Monday, July 27, 2015


Color Sergeant Joseph C. LeBleu of Co. K,
10th La. Inf. He carried the regimental
battleflag in the bloody Battle of Malvern
Hill, July 1, 1862. His flag staff was shot in two
but he survived the battle and the war.
(Photo courtesy of Dan Jones)
[Excerpted from the Southwest Louisiana Biographical and Historical, 1892]
JOSEPH C. LeBLEU, Lake Charles.—Joseph C. LeBleu, one of the pioneer planters of Calcasieu parish, who resides at English Bayou, Ward 3, is a native of the parish, born April 8, 1841. He is the son of Arsine and Eliza (Milhomme) LeBleu, natives of Louisiana, born 1783 and 1800, respectively. Arsine LeBleu emigrated to California in 1849l; he died in Sacramento in 1850. His wife died in 1883. By occupation Arsine LeBleu was a planter and stock raiser.
                Our subject is the youngest of a family of eight children, two of whom are now living. Mr. LeBleu spent his youthful days in Calcasieu parish. At the beginning of the civil struggle he entered Company K, 10th Louisiana Regiment [Ed. Note: the original story mistakenly gave his unit as the 18th La. Inf.], under Captain A.B. [Actually William H.] Spencer. He was in the battles of Williamsburg, Seven Pines, [In the 10th La. Inf.] Mansfield, Pleasant Hill, [In the 7th La. Cav.] and numerous other minor engagements. He was paroled at  Natchitoches, Louisiana. After the war he returned home and resumed farming, which he has closely followed ever since. He owns a good plantation where he resides, and upon which he raises, principally, rice. He is president of the Lake Charles Farmer’s Union, 587, and was the organizer of the Union in Calcasieu parish. Mr. LeBleu was married, in 1867, to Leoneze [Laonaise] Hebert, a native of Louisiana. They are the parents of ten children, five sons and five daughters, six of whom are living: Beatrice (widow of Arthur Rosteet), Grace (wife of J.W. Rosteet), Polignac, Evelina, Farrel and Ella.
[Excerpted from the Lake  Charles Daily Press Special Edition, 1895]
      When the war drum sounded, Mr. LeBleu and fourteen other young men in the neighborhood came at once to Lake Charles and started toward the front. At Opelousas they joined a company being organized by Capt. W.H. Spencer, which became connected with the 10th Louisiana Volunteer Infantry.
      He served with this regiment for two years in Virginia, when he was transferred to the 7th Louisiana Volunteer Cavalry, serving for the remainder of the war in the South.
      Since the war Mr. LeBleu has held a number of official positions, among them chief constable of the parish until that office was abolished, and he is at present a member of the police jury from the third ward.

