Wednesday, March 31, 2010

CAMP MOORE CONFEDERATE CEMETERY AND MUSEUM

By MIKE JONES
TANGIPAHOA, La. -- Camp Moore is the site of one of Louisiana's most important historic sites. It was the largest Confederate training camp and the only one still open to the public. It has a historic museum and a well maintained Confederate cemetery with over 600 wartime graves.

Comprised of 450 acres, Camp Moore trained about 25,000 Confederate soldiers. It was well situated north of New Orleans right off a railroad and will an abundant water supply. It opened in May 1861 and was named for Louisiana Gov. Thomas Overton Moore and commanded by Brig. Gen. Elisha L. Tracy.

Gen. Elisha L. Tracy had to transform raw volunteers into soldiers who could master the complex manual of arms, marching steps and tactical formations of the day. Volunteers were organized into companies of about 100 men each and then assigned to regiments of about 1,000 men.

Louisiana was one of the few states that accepted women into military service. These female soldiers were called ''vivandieres,'' a term borrowed from the French Army for female soldiers who mainly functioned as nurses.


Confederate Monument at Camp Moore
Cemetery. (Photo by Mike Jones)
Unsanitary conditions developed in the camp, and epidemics swept through the training area, leaving hundreds dead. There are more than 600 graves of Louisiana volunteers on the property.

The camp was completely destroyed in November, 1864 by a Union cavalry raid.

In 1902 the State of Louisiana appointed a board of commissioners to oversee and maintain the cemetery. In 1907 a large monument was constructed honoring the Confederate dead.

In 1965 the state built the museum, which resembles a Creole antebellum house. And in 1979 Camp Moore was placed on the National Register of Historical Places.

Camp Moore was closed by the state during budgetary hard times in 1986. But private individuals and organizations wanted to save the site.

They organized the Camp Moore Historical Association Inc. and signed a 97-year lease with the State of Louisiana for the property.

The Camp Moore Museum hours are 10 o'clock in the morning until the last tour  at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, Tuesday through Saturday. Camp Moore is located on Hwy. 51, just north of Tangipahoa, LA.  It is situated approximately seventy-five miles north of New Orleans and 8 miles south of the Louisiana/Mississippi border on Interstate 55.  Take the Tangipahoa Exit No. 57 onto Hwy. 440 and follow the signs.  For more information, call the museum at (985) 229-2438.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

150-YEARS-AGO KGC CHAPTER FORMED

From: Univertisty of Texas at Tyler digital library.http://www.uttyler.edu/vbetts/newspaper_titles.htm


NATCHEZ [MS] DAILY FREE TRADER, March 30, 1860, p. 2, c. 3
The K. G. C.—A Few Remarks Thereon.
            A society of the K. G. C., or Knights of the Golden Circle, will be formed in this city at an early day.  The originators of this mystic order were certain military characters who resided in Lexington, Kentucky—the spring of 1854 being the date of its organization.  The first object of the organization was to cultivate a martial spirit among the people of the South.  The second object was to have a military organization in the South fully capable of defending our social and political rights from all assaults from our enemies at home and abroad.  The past history and present aspects of our political affairs seemed to demand that an organization such as the K. G. C., fully armed and equipped and officered, was absolutely necessary.  The order has steadily grown until now it numbers nearly forty thousand members, who are scattered over the Southern States of the Union, and the Northern States of Mexico.  No society of the kind has in this country combined such an amount of talent, resources or numbers as has this.  If we understand correctly, the present object of the K. G. C., is the invasion of Mexico.  It is well known, that in this distracted country a cruel war has raged with scarce an intermission, for the past ten years.  The country has been weakened by these intestine feuds; agriculture, commerce and manufacture have languished and the Mexican people have groaned under the oppression and tyranny of rival chieftains.  At the present time there are two parties in Mexico, contending for the supremacy of the government.  On the one hand stands the church party, with Miramon as their leader.  On the other hand stands the liberal party, with Juarez as their leader.  Our Minister to Mexico, Mr. McLane, has recently made a treaty with Juarez, which will be one of vast benefit to our government.  Our government has already recognized the Liberal party as being the government of Mexico.  The K. G. C.'s have already espoused the cause of the Liberals, and we are informed that it is their fixed determination to place it at the head of the Mexican Government, and thus aid them in restoring peace and harmony to a distracted country and an oppressed people.  Our citizens will be addressed shortly on the subject of armed intervention in the affairs of Mexico, by one of the most distinguished of the "Knights of the Golden Circle," when we hope to see a large turn out.  We speak what we know, or, as Hamlet would say, "by the Card," on this subject.  The statements we have made in this connection have been derived from parties who are perfectly reliable and who are entitled to respectful consideration.  Long live the K. G. C.'s—Vicksburg Sun.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Alfred Mouton--Hero of the Acadian People Who Laid Down His Life in Defense of His State

By MIKE JONES
It was April 8, 1864.

Throughout the day, Jean Jacques Alfred Alexander Mouton sat with his Confederate division, poised about 3 miles southeast of Mansfield, awaiting orders.

Alfred Mouton Portrait
(Alexandre Mouton House)
The young brigadier general and his men watched anxiously as Federal infantrymen, under the command of Major General Nathaniel P. Banks, assembled with an advance guard of Yankee cavalry. After the two armies briefly exchanged cannon fire, Major General Richard Taylor, Mouton's superior, gave the order for a flank attack on the Union right.

Taylor knew no other way to stop Banks' campaign to capture Shreveport, the capital of Confederate Louisiana.

At 4 p.m. Mouton began the attack out in front of his own brigade, made up of the Consolidated 18th Louisiana Infantry, the 28th Louisiana Infantry and the Consolidated Crescent Regiment. The awesome charge was one of the most decisive of the war.


As the charge progressed, Mouton approached a group of 35 Union soldiers who, in the face of the deadly onslaught, laid down their arms in surrender. Mouton gallantly ordered his men not to fire at the surrendering enemy.

However, seeing the Confederate general, five of the Yankee soldiers picked up their muskets and fired a volley into Mouton. The Acadian general was dead before he hit the ground.

In seconds, Mouton's outraged men proceeded to shoot down all 35 Union infantrymen. ''Before their officers could check the savage impulse 30 guiltless Federals had paid with their lives for the cowardly act of five,'' according to a contemporary account.

Taylor and his mixed command of Louisiana Cajuns and Texas frontiersmen went on to stop the Northern invaders. But for Mouton's men the victory remained hollow.

Mouton's battle-hardened veterans openly wept over the death of their beloved chieftain. Two years later, Mouton's remains were brought home to Lafayette, then called Vermilionville.

When the coffin was opened, the five bullet holes could be plainly seen in his coat. With an elaborate ceremony conducted by five priests at St. John's Cathedral, his body was laid to rest in the church cemetery amid the tears of his family, friends and old comrades-in-arms.

