Saturday, May 29, 2010

'HE DIED FURIOUS" A FASCINATING LOOK AT WHEAT'S TIGERS

By Mike Jones

This image depicts a member of Co.B
(Tiger Rifles) of the 1st Special Battalion
(Wheat's) Louisiana Volunteers. So
fierce was their reputation and combat
record, that the entire battalion became
known as Tigers, along with all
Louisiana troops serving in the Army of
Northern Virginia. (Louisiana Civil War
Centennial Commission).
I recently re-read a fascinating and rare book, "He Died Furious" by Alison Moore (Ortlieb Press, 1983 Baton Rouge), on Major Chatham Roberdeau Wheat and his famed Louisiana Tiger battalion, one of the most unique units in American military history. The book itself, which has long been out of print and very hard to find, is very curious. It is just one long manuscript with no chapter breaks and no index. While it is pretty unorthodox when it comes to books, the author, Moore, obviously did an amazing amount of research, seemingly over decades.

This is really an in depth history of Wheat and his short-lived battalion that lasted just 16-months before it was disbanded in August 1862 because it had become so depleted. The battalion was said to be made up of 75 percent filibusters, the mid-19th Century term for soldiers of fortune fighting in various revolutions in Mexico, Cuba and Nicaragua. Wheat was one of the leading filibusters who, in addition to fighting in those wars, was also serving with Garibaldi in 1860 in the "Red Shirt" campaign to unite Italy. When Southern states seceded from the Union in late 1860 and early 1861, Wheat returned to the United States and came to his adopted city of New Orleans to raise a regiment for the struggle for Southern Independence.

In "He Died Furious," Moore not only gives the fascinating history of Wheat and his battalion, the author evaluates all the controversial aspects of the unit and gives strong opinions about it. For example, the author passionately defends the honor of the men of Wheat's Battalion, charging that many post-war writers of memoirs exaggerated the Tigers' reputation for being "wharf rats" and the "sweepings of the prisons" of New Orleans. Moore also points out that some of the misdeeds attributed to the Tigers should actually be attributed to other Louisiana units.

Wheat's Tigers, which derived its nickname from Company B, Tiger Rifles, and was the only company to have zouave uniforms, racked up such an amazing combat record that the nickname became representative of all Louisiana troops serving in the Army of Northern Virginia. The battalion, it never raised enough companies to become a regiment, made its fame at the First Battle of Manassas, then Stonewall Jackson's Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862, the Battle of Gaines' Mill and Malvern Hill in the Seven Days Campaign, before it became so decimated it was disbanded.

Wheat was killed in action at the Battle of Gaines' Mill on 27 June 1862. He was buried on the battlefield he died on, but his family later had his mortal remains moved to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

Perhaps someday this book will be republished with an index. Such a classic deserves a wider circulation than it has had.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

THE 9th BATTALION LOUISIANA INFANTRY

Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge commanded Confederate forces at the Battle of Baton Rouge. (Library of Congress)


By Mike Jones
After the successful invasion of Louisiana by Lincoln's northern army, in April 1862, the men of Baton Rouge rallied to the Confederate colors by forming three volunteer companies of infantry and one of cavalry. Those Southern volunteers became the Campaigners, the Baton Rouge Invincibles, Lemmon Guards and Plain Store Rangers. They were organized into the 9th Battalion Louisiana Infantry on 15 May 1862 at Camp Moore in Tangipahoa, where many other volunteer companies were organizing to repel the ruthless military takeover of the state. Later that summer they were joined by the Caruther's Sharphooters of Livingston Parish to complete the battalion's organization.

The battalion served under Confederate Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge at the Battle of Baton Rouge on 5 August 1862. The land attack was successful but because the C.S.S. Arkansas broke down on the way, it was unable to attack the Union fleet at Baton Rouge. The major advantage in heavy artillery made the land attack untenable and the Confederates eventually had to retreat. During the battle Col. (Brig. Gen.) Henry Watkins Allen, the future governor of Louisiana, was severely wounded leading the 9th battalion. Also during the attack, the 6th Michigan captured the flag of the battalion.


However, seeing how exposed they were in Baton Rouge, in late August 1862 the Federals abandoned the town and the Confederates moved in to take charge. The men of the 9th battalion guarded there hometown for the next several months until the Union came back in force in December. The Confederates then fell back to their bastion on the Mississippi, Port Hudson, which was being fortified. Then men fought in the siege between 23 May-9 July 1863 and occupied part of the trenches on the Confederate right flank, a position known as The Citadel. After the surrender, the men went home on parole. The cavalry company, the Plain Store Rangers, had remained outside the lines during the siege, and it became part of a temporary cavalry battalion commanded by Captain John B. Cage. In early 1864, the paroled remnants of the battalion were consolidated into one company, mounted, and attached as Company D to Gober's Louisiana Mounted Infantry. As part of Gober's Mounted Infantry, they fought a number of skirmishes in 1864. At the end of the war, the remnants of the battalion were incorporated into Ogden's 9th Louisiana Cavalry Regiment and were paroled in May 1865 in Gainesville, Alabama.



Companies and Officers: 1

LIEUTENANT COLONEL. Samuel Boyd, retired because of wounds received 5 August 1862.
MAJORS. Thomas Bynum, resigned 2 May 1863; Bolling R. Chinn, acting.
Companies and Their Commanders
Company A, Campaigners (Baton Rouge). Thomas Bynum, promoted major 13 September 1862; William L. Burnett, died 7 August 1863; T. Winthrop Brown.
Company B, Baton Rouge Invincibles (East Baton Rouge). Thomas J. Buffington, appointed surgeon 15 September 1862; B.F. Burnett.
Company C, Lemmon Guards (East Baton Rouge). Bolling R. Chinn.
Company D, Caruthers Sharpshooters (Livingston). William D.L. McRae, resigned November 5, 1862; Alfred Bradley.
Cavalry Company, Plains Store Rangers (East Baton Rouge). John W. Jones, resigned 30 October 1862; Gilbert C. Mills.
1. Guide to Confederate military Units 1861-1865; Arthur W. Bergeron; LSU Press, Baton Rouge and London, 1989, pages 161-162.

Confederate Flag

The 9th Battalion Louisiana Infantry, like most Confederate units, probably had several different types of battle flags during its operational existence. The flag used by the battalion in the Battle of Baton Rouge was captured by the 6th Michigan Infantry. That flag survived the war and was returned by the State of Michigan to the State of Louisiana on 21 September 1942. Unfortunately the current location of the flag is unknown and no description of it has been found. No other flags used by the 9th are known to have survived the war.

Report of Captain Thomas Bynum

Here is the report of Captain Thomas Bynum on the Battle of Baton Rouge, from the Official Records. Headqrs. Battalion of Infantry Stewart's Legion, Comite Bridge, La,, August 8, 1862.

