clear that the purpose of their invasion and blockade was to "preserve the union" and preserve federal revenues.

Lincoln in his first inaugural address expressed support for the constitutional amendment to permanently preclude federal legislation abolishing slavery. He stated that he had no intent or desire to interfere with slavery where it existed. The only thing not negotiable to Lincoln was payment of the newly doubled federal tariffs of which the South paid over eighty percent.

The British and European press saw Lincoln's invasion of the south for what it was, “a fiscal quarrel” and the north's desire “for economic control of the South.”

The U.S. House passed a resolution July 25th, 1861 to specify the war's purpose. It explicitly stated the war's purpose was NOT to interfere with “established institutions” of the states, but rather to “preserve the Union”---meaning tariff revenues.

Lincoln, in letters to Horace Greeley in August 1862, again reiterated that his war's purpose was to “preserve the union” and that slavery was not a priority issue. “If I could save the Union without freeing any slaves, I would do it,” Lincoln wrote. With the Emancipation Proclamation published Sept. 1862 (well over a year into the war), Lincoln essentially promised that slavery would continue in all states (including union slave states) IF the seceded states would merely rescind their secession and return to the union before January 1st 1863. The Confederate states declined – clearly indicatinng motivations more involved than Pitts simplified fabrication.

Everyone is thankful that chattel slavery ended in America, but no war was necessary to end it. No other country in the world required war to abolish it. America certainly didn't.

Pitts projects a biased and false motivation on the part of Confederates and their union attackers which is not supported by the historical record. The South did NOT fight to preserve slavery nor did the North attack to abolish it. Despite the relentless repetition of absurd distortions by Pitts and other revisionists, the truth doesn't change.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans stand ready, willing and able to defend the true historical record and the good name of Confederate soldiers who are officially American veterans by Act of Congress. We unequivocally refute and condemn any suggestion that they were “traitors” or “terrorists” as recent revisionists have maliciously asserted.

Charles E. McMichael
Sons of Confederate Veterans


Saturday, April 17, 2010


[From the University of Texas at Tyler Digital Archives]
DAILY GAZETTE & COMET [BATON ROUGE, LA], April 25, 1860, p. 2, c. 2

May Day Festival.

For more than two weeks past, preparations have been on foot, for a May day festival at the U. S. Barracks, which is to outstrip and transcend all that has gone before of this kind. There is no authority for it, and it may be that we take from the beauty and novelty of the scene to hint at what will be done; but the following note from one, having authority, gives us the license to speak:

Editor Comet—Sir:

The pleasure of your company is respectfully solicited at a "presentation of a Flag" to the Company of Creole Guards at the Garrison grounds on Tuesday the first day of May next at 10 o'clock A. M.


H. M. Pierce,

Capt. Creole Guards.

Who more worthy to be the recipient—who can do it with more grace, ease and elegance, than the Captain of the Creoles. Then the banner itself! Why the stars are to be worked in and the stripes fastened down by thirty three of the fairest hands, of the fair daughters of Red Stick, and they are all to march over the green carpet of earth clad in snow white and crowned with flowers. They are to present the banner to the Captain, and the Captain is to receive it in the name of the company. The Schools and Academies are to be on the ground and make the landscape lovely and bright. go Mr. Lytle, with your machine and fasten this picture on the imperishable stone that we may see what the sunlight will do in the brightest moments.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


By Mike Jones
The Calcasieu Invincibles were part of King's Special Battalion, Louisiana Militia which were activated in April 1862 to counter a threatened invasion of their state by the northern army. The battalion was to report to New Orleans and a long the way, Captain Warren W. Johnson, commander of the Invincibles, dropped off a letter at the Opelousas Courier with a list of his muster roll. The letter, dated 9 April 1862, was published in the Courier on 12 April 1862. Added in brackets is information from the 1860 census of Calcasieu and/or from later Confederate military service from Booth's Records or "The Civil War Veterans of Old Imperial Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana" by the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical Society, Inc. :The letter reads:

Editors Opelousas Courier,
     Camp Overton, April 9, 1862.
     Sirs -- It affords me much pleasure to present you with a copy of my roll. Please insert in your valuable weekly; as the most of my men are men of families, their children, and wives will be pleased to see us advancing towards the post of our duty as good fathers and true patriots.
W.W. Johnson,
Capt. Cal. Inv.