[Obituary of Joseph C. LeBleu, Lake Charles Daily American Press, Saturday, Nov. 7, 1914]
     A most distinguished and venerable figure strongly associated with Calcasieu history and Calcasieu up-building, passed from human ken last night when Major Joseph C. LeBleu, president of the police jury and son of Calcasieu’s pioneer settler, passed away at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Henry Little in Seventh street. For the past few years, Major LeBleu has been in failing health, but his energy and strong will triumphed for weeks over the ravages of his ailment. Some weeks ago he came from Chloe to that of his daughter to be in better reach of his physician and here last evening about six o’clock the end came.
      The funeral will take place from the Church of the Immaculate Conception Monday afternoon at 3 o’clock. Interment will be at the Catholic cemetery on Common street. The funeral will be attended by Calcasieu Camp, United Confederate Veterans and Calcasieu council, Knights of Columbus in a body, and by a host of people prominent in public and civic life.
      Joseph C. LeBleu was born April 8, 1841, the youngest of eight children of Arsene LeBleu and Eliza Milhomme, at the old LeBleu homestead east of Lake Charles. His father, Arsene LeBleu, was born in 1787 and was the first settler in Calcasieu east of the river. He made his home on the prairie east of Lake Charles over a hundred years ago, and in this locality Major LeBleu was reared to manhood and spent his whole life. His father was attracted by the California gold discovery in 1849 and was one of the first to cross the plains to the new El Dorado, but did not live to return. He died in Sacramento in 1850. His mother died in 1883, aged 83 years.
      When the war between the state broke out, Major LeBleu enlisted in Co. K, Eighteenth [10th]  Louisiana, and served throughout the war, participating in the battles of Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Mansfield and other engagements. He was mustered out at Natchitoches and returning to the old home, took up residence on the home farm east of Lake Charles where the rest of his life was spent. He was one of the organizers of the Farmers’ union in Calcasieu parish in the 70’s and served as president of the local organization. Eleven years ago he organized the LeBleu Rangers, a troop of cavalry in the Louisiana National Guard, which at that time had no unit in western Louisiana, and officiated as its commander and later as major commanding the cavalry force of the state national guard. Thanks to the interest aroused by his initiative, several other national guard commands were formed later in western Louisiana.
       Major LeBleu was elected a member of the Calcasieu parish police jury in 1888 and served twenty years in that capacity until 1908 when his precarious state of health forced him to retire for a time from public affairs. He was re-elected in 1912. During most of his service he was president of the governing body of the parish and was always a worker for the public improvements which have made this parish pre-eminent throughout the state.
      Mr. LeBleu was married to Leoneze [Laonaise] Hebert who survives him, with five of the ten children. The surviving children are Mrs. Grace Rosteet, Mrs. Beatrice Richard, Mrs. Evalena Little, Mrs. Aarons and Mr. P.D. LeBleu.
Other Historical Notes:

        According to LeBleu’s military service record, he was appointed color-bearer of the 10th Louisiana Infantry 1 Sept. 1861. He carried the regimental battle flag in the Battle of Malvern Hill, July 1, 1862, one of the bloodiest battles in the War for Southern Independence. Lt. Edward A. Seton of his company, wrote that LeBleu’s flag staff was shot in two during the charge, but the color sergeant was miraculously not wounded. The 10th Louisiana was the only Confederate regiment to penetrate the Federal line and temporarily captured 10 Yankee cannons. When the regiment was not reinforced, they were driven back by a powerful Yankee counterattack. His record also states, “Deserted his regiment and joined the Confederate cavalry.” LeBleu later explained he was home on furlough when Vicksburg fell and couldn’t return to Virginia. He then joined the 7th Louisiana Cavalry with the rank of second lieutenant and fought in the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill in the Red River Campaign. The 7th Louisiana Cavalry also helped eradicate Jayhawkers in Southwest Louisiana, who were terrorizing the population. During the Spanish-American War, he raised a cavalry unit, called the LeBleu Rangers, serving as the major, in the Louisiana State Militia. He was an active charter member of Calcasieu Camp No. 62, United Confederate Veterans, and organized the first Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp in Calcasieu Parish in his police jury office in 1911. Joseph Camarsac LeBleu died Nov. 6, 1914 and is buried in the Old Catholic Cemetery in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Charge of the 10th Louisiana Infantry at the Battle of Malvern Hill, Va., July 1, 1862.

[The below story is excerpted from Confederate States Rangers of the 10th Liouisiana Infantry by Michael Dan Jones, 2014. The Battle of Malvern Hill, Va. was the final one of the Seven Days Battles, which halted and drove away Major  General George B. McClellan's Federal Army of the Potomac from the doorsteps of Richmond.]