Sirs: I herewith submit a report of participation of this battalion uder command of Lieut. Col.Samuel Boyd, in the action of the 5th instant: Its force consisted of the following: One field, 3 staff, 9 company officers, and 190 enlisted men. They composed the center of Colonel Allen's bigade, the 30th Louisiana Regiment (Colonel Breaux), on the right, and the 4th Louisiana Regiment (Lt. Col. Hunter) on the left. The line of battle was formed in the woods back and leftward of the residence of Capt. E.W. Robins,and about three-fourths of a mile to the rear of the central portion of Baton Rouge. As soon as the line was formed it was put in forward motion, feeling its way, slowly forward. Marching straight to the front through briars, hedges, and over picket fences, the brigade was halted in the face of a line of the foe drawn up to receive us and after giving them two well directed volley's charged upon them, when they fled. The brigade, having paused a few moments, resumed its line as well as the nature of the undergrowth would permit, and marched some 200 or 300 yards forward in a left-oblique direction. Receiving reports of a battery of the enemy suported by a regiment right to our front, about 160 yards distant, our commander, after calling for three cheers for the Confederacy, ordered us to charge. Alarmed at our shouts and dash the enemy broke, taking off their battery, but leaving heaps of slain and wounded. It was here that Captain Chinn fell from a wound in the leg while gallantly responding at the head of his company to Colonel Allen's orders. Resuming our course, we soon found ourselves upon te edge of an old field, on the opposite side of which is the Benton Ferry road and the inclosures of the race-track. Square in front was posted along the road-side a number of the enemy's skirmishers or sharpshooters, and to the outskirts of the corporation of Baton Rouge. A regiment (the Sixth Michigan) supported the battery, and its men were placed behind the fences, outhouses, and houses in the neighborhood of Hockney's. Colonel Allen, taking the colors of this command in his hand, rapidly drew up his comand in line, who at his call and example rushed, under a galling fire of grape, canister, and Minie, across the field. There was not a shrub even as a screan on it, and over 300 yards of the open space the foe sent many a missile of death and shaft of anguish within 100 yards of the connon. Lieutenant Causey, of Buffington's company and commanding it, fell, shot through the braiin. No victim in this great struggle against fanaticism and the principles of rapine and spoliation leaves to his family and friends a brighter memory for chivalrous courage and unsullied patriotism. A few yards farther on Lieutenant Colonel Boyd fell shot through the arm, and was borne off the field. In a moment or so after the fled, leaving two cannon and a lieutenant and 8 or 10 privates prisoners in our hands. In passing beyond the fence inclosing Turner's house and getting partially into the street the gallant leader fell helpless from his horse into the arms of his trusty soldiers and was by them carried from the fiield. It completely paralyzed his old regiment (the Fourth), at whose head he was even in the moment of victory. Notwithstanding his repeated shouts to go forward, it became confused and muddied up, lost in a maze of stolidity and dismay. At this critical moment the undersigned first became apprised by Colonel Breaux, now commanding the brigade, that it was his duty to assume command of this battalion. With serious misgivings in his capacity in this emergency and sorrowful at the necessity he aimed to do his best in seconding the gallant, fearless, and conspicuous example of the commanding officer to save his troops from panic and to rally them into line. His efforts surpasssed by the daring courage of Lieutenant Barrow, commanding Captain Chinn's company; by the energy of Lieutenant Barnett, of Captain Bynum's company, and by the cool and noble example of Lieutenant Brown, of the same company. A partial success only rewarded their exertions -- we were saved a panic; but the annoying fire from the enemy's sharpshooters left them no other alternative but to fall back across the field to the shelter of the woods. Here another effort was made to rally the brigade into line, now massed confusedly. The commanding officer employed every incentive and expedient that courage could suggest, but with haggard results. The men made no response to his appeals. They were not cowed or panic stricken. They were exhausted -- hopelessly exhausted -- and seemed to be staggering under the half of that last ounce which breaks the camel's back of endurance. Having been uder arms more than sixteen hours; having neither supper, breakfast, nor sleep; having marched over 12 miles, and having gone through four hours' hard fighting, it is not a matter of surprise or of blame that they paid but little heed to the rallying cries of their leaders. Their conduct was, however,only in accordance with the example of troops who had been under fire and were reputed veterans. Many vissitudes of this battle must remain unnoticed the undersigned was not called to command till a late hour, and many events doubtless noted by the experienced eye of Colonel Boyd must be chronicled because of his absence. While Colonel Boyd was in command his promptitude and courage ably sustained the policy of Colonel Allen. His adjutant, Lieutenant Breeden, was conspicuous for daring devotions to duty throughout the trials of the day. The men generally behaved with coolness and courage. Upon returning to headquarters, near Ward's creek Bridge, the undersigned was relieved of his command by Lieutenant Barrow. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, Tom. Bynum Captain, Comdg. Battalion Infantry, Stewart's Legion 









SIEGE OF PORT HUDSON 23 May-9 July 1863

Maj. Gen. Franklin Gardner, Confederate
commander at Port Hudson.
(Library of Congress)


Following the Battle of Baton Rouge, the 9th Battalion Louisiana Infantry was assigned to the garrison of Port Hudson, which became the southern anchor of the Confederate defenses on the Mississippi River, about 200 miles down river from Vicksburg, Miss.


 
The men of the battalion did guard and pickett duty and assisted in the construction of earthworks. The roster of the garrison as of 14 March 1863 in the "Official Records" shows the 9th Louisiana battalion in Gregg's brigade on the right wing. Then on the 27 May 1863 roster the battalion was with Miles brigade, still on the Confederate right wing. One source (Edmonds, "Port Hudson" Vol. II, has them manning the Citadel which was the anchor of the far Confederate right.)

"The Ninth Louisiana battalion of infantry under the command of Major B.R. Chinn, held posts of honor along the right wing during the siege, from the extreme right to the sally port at Troth's road, constantly being moved, either to reinforce some point or to relieve other troops at exposed points. They were actively employed and with great credit to themselves, losing many gallant men and officers."1
1. Port Hudson: Its History From an Interior Point of View by Lieut Howard C. Wright 1863, St. Francisville Democrat.

OVERVIEW OF THE SIEGE OF PORT HUDSON

Here is an overview of the Siege of Port Hudson from the Port Hudson State Historic Site: Louisiana Department of Parks:

Why Port Hudson?

Control of the Mississippi River was important to both sides during the American Civil War. The North wanted to control the river and split the Confederacy in two. The South wanted to maintain control and ensure the flow of supplies back and forth across the river.
 
When New Orleans fell to the Federals in late April 1862, Confederate control of the Mississippi was in jeopardy. The Confederate army had already fortified the river bluffs at Vicksburg, Mississippi, but it needed another series of river batteries below the mouth of the Red River. The Red River was the primary route for the shipment of supplies from Texas to the heartland of the Confederacy.

The bluffs near the small town of Port Hudson represented a perfect site for the river batteries. These bluffs were the first high ground upstream from Baton Rouge and overlooked a severe bend in the river. This bend presented an additional obstacle for Union warships. Following their defeat at the Battle of Baton Rouge on August 5, 1862, Confederate soldiers marched to Port Hudson and occupied the area on August 15, 1862. They constructed a series of river batteries along the bluffs and, in the months that followed, erected a 41/2-mile line of earthworks to protect the land approach to the river batteries.
 
48-Day Siege

The siege of Port Hudson began on May 23, 1863. Roughly 30,000 Union troops, under the command of Major General Nathaniel P. Banks, were pitted against 6,800 Confederates, under the command of Major General Franklin Gardner.

On the morning of May 27, and again on June 14, the Union army launched ferocious assaults against the 41/2-mile-long string of earthworks protecting Port Hudson. These actions constituted some of the bloodiest and most severe fighting in the entire Civil War.

As the siege continued, the Confederates nearly exhausted their ammunition and were reduced to eating mules, horses and rats. When word reached Gardner that Vicksburg had surrendered, he realized that his situation was hopeless and nothing could be gained by continuing the defense of Port Hudson. Surrender terms were negotiated, and on July 9, 1863, after 48 days and thousands of casualties, the Union army entered Port Hudson. The siege became the longest in American military history.

Port Hudson State Historic Site--(US 61, Zachary, LA 70791; 225-654-3775 or 1-888-677-3400) is located on US 61 in East Feliciana Parish, about 25 minutes north of Baton Rouge and 10 minutes south of historic St. Francisville. The 909-acre site encompasses the northern portion of the battlefield and features an elevated boardwalk over the breastworks in the Fort Desperate Area. Other facilities include three observation towers, six miles of trails, a museum, a picnic area and restrooms. Groups are requested to call in advance.