Born Feb. 18, 1829, at Opelousas, J.J. Alfred A. Mouton was the product of the elite of Louisiana society. His grandfather, Jean Mouton, was among the Acadians exiled from Nova Scotia in 1755 and was one of the first settlers in what is today La fayette Parish.

Alfred's father, Alexander Mouton, served Louisiana as its governor, as a U.S. Senator and as president of the Louisiana Secession Convention.

Young Alfred benefited from the best schooling his state could offer. After receiving private tutoring from his mother, Zelia Rousseau Mouton, an exceedingly well-educated woman for the time, he entered St. Charles College in Grand Coteau on Dec. 1, 1838. There he received a sound basic education that prepared him for entry into the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1846.

Alfred was an average student and graduated West Point 38th in a class of 44 on June 18, 1850. He was then commissioned a second lieutenant in the 7th U.S. Cavalry.

With the Mexican War over, West Point graduates were given the option to resign. Mouton chose to retire to the life of a Louisiana planter and devoted the following 10 years to running the family plantation, ''Ile Copal'' at Vermilionville.

The young planter also dabbled in local politics and served in the state militia. These were evidently his happiest years with his marriage to Zelia Mouton, a 16-year-old second-cousin, on Feb. 7, 1854. To the couple were born five children, four girls and one boy.

The future general did have an opportunity to lead men in battle before the outbreak of the war. In the 1850s an increase in cattle rustling in southwest Louisiana and a subsequent breakdown in convicting suspects because of jury tampering, led to the formation of ''comites des vigilance,'' or vigilante committees.

Excesses of the vigilantes in turn led to the formation of ''anti-vigilante'' groups and the region was soon plunged into its own miniature civil war.

Mouton was one of the leaders of the vigilantes and the conflict came to a head on Sept. 3, 1859 with the ''Battle of Bayou Queue Tortu'' near what is now Crowley. Mouton led about 600 men in the attack, which overwhelmed the anti-vigilantes.

With the outbreak of war in 1861, his community naturally turned to Alfred Mouton for leadership, and he formed a volunteer military company called the Acadian Guard. He led the company to Camp Moore in Tangipahoa and it was incorporated into the 18th Louisiana Infantry Regiment, with Mouton as colonel.

Mouton's regiment's first battle was one of the bloodiest of the war, the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee on April 6-7, 1862.

As part of Pond's brigade of Ruggles' division of Bragg's corps of the Confederate Army of the Mississippi, Mouton's regiment attacked the Union right flank on the morning of April 6.

Because some of his men were wearing blue coats, gray not yet having become uniform throughout the Confederate Army, the regiment suffered some friendly fire casualties when fired upon by a Tennessee regiment which mistook them for Yankees.

The blue coated Confederates turned their coats inside out to show the white lining, and then proceeded with the attack.

Mouton was ordered to take an enemy artillery battery by frontal assault, and although he thought the attack ill-advised, he drew his sword and said, ''Forward the 18th, follow men.'' Through a dense cloud of gun smoke and whining musket balls, Mouton led his men in the futile attack that was thrown back. The young Acadian colonel was so distraught over the needless slaughter of his men, he is reported to have openingly wept.

The next day, April 7, reinforced Union ranks launched a counter-attack against the exhausted Confederates who were driven slowly back into Mississippi. At 2 p.m., the 18th Louisiana and the Orleans Guard Battalion were ordered to counterattack.

Once again Colonel Mouton gallantly led a charge into a murderous fire. The losses were staggering, and the assault failed. Mouton was severely wounded.

While the rest of the army settled in Corinth, Mouton was evacuated to a New Orleans hospital. With his left eye damaged, he was in severe pain but after returning to ''Ile Copal'' for convalescence, he quickly recovered.

In recognition of his courageous battlefield leadership, Alfred Mouton, then 33, was promoted to brigadier general by President Jefferson Davis.

The new general was fit enough to rejoin the army in October, 1862. He was assigned to defend the Lafourche District with his headquarters at Thibodaux. The district was then the front lines, New Orleans having fallen to a Union invasion that past April.

Mouton had little man power with which to defend his district. His brigade consisted of a total force of about 2,393 men, including infantry, cavalry and artillery.

In late October a Federal force of 4,000 under Brigadier General Godfrey Weitzel was sent to clear the ''Rebels'' out of the Lafourche District.

The climax of the campaign came on Oct. 27, 1862 with the Battle of Labadieville.

Although initially the Union advance was halted, the Confederate defenders were slowly pushed back. Mouton had hoped to assemble enough men to drive the enemy back, but after the reinforcements failed to show, he realized he had no alternative but to retreat.

In his after action report, Mouton wrote, ''On the 28th, whilst slowly receding, I held the enemy in check, and at about 12 m. concluded that I was reduced to the sad alternative of evacuating the place or have my entire command captured,''

He was able to extract his command with relatively light casualties, which is the sign of a good general. He lost only five killed, eight wounded and 186 missing (mostly captured). The Federals lost 18 killed, 73 wounded and five captured or missing.

Mouton retreated to Bayou Teche and dug in at Cornay's bridge. That winter the two opposing sides sparred along the bayou, but it wasn't until the following spring that the Union offensive resumed.

He was reinforced by Sibley's Texas Brigade and General Taylor came down from his headquarters to personally take overall command. The Confederate Army numbered about 4,000 men.

But the North had also built up its strength to an overwhelming 30,000 men under the command of Major General Nathaniel Banks. The Union plan was for one portion of the army to attack the Confederates in the front, while the other portion would go by way of the bayous and land in the rear and cut off the Southerner's retreat.

The plan did not quite work. On April 13, 1863, at the Battle of Bisland Plantation near present day Patterson, Mouton's brigade held the left side of Bayou Teche and Sibley's brigade the right. The Federals launched five attacks that day on Mouton's trenches, but each time were thrown back in fierce fighting.

But that night, Taylor learned a second Union army was being landed up the bayou at Charenton, and realized his position was hopeless. He ordered the trenches evacuated.

The next morning the Confederate retreat was successfully covered by stopping the Union Army at the Battle of Irish Bend.

In his report of the battle, Mouton wrote, ''The enemy were in a position and threatened to cut off our retreat, but by means of a by-path, I succeeded in eluding their pursuit and extricated the troops from a very perilous attitude, arising from information not having been given me in time of arrival of our rearguard in Franklin, and saw every man file over a burning bridge in the rear of the village, myself and staff crossing when it was almost entirely consumed.''

Mouton, with his Acadians and Texans, was given the difficult assignment of stalling the Union advance through bayou country, while the bulk of the Confederate Army retreated back to Alexandria.

A sharp skirmish at Vermilionville on April 17, 1863, prevented the Yankees from catching up with the retreating Southerners. The bluecoats occupied Opelousas on April 19, but it took until May 4 for them to get to Alexandria.

At that time, Banks decided to turn his army toward Port Hudson and attempt to capture that Confederate bastion on the Mississippi River.