Capt. Warren W. Johnson, [b. 1827, St. Landry Parish, La., married with 8 children,shoemaker]
1st Lieutenant John A. Spence, [b. 17 Jan. 1836, St. Landry Parish, La., married w/ 1 child, printer]
2nd     "              Sirius M. Pithon, [b. 18 April 1839, St. Landry Parish, La., single, beef trader]
2nd Jr. "             J.W. Wagnon, [b. 1819, Georgia, single, farm laborer. 1st. Lt. Co. F, 28th La. Inf., Captured Vicksburg.]
Orderly Sergeant -- R.A. Parker, [On special orders from Camp Moore, La. dated 8 May 1862, all men of King's Special Battalion honorably discharged from the service. Transportation to Opelousas, St. Landry Parish, La.]
2nd          "              E.L. Cole, [Ewell L. Cole, b. 1830, Louisiana, wife, 3 children, merchant]
3rd          "              Zephrinin Lebleu, [b. 1836. Louisiana, wife, farm laborer. Pvt., Cpl., Co. D, Miles' Legion Louisiana Infantry.On hospital rolls, Port Hudson, La. 20 June 1863, shell wound in army; left arm amputated above the elbow. POW paroled Port Hudson, July 1863]
4th          "              Jacob Seigler, [Jacob Sigler, b. 1826, Alabama, wife, 4 children, farm laborer]
5th          "              E.R. Seigler,  [Ellis Sigler, b. 1828, Alabama, wife, six children, farm laborer]
1st Corporal -- H.D. Clark,
2nd     "            Martin Lebleu [Martin C. Lebleu, 1833, Louisiana, wife, 4 children. Co. D, Miles' Louisiana Legion; Co. B, 1th Heavy Artillery; Paroled 10 May 1865, Meridian, Miss.]
3rd     "            John B. Lebleu [b. 1837, Louisiana, wife, farm laborer. Co. D, Miles' Louisiana Legion.]
4th      "           Joshua Huggins [Co. F, 27th Louisiana Infantry; died 17 June 1862 Vicksgburg, Miss.]
J.L.Alphin [Co. F, 28th Louisiana Infantry; 2 June 1862 in hospital in Vicksburg, Miss.]
Y.S.Bobo, [Pvt. Co. A, 28th Louisiana Infantry, captured and paroled Vicksburg, Miss. 4 July 1863. Paroled 12 May 1865 Meridian, Miss.]
Honor Cryer,
John Cryer, [Pvt. Co. D, Miles' Louisiana Legion, paroled Port Hudson, La. 9 July 1863]
James Coleman,
Benoit Cittie,
W.M. Davis,
T.F. Dohm (Thomas Donn) [b. abt. 1833, Tennessee, P.O. Box Sugartown, wife, one child]
Eli E. Desmarre, [Eli Demase, b. abt. 1833, Louisiana, wife, 3 children]
Alexandre Daigle Jr., [b. abt. 1835, wife, farm laborer]
J.A. Eason, [John A. Eason, b.  abt. 1825 Miss., wife, 3 children. Pvt. Co. A, Daly's (Ragsdale's) Bn. Tex. Cav. P.O.W paroled Alexandria, La. 10 July 1865.
Louis A. Ford,  [Lewis Ford, b. abt. 1846, Louisiana. Pvt. Co. F, 28th La. Inf. Appt. Cpl. 12 Feb. 1863, Captured and paroled Vicksburg, Miss. 4 July 1863.]
John L. Franklin, [John Lafayette Franklin, b. abt. 1838, Florida, wife, 1 child. Pvt. Co. K, 6th La. Cav.]
Zephirin Fontenot, (b. abt. 1842, Louisiana, farm laborer. Honorably discharged 8 May 1862 Camp Moore.]
Franklin Farris, [Franklin Pharis, b. abt. 1838, Miss. farm laborer.]
T.R. Garland,
James Goar,
Antoine Gaspar, [Co. I, 1st La. Heavy Artillery Reg. Paroled 4 July 1863, Vicksburg, Miss.]
Maurice Hebert, [b. abt. 1843, Louisiana. Co. F, 8th La. Inf. Captured Harrisburg, Va. 1864. Exchanged. Farmer. Married 1868.]
