Sunday, April 14, 2013


[Excerpted from "General Mouton's Regiment, the 18th Louisiana Infantry" by Michael Dan Jones,, ]

April 13, 1863

Brig. Gen. Alfred Mouton
           The cannon fire began at exactly seven minutes past 11 o'clock that morning and at 2 o'clock that afternoon enemy gunboats were seen steaming past them on Grand Lake. The intermittent firing continued until 4 o'clock when a furious artillery duel was commenced by the two contending forces. "Cornay, with the St. Mary's Artillery, maddened at the sight of the enemy standing upon his own homestead with their batteries planted upon the playground of his children, sent forth shell after shell, filling the air with their peculiar and indescribable music," [Maj. Silas)  Grisamore said.
            General  [Alfred] Mouton set up his command post on the left in the redoubt where he could get the best view of the enemy's movements. Mouton, along with Colonel Bush and his aides braved the missiles of death that went zipping by them  as the battle progressed. "Gen. Mouton was standing patiently, scrutinizing with his glass every movement in the front," Grisamore recalled. General [Richard] Taylor was viewing the battle on the  Confederate right. "Weitzel and Emory came in sight of our lines before nightfall, threw forward skirmishers, opened guns at long range, and bivouacked; and  our scouts reported the movement on the  lake," Taylor said.
          On  the Confederate left, [Union Col. Oliver] Gooding prepared his brigade for a major assault against Mouton's line at about 2:30 o'clock that afternoon. He was reinforced by two more regiments and the 1st Maine Battery. He advanced the 38th Massachusetts Infantry as skirmishers and deployed the 53rd Massachusetts as the backup line of skirmishers. His main battle line consisted of the 31st Massachusetts, at the right and rear of the right section of the 1st Maine Battery, the 175th New York Infantry to the left rear of the left section of  the battery,  and the 156th New York Infantry on the extreme right in the woods. He also had a detachment of the Louisiana Cavalry (Union) in the rear as a reserve. Gooding then ordered the advance at 3:15 p.m. and hit the Confederates with everything he had. Facing them were the Yellow Jacket Battalion, Crescent Regiment and the 18th Louisiana on the  Confederate left, with [Col. Arthur] Bagby's Texans in the advance post in the woods. The firing was brisk from both sides, first from the 38th Massachusetts and when its ammunition was expended, then the 53rd Massachusetts came up at 5 o'clock and kept up the firing.

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        At about that same time Gooding ordered the 31st Massachusetts to support the 156th New York in the woods on the Federal right, and the Confederate left began to crumble. Mouton then sent the entire left wing of the 18th Louisiana, along with a detachment of Waller's battalion from the west bank, to reinforce Bagby for what became intense combat in the woods. "The enemy threatening to storm our works, our men fixed bayonets and resolutely prepared to meet and dispute with them to the death the possession of the intrenchments [sic]. They, however, although they could easily have borne us down by superiority of numbers, dared not expose themselves to a hand-to-hand conflict.," Mouton said. By contrast, Gooding said, "The Thirty-first Massachusetts. . . charged and carried a breastwork of the enemy in the wood in front of our right, killing many of the enemy and capturing 86 prisoners, among the latter two lieutenants of the Seventh Texas Cavalry and one of the Eighteenth Louisiana Infantry." The breastworks he was talking  about was the advance line of Bagby in the woods. The lieutenant of the 18th Louisiana captured was either 2nd Lieutenant Lavince Becnel or 1st Lieutenant Louis Becnel.
          On the Confederate right, on the west side of the bayou, Taylor said the fighting was also furious there also, and to bolster the  morale of the troops, some of whom were raw recruits, he mounted the breastwork and walked up and down smoking a cigarette. The heaviest fire was concentrated on the Diana, which became disabled. The gunboat had to be withdrawn for repairs. Taylor kept in contact with Mouton through his staff officers. After the firing ceased for the day, at 9 o'clock that night, he was informed by Colonel Reily that the enemy had landed at Hutchin's Point in full force but had not yet reached Franklin. He said he knew then that he would have to evacuate Bisland. He ordered Mouton to begin preparing for the evacuation of the east bank and Green's regiment would act as the rear guard.

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