Pvt. William C. Annis (My Great-Grandfather)

(Article from "Confederate Military History," Atlanta, Ga. 1899; pages 328-329)

William Crawford Annis, a well known journalist of Baton Rouge, and a Confederate veteran, is a native of Louisiana, born n Iberville parish in 1840. He came to Baton Rouge at the age of twelve years, and there enlisted in July, 1862, as a private in Company B, Ninth battalion Louisiana infantry, under Maj. Tom Bynum. With his command he served at the battle of Baton Rouge, August 5, 1862, and at Port Hudson during the siege in May to July, 1863. After the surrender by General Gardner he remained at Baton Rouge on parole until exchanged in 1864, when he rejoined his comrades at Olive Branch, La. His company was then mounted and assigned to Col. Daniel C. Gober's regiment, East Louisiana cavalry, formed at that time by a consolidation of two companies of the Ninth battalion with Col. Hailey M. Carter's Eighteenth battalion Confederate cavalry. Private Annis served with this regiment in skirmishes with the enemy at Woodville and Liberty, Miss., and Gainesville, Ala. Not long before the surrender at Gainesville, Ala., he was transferred to his old battalion, then in process of reorganization. Since the war Mr. Annis has given his time to newspaper enterprises, beginning with the establishment of the weekly Ledger at Bayou Sara in 1865. In 1870 he took charge of the consolidated Gazette and Comet at Baton Rouge. From 1873 to1882 he conducted the daily Advocate, and subsequently was local editor of the Capitolian-Advocate until 1888, when he became one of the founders of the Item, weekly paper, of which he is now the sole proprietor and editor.

ROSTER

9th Battalion Louisiana Infantry
CSA - Roster

Field Officers
Lt. Col.. Samuel Boyd
Major Thomas Bynum

Company A., Campaigners, (East Baton Rouge)
Officers:
Captain Thomas Bynum; 1st Lt. William L. Burnett; 2nd Lt. A.F. Aucoin; 2nd Lt. T. Wintrop Brown.
Non-Commissioned Officers:
Sgt. Edward W. Brown; Sgt. John A. Sullivan; Cpl. J.W. Hapgood; Cpl. C.C. Jones; Cpl. J.J. Wallace; Cpl. T.R. Walters Jr.

Enlisted Men (privates):

Jules Achais; Rosemond Achais; J.C. Anderson; Edward Aubin; Victoran Aubin; A.S. Aucoin; J.C. Aucoin; Thompson Babbitt; Buffington Babbin; Edward Babbin; F.C. Babin; Gilbert Babin; Tellesfore Babin; Camille Bouch; Van D. Breland; Hugh M. Brown; T. Josiah Brown; T.Z. Brown; William Brown; Moses Bryant; L.J. Campbell; Ambrose Cannon; Jacob Carpenter; D.S. Carson; William A. Carver; William Cook; Jesse Cooper; H.R. Crayton; Patrick Cullen; Henry Durbin; T.E.B. Edwards; J.A. Fairchilds; J.M. Fairchilds; Fred Fleurry; James R. Flood; William Forbes; William Glass Jr.; John Harvey; Philip Hernandez; J.L. Herrin; Hunter H. Humstock; Rufus Hopkins; Samuel J. Howard; John Indicut; William Indicut; J.W. Jones; W.A. Jones; William L. Jones; Joseph Lane; Achille Latil; Louis Latil; Samuel H. Lewis; J.B. Lloyd; W.W. Lloyd; S.A. Loflin; William B. Loflin; A.D. Lollin;


Fred Looser; Lewis Marble; Nathan Marchant; William Marchant; William Marson; Lewis Martin; Scott Martin; Ernest Martinez; Calvin McDonald; Rodolph McDonald; William McDonald; John McFarland; Robert McGinty; John McIntosh; Ruffin McLin; Thomas McLin; Joseph Millican; John Myers; T.A. Newsom; William W. Oldham; Orland Parrant; J.T. Pearson; Thomas Pearson; Anthony Pecora; J.E. Porrier; William A. Rawlins; C.E. Read; B.T. Reames; Frank Rivas; John Roddy; Finley Rosier; Samuel Shaffer; William Smiley; D.L. Smith; M. Spoerher; Hiram Stafford; John R. Stafford; Joseph R. Stafford; Henry Stammire; George Stephens; Philips Stephens; Otto Straube; Jackson Sullivan; William Teacle; Alfred Unsell; Levi Walker; Theodore Walters; W.J. Westbrook; Charles Westbrook; Charles Wheat; J.J. Wheat; William D. Wheat; William Wilson.

Company B, Baton Rouge Invincibles (East Baton Rouge)
Officers:
Captain T.J. Buffington (appointed srgeon 18 Sept. 1862); 1st Lt. B.F. Burnett (promoted to captain 18 Sept. 1862); 2nd Lt. Samuel Harbour; 2nd Lt. Z.R. Causey (KIA 5 Aug. 1862); 2nd Lt. S.E. Richardson.

Noncommissioned Officers:
Sgt. E.F. Davis; Sgt. A.J. Campbell; Sgt. A.D. Carpenter; Sgt. P. Thalheimer; Cpl. Gilbert Comeaux; Cpl. G.A. Pucket.


Enlisted Men (privates):
A.P. Allain; William C. Annis; Joseph Baham; James B. Ballard; J.T. Ballard; William Banks (captured 5 Aug. 1862); James Beck (WIA 5 Aug. 1862); John E. Beck; Gerald Bell; J.C. Bennett (WIA arm amputated); W.H. Bennett; Jacob Bott; Otave Boyer; J.P. Breland; Orile Broussard; J.F. Collins; J.C. Comeaux; J.J. Cotten (captured Amite River 26 June 1863); Eli Courtney (captured 5 Oct. 1864 Woodville, Miss.); Ed. Cousinard; W.W. Cowart; William S. David; James Davit; Augustus Deis (captured 21 May 1864 Ascension Parish); E.G. Delanne; M.M. Dixson (WIA groin 5 Aug. 1862); Emile Droz; Henry Droz Jr., drummer; Malcom Dykes; George Eckles; C.L. Edwards; Thomas Edwards; W.W. Edwards; Jesse Efferson; A.J. Fickling; Thomas Fields (deserted 5 Aug. 1862); Henry Ford; William R. Gil; Charles Grandpre; L.A. Harrel; John Henderson (captured 13 Dec. 1864 Ascension Parish); Joseph Henderson; McCajah Hendry; Theodale Henry (SWIA breast and back 5 Aug. 1862); Richard Hill; W.C. Irvin.


Joseph James; E.J. Kenner; Abraham Kirby (captured 5 Aug. 1862); W.C. Kleinpeter; Joseph Cambre (deserved Dec. 1862); Michael Lamb; Jules LeBlanc (WIA arm 5 Aug. 1862); J.B. Lee; Andrew Lesage; W.J. Loflin (deserted 26 Aug. 1864); J.G. Lothrop (deserted 16 Jan. 1865); J.M. Luster; J.B. Mack (captured 18 July 1864 Greenwell Springs); W.G. Maddox; W.S. Maddox; Robert P. McCrory (captured 25 Jan. 1864 Bayou Manchac); D.L. McElwee; Francis McShane; James McShane; David Miller; John Miller; J.A. Minton; Amand Miseroole; J.B. Newman; Sebron Nickens (captured 14 Oct. 1864 New River); William Nickens; H.B. Parker; Adolph Pecue; John B. Pecue; John Price; Frank Ramires; Jackson Ratcliff; D.M. Rheams; E.J. Rice; Henry Richardson; J.C. Roberts; John Roberts; John Roberts; W.Roberts Jr.; William Roberts; John Roughman; Anthony Sanchez (captured 11 Aug. 1864 Comite River); B.W. Sartwell (deserted 6 June 1864 Donaldsonville); William Sharp; Alfred Sheppard; B.B. Stokes; Lewis Stuckey; J.W. Syler; C.P. Taylor (deserted 18 Jan. 1865 Donaldsonville); C.O. Tibbets (captured 2 May 1863 Pontchatoula); Henry Turner (KIA 5 Aug. 1862); A.M. Underwood; M.J. Varnado; L.T. Watson; F.M. Watts; Peter Weiss; G.W. Westmoreland.
Total- 135; Killed in Action (KIA) 2; Wounded in Action (WIA)-5; Deserters-6.

Company C, Lemmon Guards ( East Baton Rouge Parish)
Officers:

Captain Bolling R. Chinn; 1st Lt. Alex Barrow; 2nd Lt. Alex Duralde, and 2nd Lt. John B. Kyse.

Noncommissioned Officers:
Cpl. Ira Addison, Cpl. B.W. Tucker.