Belazair Hebert, [b. abt. 1837, Louisiana. Pvt. Co. A, Daly's (Ragsdale's) Bn. Texas Cav.Transferred to Yellow Jacket Bn. 22 Nov. 1864.]
Solomon Hargrove, [Pvt. Co. D, Miles Louisiana Legion.]
Joseph Hogan, [Pvt. Co. C, 27th La. Inf., Medical Discharge 17 Aug. 1862]
Jefferson Hogan, [Co. C, 27th La. Inf., Captured and Paroled at Vicksburg, Miss. 4 July 1863]
James M. Hanchee, [b. 24 Oct. 1837, Alabama; married in 1868. Pvt. Co. A, Crescent Regiment.]
Froizin Humphreys,
John J. Holiday,
James T. Kent, [James Thompson Kent, b. 12 Nov. 1841, Miss. Co. A, Crescent Regiment. POW paroled 10 July 1865]
Belizer Lasage, [Co. D, Miles Louisiana Legion]
Arsen Lebleu, [b. 1835, Louisiana, married w/children. Co. F, 8tth Louisiana Infantry, bit by snake 18 May 1864 disabling him. ]
John B. Lebleu Jr., [b. 1837, Louisiana. Co. D, Miles Louisiana Legion.]
Narcisse Lebleu, [b. 2  July 1840, Louisiana. Miles Louisiana Legion, POW Paroled 10 May 1865 Meridian, Miss.]
A.M. Lindsey, [Asberry Monroe Lindsey, b. 7 Nov. 1843, Sabine Co., Ark. Co. F., 28th Louisiana Infantry. POW paroled 20 April 1865 Alexandria, La.]
Edward Landry, [Pvt. Co. B, 16th Bn. La. Inf.. Wounded and captured at Bayou Teche 14 April 1863. Sent to New Orleans to be exchanged.]
James Marge,
Howell Myers, [married. Pvt. Co. F, 28th Louisiana Infantry, captured and paroled at Vicksburg, Miss. 4 July 1863. POW paroled July 1865 Alexandria, La.]
S.C. Miller, [Samuel C. Miller, Pvt. Co. F, 28th Louisiana Infantry, captured and paroled Vicksburg, Miss. 4 July 1865.]
Wm. McCollough,
Smith McCollough, [Pvt. Co. G, 18th La. Inf. Paroled July 1865, Alexandria, La.]
Lougan McConathy,
Chatau Nouh,
Edie Nastran,
John W. Payne, [Honorably discharged 8 May 1862. Transportation paid to Opelousas, St. Landry Par. La.]
Antoine Peloquin, [Pvt. Co. F, Miles Louisiana Legion. Deserted 27 May 1862 from Camp Moore.]
Octave Peloquin, [Pvt. Co. D, Miles Louisiana Legion. Deserted 27 May 1862 from Camp Moore']
John W. Pierce, [Pvt. Co. C, 1st La. Heavy Artillery.]
Cabin Salter,
A.I. Scarborough,
E.M. Springer, [Pvt., Co. A, Crescent Regiment; Detailed as a wagoneer. Died in hospital, New Iberia. Remarks, had no effects at time of death.]
E.R. Sims,
Benjamin Whitman, [b. 7 March 1841, Perry Co., Ala.. Married, children. Pvt. Co. E, Spaight's Regiment, 11th Texas Inf.. Fought in Battle of Sabine Pass, Texas. Hospitalized at Houston, Texas with typhoid fever. Paroled 1865.]
C.M. Woolem, [Sgt. Co. F, 28th La. Inf., captured and paroled Vicksburg, Miss. 4 July 1863]
J.W. Wagnon, [Jasper William Wagnon, b. 1819, Morgan Co., Ga. Married, children. 2nd Lt. Co. F, 28th Louisiana Infantry. Resigned, received by company commander, 5 Jan. 1863, Vicksburg, Miss.
Henry M. White, [Co. F, 28th La. Inf.captured, paroled Vicksburg, Miss. 4 July 1863.]
Simon Walker, [b. abt. 1845, Married, children. Co. F, 28th La. Inf. captured and paroled Vicksburg, Miss. 4 July 1863.]
W.J. Walker, [b. abt. 1839, Miss. Co. C, 27th La. Inf. captured and paroled at Vicksburg, Miss. 4 July 1863.]
W.J. Wagnon. [Jasper William Wagnon, b. 1819, Morgan Co. Ga. Married, children. Sgt. 1st Lt., Co. F, 28th La. Inf. captured and paroled Vicksburg, Miss. 4 July 1863]