Meanwhile, Mouton retreated to Niblett's Bluff where preparations were made to repulse an attack that never came.

After the Federal intentions became clear, Mouton was given command of all Confederate forces in South Louisiana. His next action was to capture an important Federal supply depot at Brashear City in June. The autumn of 1863 was taken up by a confused and halting Union attempt to invade Texas by going across Southwest Louisiana, but which only got about as far as Chretien Point Plantation near Sunset before Banks changed his mind and called off the expedition.

That winter, Mouton's command was sent to North Louisiana with headquarter's in Monroe. The South Louisiana Acadians suffered greatly from the cold and Mouton had to struggle to keep them adequately clothed and fed.

Mouton forever endeared himself to his men by stretching regulations to the breaking point to take care of his men. In late January, 1864, a large shipment of supplies crossed through his territory. Mouton, assuming full responsibility, halted the column, confiscated the goods, then ordered the escort back to headquarters.

After explaining his action to the Trans-Mississippi Department commander, Lieutenant General Edmund Kirby Smith, and district commander Taylor, Mouton was fully supported in his decision.

The spring of 1864 brought the most serious attempt yet to occupy the rest of Louisiana and invade East Texas. Banks' first objective was to capture Shreveport, then invade Texas. He assembled 40,000 men and a whole fleet of Union gunboats and transports for the massive expedition. The invasion route would be up the Red River.

To meet this threat, Taylor's Army of Western Louisiana had only about 8,800men at his immediate disposal.

Taylors forces consisted of Mouton's infantry division, which included his own Louisiana brigade and the Texas brigade of Prince Camille de Polignac a French nobleman who had become known as the Lafayette of the South, Walker's Texas Infantry Division and Green's Texas Cavalry Division.
The campaign began in March and at first Taylor had no choice but to retreat before the overwhelming numbers.

However he found an excellent defensive position below Mansfield and decided to make his stand there. Taylor told his subordinates he would much rather lose the state after being defeated in battle, rather than just give it up without a fight.

Mouton positioned his and Polignac's brigades on the left of the stage road to Mansfield. They were defending a hill and were at the edge of a wooded area and behind a fence. Before them was a wide, open field the enemy would have to cross. To Mouton's right was Walker's Texans.


Mouton was with his Acadians of the 18th Louisiana when at 4 p.m. he opened the battle. Taylor showed his confidence in the Louisianians by choosing them to lead the charge.


According to eyewitness accounts, Mouton drew his sword and he and his men lept over the fence with a resounding yell and charged headlong into the Union line.



As they approached within 150 yards, the Federals let loose with a terrific volley of rifle fire and cannonade. The gray-clad attackers overran the line and entered the woods where they endured concentrated enemy volleys.


It was when they approached the second Union line that Mouton was pierced by the five bullets. His enraged men rushed on to completely rout the Federals and reverse the invasion.


The body of the fallen general was placed next to that of his old friend, Colonel Leopold Armant, commander of the 18th Louisiana who was also killed in the battle. Their broken-hearted men passed solemnly by the remains of the two beloved leaders. The two Louisiana heroes were buried side by side.

In his memoirs, Taylor said of his trusted subordinate, ''Above all, the death of gallant Mouton affected me. He had joined me soon after I reached western Louisiana and had ever proven faithful to duty. Modest, unselfish, and patriotic, he showed best in action, always leading his men.''

The grief of his Acadians touched even the hearts of the tough Texans of Walker's Division. One of them wrote, ''Its a fearful spectacle, to see strong-hearted men thus give way to their feelings. It demonstrated the devotion felt for their gallant chieftain, and showed how deeply he was enshrined in these brave souls.''

General Mouton's Statue, Lafayette
(Photo by Mike Jones)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

STORIES TOLD ON CANVAS

Will and Arad Woodard of Co. G, 16th Louisiana Infantry

[Editor's Note: Here's an article written by the author for the American Press in 1993]
By MIKE JONES

DERIDDER -- There are many ways of preserving history and one of the most appealing is with an artist's brush.

One of those wielding that brush is Court Bailey, a talented artist who preserves history through paint and canvas. Since moving to DeRidder five years ago to work as an air traffic controller at the Beauregard Airport, the Idaho native has become particularly fascinated by the War Between the States and the role this area played.

''I became interested in what part Beauregard Parish had in the war,'' he said.

Using living history re-enactors and original photographs as models, he has painted numerous portraits of soldiers and has made a striking bas relief sculpture of the parish's namesake, Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard.

Bailey finds the stories of individual soldiers from letters and diaries particularly compelling.

And one of the most fascinating local stories he has found is the saga of Will and Arad Woodward of the Ikes community, which is located generally between Rosepine and DeRidder.

The two brothers both joined the Confederate Army and both died in the war. According to their military services records, they enlisted in Company G, 16th Louisiana Infantry on Sept. 29, 1861.

The last entry in Arad's record is that he was missing in action at the Battle of Missionary Ridge on Nov. 25, 1863. Will's record shows he was captured in the same battle and later died in a prisoner of war camp.

Before the brothers met their deaths, a younger brother, who was only 11 or 12 years old, ran away from home to join Will and Arad in the Army.

The commanding officer let the boy stay on as a camp helper. When Will and Arad were lost in the battle, however, the boy was sent home.

Bailey tells the story on canvas by painting a compelling portrait of the two brothers from an original photograph.

Superimposed over the portrait of the two young Southern patriots is an outline map of Beauregard Parish showing the Confederate military road which connected Niblett's Bluff and Alexandria.

''Imposing the map and old military road over the two soldiers, it all just seemed to fit together,'' Bailey said.

By connecting the men and the important supply route through the parish, the artist highlights Beauregard Parish's main contributions to the Confederate war effort.

Bailey said between 60 and 70 hours of work went into the painting, which is now in the collection of Gay McKee, a descendant of the brothers.

Another of his most striking creations is the bas relief carving on wood of General Beauregard.

Being from the West, Bailey said he knew very little about the Louisiana general before moving to his namesake parish. ''When I came down, I did some research on him and was impressed,'' he said.

Bailey found that Beauregard was one of the South's best generals, but because he fell out of favor with President Jefferson Davis, he wasn't utilized as he should have been.

The artist's bas relief carving of the general took some 80 hours of work. He began with a free-hand drawing of the picture on three-quarter inch exterior plywood.

He then roughed out the carving and filled in imperfections. ''The scale comes from the painting. It is almost an optical illusion,'' Bailey said.

The artist has also done numerous portraits. While living in the West, his favorite subject was painting traditional American Indians.

In Southwest Louisiana, he has been concentrating on scenes and portraits connected with the War Between the States.

He has photographed the annual battle re-enactment in Merryville and has painted pictures of the living history re-enactors.

Bailey concentrates on the ordinary soldier's life, the boredom of the camp routine interspersed with the terrors of combat.

''Most of the foot soldier's life was spent waiting around. Battles didn't last that long,'' Bailey said.

