previous next

The Lafayette Artillery (Kanapaux's Battery).

This command dates its origin to the early years of the century, as ‘the Fusilers Francaise;’ the company was composed of Franco-American citizens of Charleston, and very handsomely uniformed in blue dress coats, with buff breasts, such as are shown in pictures of Napoleon as consul.

As a boy, I have often seen the company parading as infantry in that beautiful uniform; a prominent corps, and was part of the escort to Lafayette in 1824. About the year 1840 it changed its service to light artillery, and was the first light battery seen on the streets of Charleston with guns and horses; followed soon after by the Washington Artillery, Captain Peter della Torre; the German Artillery, Captain John A. Wagener, and, after the Mexican War, the Marion Artillery, Captain A. M. Manigault. Not only was the ‘Lafayettes’ the pioneer light battery in Charleston, but it was kept up with esprit de corps, and was a well-drilled artillery company. At the opening of ‘the war between States,’ it went into service under J. T. Kanapaux, a son of the early captain, Charles Kanapaux.

The records of the corps have been lost or destroyed, so that a full roster of commanders is not possible, but the following names are recalled: Victor Durand, Charles Kanapaux, Peter B. Lalane, A. Roumillat, Gustavus Follin, Charles Emile Kanapaux, J. J. Pope. [237] From the beginning of the century, the French element of Charleston's population has been uniformly public-spirited and devoted to the best interests of city and State. The following were officers in 1861: Captain John T. Kanapaux; Lieutenants M. P. O'Connor, L. F. LeBleux, G. W. Aimar, A. Victor Kanapaux. By assignment to special duties and other causes, changes occurred during the war, and at the date of the Honey Hill battle (1864) the following were commissioned officers: Captain John T. Kanapaux; Lieutenants, senior first, C. J. Zealy; junior first, A. Victor Kanapaux; second, T. W. Bolger.

Two guns and thirty-six men, under Lieutenant Zealy, were detached from Bee's Creek Battery and sent to Honey Hill. No passing commendation does justice to that meritorious officer, Lieutenant Zealy, whose career in the war was marked by devotion to the cause and a cheerful and most efficient discharge of duty. If he had done no more than serve his guns in the desperate fight down the road in the morning fight near Bolan Church he would be entitled to the highest praise. He still survives; resides in Charleston, and is richly entitled to the ‘well done’ of the community. The other two guns, under Sergeant Joseph Bock, acting lieutenant, remained in position at Bee's Creek, and the surplus men were equipped as infantry, under Lieutenant T. W. Bolger, as a support for the guns there. Captain John T. Kanapaux remained in command of that post. An incident in the fight at Honey Hill in this Lafayette detachment is worth recording, showing the character and military spirit of the men. Sergeant Julius A. LePrince was at one of the guns; he was a sufferer from chills and fever, and that was the alternate day for his attack; sure enough, in the very midst of the fight the gallant sergeant was shaking very perceptibly, and burning up with fever, but by sending spare men off to the rear, to fill his canteen with water, which he was drinking in large quantities, he kept to his gun. An officer finally noticed him and promptly said:

Sergeant, you ought not to be here; go the rear!’ But the sergeant quietly remarked:

‘If I go to the rear, shaking as I am, people might think I am scared!’

He stayed by his gun until the action was over, late in the evening.

My youthful friend of November 30, 1864, as modest as he was brave, who was then scarcely of military age, is now among the

“Survivors” with streaks of silver in his hair; he will, I hope, excuse [238] me for publicly recording how he did his duty to South Carolina and the South, under very serious disabilities, in perilous times.

As soon as it was possible after the election of Governor Hampton, the ‘Lafayettes’ resumed their position in the volunteer military of the State, and are still in that service.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
November 30th, 1864 AD (1)
1864 AD (1)
1861 AD (1)
1840 AD (1)
1824 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: