Friday, October 19, 2012

150-Years-Ago -- Situation in Louisiana in October, 1862

[Excerpted from General Mouton's Regiment: The 18th Louisiana Infantry by Michael Dan Jones

         The Federals were clearly  not concerned with winning the hearts and minds of the Southern people. The Union soldiers rampaged through the town [Donaldsonville, La.] destroying buildings that had not already been destroyed by an earlier Federal raid. The previous atrocity against innocent civilians was an act of retaliation for attacks on Union gunboats by Confederate partisan rangers operating in the area. Rear Admiral Daivd Glasgow Farragut was the Union officer that ordered these attacks on civilians. In that raid the people evacuated the town August 9, 1862, then U. S. Navy gunboats shelled the village for several hours before Northern arsonists torched all the major buildings of Donaldsonville, including warehouses, hotels, and plantations above and below the town. Even St. Vincent's Catholic Institute was destroyed by the shelling. The supervisor of the school, Sister Clara, sent a letter of protest to General Butler in New Orleans, and received an apology. Later, September 11, 1862, Lieutenant F.A. Roe, commander of the U. S. Gunboat  Katahdin, asked his commander, Commodore Henry Morris, to be relieved from duty because of the atrocities being committed by United States soldiers. He wrote that the actions of Federal soldiers were "disgraceful and humiliating." Roe added that he didn't want to be put in the position of guarding troops engaged in such acts against civilians. He said the soldiers treated civilians brutally, were drunk, undisciplined and licentious.
This was the situation and atmosphere that the men of the 18th Louisiana Infantry found themselves in when they returned to their home state. By October 27, [Brig. Gen. Godfrey] Weitzel was advancing down both banks of Bayou Lafourche. He brought barges that could be used as floating pontoon bridges to shift troops from one bank to another. Mouton, who  was laid up by an attack of rheumatism in the home  of P. Cox Lonsdale, decided to make a stand with his outnumbered force at Georgia's Landing, a couple of miles north of the town of Labadieville. He turned over command of the brigade to Colonel Armant.  Grisamore noted the morning of the 27th that sugar cane was frozen to the ground. The position chosen for the Confederate stand was in front of Wynn's Woods on the west bank of the bayou, which would give them cover and the Northerners had to advance across an open field. The Confederate right was anchored by the bayou and the left by a marais (swamp). They were posted along the Texas Road in a drainage ditch. From right to left were posted Ralston's Battery, the Crescent Regiment, the 18th Louisiana and the Terrebonne Militia.

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