      Upon the invasion of Louisiana and the fall of New Orleans, the Invincibles were disbanded and told to report to Camp Moore in Tangipahoa, about 80 miles to the north. Apparently the company did not remain intact, as some of the men were assigned to or joined other units such as Miles Louisiana Legion, the 27th and 28th Louisiana Infantry regiments, and the 8th Louisiana Infantry. However others appeared to have returned home, or at least no further records of their military service have been found.
    Captain Johnson remained in command of the Calcasieu Militia and when a northern revolutionary gunboat raided his hometown of Lake Charles in October, 1862, he again mustered the remaining militiamen to fight the raiders. However when the militia was about to fire on the ship the northerners had stolen, they discovered the raiders had taken 10 hostages from the town and tied them up around the helmsman, thus using them as human shields. Johnson's men held their fire in spite of being fired upon the the raiders' boat howitzer. The raiders completed their rampage of theft and terror and went back out to the Gulf of Mexico.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


    Battle of Port Hudson by Joe Umble
The late Dr. John K. Griffith Jr. of Captain James W. Bryan Camp 1390, SCV, Lake Charles, La. commissioned this painting. Capt. Byan camp has limited edition prints available for sale. For more information contact
By Mike Jones
     Port Hudson, located 16 miles north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana's capital, was the scene of one of the major campaigns of the War For Southern Independence in 1863 and men from Calcasieu Parish were there participating in this famous campaign.
     Port Hudson was the southern anchor of the Confederate defense of the Mississippi River with Vicksburg, Miss. being the northern anchor. As long as the Confederacy could hold that 200 mile stretch of the river, the CSA would have access to the men and material wealth of Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas and the nation was whole. When those last Confederate bastions fell, the nation was split in two.
      An examination of a company of Calcasieu Parish militia reveals that many went on to serve in Miles Legion at Port Hudson, or with the 27th and 28th Louisiana infantry regiments at Vicksburg. However, others did serve on every battlefront of the war.
     In early 1862, when it became clear the war was going to be a long and bloody conflict, four companies of infantry were formed from Calcasieu Parish for the Confederacy.
     The companies were organized as King's Special Battalion, Louisiana Infantry, under the command of Lt. Col. John E. King. Although there is no description of their uniforms, the men of the companies gave their units colorful nicknames. Company A was known as the Calcasieu Volunteers, Company B as the Calcasieu Tigers, Company C the Calcasieu Invincibles and Company D the Calcasieu Guards. Rounding out the battalion were Company E, Taylor Guards, and possibly the Bienville Guards and Fausse River Guards.
     The leader of the battalion, John Edward King, was born in St. Landry Parish in 1820. By profession he was a lawyer, and moved to Calcasieu Parish sometime between 1850 and 1860.
     One of the company commanders, Capt. Warren W. Johnson of the Calcasieu Invincibles, while enroute to New Orleans, submitted his muster roll to the Opelousas Courrier, which was published April 9, 1862.
     The following letter accompanied the muster roll, "It affords me much pleasure to present you with a copy of my roll. Please insert in your valuable weekly; as the most of my men are of families, their children and wives will be pleased to see us advancing towards the post of duty as good fathers and true patriots."
     The list itself is valuable because it preserves the record of service of many of the men who do not show up on any other official records. Of the 74 listed on the muster roll, only 42 later show up on Confederate records.
     King's Special Battalion was mustered into state service in New Orleans in April, 1862 and seems to have been broken up when the city was evacuated and captured by the Union forces under General Benjamin "Beast" Butler.
     Some of the men received honorable discharges and returned home, but most joined other units such as Miles Legion or the 27th and 28 Louisiana Infantry. Those who ended up in Miles Legion found themselves caught up in one of the longest sieges of the war. In fact, Vicksburg — considered by many historians to have been one of the key union victories of the war — fell five days before Port Hudson.
     Both Vicksburg and Port Hudson were besieged at the same time in the spring and summer of 1863. The Calcasieu men in Miles Legion, mostly in Company D, defended the right side of the Confederate defenses.
     Most of the Lake Charles men, like John Cryer and John B. LeBleu, fought with distinction but surrendered with their commands when the garrison gave up the struggle on July 9, 1863. That was after they learned the larger Vicksburg garrison had surrendered on July 4, thus making their position untenable.
     At Vicksburg, the fighting was just as hard and just as difficult. In both places men and inhabitants of the towns were reduced to starvation rations and subjected to months of constant bombardment.
     A few of the men of the old King's Special Battalion went on the fight with General Robert E. Lee in Virginia. Two who were in Company F of the 8th Louisiana Infantry were Maurice Hebert and Arsine LeBleu. Hebert was a 19-year-old Lake Charles farmer at the time he enlisted on April 15, 1862 in that unit.
     He survived some of the bloodiest battles of the war before he was finally captured at Harrisburg, Val. on Sept. 23, 1864 and served out most of the rest of the conflict as a prisoner of war.
     LeBleu was a 27-year-old married Lake Charles farmer at the time of his enlistment. He was detailed to the b rigade hospital as a nurse and served until May 18, 1864 when he was disabled after a snake bit him.
     When the veterans returned home, there were no "G.I. Bills" for the returning boys in gray, but they managed to overcome hardship and a bitterly harsh Reconstruction Government to rebuild their lives.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Confederate infantry at the 2010 Battle of Pleasant Hill Reenactment.
(Photo by Mike Jones)

By Mike Jones
The 2010 reenactment at Pleasant Hill, Louisiana had as close to perfect weather has it has ever had on Saturday, April 10. There was also a  good turn out of the living history reenactors, sutlers and most importantly the public. This is a reenactment of two important battles of the Red River Campaign in 1864, the Battle of Mansfield on April 8, and the Battle of Pleasant Hill  on April 9. For the reenactment, the first day's event Saturday  was commemorating Mansfield, on the Pleasant Hill battlefield, and Sunday, April 11, the Battle of Pleasant Hill on the actual battlefield. Also on Saturday at 5 p.m. a ceremonial dedication of a new monument honoring Louisiana's Confederate soldiers was held at Mansfield State Historic Site, which is about 13 miles north of Pleasant Hill.

Confederate infantry (Photo by Mike Jones)
Saturday's reenactment of the Battle of Mansfield went very smoothly. The Confederate and Union reenactors performed professionally and well. There was an excellent artillery exchange between the two sides to open the event. Then a cavalry engagement between the Blue and  the Gray. Confederate infantry then clashed with the federals in a lively exchange.
The battle lasted about an hour. The great thing about this reenactment, for me, is being able to celebrate my Confederate heritage and honor my Confederate ancestors. Confederate flags were in full display in this great commemorative event.
In the actual historic battle, Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor led his Confederate Army of Western Louisiana against the Union Army of the Gulf led by Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks. The Northern invaders, numbering about 40,000, came with a massive Union fleet of gunboats and transports. The initial target was Shreveport, the Confederate capital of the Trans-Mississippi Department, and then the bluecoats planned invade Texas from there. Another important aspect of the invasion was to confiscate as much cotton as possible for the New England textile mills.

