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Baton Rouge — an arsenal recaptured

Homes destroyed to clear the way for forts — Baton Rouge, 1862


On the Mississippi As the Federal forces gradually recovered the Mississippi for the Union, many troops were necessary to hold its banks. Whole regiments were detached from the main army for this purpose. The Thirteenth Connecticut was organized in November, 1861, and belonged to Grover's division of the Nineteenth Army Corps. Here a portion of the regiment is seen drawn up on the banks of the Mississippi, in Louisiana. From their neat appearance and white gloves they have evidently been on headquarters duty, and possibly have been in recent touch with the quartermaster's stores; their uniforms are in fine condition and their caps brand new. After its service in the vicinity of the Mississippi, where the regiment had taken part in the operations against Port Hudson and the capture of Donaldsonville and the constant fighting and skirmishing in western Louisiana, the Thirteenth Connecticut went on the ill-fated Red River expedition and bore itself bravely at Monett's Bluff and Cane River Crossing. The men from Connecticut assisted the Michigan and Wisconsin woodsmen in building the famous dam at Alexandria that released the imprisoned gunboats. During July and August the seasoned veterans enjoyed a well-earned furlough after their arduous campaign, and upon its expiration they returned to duty and were attached to Sheridan's Army of the Shenandoah, for service in the East.


Patrolling the river To split the Confederacy apart was the Federal aim in the fall of 1862. It was necessary to the possession and command of the great waterway of the Mississippi that a constant patrol should be established after it was opened, and for this purpose, aside from the heavily armored gunboats, there was maintained a fleet of light-draught stern-and side-wheel vessels. This vessel (pictured by the Southern photographer Lytle) is No. 8 of the lightly armored “tin-clads.” It was by means of these vessels of light draught that the shallow tributaries could be used as highways for the transportation of troops and supplies. The fleet or flotilla was at first really a division of the army. The crews were a miscellaneous lot of artillerymen and drafts made up from regiments in the service along the river. The early organization caused great confusion. In numerous cases naval officers in command of vessels were given military rank. Captain Foote found that he ranked only as a colonel, and that every brigadier could interfere with him. In November, 1861, he received the appointment of flag-officer that gave him the same rank as a major-general, and put him above the orders of any except the commander of the department; still he commanded soldiers, and it was not until late in the year of 1861 that any trained naval men of the rank and file were placed on the river gunboats.


The Camp that became a battle-field The Federal Camp at Baton Rouge, Photographed Before the Battle of August 5, 1862. When the operations in the vicinity of Vicksburg had come to an end the Second Brigade (under the command of General Thomas Williams) of the Department of the Gulf once more went into Camp at Baton Rouge, pitching tents within the limits of the city. On the 5th the Confederates under General J. C. Breckinridge attacked in two divisions in the early morning, their movements being hidden by a very dense fog. At first the Confederates were most successful and they seized a Camp that lay in front of the nion battle-line. But the Federals soon advanced; the Confederates made three charges upon them but were finally driven back in much disorder. General Williams was killed. Baton Rouge was evacuated shortly after. The town was not burned on account of its many public institutions.


Where the hospitals furnished reenforcements The Federal Camp Banks, at Baton Rouge, near the Penitentiary, taken in late July, 1862. This is another view of what was soon to become a battle-field. We are looking down at the Camp of the Seventh Vermont and the Twenty-first Indiana; on the extreme right is the Camp of Nims' battery. This point was attacked fiercely, as it was supposed to be held by regiments much depleted by sickness, but at the first alarm the men in the hospitals picked up their rifles and fell into line. After General Williams' death the command devolved upon Colonel Cahill, of the Ninth Connecticut, an Irish regiment. By evening the Confederates had abandoned the ground that they had won in the fight.


Union soldiers at Baton Rouge.

The first picture was taken just at the close of the war in 1865. It is a remarkable and interesting picture. The Verandah House, the building shown on the left, is where General W. T. Sherman stopped in 1859, when he was Superintendent of the Louisiana Seminary of Learning and Military Academy. The group of colored people lining the sidewalk are waiting for their issue of rations. The skill of Lytle, the photographer, is shown by the fact that the man walking is hardly blurred and the mule's ears in the foreground might have been taken by an instantaneous shutter. The second view shows the home of the Union soldiers who remained in Baton Rouge from its occupation on May 12, 1862. Brigadier-General Thomas Williams had been assigned from Butler's force at New Orleans to assist Farragut to clear the Mississippi. Williams' headquarters was Baton Rouge, but during most of May, June, and July he was in the vicinity of Vicksburg operating in conjunction with Farragut's fleet. When he arrived at Baton Rouge at the end of July the barracks was almost a hospital, for half the men were on the sick-list.

The bread-line at Baton Rouge

The Home of the Union soldiers who remained in Baton Rouge from its occupation on May 12, 1862.


Baton Rouge.

The Parade of a part of a regiment of Federal Troops at Baton Rouge. It would take a long search to find a finer body of men than these trained and seasoned veterans here drawn up in line. The campaign on the lower Mississippi was a survival of the fittest in more ways than one. Sickness was rife, and only those in the best condition and the hardiest kept in trim for active service. In many cases regiments could muster only 120 men. Camp fevers and the threat of the yellow scourge were always present. The returns of the regiments employed in the vicinity of New Orleans show a startling mortality. The Thirteenth Connecticut lost by disease 160 men. The Twenty-first Indiana, whose casualty list in the battle of Baton Rouge was 126, lost twice that number from sickness. A larger proportion of sick to killed and wounded prevailed in the Fourteenth Maine and the Seventh Vermont--the former losing 332 and the latter 407.

The Court House at Baton Rouge: the Parade of a part of a regiment of Federal troops at Baton Rouge.

Dress-parade of Federal troops at Baton Rouge


By order of the commanding officer: Buildings in line of fire Condemned and destroyed at Baton Rouge by order of Colonel Halbert E. Paine. This view was photographed by Mr. Lytle after the drawn battle of the 5th of August, 1862, when the Federals had retreated from their outer camps and had concentrated on the Arsenal grounds between the cemetery and the river bank, at the northwestern end of the town. In order that the houses should not afford protection to any attacking party, those in the immediate vicinity (on the southeastern flank of the fortified Arsenal) were set on fire and razed to the ground. In this picture the heavy stockade that surrounded the garrison is plainly visible, as is also the roof of one of the barracks. Nevertheless, although the Federal troops were never attacked in their stronghold, General Butler determined to concentrate his forces in New Orleans, and Baton Rouge was abandoned.

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