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Chapter 4:

Fort Sumter surrendered on April 13, 1861. Quick as the report that follows a flash was heard New Orleans' response. On the 14th the news was received in the city. On the 15th the Crescent Rifles, Capt. S. W. Fisk, left for Pensacola, Fla., followed by the Louisiana Guards, Capt. S. M. Todd. On the 16th the Louisiana Guards, with the Shreveport Grays, the Grivot Grays and the Terrebonne Rifles, formed a battalion under the command of Lieut.-Col. Chas. D. Dreux. This officer was the first Louisianian of note to fill a soldier's grave.

Louisiana lost no time in meeting the call of the Confederate government. From the departure of these troops, in April, New Orleans was kept in a quiver of excitement. Trains were crowded with uniformed men. Whether out-going volunteers or ‘regulars,’ the new soldiers left full of eagerness for the inevitable fray. At the first, whole battalions and regiments went rolling away. As the war began to rage outside, with news of battles from Virginia and Kentucky, fresh recruits from city and country departed to stop gaps in the ranks from death by wounds or from disease. Louisiana's quota was to be filled on all the fields where her men were already doing duty for their State's greater honor,

The Louisiana Guard battalion proceeded to Pensacola. Besides having a fortification of unusual strength, Pensacola possessed an excellent harbor for vessels of war. The new government was still without a navy. Having [30] captured the town, it had decided not to let it leave its hands for lack of efficient defense. When reaching the port, the Louisianians, seeing the stars and stripes floating defiantly in mid-harbor, had eagerly hoped to be the advance guard to tempt a salutation of the hostile guns. In this, fate worked center. They remained until the post was reinforced by other troops; doing little but casting longing eyes to that wave-like line of battle which eluded them at Fort Pickens. Fighting was to be done later on in the form of fierce cannonading between Fort Pickens in the harbor and Confederate Barrancas on shore, in which fighting the pioneers from Louisiana were to have no share.1

Even before the first troops had left New Orleans, two telegrams had flashed between the war secretary at Montgomery and G. T. Beauregard, illustrious type of the Creole, at Charleston. The telegram we give merely because it is a question of who, in the civil war, was first counted to have ‘won his spurs.’

Montgomery, April 13, 1861.
General Beauregard:
Accept my congratulations. You have won your spurs. How many guns can you spare for Pensacola?

To which General Beauregard, now watching the fleet instead of Fort Sumter, responded:

Charleston, April 14, 1861.
Hon. L. P. Walker:
Fleet still outside. Can spare no guns yet, but hope to do so soon.


This correspondence makes it certain that the ‘first spurs’ had been conceded to a Louisianian.

The Louisiana battalion next saw service in Virginia It was in the summer of 1861 that the command became a part of that wonderful campaign so long conducted with inadequate forces by Gen. John B. Magruder. High praise is due to this campaign, by which that eccentric officer, through marvelous marches up and down, mystified the enemy for nearly a year and kept the peninsula's ways free until mighty armies fought for mastery at Williamsburg. The engagement at Big Bethel, June 10, 1861, seemed to open a prospect of fight. If a fiasco of Butler, it was also a disillusion of the battalion. Magruder coldly reports that ‘the Louisiana regiment arrived after the battle was over, having made a most extraordinary march.’

It was not quite a month later when the battalion was engaged at Young's Mills, Va. While an affair of no importance in itself, it was disastrous in the loss of one whom Louisiana had lately learned to value. Capt. S. W. Fisk, of the Crescent Rifles, in his report, addressed to Maj. N. M. Rightor, of the Louisiana battalion, thus speaks of the skirmish:

Young's Mills, Va., July 5, 1861.
Sir: A detachment of men, consisting of 100 infantry, one howitzer and about 15 or 20 cavalry, left last night, about midnight, under the command of LieutenantCol-onel Dreux We advanced in the direction of Newport News, and took post in the woods. * * * We were ordered to lie in ambush. The videttes soon after came in and announced the approach of a body of cavalry, 100 strong. Colonel Dreux's orders were that his men should closely conceal their persons and weapons and permit the enemy to cross the road on our left and somewhat beyond the left of our line, and that no one should fire before he himself should give the order. * * * In a few moments, after sending out the scouts, Colonel Dreux said, “they are coming” —addressing me. Notwithstanding Colonel Dreux's positive order not to fire, one or two shots having [32] been exchanged between the scouts and the enemy several men on the left began also to fire. Very soon after I was informed that Colonel Dreux was wounded. This was about an hour after daybreak. * * *

I regret deeply to report the death of our gallant and able commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Dreux, and of Private Stephen Hackett, of the Shreveport Grays. * * *

S. W. Fisk, Captain, commanding Crescent Rifles.

Charles D. Dreux, so early killed in the war, was mourned in the city which knew him best as a loss both as a citizen and soldier. In New Orleans and Shreveport, Confederate crape was first displayed in Louisiana.