Since he has a full-time job, he usually does one piece a month. His next major project is a four by six-foot canvas painting of a cavalry soldier.

But he noted he is getting close to retirement from his job, and his ultimate goal is to become a full-time artist. However he said that is not easy to do until an artist achieves name recognition.

''The name is the thing,'' he said. In the meantime, he accepts commission portraits And Bailey has a large family to support. He and his wife of 28 years, Lois, have eight children.

Other than a couple of art classes, Bailey said he has been largely self-taught. ''I started out doing portraits and that's where my real love is,'' he said. He has also done some historic buildings, but he enjoys painting people the best.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

HERO OF THE BATTLE OF CALCASIEU PASS



                                       Niblett's Bluff Reenactment photo by Mike Jones

By MIKE JONES

The Battle of Calcasieu Pass, which occurred 6 May 1864, may have been a small, obscure battle that had very little impact in the overall War For Southern Independence, but it was vitally important to the men that fought, bled and died in it. It was also a battle that produced a hero and recipient of the very rare Confederate Medal of Honor.

The recipient of the posthumous award was Pvt. William Guehrs of Creuzbaur's Battery, 5th Texas Artillery. Captain James W. Bryan Camp 1390, which is headquartered in Lake Charles, sponsored the medal.

Guehrs, pronounced ''Gears,'' was 23 years old at the time of the battle. He was a native of Germany and a resident of Fayette County, Texas, when he enlisted in the Confederate Army on Oct. 12, 1861. He died as a result of his wound Sept. 3, 1864.

His battery was stationed at Fort Griffin, Sabine Pass, Texas, at the time of the battle.

The Confederate Medal of Honor was created by the Congress of the Confederate States of America but no awards were made before it went out of existence in 1865.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans is a historical and heritage organization founded in 1896 and made up of male descendants of soldiers, sailors and civil servants of the Confederate States of America. It has about 27,000 members in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

The SCV revived the award and created a committee to examine applications for the medal, which must show incontestable proof of extraordinary merit. The Confederate Medal of Honor is the highest decoration awarded by the organization and the standards required are equivalent to the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor.

''The deed performed must have been one of personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his/her comrades and must have involved risk of life,'' according to the standards.

The citation of Guehrs' distinguishing action reads:

''Pvt. William Guehrs was mortally wounded in action 6 May 1864 in the Battle of Calcasieu Pass, Louisiana.

''He was wounded in the leg from the first shot of an enemy gunboat, which also killed one of his comrades.

PHOTO BY MIKE JONES

''Although medical attention was near at hand at a field hospital, where three Confederate surgeons were stationed, Pvt. Guehrs chose to stay with his gun, which was short of men.

''His wound was so severe and he was in so much pain that he had to perform his job as Number 2 man on his gun from a kneeling position. Pvt. Guehrs made this self-sacrificing choice at a critical time in the battle when his gun had come under a deadly cross fire from two enemy gunboats.

''His job as Number 2 man required him to load the gun and worm it (clean out the barrel) in between rounds, a difficult job under any circumstances but especially hard for a man severely wounded, in pain and unable to stand, and under fire from the enemy.

''His self-sacrificing act was critical to the Confederate victory in the battle because his battery went into the fight already short of men. His commanding officer, Captain Edmund Creuzbaur, had to perform a function normally performed by a junior officer. Losing men as soon as the enemy opened fire only aggravated the shortage.

''Pvt. Guehrs extraordinary gallantry was recognized by his fellow battery members at the time of the battle and is described in a letter written just four days after the battle by Cpl. C. Walter von Rosenberg, who was a gunner on his artillery piece, as 'heroic.'

''Pvt. Guehrs self-sacrificing action was also critical to the Confederate success because his gun was the most effective Confederate artillery piece in the battle. One of the other guns had been knocked out of action early, another stuck in the mud and the fourth was unable to move from its original position until late in the battle because its battery horses had inadvertently been taken to the rear.

''Pvt. Guehr's gun was the only one able to maneuver and concentrate fire successfully on both gunboats throughout the battle. It was largely responsible for the Confederate victory.

''Considering the severity of his mortal wound, Pvt. Guehrs could have easily and legitimately retired to the rear as soon as he was hit, because a field hospital had been set up in a nearby farm house and the three Confederate surgeons could have treated his wound immediately.

''Pvt. Guehrs made a conscious decision to stick with his gun in spite of his wound being so painful he could not even stand up. Not only did his decision place his life in continued danger from the cross fire of the gunboats, it no doubt made his wound more severe and probably resulted in the wound being fatal.''

Monday, March 15, 2010

A CONFEDERATE VETERAN OF THE 28th LOUISIANA INFANTRY


[Ed. Note: From an 1993 article in the Lake Charles American Press]
By MIKE JONES
EDGERLY -- The veterans of the War Between the States are long gone, but far from forgotten.

George Franz, a native of Edgerly now living in Texas, diligently searched for and found the grave of his great-great-grandfather, Louis Emile Bellome, a Confederate veteran, in the historic Big Woods Cemetery.

A LOUISIANA SOLDIER
When he discovered the grave was unidentified, with the help of the caretaker of the cemetery and Scott Thorn, commander of the local camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, he was able to locate the final resting place of his ancestor. Franz then obtained an official Confederate veteran grave marker from the Veterans Administration.

Captain James W. Bryan Camp 1390, SCV, held a special dedication ceremony on May 1 for the marker. A uniformed honor guard made up of Confederate living history reenactors fired musket and cannon salutes to mark the occasion. Other SCV camps represented were Maj. Jesse W. Cooper Camp of De-Ridder, Maj. Dick Dowling Camp of Beaumont, Texas, and Col. Ashley W. Spaight Camp of Jasper, Texas.

In spite of the threat of rain, dozens of descendants of Bellome, who served as a sergeant in Company A, 28th (Thomas') Louisiana Infantry regiment, gathered for the occasion. Many met for the first time relatives who came from as far away as Baton Rouge and various towns in Texas.

Louis Emile Bellome was born in St. Landry Parish on Aug. 18, 1841, and by occupation was a cobbler. After the war began, Bellome joined a volunteer military organization called the ''Creole Rebels.''

The group was mustered into the Confederate Army in May, 1862, as Company A of the 28th Louisiana at Camp Moore in Tangipahoa.

Bellome had joined the army at a critical phase of the war. Two Federal armies were being massed to invade the deep South. One, under Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, was poised in Tennessee near the Mississippi border and the other, under the command of Gen. Benjamin ''The Beast'' Butler, was gathering on Ship Island in the Gulf of Mexico, preparing to attack New Orleans.

Confederate Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, a Louisiana native, in early 1862 issued a call for volunteers to protect their homes from the invaders. Bellome and his compatriots were responding to that call to arms.