Enlisted Men (privates):

James Addition; Richard Austin; J.W. Bales; J.J. Baley; G.W. Bankston; J.M. Bankston; S.J. Bankston; William Barrow; L.A. Bartholomew; Hanson Bennett; Hudson Bennett; W. Bennett; V. Bourgeois; ----- Bourk; Lawrence Clark; William Canton; Joseph P. Chapman; J.H. Cotten; S.J. Cotten; John W. Courtney; Martin Crehan; John Cross; J.F. Davidson; James Dimond; John Doherty; Patrick Dowd; Ernest Daigre; J.V. Duralde; Enos Eal; Wilson Erwin; William Faster; William A. Ganey; M.G. Gaulden; Richard Gautreau; David George; G.Wl. Gillium; William Hempsett; George Hoffman; Charles Howard; J.C. Howard; James Johnson; Arthur Judd; Michael Keefe; Lawrence Killduff; Louis Laruche; Charles Lawler; John Littleton; Thomas Loftus; Adrien Martinez; Josiah Martinez; H.E. Mathews; Henry Michel; John O'Connell; Robert O'Donnell; Thomas C. Patrick; A.J. Patterson; R.O. Pennington; Daniel Powers; J.H. Rice; Micajah Rice; Oscar Robichand; Charles Roche; Patrick Roche; Benjamin Rothe; Adolphus Rosseau; S. Rosseaux; Robert Shelton; William Shelton; L.C. Sowencen; J.A. Sprole; James Strickland; J. Tavnon; Hiram Taylor; L.J. Thompson; John Torpey; Charles Wagner; J.J. Wall; Thomas T. Wall; J. McWilliams, and George Zurr.

Company D, Caruthers Sharpshooters (Livingston Parish):
Officers:
Captain William D.L. McRae; 1st Lt. Alfred Bradley; 2nd Lt. W.W. Bankston, and 2nd Lt. William Jones.

Noncommissioned Officers:
1st Sgt. E.L. Bourgeois; Sgt. William Duncan; Sgt. L.P. Lobell; Sgt. William Tennent; Cpl. Edward Booth; Cpl. William H. Holden; Cpl. Henry Hoover, and Cpl. J.N. Smith.

Enlisted Men (privates):
R.M. Adams; William Addison; J.A. Allin; Joseph Andrews; John Baddo; Peter Baker; Spencer M. Bankston; Thomas Barton, deserted 21 May 1862; Peter Berthelote; Zenon Berthelote; T.C. Biship; Edward Bowling, deserted 21 May 1862; Henry Brignac; J.B.O. Brignac; Mathieu Brignac; John Brown; Joseph Borwn; Valsin Brown; Hugh Caldwell; William Caldwell; William Cunningham; Alphonse Deslatte; Florestant Deslatte, deserted 24 June 1863; Joseph Deslatte, captured 13 Dec. 1864 Ascension Parish; Robert Duncan; James Dunne, deserted 21 May 1862; Adam Dupuy; Alcide Dupuy; Ernest Dupuy; Eugene Dupuy; Peter Dupuy; L.J. Durbin; C.D. Evans; Anton Fletchinger; Cleophes Fontenot; Numa Fontenot; Abraham Gaiennie; E. Eugene Guitreau; Paul Guitreau; Volsin Guitreau; Z.D. Guitreau; Paul Halmick; W.H. Harper; James H. Harvey; R.R. Hayden; John Heide; Michael Heines; John Henns; John Herd; Aldolph Hoover; Ben Hoover; Joshua Jacobs; Burrell Johnson; Jules Killer; Justile Keller; O.H. Keller; Jones T. Kinchen; Preston T. Kinchen; W. Kindrick; Joseph Laiche; Marcelin Laiche; Antoine Lambert; John Lambert; Paul Lambert; John Lane; Julius Lange; John Lesslee; Frank Lobell; J.B. Lobell; L.M. Lobell; B.B. Lockart; Alphonse Mayer; Thomas Mayfield; James McCarroll; John McCorn; J.W. Mead; William Mitchell; Theodore Neppammner; John Ovedier; S.A. Parker; Francois Picou; J.B. Picou; William H. Pierce; F. Joseph Poche; Bertrant Robert; D.H. Robertson; William L. Robertson; J.S. Salasse; A.S. Scivicque; Charles Scivicque; Joel Shelton; A.B. Sibley; James P. Simeon; R. Spence; Edward Spink; James W. Tate; John Threaton; Z. Tucker; William Vaughn; Louis Vicknair; Paul Vicknair; Paul S. Vicknair; A.J. Vinyard; Eugne Vinyard; Henry Vinyard; Morris Waddle; Jacob Welch; Walter Weldon; George Wellman; James M. Wells; John Yokum, and Nicolas Yokum.
 




Monday, May 17, 2010

MEMORIES OF THE 125TH ANNIVERSARY REENACTMENT OF FIRST MANASSAS


Here I am, Mike Jones, in 1986, all ready for the 125th anniversary reenactment of the First Battle of Manassas. I got the uniform, Mississippi Rifle and bowie knife specially for my "Tiger Rifle" impression at the large scale reenactment of the first great battle of the War For Southern Independence.
(Photo by Susan Jones)

By Mike Jones

The 150th anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas, Virginia coming up next year has gotten me to thinking about the 125th anniversary event which I took part in on 19, 20 July 1986. It was a great event, one of the highlights of my entire life. What wonderful memories I have of that event. I took part in it with other reenactors from Louisiana, and we planned and organized probably a year in advance for it. Jim Walters, then of Shreveport, was our commander and did an outstanding job. Along with other reenactors from all over the nation, we portrayed the famous "Tiger Rifles" of Company B, 1st Special Battalion (Wheat's) Louisiana Volunteers.

We went all out preparing for the event, having authentic Tiger Rifles zouave uniforms specially made for the event. I even went to the extent of trading my 3-band 1853 British Enfield rifle for an 1841 Mississippi Rifle just so I'd have the exact type of firearm used by the Tigers in the actual battle. We also got 15 1/2 inch long bowie knives so we could accurately reenact the Tiger's famous charge that helped buy time for Confederate reinforcements coming up.

Here I am at the graves of  privates
Michael O'Brien and Dennis Corcoran
at the St. John's Episcopal Church and
Cemetery. 5649 Mount Gilead Road,
Centreville, Va. They were veterans of
The real battle. (Photo  by Susan Jones).
My wife Susan and I drove up from Louisiana on our own and had a great trip, seeing the sights on the way up and back. Susan made a period outfit for herself so she could spend time in camp with me without spoiling the authentic atmosphere for the other reenactors. We had two very small kids then who wouldn't have gotten much out of it anyway, so we left them with my parents. We got into the mood by visiting the Manassas battlefield and the graves of the two Tiger Rifles, Dennis Corcoran and Michael O'Brien, at the Old Anglican Church in Centreville, Va. The two Tigers were executed 9 December 1861 for having assaulted an officer. It was the first military execution in the Confederate Army up to that time.

The event was put on by The American Civil War Commemorative Committee and was very well planned and organized. We never had any problems. With temperatures in the mid-90s, there was plenty of water available and emergency assistance for heat casualties, of which there were said to be several hundred, according to news reports. There were 6,500 reenactors reported to have taken part, and 50,000 spectators. And what a spectacle it was. Tickets for spectators were $4 (or $3 in advance) for adults, $2 for students and seniors and free for under 6 with an adult.

I am on the right. I don't know who the other three
Tigers are. Besides our Louisiana contingent, I
believe we had others from Maryland, Virginia,
and California making up our unit.
(Photo by Susan Jones)
The reenactors came from all over the U.S. as well as England, Germany and Australia. Authenticity was emphasized, and there were serious authenticity inspections at the event. I remember being quite concerned about those inspections but I passed with flying colors. While in camp, the reenactors ate, slept and drilled as their ancestors did in 1861. The battle was very well planned and followed the maneuvers of the two armies in the first great battle of the South's war for independence.

The number of artillery pieces on the field were planned to be equal in number of those actually present in the battle, and I believe there were. There were also professional pyrotechnics used to simulate aerial bursts and in-ground shell explosions. There was also a mock up of the Henry house built on the reenactment battlefield, which was blown up as the real one was in the actual battle. At least eight of the cannons were fully horse-drawn and 1,500 rounds of artillery were fired in the battle. The infantry and cavalry fired 50,000 small arms rounds.