The battalion had enlisted for a year. The enlistment was made at the time when Hon. W. H. Seward, of New York, was proclaiming that the war would not last three months. The command had received from General Magruder, in consideration of their being the pioneer volunteers from their State, an assurance that at the expiration of the time of enlistment the battalion would be permitted, as its members should prefer, either to re-enlist or to return to New Orleans. In April, 1862, the Confederate Congress had already legislated the conscript law. At the crossing of the ways the battalion was divided in mind. A few of them left. The vast majority, with their faces looking to the misty ‘front,’ enlisted for the war. Their martial character, so triumphantly displayed under all the monotony of a tedious and foot-weary service, went with them from Yorktown to the fields to be made memorable by the Louisiana contingent in the armies of Northern Virginia and Tennessee. The whole military land was before them ‘where to choose,’ and wherever he chose to plant himself, the reports of his superior officer showed that each man of the Louisiana battalion did his duty in camp and on the field.

Most of the Louisiana regiments were ordered direct from New Orleans to Richmond. There, the voice of a [33] great State's appeal was heard; not uttered plaintively, but with a right, well understood throughout the South, and responded to with men and guns and lives. Virginia, like a threatened queen, stretched forth her royal hand to her defenders, as Maria Theresa stretched hers to her devoted Magyars.

The war spirit in the historic city by the James was intense. With hostile armies threatening Richmond, it watched fearlessly the path between them and itself. This insured for the soldiers of the entire Confederacy a pledge of brotherly esteem. Not alone was the welcome one from the municipality. The citizens, and with the citizens their wives and daughters, rose to give the strangers a greeting more grateful, because less formal, than the city's official welcome. Camping at the fair ground, the Louisianians were at once made to feel that they were at home. Extended by the authorities, it was a reception such as the government accords to the soldiers who defend it. Offered by the ladies of Richmond, it became such as sisters might give to brothers who return home after many years. Something, indeed, might have been due to the special interest with which, before the war and since, North and South have wrapped Louisiana and the Creoles with a mantle of romance. Visits to the Louisiana camps grew into a habit all days when the sun shone. The fair Virginians made no distinction between the showy uniforms of the lately-arrived Washington artillery and the ragged coats of Magruder's weary trampers. No matter—in a few months battle was to make them all of one color. The tents, from being resting places from drill, were made pleasant with the dulcet tones of the girls of Virginia who came to bring sunshine into that ‘shady place.’ For our soldiers, this welcome, so charmingly given, seemed to make Richmond in 1861– 65, from a city clad in armor—imperiously, by reason of her stress, demanding lives—turn into a Capua, in festive robes, claiming only social pleasures. [34]

Some of the Louisiana regiments found their way from Richmond and its delights to the Peninsula. There Magruder and his ‘foot-cavalry’ still kept the wretched roads free from the tread of foemen. Among the number may be named the Tenth Louisiana volunteers which, in July, 1861, camped under Lee's Mills, on Warwick river. This regiment's first commander was Col. Mandeville Marigny, who was a Creole by birth, the son of a man who had at New Orleans placed under obligations a fugitive prince, afterward king of the French. Marigny was, by the gratitude of the same monarch, educated at St. Cyr, serving afterward in the French army. It was regretted in the Tenth that this accomplished officer should have remained but a few months with the regiment. The Confederate government had recognized, however, his high military fitness, and assigned him South to organize a force of cavalry among the planters of Louisiana and Mississippi.

Marigny was succeeded in the command by Eugene Waggaman, major of the Tenth. Though bred a planter, Waggaman must have been born a soldier. He survived, with great reputation as a fighter, to lead the Tenth at Appomattox. Careless of danger, he oddly carried before his men, whether on the march or charging in a forlorn hope, a cane instead of a sword. The Tenth used to laugh at Waggaman's conceit, and yet they followed Waggaman's cane into some of the deadliest fights in the war. [35]

1 At Pensacola was organized the First Louisiana infantry, under Col. A. H. Gladden, soon promoted brigadier-general, and succeeded in regimental command by Col. D. W. Adams Three companies of Louisiana troops participated in the affair on Santa Rosa island, and during the bombardment of Fort McRee and Barrancas the Louisiana contingent won honors. Lieutenant Manston, of Louisiana, commanded the gunboat Nelms, of the little navy. Three companies under Lieutenant-Colonel Jaquess served as many batteries throughout the action most efficiently and gallantly, said General Bragg. These batteries were commanded by Capt. J. T. Wheat, Capt. S. S. Batchelor, and Lieut. G. W. Mader.

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