Bellome's regiment was made up of volunteer companies which, like his, were from south Louisiana. Two of the companies, Company F and Company I, were predominantly made up of Calcasieu Parish men. The commander of Company I, the ''Calcasieu Tigers,'' was Captain James W. Bryan, who became the first mayor of Lake Charles, and for whom the local SCV camp is named.

The 28th Louisiana was organized too late to save New Orleans from military occupation and the harsh rule of ''Beast'' Butler, but it was sent to Vicksburg, Miss., to help garrison that strategically located city.

Bellome progressed well in his regiment and his leadership ability was awarded with an appointment to corporal in August 1862. He was later promoted to sergeant.

He was present for the first land battle to capture Vicksburg, known as the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou, which took place Dec. 28-29, 1862 to the north of the town.

In the battle, Union troops under Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, who later in the war gained notoriety for burning Atlanta on his march through Georgia, attacked the well-entrenched Confederates.

Sgt. Bellome and his unit were stationed at a crucial ford of the bayou and were attacked by wave after wave of bluecoated opponents.

Although outnumbered, the 28th Louisiana repelled the attacks and held its ground. One historian likened the stand of the 28th Louisiana to the ancient Greek Battle of Thermopylae where 300 Spartans held off the entire Persian Army.

For the Union Army, the battle was a disaster. Sherman's men suffered around 2,000 casualties. However the Confederate casualties were comparatively light at a couple of hundred.

Sgt. Bellome survived the battle unscathed and the gray-clad troops returned to the trenches of Vicksburg.

The 28th Louisiana remained in Vicksburg while Gen. Grant with his army crossed from Louisiana into Mississippi south of the city and fought a lightning campaign which succeeded in cutting off the garrison.

Grant scored a string of victories at Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson and Champion's Hill, Miss., before he drove the Confederate Army back into Vicksburg.

Sgt. Bellome and his regiment were stationed on the northern end of the defenses and helped turn back attempts to break the line on May 19 and May 22, 1863.

In the May 22 attack, the 28th Louisiana was called upon to reinforce General Forney's troops, which were under severe pressure from the attackers, farther south.

Following the failure of the May 22 assault, Grant began one of the classic siege operations in military history.

Soldiers on both sides of the line suffered terrible casualties from sniping and constant bombardment. An attempt by the Union soldiers to blast their way in was tried on June 25 when an underground mine was detonated underneath the 3rd Louisiana Redan. But the Confederates were ready for the blast and quickly sealed off the breach in the line.

The siege dragged on for seven weeks with the Southerners being forced to resort to eating horse, mule and even ''trench squirrel,'' a euphemism for rats.

Finally, on July 4, 1863, the Confederate commander, Gen. John C. Pemberton, surrendered the garrison to Grant.

Sgt. Bellome and the other enlisted men were quickly paroledthat is, they gave their word they would not engage in further hostilities until officially exchanged for a Union prisoner of war. They were then allowed to return to their homes.

It would be over a year before the men of Bellome's regiment were officially exchanged, and by that time the war had passed them by.

After the war Bellome returned to civilian pursuits and ran a store in Millerville, a town he helped found. He was married to Celine Odile Bertrand April 8, 1864.

In later life, Bellome moved to Calcasieu Parish near Vinton where he lived until his death on June 20, 1930.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

BATTLE OF CALCASIEU PASS TIES FAYETTE CO. TEXAS & CALCASIEU PARISH, LOUISIANA


By MIKE JONES

A historic bond between Fayette County, Texas and Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana was created by the Battle of Calcasieu Pass on 6 May 1864.

Texans from Fayette County were members of Creuzbaur's Battery, along with other Confederate forces, fought and defeated two Union gunboats on that fateful day. A member of that battery, Pvt. William Guehrs, was posthumously presented the 42nd Confederate Medal of Honor by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

The historic bond between Calcasieu Parish and Fayette County was sealed in blood with the deaths of five of the young Texas artillerymen. In all there were 52 casualties in the battle, both killed and wounded, on both sides.

Pvt. Guehrs was mortally wounded with the first shot of the Union gunboat U.S.S. Granite City just after the battle began. In spite of his severe leg wound, which rendered him unable to stand, he refused medical treatment and continued to serve his gun from a kneeling position at a critical stage of the battle, when it was undermanned.

According to the medal citation, his actions were clearly self-sacrificing and above and beyond the call of duty. Guehrs died of his wound Sept. 3, 1864 and is buried in the Waldeck Cemetery in Fayette County.

The same shot that mortally wounded Guehrs killed his fellow cannoneer and Fayette County resident, Pvt. William Kneip. His brother, Cpl. Henry Kneip, was also in the battle but survived.

Pvt. William Kniep (Courtest of Kneip
Family)
William Kneip was born in 1840 in Lauterbach, Germany and came to Texas with his four brothers, father and mother in 1852, according to family records. The family settled on a farm near Round Top in Fayette County and were residing there when the Civil War began.

Both William, 21, and Henry, 24, joined Creuzbaur's Battery on Nov. 5, 1861, in San Antonio, Texas. Most members of the battery were of German heritage, along with a few Czechs. The battery commander, Captain Edmund Creuzbaur, had been an artillery officer in the Prussian Army before coming to Texas.

Creuzbaur was born in 1826 in Prussia and moved to Cat Spring, Austin County, Texas in 1853. The second in command was Lieutenant, later Captain, Charles Welhausen. The battery was first stationed at Fort Brown in Brownsville, Texas where it did coastal defense duty as heavy artillery. On May 2, 1863 the battery was reclassified as light artillery, 5th Texas Artillery. It had four cannons, two 12-pounder Napoleons and two 6-pounders, all smoothbores.

Both Guehrs and Kneip served as cannoneers on Gun No. 1, which was one of the Napoleons. Creuzbaur's battery may have spent the entire war doing dull garrison duty on the Texas-Mexican border but for a failed Northern attempt to invade Texas on Sept. 8, 1863 at Sabine Pass.

In the reshuffling of forces that followed, the battery was sent in late 1863 to Galveston to defend that important coastal city. No further fighting occurred there and the men once again settled into routine garrison duty. Creuzbaur's battery was next transferred to the Confederate fortifications at Sabine Pass in March 1864.

There they found the situation tense and the Union blockading gunboats aggressively patrolling the coast. Lake Charles was a busy center of blockade running and a thorn in the side of the federal fleet.

The Battle of Calcasieu Pass was finally brought on when two Union gunboats, the Granite City and the U.S.S. Wave, brazenly put into shore in late April, and with the assistance of local Union sympathizers began recruiting for their navy and buying stolen livestock. In the battle on May 6, Creuzbaur's battery provided the punch needed to subdue and capture both gunboats with their entire crews, armament and a 25-man detachment of the Union 2nd New Orleans Infantry.

What they lacked in firepower, the light Confederate artillery made up for in maneuverability and accuracy. And the Southern infantry kept a constant harassing fire on the bluejackets brave enough to man the deck guns.