When [Lt. Col. Eugene] Waggaman [of the 10th Louisiana Infantry] was notified by [Brig. Gen. Paul] Semmes to bring his regiment up, he ordered the men to “Fall in!” They advanced within 300 yards of the enemy, then halted in a dip in the ground. The lieutenant colonel then walked to the center of the soldiers and said, “Men, we are ordered to charge the cannon in our front and take them. The Tenth Regiment has been in reserve all week, and every other Louisiana regiment has been in action. All of them have distinguished themselves, and I trust that the Tenth will not be the first to falter. Not a shot must be fired until we get to the guns. Now, men, we are going to charge. Remember Butler and the women of New Orleans. Forward, charge!”  Waggaman was referring to the infamous and insulting declaration of the military governor of New Orleans, Benjamin “Beast” Butler that any woman acting disrespectfully to the Northern occupiers could be treated as a prostitute. 
      As Semmes noted [in his report], the 10th, with 318 men in the charge, was placed on the right of the brigade. First Sergeant Joseph C. LeBleu, regimental color bearer, was in front as the regiment with Waggaman leading them all, far in advance. They marched forward through a storm of bullets and bomb shells as the Louisianians entered a smoke shrouded nightmare of death and destruction. Semmes watched as Waggaman and the other men of the 10th  disappeared into that cloud of smoke.        
     Lieutenant [Lt. Edward A.] Seton remembered seeing the flagstaff held by Sergeant LeBleu  shot in two. Somehow LeBleu was not wounded. Others, however, were “biting the dust” with every step, especially in the last 50 yards. Then, almost miraculously, they breached the Federal line and captured 10 of those death dealing cannons. Suddenly, the famous 69th New York “Irishers” came up and Waggaman commanded the men from Louisiana to open fire. 

     The 69th fell back. Waggaman told the men to lie down and wait for reinforcements, which of course would never come. They were  then raked by a volley of musketry from right to left. Waggaman thought they were being fired on by their own men. He turned to Sergeant Major [Leon] Jastremski and said, “For God’s sake Sergeant Major, go to those men and tell them to cease firing; they are killing their own men.”  
     Jastremski approached the unknown soldiers, but discovered they weren’t Confederates, but the 12th U.S. regulars and the 69th New York firing at them. Rather than ceasing fire, they made Jastremski their prisoner. The 10th Louisiana was then overwhelmed in a bayonet charge by the 69th New York. Private Daniel Dean of Company H received a bayonet wound in the throat but survived. Next to Dean, cries of “Kill him!” and “Bayonet him!” were directed at Waggaman, who deflected the bayonet thrusts with his sword but was surrounded. He threw away his heirloom sword so the Yankees wouldn’t get it. Private Richard Kelly with the 69th New York was credited with capturing Waggaman. He received a battlefield commission for his feat. About 30 men in all were taken prisoners, but the other survivors of the charge made their way back to Confederate lines the best they could. 
Lt. Col. Eugene Waggaman
(Courtesy of Mrs. Babette Brodie)
      The gallant, but futile, charge of the 10th Louisiana at Malvern Hill has been compared to the “Charge of the Light Brigade” at the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War. The men of the 10th were the only Confederates to penetrate the Federal line and temporarily capture 10 cannons. Federal artillery commander Colonel Henry J. Hunt said of the charge, “The last attack was very nearly successful [and] we won from the fact that we kept our reserves in hand for just such an attack . . . .”
      The 10th Louisiana lost 18 men killed, 36 wounded and 38 missing. In Company K, the Rangers’ losses were Corporal Nathan Howell killed; Corporal Guillaume Durio and Private Joseph Dulva Farque, wounded. Father [Louis-Hippolyte] Gache [regimental chaplain] wrote in a July 8 letter in Richmond his feelings at getting the news that Colonel Waggaman was missing. He said in his letter, “My dear friend Colonel Waggman is listed among the missing. Please God he has not been wounded; although he must surely have been, as he was at the head of his regiment when it made a charge against a battery of thirty-two cannons. I miss him very much; his loss is and will be irreparable. The night before the battle he took me aside and said, ‘Father, I’d like to make another confession so the two of us withdrew from the rest of the troops for a few moments and I obliged his request. The following morning before I finally settled down to get some sleep (we had marched during most of the night and weren’t able to snatch even a few winks until 3 a.m.), I noticed that the colonel spent a long time at his prayers. This much is for sure: if he has to face death in some Yankee prison, he’ll not be unprepared.”