The "battlefield" was a 500-acre tract of land within Westfields, an 1,100 acre corporate office park development in western Fairfax County. It was located off Highway 28, between Interstate 66 and U.S. 50. The terrain was very similar to the original Manassas battlefield, which was five miles away. There was radio and television coverage of the event and a special 125th anniversary video was filmed, of which I still have a copy.

Here is my pass to get on the battlefield. Authenticity
standards were very strict and high for the event.
Since we were portraying the Tiger Rifles, known for their hi-jinks in camp, we did our best to emulate our Confederate forefathers. I recall we had a make-shift guardhouse and it was certainly kept occupied. I think some other units got quite upset with us, for real.

On Saturday, 19 July, camps were open to the public at 9 a.m. We had drilling, School of the Musician, a children's fair, and evening military tattoo. I can't remember what we ate, if it was provided or if we brought our own food. There was also a period gospel tent revival.

On Sunday, 20 July, the reenactment battle was held. We had church services and then the battle, which was held between 1 and 3:30 o'clock that afternoon. Being an ordinary soldier in the ranks, I wasn't privy to the planning, but I assume we were following the actions of the original Tiger Rifles on that fateful day in 1861. Wheat's Battalion was part of Col. Nathan "Shanks" Evans' short brigade made up of the Louisianians and the 4th South Carolina Infantry, and some cavalry and artillery. It was on the Confederate left. Commanding the Confederate army were generals Pierre Beauregard and Joseph E. Johnston.

The Union Army, under Gen. Irvin McDowell, planned to turn the Confederate left flank.. The only thing between the 20,000 bluecoats McDowell sent and disaster for the South, was Evans' short brigade of just 1,100 men. Seeing that he was being flanked, Evans led 900 men, including Wheat's Battalion, from the Stone Bridge where they were stationed to Matthew's Hill. In the reenactment, we too were brigaded with a group portraying the 4th South Carolina.




It was on Matthew's Hill that the Tiger Rifles expended their blood in a desperate holding action until reinforcements could get up. By firing their Mississippi Rifles and then charging with their bowie knifes, the Tigers and the South Carolinians managed to hold off the Yankee invaders of the sacred soil of Virginia long enough for Brig. Gen. Bernard Bee and Col. Francis Bartow to bring up 2,800 reinforcements. As we know, the battle continued for hours and it seemed the day was going to go to the North, but added reinforcements came on the field in a nick of time and the Federal Army was eventually  routed.

I just remember it being extremely hot and sweating like a pig. But we fired off dozens of rounds from our Mississippi Rifles, and got the thrill of doing our bowie knife charge. Of course at that stage of the war we fought under the First National flag of the Confederacy. The actual flag that was wrapped around Maj. Chatham Roberdeau Wheat when he was seriously wounded, is on display at Confederate Memorial Hall in New Orleans. It still has his blood stains on it. In the reenactment, I'm assuming we followed history pretty well. I loved everything about the event: the planning, the zouave uniforms, the attention to detail and authenticity and most of all honoring our ancestors and their great struggle for Southern Independence.

I would welcome any memories from others that took part in the 125th Anniversary Reenactment of the First Battle of Manassas, with either the North or the South. I'm glad I'm a Tiger Rifle (reenactor) veteran of that illustrious event. I feel I have a very special bond with the original Tiger Rifles. Deo Vindice!


Here is the Tiger Rifles camp at the reenactment. My beautiful wife Susan is seated in the tent at right. We've now been married for 40 years and she's always been a good sport about my reenactment hobby. She has even made some of my uniforms. (Photo by Mike Jones).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

150-Years-Ago: FLAG PRESENTED TO CREOLE GUARDS

[Exerpt from UT-Tyler Digital Archives]
DAILY GAZETTE & COMET [BATON ROUGE, LA], May 3, 1860, p. 2, c. 2


Presentation of a Flag to the Creole
Guards by the Young Ladies of Baton
Rouge.

Address of Miss Junia Burk.

Gentlemen:--It is with much pleasure I avail myself of the privilege which I enjoy of addressing you a few words on the present occasion, which we celebrate in your honor as a military corps. "The Creole Guards!" Your designation is well chosen. It is particularly the province of the creole youth of Louisiana to raise the national standard upon their native soil, and to see that it remains there firmly rooted in defence of the institutions of their country. We sincerely hope that these institutions will never be disputed, but if they are ever made the subject of a conflict we are persuaded, that this standard will be the first in front of the battle, waving proudly to the sound of hymns of freedom and glory. We look not upon this banner as the mere ornament of a pageant. It is the same that waved o'er our forefathers of the Revolution, and remains to us, with its additional trophies a glorious page which we learn lessons of patriotism and valor. With the thought that it was once our passport to freedom, what may it not attain for us now when strengthened in that good cause? It is yours, free-born men of Louisiana to plant it upon an eminence that the true and brave hearted whose voices stifled by party clamor may see at least that Liberty is true to her post, and the Eagle yet looks upon the sun.—You will conquer wherever this banner may lead, and your's [sic] will be the meed [sic] ever awarded to valor—"the smiles of the fair." If, on the contrary, the destiny of war decide against your corps, it will remain to tell where the brave have fallen, and songs of freedom will be sung in your praise! the loudest reverberation of your fame will be in the hearts of these for whom you fall and the monument erected to the memory of your deeds will be inscribed Excelsior!

Now while the gentle May-breeze comes sighing through these silken folds, arranged by the delicate hands of so many fair maidens, it seems that the spirit of chivalry decends [sic] to encourage the task you are prepared to undertake. Can aught but freedom be inhaled from the rose-scented air of our Sunny South? Does not the very ground which we tread, send forth the odor of Liberty rising in a burning column of incense far up through the blue ether of our glorious sky, "till we almost fancy that it ascends in sight of the celestial gates." Let the goal of your ambition be set as high, and in serried ranks, march on to its attainment—march on! with this applause of your fellow countrymen, the smiles of your countrywomen and the benediction of Heaven, march on—to Victory!

I now present you this banner, in the name of my companions, your welfare in the voluntary profession which you have assumed, and also the good will of all who boast themselves natives of the glorious State which I have the honor to represent.



Reply of Captain H. M. Pierce.


In the name of the Creole Guards, I thank the fair donors, whose representative you are, for this graceful and acceptable compliment. Ever, from the earliest dawn of civilization to our own times, one of the most potent incentives to man, to acts of goodness and greatness, has been the hope of deserving and obtaining the praise and love of woman. And she has ever been ready to bid him God speed on his errand, of charity, mercy, religion, patriotism and glory, her prayers attend him in the conflict, and her smiles of approbation are no mean element in the plaudits ever paid to triumphant worth.

The Creole Guards will always march with pride beneath the folds of this beautiful flag, the gift of the creole sisters.—Should our marches all be merry meetings in the times of peace, it will be a continual reminiscence to us of this bright day; of this delightful occasion; of these fair forms and radiant faces, and of these warm and true hearts, now throbbing in perfect harmony with love and devotion for our whole country, every part of which is so charmingly represented by yourselves.

Should we be called on to serve our country in the field, I know that among the inducements we will have to do our whole duty, and do it well, will be the recollections of this happy day and brilliant assemblage, and the hope of seeing you proud of the soldiers who fought under your flag.

[Editor's Note: The Creole Guards became Company A, 8th Louisiana Infantry Regiment, CSA.]

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Civil War Preservation Trust Releases Annual Report on Nation's Most Endangered Battlefields


For Immediate Release: 05/13/10
(Washington, D.C.) – The iconic Pennsylvania battlefield synonymous with American valor, now facing a second attempt to bring casino gambling to its doorstep; a Virginia crossroads where a single marching order set the Union army on the road to victory, now proposed for a monstrous commercial development; and a rocky Arizona spire where Confederate and Union forces fiercely faced off, now jeopardized by state budget cuts; are some of the nation’s most endangered Civil War battlefields.