The gun manned by Guehrs and Kneip concentrated its fire first on the Granite City, and when it surrendered on the Wave. But both privates were felled with the first return shot of the enemy gunboat. The gunboats came into action with a deadly crossfire but Creuzbaur's battery was able to keep up an incredible firing pace. Two of the four Confederate cannons were put out of action but Gun No. 1, quickly changed position and concentrated fire on the Wave.

The Wave fought on for another hour before being struck in its boiler and then having its 32-pounder struck and the barrel split by a direct hit from Creuzbaur's Gun No. 4.

William Kneip and the other dead, from both sides, were buried in the yard of the LeBoeuf farm, where they lie today. For the Fayette County men, the Battle of Calcasieu Pass would turn out to be the only combat they would see in the entire war.

Ironically, Capt. Creuzbaur was relieved of duty for unspecified reasons and resigned from the army in spite of his outstanding performance during the battle. Welhausen was promoted to captain and placed in command of the battery.

Henry Kneip survived to return to Fayette County where he farmed with his other two brothers, Adolph and Ferdinand Kneip, who had served in Waul's Texas Legion and fought at Vicksburg. Henry died Nov. 24, 1922.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

MORE MILITARY ACTIVITY --150-YEARS-AGO

From: Univertisty of Texas at Tyler digital library.http://www.uttyler.edu/vbetts/newspaper_titles.htm
YAZOO DEMOCRAT [Yazoo City, MS], March 10, 1860, p. 2, c. 5

Military Equipments for the South.—The N. Y. Journal of Commerce, referring to the movement in the South to increase and improve the Volunteer Companies, since the John Brown raid, remarks:

The best proof of the depth and earnestness of Southern feeling on this subject may be found in the immense orders which are received from the South by our military manufacturers for all kinds of equipments. One firm in this city has been obliged to put on 300 extra hands lately, to meet the demand of knapsacks, belts, cartridge boxes, priming wires, and other military appliances. Gun and pistol-dealers in this city and elsewhere in the North, also derive large benefits from the Southern martial excitement.

YAZOO DEMOCRAT [Yazoo City, MS], March 17, 1860, p. 3, c. 1

Military Company.—The Yazoo Rifles have organized and elected their officers, and will undoubtedly form a company of which the State may be proud. That prince of clever fellows, Mose Phillips, was unanimously honored with the Captaincy. As a gentleman, he is eminently worthy of it. Let the members bear in mind that there will be a meeting to-day.

Friday, March 5, 2010

REMINISCENCE of 28th LOUISIANA INFANTRY

(Ed. Note: The below story is from the pages of  the Lake Charles Echo, 14 March 1885. The publisher/editor of the ECHO, a small-town weekly, was Captain James W.Bryan who commanded Company I of the 28th (Thomas') Louisiana Infantry Regiment.)


Copy print of a postwar picture of
Captain James W.Bryan.
Reminiscences of the 28th La. Regiment
Commonly known as the Vicksburg 28th La.
Washington Argus.

Editor Argus — As there were in the Confederate service two regiments of Louisiana infantry known as the 28th Louisiana, and desiring to put on record through the columns of your valuable paper, the main facts in regard to the 28th Louisiana, to which many of the St. Landry boys belonged, I append the following short history of it:

Col. Thomas’ 28th Louisiana Regiment of Infantry was organized at Camp Moore, May 3, 1862, the following companies comprising the regiment:

Company A, Capt. Doremus, St. Landry; Co. B, Capt. Hailey, DeSoto; Co. C, Capt. Sloan, New Orleans; Co. D, Capt. Norman, New Orleans; Co. E, Capt. Landry, Ascension; Co. F, Capt. Bredow, New Orleans; Co. G, Capt. Neuman, St. Bernard; Co. H, Capt. Lauve, Ascension; Co. I, Capt. Bryan, Calcasieu; Co. K, Capt. Robin, St. Landry.

The Field and Staff was as follows: Colonel Allen Thomas, St. Landry; Lieutenant-Colonel, J. Octave Landry, St. Landry; Major C.M. Pegues, DeSoto; Surgeon, W.H. Winn, Avoyelles; Assistant Surgeon, D.B. Pierce, Ascension; Captain and A.Q.M., G. Weightman, New Orleans; Captain and A.C.S., G.A. Woodward, Calcasieu; Lieutenant and Adjutant, George O. Elms, Calcasieu; Sergeant Major, George Millard, New Orleans.

The regiment at this time, consisting of about 710 men, remained at Camp Moore until May 18th, when they were moved to Vicksburg. We were of course not known at the War Department until our first monthly return was made, June 10, 1862. We had been organized under orders from department headquarters as the “28th Louisiana Infantry,” some time in the latter part of May, 1862. A regiment of infantry had been organized at Monroe by Col. Henry Gray, and which also took the name of the 28th Louisiana, but as it served altogether on the west side of the Mississippi river, continued to carry the same name until the close of the war. We were known at the War Department as the “29th Louisiana,” but elsewhere as “28th Louisiana.”

Our regiment was engaged in all the battles at Vicksburg, losing Sergeant John Johnson and several others on the “Ram Arkansas” on the 15th of August, and about 50 killed and wounded at “Chickasau bayou” on the 28th and 29th of December, 1862. Regarding this engagement the following order was issued:

Headq’trs Dep’t. Miss. & East La.

Vicksburg, April 30, 1863.

General Order No—.

To commemorate the glorious victory achieved over the enemy on the 28th and 29th of December 1862, and in honor of the troops engaged on that occasion, the following named commands will inscribe Vicksburg on their banners, to-witt: Third, Seventeenth, Twenty-sixty and Twenty-eighth Louisiana Infantry.

By Order of

Lieut. Gen. Pemberton.

(Signed) J.G. Devereaux, A.A.G.

In March 1863, in company with other troops, we went to the Yazoo river to undertake the capture of several Federal gunboats, but they had left before our arrival.

The investment of Vicksburg was completed on the 17th of May, 1863, and we were constantly under fire until the surrender on the morning of July 4th. Going to Vicksburg in May, 1862, with 710 rank and file, and receiving while there about 200 recruits, we numbered at the surrender about 450—27 had been discharged for disability—12 or 15 were absent on detached service—the balance of the grand total of 910 had been killed or died of wounds or disease.

The regiment was reorganized at Alexandria in 1864—Col. Thomas having been made a Brigadier General, Lieut. Col. Landry became Col., and Maj. Pegues, Lieut. Col. A Parole camp had been established at Opelousas in December, 1863, and all who had reported at Parole camp previous to June 27th, 1864, were exchanged on that day.

The writer was not with the regiment after the reorganization, and know but little of its service on this side of the Mississippi—of our service at Vicksburg it may truthfully be said, that we at all times justified the confidence reposed in us by our commander—we with the 26th Louisiana Infantry, were the only troops engaged on the 28th December, 1862, when we held in check Blair’s Brigade of the Federal army from daylight to dark; when finding ourselves about to be cut off from our army, were compelled to fall back, which we did in good order under a heavy fire of musketry and artillery.