Lt.Gen. Richard Taylor
(Copy print, Mike Jones collection)
To counter this massive invasion, Taylor had about 8,000 Confederate infantry, cavalry and artillery at the Battle of Mansfield April 8, and 12,000 at the Battle of Pleasant Hill, April 9. He had a division of Louisiana and Texas infantry under Brig. Gen. Alfred Mouton, a Texas infantry division under Maj. Gen. John Walker, and a Texas cavalry corps under Brig. Gen. Tom Green. At Pleasant Hill, Taylor was reinforced by an Arkansas infantry division commanded by Brig. Gen. Thomas Churchill.

Banks made a tactical blunder by separating from the federal fleet and taking a narrow road to Shreveport. His line troops were also hampered by the Union wagon trains, which separated the various combat units.

Taylor initially faded back from the invaders until he found a good defensive position below the town of Mansfield. During the day of April 8, the federals probed the Confederate line but made no direct assault. Finally that afternoon, Taylor launched a direct assault on the federals, with Mouton hitting the front of the enemy line and Walker outflanking them. The attack was a great success, but costly to the Confederates. General Mouton and many officers and men were killed and wounded. The bluecoats retreated in confusion back to Pleasant Hill.

The next day, Taylor, reinforced by the Arkansas troops, attacked Banks' new battleline, which was also reinforced and better organized. The fighting was intense but the federals held their line at great cost to the Confederates. However, at the end of the day, Banks decided to call off the invasion and begin a long retreat back to New Orleans. Taylor lost the initiative when Confederate department commander Lt. Gen. E. Kirby Smith ordered him to send a large portion of his army up to Arkansas to counter a Union invasion from that quarter. It is estimated that the federals lost about 4,000 casualties in the Red River Campaign, and the Confederates about 1,500.
Confederate artillery after opening fire at the 2010 Battle of Pleasant Hill Reenactment.
(Photo by Mike Jones)

Friday, April 9, 2010


The South's Defenders is the Confederate Monument on the Calcasieu Parish Courthouse lawn in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The statue was made by the W.H. Mullins Co., Salem, Ohio, John Segesman, chief sculptor. It was dedicated on 3 June 1915 by Robert E. Lee Chapter 305, United Daugthers of the Confederacy. It was restored after storm damage in January 1995 and rededicated on 3 June 1995 by the UDC and Captain James W. Bryan Camp 1390, Sons of Confederate Veterans.

The monument also survived Hurricane Rita in 2005, which wass at least the third major hurricane it has withstood. In the 1918 hurricane, the statue was knocked off its base, reportedly did a flip in the air, and landed on its base (on its feet). It then survived Hurricane Audrey, which killed over 500 people in Cameron Parish to the south. And then it got through Hurricane Rita with no damage. There have been many other tropical storms and minor hurricanes it has survived also.

Thursday, April 8, 2010



Sons Of Confederate Veterans

Columbia, Tennessee

April 7, 2010
For Immediate Release


Commander-in-Chief Chuck McMichael of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans issued the following statement in light of the recent proclamation by the governor of Virginia restoring the observance of Confederate History Month in Virginia.

"While we are pleased to see heightened media attention to Confederate History Month resulting from the proclamation we are dismayed to see political implications or political correction zeal placed on it. We applaud Governor McDonnell for his courage to do the right thing, as well as all the other officials across the country who have done likewise."

"The SCV is non-political with a primary interest in seeing to it that the accurate history of the Confederacy is observed along with proper respect shown for theConfederate Military personnel who served and died during four years of war against overwhelming odds of more than three to one."

"These observances have been going on for more than a hundred years so it should be no surprise to anyone they continue to grow in scope with each passing year. "Several states by state law observe a holiday for Confederate Memorial Day. Others have state laws establishing Confederate History and Heritage Month.Still others set forth Confederate History Month by proclamation."

"The SCV has set a goal of over one thousand instances of observance of Confederate history in states, counties, parishes, cities and towns throughout America. In some cases beyond the boundaries of the original Confederacy.These events include proclamations at all levels of government, parades, banquets, balls, re-enactments, school living histories, radio and television interviews, newspaper articles and a series of historical minutes for the media which include each day of Confederate History and Heritage Month.There are observances at cemeteries where Confederate soldiers graves are decorated. Many of our local camps participate in securing proclamations in several communities in their individual areas.

Contact information:
J. A. Davis, Chairman, Sons of Confederate Veterans Public Relations and Media Committee

770 297-4788

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


By Mike Jones
The first contingent of Lake Charles men to leave for the War for Southern Independence made history with the two great Confederate generals, General Robert E. Lee and Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.

Sgt. Joseph C. LeBleu was one of the
34 Lake Charles men who left for the
fighting front in 1861. (Dan Jones Photo)
When the 34 men left from the Lake area in July of 1861 for the Confederate basic training camp of Camp Moore in Tangipahoa, they would become part of the Confederate States Rangers, Company K, 10th Louisiana Infantry Regiment.