At a news conference held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) unveiled its annual report on the status of the nation’s historic battlegrounds.  The report, entitled History Under Siege™: A Guide to America’s Most Endangered Civil War Battlefields, identifies the most threatened Civil War sites in the United States and what can be done to save them.

“All across the country, our nation’s irreplaceable battlefields – these tangible links to our shared history – are threatened by inappropriate development, misguided public policy, limited financial resources and, in some cases, simple apathy,” said CWPT President James Lighthizer at the report’s unveiling.  “Next year marks the Sesquicentennial of the bloodiest conflict in our nation’s history, and as we prepare for that seminal moment, it is an opportune time to shine a spotlight on the places that tell America’s story.”

Joining Lighthizer at the news conference was best-selling author Jeff Shaara, who also serves on the CWPT Board of Trustees.  The author of nine New York Times bestsellers, Shaara’s novels, including the Civil War-themed Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure, have been praised by historians for their painstaking research.  His  only non-fiction work, Jeff Shaara’s Civil War Battlefields,  is a unique and personal tour across ten of America’s most hallowed battlegrounds.  In testament to his commitment to historic preservation, Shaara donated the entire advance from the project toward battlefield protection efforts.

“Nothing creates an emotional connection between present and past like walking in the footsteps of our Civil War soldiers,” said Shaara.  “I hope that by drawing attention to endangered Civil War battlefields, Americans will this see hallowed ground in a new way and understand that these sites must be preserved for future generations to experience.”

Also taking the podium at the news conference was Dr. Mark Snell, director of the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War at Shepherd University.  A Civil War scholar and retired army officer, Snell was appointed to the West Virginia Sesquicentennial of the Civil War Commission last summer by Governor Joe Manchin, and was subsequently elected vice-chairman.

“Particularly on the eve of the Civil War’s 150th anniversary, there is no more fitting commemoration of American valor than respectfully protecting the land where our soldiers fought and bled,” said Snell.
For three days in the summer of 1863, 160,000 men in blue and gray fought the Civil War’s largest and bloodiest battle around the crossroads town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  In 2006, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board rejected a proposal to build a slots parlor near Gettysburg’s East Cavalry Field, citing widespread public opposition to the plan. However, earlier this year the same chief investor rolled the dice again and announced plans for another Gettysburg casino.  Although smaller than the previous proposal, this casino would be only one half-mile from Gettysburg National Military Park.

In May 1864, Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s bloody Overland Campaign began in a tangled mass of second-growth trees and scrub known as the Wildness, Virginia.  When portions of Grant’s army attacked elements of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s army on May 5, 1864, it was the first time the two legendary commanders met in battle.  In August 2009, the Orange County, Va. Board of Supervisors approved a massive commercial center featuring a Walmart and four retailers at the gateway to the historic battlefield.  A lawsuit to block the project is pending.

While most of the battles of the Civil War took place on southern soil, Confederate and Union forces engaged in their westernmost struggle at Picacho Peak, Arizona, on April 15, 1862.  Confederate Capt. Sherod Hunter raised his flag in the small, frontier settlement of Tucson, hoping to take another step toward the Pacific and the creation of an ocean-to-ocean Confederacy.  The Confederate rangers were met by a detachment of Union cavalry under the leadership of Lt. James Barrett near Picacho Peak, a rocky spire 50 miles northwest of Tucson.  Although Picacho Peak State Park is a popular tourist destination, it will close to the public on June 3, 2010, due to drastic cuts in the state budget – less than one year before the sesquicentennial of the war.


The Civil War Preservation Trust is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promoting appreciation of these hallowed grounds through education and heritage tourism.  History Under Siege is composed of two parts; one identifying the 10 most endangered battlefields in the nation, and a second section lists 15 additional “at risk” sites also confronted by serious threats.  Sites discussed in the report range from the famous to the nearly forgotten, but at least part of each site is in danger of being lost forever.  Battlefields were chosen based on geographic location, military significance, and the immediacy of current threats.
History Under Siege™ also includes:

Camp Allegheny, W.Va., December 13, 1861:  Early in the war, North and South both strove to gain control over the western counties of Virginia, meeting in a number of engagements among the peaks and valleys of the Appalachian Mountains.  Today, the scenic beauty of Camp Allegheny, West Virginia stands to be compromised by a field of 40-story-high wind turbines — 100 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty — to be built within view of the battlefield. 

Cedar Creek, Va., October 19, 1864:  In the fall of 1864, Union Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan marched up the fertile Shenandoah Valley, stripping the countryside bare to starve out Confederate forces.  After a daring Confederate surprise attack at Cedar Creek, Union forces launched a crushing counterattack, extinguishing the South’s last hope of recovering the Valley.  In 2008, the Frederick County Board of Supervisors approved a massive expansion of the mine operating adjacent to Cedar Creek, which would destroy nearly 400 acres of battlefield land crucial to telling the story of this decisive struggle.

Fort Stevens, Washington, D.C., July 11–12, 1864:  Fort Stevens was part of an extensive ring of fortifications surrounding Civil War Washington, but in July 1864 those defenses were vulnerable to a direct attack by Confederate forces under Lt. Gen. Jubal Early.  President Abraham Lincoln, watching the action from Fort Stevens, came under fire from sharpshooters.  Last year, a church adjacent to the fort applied for a zoning exemption to build an immense community center complex.  The new construction would tower over the fort, significantly degrading the visitor experience.

Pickett’s Mill, Ga., May 27, 1864:  The Battle of Pickett’s Mill was one of the most stinging Union defeats of the 1864 Atlanta Campaign and the first serious check on Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s momentous campaign against this Confederate transportation center.  Although Pickett’s Mill Battlefield State Historic Site is widely regarded as thoroughly preserved and interpreted, the park was forced to reduce its hours significantly due to budget cuts, and last autumn it was inundated by floodwaters that destroyed footbridges and a portion of the historic mill.

Richmond, Ky., August 29–30, 1862:  Confederate Maj. Gen. Kirby Smith’s newly-dubbed “Army of Kentucky”—a bearded, shoeless band of rebel soldiers — marched north in the soaring heat of August 1862 and encountered a hastily-formed Union force led by Maj. Gen. William Nelson.  The ensuing battle became one of the most decisive Confederate victories of the Civil War.  Although the battlefield has been well protected to date, future preservation efforts will be complicated by the addition of a new highway interchange, paving the way for significant commercial growth in an area that has previously experienced little development pressure.

South Mountain, Md., September 14, 1862:  In early September 1862, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee launched an audacious invasion of the North.  But when a copy of his orders was discovered by Union soldiers in a field, wrapped around cigars, federal commanders were able to move quickly against the vulnerable Confederates at the Battle of South Mountain.  In December 2008, Dominion Power purchased 135 acres of battlefield land for a proposed $55 million natural gas compression station, a plan that has been subsequently suspended with an option to re-file.

Thoroughfare Gap, Va. August 28, 1862:  Although a relatively small engagement, the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap was of immense strategic significance, setting the stage for the battles of Second Manassas and, ultimately, Antietam.  In February, consultants began seeking comments from the preservation community regarding a proposal to build a 150-foot-tall communications tower within the core battlefield area at Thoroughfare Gap.  Although construction of Interstate 66 in the 1960s saw portions of the mountain gap widened, the area retains much of its rural, scenic beauty.

With 55,000 members, CWPT is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States.  Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds.  CWPT has preserved more than 29,000 acres of battlefield land across the nation. CWPT’s website is www.civilwar.org.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

LIVING HISTORY AT ALEXANDRE MOUTON HOUSE

Alexandre Mouton House,
Lafaytte, Louisiana
(Photo by Mike Jones)
By Mike Jones
     A excellent living history demonstation by reenactors of the War For Southern Independence was held at the Alexandre Mouton House in Lafayette Saturday, May 8. The host reenactment unit was the Pelican Artillery, and was supported by the 18th Louisiana Infantry/114th New York Infantry as well as a number of individual reenactors who did speciality impressions.