The first day of the seige our regiment was on the reserve (Col. Thomas being in command of Baldwin’s Brigade until May 22nd.) On that day two companies of our regiment, Co. I, Capt. J.W. Bryan, and Co. B, Capt. A.B. Hailey, had the honor of saving Vicksburg to the Confederacy — the enemy had charged our line at the Jackson road repeatedly during the afternoon, and failing each time to break it, held at that point by the 3rd Louisiana and 2nd Texas respectively on each side of the road — the road itself was deep cut in the hill, and to secure it, some fifty or more bales of cotton the enemy had knocked down with their artillery, so that it afforded no obstacle to the passage of troops — the Federals took advantage of this circumstance, and the first intimation that the Confederates had of it was when a column of the enemy came passing through — the two named companies of our regiment happened to arrive just at the moment when the head of the column was in the act of passing our lines. They at once opened fire on them and drove them back, killing a number of them, and themselves losing about 42 or 45 in killed and wounded. Two flags were here captured by Capt. Bryan.

On the morning of May 23rd, our Brigade, consisting of the 26th, 27th and 28th Louisiana Regiments, took possession at “The Big Redan,” one of the most exposed positions on the whole line — this we held until the surrender on July 4th, losing many officers and men. It was here that Lieut. Octave Fontenot lost his arm. He had been occupied all the night before, in command of a fatigue party repairing the breastworks, and at daylight had laid down to get some necessary rest — he was sleeping soundly, when a portion of a shell struck him on the arm, severing it from the body. Here we also lost Capt. Neuman, Lieut. Crowder, Serg. Coreil and many others. Of the officers, many have “crossed the river and camped on the other side.” Surgeon Winn died in 1877, Maj. Bredon in 1867, Captain Woodward in 1864, Capt. J.E. Clarke, with us at Vicksburg as Drill-Master and a Chief of Ordnance on the Staff of Gen. Shoup—afterward A.A.G. on the Staff of Gen. W.H. Allen, was killed at New Orleans in 1867 by being run over by a train of cars. Lieut. E.M. Smith died at Vicksburg in July, 1863; Lieut. Wemple died at Mansfield, Capt. Sam Brewer at New Orleans, Lieut. Frank Turner at St. Bernard, Capt. W.F. Norman at New Orleans, Lieut. Morehead at Ascension, Lieut. R.S. Robin, in St. Landry.

Gen. Thomas lives at Baton Rouge, Col. Landry at New Orleans, Colonel Pegues at Mansfied, Capt. Doremus is in Europe, Capt. Hailey in New Orleans, Capt. Bryan at Lake Charles, Capt. Lyons in Lafayette parish; Lieutenant Octave Fontenot, Jules DeBailon, Jones Burleigh and W.C. Johnson are living in St. Landry; Lieut. J.B. Ashley in Rapides, Lieut. Jno. V. Richard at Lake Charles, Capt. E.E. Law and Lieuts. Vives, Webre and Gilbert, in Assumption; Lieut. Grier in Lafayette, Lieut. Blair in Ascension. The whereabouts of the remainder are unknown to me.

The survivors in this town are Sergeant Lucien Dupre, Julien Claude and the writer, who sends greetings to his old comrades.
Yours respectfully,
George O. Elms.

An Explanation

In reference to the “Reminiscences of the 28th Louisiana Regiment,” written by our old friend Major Geo. O. Elms, and which we reproduce from the columns of the Washington Argus, in which he says I captured two flags on the memorable day of May 22, 1863, in an engagement at the “Jackson road,” with a mighty and powerful enemy flushed with a succession of victories and with the hope of capturing Vicksburg, one of the main strongholds of the Confederacy, I must say, in justice to the brave and noble men who sacrificed their lives and won laurels for the 28th Louisiana Regiment (Thomas’) at Chickasaw, by their effective service, that the credit for the capture of the flags referred to, belongs to them and the officers in command of the detachment which did the fighting.

As I was in command of the regiment on that day in obedience of orders, I detached two companies, Capt. A.B. Hailey commanding, with orders to proceed at once to reinforce the command at the “Jackson road,” at which place the enemy was concentrating their forces, with a view of breaking our lines and capturing the entire army; and Capt. Hailey, with this detachment of the 28th regiment, lost no time in getting to that point, and arrived as Maj. Elms says, just in time to save Vicksburg to the Confederacy. And I repeat, to him and his troops belong the honor of capturing the flags, and not to me.

The fight was fierce and short, and the enemy repulsed, but the victory was a dear one to Capt. Hailey’s noble boys, as stated by Major Elms.

J.W. Bryan.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

HOUSTON'S WFSI SITES

By Mike Jones

Major Richard W. Dowling
Hero of Houston (LSU Library)
After a 30 year quest to find the burial place of one my Confederate ancestors, I have found a likely place in an old graveyard in Houston, Texas and also discovered that the city has more War For Southern Independence sites than one would think in a place where there were no battles.

My ancestor, Pvt. Solomon Jones, served in Company E, 11th Battalion (Spaight's) Texas Volunteers and, according to family oral history, died in the war leaving his widow and seven children having to travel about 200 miles back to their home in Southwest Louisiana, taking turns walking and riding on one horse.

Unfortunately, Solomon's military service record is very incomplete and does not give when, where or how he died, let alone where he was buried. However, by piecing together the best information I can come up with based on family oral history,  his record, that of his brother-in-law, Pvt. Nicolas Kibodeaux who served in the same unit, and following the movements of his regiment, I believe it likely he died in Houston, Texas in January 1865 and is possibly buried in the Confederate section of the Old City Cemetery at Elder and Girard streets in Houston.

The cemetery, which was established as a city-owned burial ground, was established in 1840 and is said to have hundreds of Confederates buried there. Thus far, no records have been found to identify the soldiers buried there.  Now the cemetery has various buildings and parking lots built directly over it. But a monument has been erected at the site to honor the Confederate soldiers buried there.

Ironically, the old Jefferson Davis Hospital, now converted into loft apartments and renamed, was built on the cemetery in 1924. It was named for President Davis to honor the Confederates buried there. The historic structure is now said to be the "most haunted" place in Houston with the ghosts of angry Confederate soldiers, doctors, nurses and patients haunting it. The site is a popular stop on local ghost tours.

 Dick Dowling Monument
(M. Jones photo)
In my research, I found that Houston, which was the headquarters of the Department of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona in the War Between the States, has a number of historic markers and monuments related to its Confederate history.

Major General John Bankhead Magruder, departmental commander,  made Houston his headquarters, which was located in the Fannin Hotel. Houston was spared the direct horrors of war thanks to the aggressive actions of Magruder and the military units under his commandd, which won significant victories at the Battle of Galveston, Jan. 1, 1863 and the Battle of Sabine Pass on Sept. 8, 1863. However Houston was a vital headquarters supplying all forms of support, from manpower to supplies, that made those victories possible.