If their send-off was typical, it included patriotic speeches and a handmade battle flag from the ladies of Calcasieu Parish. At their first duty station, Camp Moore, the company was sworn in to the Confederate service on 22 July 1861. They also received uniforms, arms, and basic training.

After about a month, they boarded trains and were sent to Richmond, Virginia, where they were assigned to man defenses under Colonel John Bankhead Magruder on the Yorktown Peninsula.

They had already missed the first battle of the war, which occurred 21 July 1861, at Manassas, Virginia, so they settled in for a long winter of adapting to army life.

The first fatalities the Calcasieu Parish men experienced occurred long before their first battle. Diseases such as typhoid fever, measles, and dysentery were rampant in the unsanitary army camps.

Corporal Nathan J. Davis, 24, who had been the village blacksmith in Lake Charles before the war, became the first fatality from the Calcasieu Parish contingent. His record states that he died of sickness in Richmond, Virginia, on 8 September 1861.

Others became seriously ill and recovered, but were unable to resume their duties and received medical discharges. Corporal William L. Hutchins, 20, a farmer in civilian life, received a discharge for physical disability in October 1861, and Corporal Henry W. Newton, 36, also a farmer, was discharged for the same reason in March 1862.

By the spring of 1862, the 10th Louisiana was facing its first test in combat. They were caught up in the Peninsular Campaign in which a massive Union Army was invading Virginia through the Yorktown Peninsula.

The Calcasieu Parish men suffered no casualties in their first two" engagements, a skirmish at Dam No. 1 on the Warwick River on April 16, 1861, and the Battle of Williamsburg on May4,1861.
Other more major battles soon followed — Seven Pines and Fair Oaks and then the Seven Days battles from June 24 to July 1 — but their regiment was held in reserve until the last day.
It was on July 1 at Malvern Hill that the 10th Louisiana established its reputation for being one of the hardest-fighting units in the army. Led by Col. Eugene Waggaman of New Orleans, the regiment was ordered to charge a seemingly unassailable Union position. The men double-quicked up a hill and into the muzzles of 33 enemy artillery pieces. Despite a storm of shell and bullets, they overran the advanced Union position, but those who made it to the main line of entrenchments were nearly all killed, wounded or captured. The regiment was forced to fall back. In all, 127 of the 272 men who made the unsuccessful charge became casualties. The Confederate States Rangers suffered a loss of four wounded, including Calcasieu Parish residents Pvt. Patrick Coyne and Pvt. Joseph D. Farque.
For the next three months, marching and fighting were almost non-stop, and the casualties quickly mounted. Assigned to Stonewall Jackson's command, their next battle came at Cedar Run, Va., on Aug. 10, 1862, but the Confederate States Rangers suffered no casualties.

The story was different later that month at the Battle of Second Manassas (Bull Run), Aug. 28-30. On the second day of the battle, Capt. Henry Monier recorded in his diary, "The woods to the front blue with Federals. Capt. Perrodon's (sic) company (K-Confederate States Rangers) picketed and hold their ground until the commands, 'Fall in, fix bayonet,' are given." The following day, Monier wrote, "So desperate was this day's fight that at one time the Confederate and Yankee standards were not 20 feet apart."
Company K suffered heavy casualties in the battle — two killed, six wounded and two missing. Both of the dead were Calcasieu Parish men — Sgt. Pierre Vincent, from the Vincent Settlement family, and Pvt. David Hargrove. The wounded included 2nd Lt. Isaac Ryan and Pvt. Joseph Lawrence Ryan, both sons of Jacob Ryan, the "Father of Lake Charles."

But the worst was yet to come, on Sept. 17, 1862, at Sharpsburg, Md., along and near the banks of Antietam Creek. More Americans were killed and wounded on that day than any other single day in all of U.S. History. The North lost over 12,000 men and the South more than 10,000.

The 10th Louisiana was part of Stonewall Jackson's Corps, and their part of the battle occurred early, at 6:45 a.m. at West Woods and at a split rail fence bordering the Hagerstown Road. Lieutenant Isaac Ryan had recovered enough from his Second Manassas wound to lead the company. Capt. August Perrodin and 1st Lt. Eward Seton were on the sick list. When the casualty lists were tallied, Confederate States

Rangers losses amounted to three killed and at least two wounded. One of the fatalities was Cpl. Joseph Auge, 24, who bad been a Lake Charles farmer prior to the conflict. Pvt. Asa Ryan, another son of Jacob Ryan, was wounded and captured. His left leg later had to be amputated. Pvt, Dupre Marcantel was wounded in the head and foot and disabled. In the only other major battle in 1862, Fredericksburg, Va., on Dec. 9, the 10th Louisiana was not heavily engaged and suffered only light casualties.

After a winter lull in the fighting, the campaign resumed in late April with another Union invasion of Virginia, under Major General Joseph Hooker, Confederate General Robert E. Lee moved his army to check the invasion, with a major battle clash occurring on May 2,1863 at Chancellorsville.