Brig. Gen. Alfred Mouton
(Alexandre Mouton House)
     The house was the home of Gov. Alexandre Mouton (1804-1885), who also served as a state legislator and Speaker of the House of Representatives, and as U.S. Senator. Mouton was also president of the Louisiana Secession Convention. During the  War For Southern Independence, the Northern invaders seized his plantation and used his house as their headquarters. His son, Alfred, was a Confederate general, and lost his life in the Battle of Mansfield, La. on 8 April 1864.
    Among the displays in the house are several pictures of General Mouton and the general's sword. There is also a signed copy of the Louisiana Ordinance of Secession.
    At the living history demonstration, a full size artillery piece and caisson were on display. Infantry re-enactors give demonstrations of military drills, marching and firing procedure. Mrs. Susan Jones played traditional Southern songs on her viola in the music rooms. Other specialty impressions included Fred Adolphus as a Confederate officer; Jason Thibodeaux and Larry Young as civilian northerners and Michael Jones as a zouave soldier with Company B (Tiger Rifles) of the 1st Special Battalion, Louisiana volunteers, among others.

Capt. Cory Bonin,left, of the 18th Louisiana Infantry put his
unit through its paces at the Mouton house living history.

Mrs. Susan Jones playing traditional Southern music in the music room of the Mouton house.


Michael Jones portraying a member of Company B, 1st Special Battalion, Louisiana Infantry at the Mouton house living history demonstration.


The Confederate Battle-flag -- Long may it wave!


The 10-pounder Parrott rifle of the Pelican Battery
Louisiana Light Artillery.

(All the above photos by Mike Jones and Susan Jones)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Port Hudson: The Longest Siege in American Military History

Port Hudson Confederate Soldier's
Monument (Photo by Mike Jones)

   By Mike Jones
   At about 11 p.m. March 14, 1863 on the Mississippi River at the Confederate bastion of Port Hudson, Louisiana ,a rocket flashed, bonfires on the west bank flared and a tremendous bombardment of heavy artillery lit the night skies when Union Admiral David G. Farragut's fleet of seven warships was discovered trying pass the powerful Southern fortifications.
     Farragut had hoped he could pass the enemy garrison before his ships were discovered on the moonless night. But alert pickets of Maj. Gen. Franklin Gardner's command detected the movement in the river and alerted the gray-clad gunners on the east bank, as the bonfires illuminated the Yankee vessels.
   While Farragut had 95 heavy guns, his wooden ships were very vulnerable to the crack Confederate batteries.
   "Heavy shells were falling fast and thick. It seemed as if the whole heavens were ablaze with thunder and lightning," a witness said.
   The artillery duel continued until about 2 a.m. and when it ended, only two Yankee ships managed to pass, including Farragut's flagship, Hartford., and the Albatross.
   Farragut had lashed his ships together  by twos to make the dangerous passage, except for one ship.
   That one was the U.S.S. Mississippi  which was destroyed by its own crew when it went aground on a mud flat. In all, Union forces lost 121 men killed and wounded.
   In Port Hudson: Confederate Bastion on the Mississippi  (Baton Rouge, LSU Press, 1987), the author, Lawrence Lee Hewitt, said the opening battle of the campaign was a complete Confederate victory.
   “Contemporaries and historians have labeled the passage a tactical failure and not because of Confederate gunfire. Yet they also generally described it as an important strategic victory. The failure of five out of seven vessels to pass the batteries confirms the first conclusion, but the Confederate gunners deserve the credit,” Hewitt wrote.
   Hewitt concludes, “No evidence supports the conclusion that Farragut’s passage was an important strategic victory. The admiral could have achieved such a triumph only by forcing the Confederates to evacuate.”
   That spectacular night battle on the river marked the beginning of one of the most momentous campaigns in military history.
   Among young officers serving in the campaign who would later become famous were George Dewey, then a lieutenant on the Mississippi  and later an admiral and hero of the Spanish-American War; and Edward Douglas White, then a junior officer on General Gardners staff and later Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
      Port Hudson was the southern anchor of the South's control of the Mississippi River. About 150 miles to the north, at Vicksburg, Miss., the "Confederate Gibraltar," Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was maneuvering against the northern anchor.
   As long as the Confederacy controlled that stretch of the river, the South benefited from the vast reserves of supplies and manpower in the Trans-Mississippi.
   For the North, gaining unfettered control of the river would divide the Confederacy in two, deny those war supplies to the South, and reopen the river to Mid-Western commerce.
     The terrain along the east bank of the Mississippi River was perfect for the defenders. It was laced with natural ravines which were incorporated into the defensive perimeter by skilled Confederate engineers.
   Earthworks were constructed that were virtually impregnable. Such names for the Confederate strong points along the four-and-a-half mile defensive line as Commissary Hill, Fort Desperate, the Priest Cap, Slaughter's Field and the Citadel have become forever etched in the pages of the history of the War for Southern Independence.
   The Confederate garrison of roughly 6,800 troops from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and a detachment from Texas faced  30,000 Mid-Westerners, New Yorkers and New Englanders under the command of Union Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks, who was one of many of Lincoln's political generals.
   Banks had made a faint toward Port Hudson on March 14 as Farragut's ill-fated river passage was attempted.
   In April, Banks' 19th Corps campaigned west of Port Hudson driving the Confederate Army of Western Louisiana from Bayou Teche and then captured Alexandria in the middle of the state.
   The Northern invaders then turned and attacked Port Hudson from the north, south and east. The Yankee fleet sealed off the Confederate garrison and the 48-day siege officially began May 23, 1863.
Maj. Gen. Franklin Gardner
(Library of Congress)
Gardner had been ordered to evacuate, but was trapped inside Port Hudson before he could carry out the order.
   The scorching Louisiana summer made the siege a particularly grueling ordeal for both sides. The heat and insects took a heavy toll of the besieging federals.
   Banks launched his first fatal assault on the garrison May 27, 1863 but poor communications made the attack an exercise in futility.
   The attacks were supposed to be at the same time all along the line to prevent the Confederates from shifting troops around.
   However vague orders, the difficult terrain and uncooperative subordinates resulted in an attack carried out in piecemeal fashion and which was easily turned back at every point by the South’s gallant defenders.
   On the north end of the line, the Confederates handily turned back assaults on Commissary Hill and Fort Desperate and along the Telegraph Road.
   A delay in the attack on the south end enabled the Southerners to redeploy forces there in time to repulse the federal attack across the aptly named Slaughter's Field and against the Priest Cap.

L. Cormier, Boone's Battery, Louisiana
Artillery. (Port Hudson Historic Site)                          
   The attack on May 27 was also momentous because it marked the first large-scale use of black Union troops in the war.
   Although the Northern press used the event for propaganda purposes, the black troops, belonging to the First and Third Louisiana Native Guards, suffered heavy casualties when they advanced across open ground against the strongly fortified position held by the 39th Mississippi Infantry.
   The day was a disaster for the North. The invaders lost almost 2,000 killed and wounded while the Confederates lost fewer than 275 casualties.
   Regrouping, Banks ordered a relentless bombardment of the defensive line and sharpshooters for both sides made Port Hudson an extremely dangerous place.
   The Yankees received reinforcements June 13, and Banks demanded Gardner's surrender. However the New York born Confederate commander replied, "My duty requires me to defend this position, and therefore I decline."
   Banks’ next move was an artillery barrage and he ordered another massive assault on the morning of June 14.
   The invaders primary target was the Priest Cap in the middle of the Confederate line. The blue-coated infantry set out at 4 a.m. against the strong position but the Southern defenders repulsed assault after assault.
   The ground was littered with hundreds of dead and wounded Mid-Westerners, New Yorkers and New Englanders.
   Banks gave up the attempt by noon, after suffering 203 killed, 1,401 wounded and 188 missing out of the 6,000 Yankee attackers.
   The Confederates had 3,750 men defending the Priest Cap and their casualties were comparatively few, including 22 killed and 25 wounded.
   The ordeal continued in the miserable heat and nightmarish landscape made even more hideous by  death and the battle scarred ground.
   Inside Confederate lines, the food situation was becoming critical and the Southerners were reduced to eating rats and mules.
    The Union sappers and miners continued digging zig-zag trenches ever closer to the Confederate line. They were also digging tunnels, which they planned to pack with explosives, under the Priest Cap and Citadel in hopes of blowing huge gaps in the Southern defenses.
   However before that could happen, events at Vicksburg sealed Port Hudson's fate. The larger garrison surrendered July 4, making Port Hudson's position untenable.
   When Gardner learned of the surrender of Vicksburg on July 7, he asked Banks to negotiate terms for ending the siege. On July 9, the Confederates grounded arms, thus ending the longest true siege in American military history.
   Besides carrying out one of the most valiant defenses of the war, the  Confederates tied up nearly 40,000 Union soldiers for two months. Southern casualties included 750 killed and wounded, while another 250 died of disease.
   For the North, victory came at a tremendous price. The federals lost nearly 10,000 men from battle death, dead of disease (including sun stroke) and wounded.
   Today, the Mississippi River, which changed course in the 19th Century, is no where to be seen. The northern end of the Confederate battle lines are well preserved in Port Hudson State Commemorative Area.
   However, the south end of the battlefield has been drastically altered due to industrial and residential developments.
   The Port Hudson battlefield in 1974 was designated as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
   The commemorative park has six miles of walking trails winding around and through original trenches and fortifications. There is an outstanding interpretive center with displays of historic artifacts from the siege, photographs of participants, an audio-visual program and a computerized data bank of every man in the garrison.
   Port Hudson State Commemorative Area is located on U.S. Highway 61, 15 miles north of Baton Rouge.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