Besides being the departmental headquarters, it was also the major quartermaster depot in Texas supplying uniforms, rifles and accoutrements and ammunition. Houston also had three prisoner of war compounds, troop training fields, military hospitals, two foundries, five railroads and an inland port for blockade runners.
                                                                                                 
Besides the Confederate monument at the old Jefferson Davis Hospital, there is also a marble statue honoring Major Richard William "Dick" Dowling, the hero of Sabine Pass who was a Houston resident, at Hermann Park. Houston also has two streets named in Dowling's honor, Dowling Street and Tuam Street, his native place in Ireland.  The Spirit of the Confederacy Statue (pictured at right) and the Terry's Texas Rangers monument, are both in Sam Houston Park near downtown Houston. The Spirit of the Confederacy Statue features a twice life-size bronze sculpture of an angel.

The city also has five state historic markers related to Houston's Confederate history. These are:
* Site of Confederate Prison Compound at 1 Main Street, University of Houston (Downtown). This was the site of the old Allen Brothers warehouse on Buffalo Bayou that during the war housed prisoners of war. In January 1863, it housed 350 prisoners captured in the Battle of Galveston. The city had two other POW compounds.

* Site of Old Houston Academy at Caroline and Rusk in downtown Houston. This academy was founded in 1856 and lost most of its students to the Confederate army. In 1864-65, the building was used as an army hospital. It was also a parade ground for ceremonial occasions. In 1867, the body of General Albert Sidney Johnston laid in state there before being taken to its final resting place.

* Site of Sunken Confederate Ship at Travis and Commerce in downtown Houston. Confederate blockade runners sailed up Buffalo Bayou to deliver vital war materials to Houston's arsenal and supply depot. One such ship was the "Augusta" which arrived safely in Houston, but sprang a leak. Although it was towed to the Milam Street landing, it sank before it could be unloaded. For years afterward, when the bayou water level was low, the ship would reappear, and divers were able to recover many relics. About 1910, due to unknown causes, the ship was blown up and its remains sank slowly into the bayou silt. In 1968 the Southwestern Historical Exploration Socieity recovered many artifacts, icnluding an aged cannon ball, musket balls, bayonets, coins, square nails, chest locks, and numerous pistol balls.

* Texas Railroads, C.S.A., at Texas and Crawford streets in downtown Houston. Harris County in 1861 was the center of 492 miles of state railroads, including the Texas & New Orleans which only went as far as Orange; Houston & Texas Central to Millican; Houston Tap & Brazoria to Columbia; Buffalo Bayou, Brazos & Colorado to Alleyton; and the Galveston, Houston & Henderson to Galveston. The railroads played a vital role in moving troops and supplies.
*Site of Confederate Powder Mill, Spring Creek Park in Tomball. This was the site of a powder mill, established in 1861, athat made cannon powder for the Confederate Army. The mill was destroyed by an explosion in 1863 killing William Bloecher, Adolph Hillegeist and Peter Wunderlich, employees of the mill.

The Museum of Southern History, formerly located in Sugar Land, Texas, is now housed at Houston Baptist College. The museum exhibits include an original Confederate battle flag, uniforms and weapons. On display are the Confederate uniform of Pvt. Henry Brunet of Fenner's Louisiana Battery; the battleflag of the 36th Alabama Infantry; and the uniform frock coat and hat of Col. Gustave Cook of Terry's Texas Rangers. Also to be seen are artifacts related to the Battle of Galveston, Jan. 1, 1863, including a 32-pounder cannon reproduction.

Monday, March 1, 2010

BURR FERRY, SITE OF WARTIME FORT


Take a trip through history on a weekend at Burr Ferry

BY: MIKE JONES 
BURR FERRY -- Tucked away in the piney woods of western Vernon Parish is an out-of-the-way spot that the adventurous traveler and history buff alike will find fascinating, Burr Ferry.

Outlaws, runaway slaves, pioneer log cabins and an old Confederate fort give Burr Ferry a colorful past. The Sabine River and Pearl Creek, teeming with bass and white perch, entice fishermen looking for a great catch.

The property is now owned by the Louisiana Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans. Anacoco Rangers Camp of the SCV has maintained and improved the site, along with volunteers. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. The site has original Confederate earthworks, a historic monument and a Confederate flag display.
 
White settlers moved in shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and established the ferry as one of the main crossings of the Sabine River into Texas.

But the boundry between the United States and Spain was in dispute until 1819. The strip of land along the border between Louisiana and Texas became known as ''the neutral strip'' or ''no man's land.''

In that period, both Spanish and U.S. authorities agreed to keep their armies out of the area. It was a haven for outlaws one step ahead of the law, or fugitive slaves being pursued by slave catchers. Many of the slaves fled into Spanish Texas.

In the early 1800s, the first Burr settled in the area. This was Timothy Burr, said to be a cousin of Aaron Burr, the vice president under President Thomas Jefferson and who killed Alexander Hamilton in a famous duel in 1804.

In the years before the War Between the States, Burr Ferry became an increasingly important crossing point to and from Texas for both people and livestock.

The standard ferry fee was 20 cents for a wagon and team, 10 cents for a man and horse and five cents for a person on foot.

After the war started in 1861, the ferry was an important stretegic point for the Confederacy for moving men and supplies across the river from Texas.

When the Union Army invaded western Louisiana in the fall of 1863, work was begun on an earthen fortification to defend the ferry.

Although constantly busy, the only war action there was a skirmish with Union cavalry scouts.

One section of the fortification is well preserved and can be seen today in a fenced memorial park just off Hwy. 8, a few hundred yards east of the Sabine River Bridge. Between the fort and the river is the site of the old Burr mansion, which burned about five years ago. Still standing is a massive barn believed to be well over 100 years old.

After years of searching, Peavy pinpointed the site of the old ferry and dug up a number of artifacts, including the endless pulley that was used to pull the ferry across the river. The site is just south of the bridge.

Possibly the most priceless historical treasure of all is the old Lile family log cabin, which dates to the early 1800s. It is a true log cabin, built with hand hewn logs and cypress shingles. The cabin is on private property and not open to the public.

Two cemeteries in the area are of particular historical interest. The Old Burr Cemetery contains tombstones dating to 1828 and is where the earliest settlers are buried.

The ''Plunk Away'' Cemetery,  is reportedly said to have received its unusual name as the result of an outlaw shootout. One of the dying outlaws, when asked where he wanted to be buried, is supposed to have said, ''Just plunk me away over there.''

In the cemetery are a number of ''unknown'' graves of travelers who died along the trail to Texas, wounded Confederate soldiers trying to get home to Texas and outlaws who died in shootouts.

How to get there:

The best way to reach Burr Ferry from Lake Charles is to take La. 27 to Singer; turn west onto La. 110 to Merryville and there take U.S. 190 north and continue north on La. 111 to Burr Ferry, which is located at the intersection with La. 8.