As part of Stonewall Jackson's Corps, the 10th Louisiana took part in one of the most famous tactical maneuvers in military history. Lee detached Jackson's entire corps on May 2 and sent it in a forced march to the left to strike the federal army's flank and rear.

The maneuver was a success and the Union army was routed. But fighting was severe on both May 2 and May 3, when six color-bearers of the 10th Louisiana were killed in action. The Confederate States Rangers lost four men, including Sgt. James Reeves of Lake Charles, and 12 were wounded, including First Lt. Edward A. Seaton, Second Lt. Isaac Ryan (his second wound of the war), Sgt. James Benjamin .Kirkman (whose left leg had to be amputated), Pvt. Thomas E. Stringer, Pvt. Isaac Reeves (the brother of Sergeant Reeves), and Pvt. Jacob Ellender.

The Gettysburg campaign quickly followed. The 10th Louisiana, which was then part of Maj. Gen. Richard S. Ewell's corps, was among the first units to head for Pennsylvania. On the way, they fought a battle at Winchester, Va., on June 15, 1863, in which the Union forces were routed, then invaded the state of Pennsylvania as the vanguard for the rest of the army.

The Louisiana men were in Chambersburg, about 30 miles away, when the battle started on July 1. They marched the 30 miles to Gettysburg in the July sun, arriving late in the day and were immediately thrown into the battle line. As part of the extreme left of the Confederate line, the 10th Louisiana assaulted Culp's Hill on both July 2 and July 3, taking heavy casualties. Unable to break the northern line, the Southerners began a slow retreat back to Virginia on July 4.

Of the 50,000 casualties in the three-day battle, the Confederate States Rangers lost two men, seven were wounded and four were missing. The Calcasieu Parish men included in those losses were Cpl. Isaac Reeves, killed; Sgt. Joseph Harrington, Pvt. Joseph L. Strange, wounded, and Sgt. Joseph P. Granger, missing.

Before the end of 1863, the 10th Louisiana was in one more fight, on Nov. 27 at Payne's Farm near Moore's Run, Va. Local men wounded there included Pvt. Valain LeBleu, 23, who suffered a severe disabling wound to the left leg, and Pvt. Thomas E. Stringer, 24, who had just recovered from his wound at Chancellorsville, was wounded again, this time in the thigh.

The two armies went into winter quarters, but when they emerged in the spring of 1864, the fighting became worse than ever.

On May 5, the Battle of the Wilderness occurred in response to the latest Union drive on Richmond. Sgt. Joseph Harrington was again wounded, along with Pvt. Joseph L. Strange, who had been exchanged after being wounded and captured at Gettysburg Pvt. Thomas E. Stringer was captured and spent the rest of the war at the infamous Elmira, N.Y., prisoner-of-war camp where 25 percent of the inmates died of disease.

As bad as the Wilderness was, the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse on May 12 was practically a holocaust for the 10th Louisiana. In that battle they were holding a crucial position called the "Mule Shoe" and were overwhelmed by massive Union forces. Most of the men were killed, wounded or captured.

Most of the regiment was captured, including Calcasieu residents 1st Lt. Edward A. Seton, Second Lt. Isaac Ryan, Ordnance Sgt. Joseph Granger, Pvt. Benjamin Ellender, Pvt. Maxille Marcantel and Pvt. Walter F. Moss. Lieutenant Seton died in captivity on Feb. 11, 1865, at Fort Delaware, as did Sergeant Granger on Jan. 11, 1865 at Elmira. Lt. Ryan was exchanged and the rest of the men spent the remainder of the war in Elmira.

The fighting continued almost non-stop. On June 3, Pvt. Joseph L. Strange was again wounded at Cold Harbor, Va. Quartermaster Sgt. Oliver Ryan Moss and Sgt. Joseph Harrington were both captured on Oct. 19 at Cedar Creek, Va., and confined in Elmira for the rest of the war.

The final tragedy for the Calcasieu men occurred March 25, 1865, when their regiment was chosen to spearhead the last desperate major Confederate assault of the war on Fort Steadman, which was part of the Union siege line at Petersburg, Va.

The Confederates were trying to break through the besieging Union line. The ever-faithful soldier, Second Lt. Isaac Ryan led Company K in the attack and became the last man from the company to be killed in action — just two weeks before the war ended.

Of the 34 men in the Confederate States Rangers who left Calcasieu Parish for Virginia in 1861, only Pvt. Jacob Ellender and Pvt. William Reaves were present for the surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865. The rest of the men were dead, recuperating from wounds, discharged for physical disability, captured or transferred to other units.

Several of the returning soldiers became leading citizens in Calcasieu Parish after the war. Joseph C. LeBleu was a longtime police jury president and later served as a major of cavalry in the Spanish-American War period.