SECESSION CRISIS LED TO CAMP MOORE FORMATION

      Camp Moore in Tangipahoa, La. was the largest Confederate training facility in Louisiana during the War For Southern Independence.  Today, it is being well cared for by dedicated preservationists as a historic site, museum and cemetery of wartime dead.
      Wayne Cosby, a longtime preservationist of Camp Moore and Sons of Confederate Veterans member, recently gave a chronological history of the events in Louisiana that to the formation of Camp Moore at the Louisiana Division, SCV, reunion in Hammond.
      He said when word reached Louisiana that South Carolina seceded from the Union 20 Dec. 1860, a specially designed Pelican flag was flown from the window of the Southern Rights Association in New Orleans. The flag reportedly had white field, red star in the center with a pelican feeding her young in the center of that.
                                                                                                                              Gov. T.O. Moore
    Then on 9 January 1861, he noted that Governor Thomas Overton Moore ordered the U.S. Arsenal in Baton Rouge seized by state militia forces. This was done without bloodshed. He said Moore then had the forts seized around New Orleans, also without bloodshed.
     On 26 January 1861, Louisiana seceded from the Union and a Pelican flag was raised in the state's capital city of Baton Rouge, Cosby noted.
     Beginning 8 March 1861, he said Confederate Secretary of War Leroy Pope began a long exchange of confusing orders with regards to the length of service of volunteers to the Confederate Army. Most volunteers wanted to enlist for 12 months, but  the Confederate central government changed that to "for the war," which many were not willing to volunteer for because it was so indefinite.
     This led to a disbandment of many 12 months units and considerable  confusion, Cosby said.                                                                                           
     Also the Confederate government began asking for an increasingly large number of volunteers from the state, which governor's such as Moore were responsible for raising, equipping and training at the expense of the state, until they were called into Confederate service.
     On 22 April 1861, Cosby said Camp Walker was formed at the Metairie horse racing track. Recruits congregated at Camp Walker but it had no suitable source of water for the large number of men gathering there. He said the regiments were formed by gatherings of company level officers who would decide what regiment to join and then the men of the regiment could elect their colonels, lieutenant colonels and majors.
     Some of the officers from the 4th Louisiana Infantry went looking for a more suitable training camp site and found it at what became Camp Moore in Tangipahoa, located about 80 miles north of New Orleans on the railroad between New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi. The camp opened 14 May 1861 and was named in honor of Gov. Moore.
      The first man to die at Camp Moore was Bill Douglas of Wheat's Special Battalion, Louisiana Infantry, in a railroad accident, he said.  Most early war Louisiana regiments were then formed and equipped and received some training at Camp Moore before being shipped out to the various fighting fronts of the war. Cosby said that from late 1862 onward, Camp Moore was mainly a conscript camp.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

JINDAL REBUKED BY LA. DIV. SCV

Louisiana Division Color Guard
By  Mike Jones
     HAMMOND, La. -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was officially "rebuked" by the Louisiana Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, at it annual reunion Saturday, May 1, at the Quality Inn.
     The resolution noted the governor had refused for two years in a row to proclaim April as Confederate History Month, in spite of it being a tradition that was followed by both of his predecessors, Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, and Gov. Mike Foster, a Republican. Jindal is also a Republican.
     The SCV is a nonpartisan, nonpolitical organization that endorses neither political parties nor political candidates. A number of other Southern governors have made proclamations similar to the one Jindal refused, including those of Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee and Georgia.
David Hill, La. Div. Commander-elect
(Photo by Mike Jones)
      In other business, the group also elected officers for 2010 through 2012. Elected were David Hill, commander, Gen. Richard Taylor Camp 1308, Shreveport, ; Ted Brode, first lieutenant commander, Maj. Thomas Maguire Camp 1714, West Monroe; and Kevin Adkins, second lieutenant commander, Lt. Elijah H. Ward Camp 1971, Farmerville.  Elected brigade commanders were George Gremillion, southwest brigade, Brig. Gen. J.J. Alfred Mouton Camp 778, Opelousas; Thomas Taylor, northeast brigade, Capt. Thomas O. Benton Camp 1444, Monroe; Chip Landry, southeast brigade, Henry Watkins Allen Camp 144, Baton Rouge; and Scott Summers, northwest brigade, Gen. Richard Taylor Camp 1308, Shreveport.
     The convention also voted to select a design for a silver commemorative coin for the Sesquicentennial of the War for Southern Independence. Selected for the front was an image of Judah Benjamin, secretary of state, secetary of war and attorney general of the Confederacy. Benjamin was also U.S. senator from Louisiana before the war. In addition, an image of a Louisiana pelican selected for the back of the coin.
     Other actions by the convention included recommending Michael Givens of South Carolina for the position of commander-in-chief of the SCV, at its upcoming national reunion in Anderson, South Carolina. The Louisiana Division also voted to endorse Paul Gramling of Shreveport as lieutenant commander of the SCV at the national reunion. It was noted that Charles Kelly Barrow of Georgia is also a candidate for the position of lieutenant commander.
     In addition, Todd Owens, former Louisiana Division commander and the current Army of Trans-Mississippi commander, is running for the office of Army of Trans-Mississippi councilman.
Wayne Cosby, luncheon speaker.
(Photo by Mike Jones)
     Wayne Cosby of was the luncheon speaker Saturday. He spoke about the early actions of 1860-61, which led to the creation of Camp Moore training camp at Tangipahoa. Jim Morris Perrin was the speaker at the Saturday night awards banquet. He spoke on the military operations along the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern railroads.
     The only amendment to the Louisiana Division constitution was to abolish the central brigade and consolidate it into the four other brigades. The action was reportedly taken because of a reduction in the number of camps and members in the central brigade.
     The division donated $500 to the annual "Run for the Wall" event. Additionally, attendees at the convention donated over $300 to the effort. The event is a cross-country motorcycle trip to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. One of the stops is Monroe, La. where the cyclists are treated to a fried fish dinner, gumbo and Southern Confederate hospitality.
     Various attacks on Confederate heritage were discussed. Former Louisiana Division Commander Chuck Morris said the University of Mississippi "Ole Miss," has now banned all Confederate symbolism. He said when he attended that school, Confederate flags were prominently displayed everywhere and the song "Dixie" was played so often by the school band, he became  tired of it. He said license plates with the Confederate flag and an image of "Colonel Rebel" are still available at the Beauvoir gift shop in Biloxi. Scott Summers, a former member of Kappa Alpha Order, formerly proud of its "Old South" heritage and connection with Robert E. Lee, has now banned Confederate uniforms and Old South celebrations nationwide.  
     Compatriot Kerry Cooley encouraged members to request legislative proclamations from their state representative or state senator honoring a former Confederate who was prominent in their area. These official proclamations could become part of a Sesquicentennial book.