Oliver R. Moss became a postmaster in the parish. Dr. William H. Kirkman was a prominent figure in the medical field. Joseph Lawrence Ryan was prominent in agriculture, and William Hutchins became a businessman. Although their cause was lost, the veterans remained proud of their service and sacrifice and were, honored by their community until the end of their days.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


By Mike Jones
Christ is risen! Risen indeed!
This has been an excellent Easter Sunday for me and I thought it a good occasion for reflection on one of my favorite figures of the War for Southern Independence, Father Abram Joseph Ryan, "Poet-Priest of the Confederacy." Being a  Christian, Roman Catholic, Southerner I've been particularly drawn to Father Ryan. But you don't have to be Catholic to appreciate Father Ryan's strong Christian devotion and his unshakable Southern patriotism.

Father Abram J. Ryan
(Fr. Abram J. Ryan Archives
Belmont Abbey)
Father Ryan's was either born in Hagerstown, Maryland in 1838 or in Norfolk, Virginia in 1839, depending on the source you consult. His parents were natives of Ireland. An ordained Roman Catholic priest, he was a volunteer chaplain and seems to have been most associated with the 8th Tennessee Infantry. Father Ryan is believed to have been present for the Battle of Lookout Mountain and was possibly wounded in the hand at the Battle of Franklin. His brother David was killed in action in the Confederate Army during the war and this greatly affected Father Ryan.

His most famous poem was "The Conquered Banner" which he wrote at the end of the war, reportedly in a fit of dispair, while he was pastor of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Knoxville, Tennessee. The Catholic Encyclopedia wrote this about the poem, "In the hour of defeat he won the heart of the entire South by his 'Conquered Banner,' whose exquisite measure was taken, as he told a friend, from one of the Gregorian hymns. The Marseillaise, as a hymn of victory, never more profoundly stirred the heart of France than did this hymn of defeat the hearts of those to whom it was addressed. It was read or sung in every Southern household, and thus became the apotheosis of the 'Lost Cause'."  My favorite of his poems is "The Sword of Robert Lee"

Father Ryan Statue in Father Ryan
Park in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo
by Mike Jones)
Following the war he founded a weekly magazine, "Banner of the South." He wrote most of his poems for this magazine. He also wrote a book of poety that was very popular, and still is. Father Ryan was greatly beloved as a priest as well as a poet. He served in many church parishes throughout the South but patricularly notable was his care for the sick in a yellow fever epidemic. The Catholic Encyclopedia article characterized him, "As a pulpit orator and lecturer, he was always interesting and occasionally brilliant. As a man he had a subtle, fascinating nature, full of magnetism when he saw fit to exert it; as a priest, he was full of tenderness, gentleness, and courage. In the midst of pestilence he had no fear of death or disease. Even when he was young his feeble body gave him the appearance of age, and with all this there was the dreamy mysticism of the poet so manifest in the flesh as to impart to his personality something which marked him off from all other men."

Father Ryan Bust in
Confederate Memorial
Hall, New Orleans, La.
(Photo by Mike Jones)
Father Ryan died in Louisville, Kentucky on April 22, 1886 and he was buried in the Catholic Cemetery in Mobile, Alabama, not far from the grave of another Catholic Confederate hero, Admiral Raphael Semmes. There is a park named in his honor in Mobile. The Confederate Memorial Hall Museum in New Orleans has a stained glass window in honor of him as well as the pictured bust.

Friday, April 2, 2010


By Mike Jones

The Louisiana state flag and seal, the pelican feeding its young, with the motto "Union, Justice, Confidence," have long been familiar symbols of the "Pelican State." The pelican feeding her young also has ancient Christian roots. It was adopted by early Christians as a symbol of "Jesus the Redeemer." An old legend held that a pelican would wound herself to feed her young with her own blood, which reminded early Christians of Jesus' act of sacrificial love in dying for them on the cross in remission for their sins. Saint Thomas Aquinas in his hymn, Adoro te devote, wrote, "Like what tender tales tell of the pelican, bathe me, Jesus Lord, in what Thy bosom ran, blood that but one drop of has the pow'r to win all the world forgiveness of its world of sin." It is also a reminder to Catholics that Jesus feeds us still today with the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The pelican feeding its young is still seen in many Catholic churches.

In 1812 when Louisiana became the 18th state in the union, unofficial flags began appearing throughout the state with the pelican feeding its young on it. Then in  1813, Gov. W.C.C. Claiborne and the Louisiana legislature adopted the pelican feeding its young as the state's official seal. H.L.Favrot, a member of the legislature, is said to have found the pelican symbol in an old Catholic prayer book.

Gov. Henry Watkins Allen
(A.D.Lytle, LSU Special Collections)
During the War for Southern Independence the pelican flag was still a popular representation of Louisiana and some Louisiana soldiers were referred to as pelicans. The flag was briefly the Louisiana Confederate flag before a colorful striped flag was adopted as the national flag of Confederate Louisiana. Some Confederate military units adopted a pelican flag as their regimental flags. Also Louisiana Confederate governor Henry Watkins Allen changed the state motto from "Union, Justice, Confidence," to "Justice, Union, Confidence," in a symbolic sign of Louisiana's wartime fervor. The emblem also appeared on Louisiana catridge boxes and cross belts. In 1870, the carpetbag Louisiana governor, Madison Wells, changed the motto back to "Union, Justice, Confidence."