Re: Reference : Port Hudson, La. massacre
Reference the Louisiana Native Guards, the following letter, quite a testimony, will be of interest. On a subsequent post I will briefly state what happened to the Native Guards' officers mentioned in the letter.
["NEW ORLEANS, January 18th, 1883.
"To Colonel J. T. Wilson, Norfolk, Va.:
"FRIEND: Your two circulars issued from Cailloux Post No.2 on the 13th inst. are received. It is quite a compliment to Louisiana to have named your Post after the hero of Port Hudson, who immortalized
himself in those celebrated charges in May, 1863.
"It is over twventy years ago that I took a commission in the 3d Louisiana Native Guard as a senior lieutenant of Company H. I was quite intimate with Captain Andre Cailloux.
"Grave doubts had been expressed by Banks, the nominal commander, and his officers regarding the fitness of colored men as soldiers. The perplexing question was, 'will they stand their christening under
such a hail storm as will come from those bristling Port Hudson heights?' In fact those three colored regiments - the 1st, 2d, and 3d Louisiana Native Guards, organized in 1862, and afterward incorporated in the Ullman Blrigade as the 73d, 74th, and 75th had become more a subject of test than of real dependence at the critical juncture of trial.
"General Osterhaus solved the mystery by taking command of division, including the 1st and 3d Native Guards. Those magnificent series of charges were made by these two regiments. The first charge was made on a Sunday, the 27th day of May, 1863, supported on the right by the celebrated Duryea's Zouaves, of New York, which were mowed down like grass before a scythe. It was then and there that Captain Cailloux gloriously died in advance of his company while cheering his men. It was also on that day that the immortal color bearer, Anselino, was killed, and fell within the folds of his regimental flag, which was besmeared with his blood, with the broken flag-staff in his hand. Other strong arms came to the rescue of the flag only to meet death until the honor of the flag alone cost the lives, of sixteen men or more. The gallant Lieutenant Crowder was killed on the field of honor at the flower of his age. Captain Sauer was wounded in the foot while charging. The 3d Native Guards also sustained its reputation, and many deeds of valor were performed by its officers and men. But when after those engagements the roll-call was made we had many friends to mourn. You are aware, I suppose, of an historical fact. Jefferson Davis had issued a proclamation that any colored officer captured at the head of black troops would not be exchanged, but immediately hung. It was thus that Lieutenent Oscar Orillion, when captured at Jackson, La., was hung and shot to pieces.
"Port Hudson was surrendered by General Pemberton the 8th of July, 1863. General Osterhaus became very proud of his colored regiments after what he had seen at Port Hudson.
"Had these two regiments failed, or destiny betrayed their courage, the colored troops would have been universally condemned, and would not have been employed as soldiers, but used as servants, drivers, and laborers, on fortifications, bridges, and ditches. To the 2d Louisian Native Guards belongs the honor of having had the first colored major in the army, and it is Major Ernest Dumas, now living and actually in New Orleans.
"The most terrible engagement (1st and 2d) was at Spanish Fort in Mobile Bay, Ala., shortly after Fort Pillow's massacre. General Osterhaus told the colored troops the night previous to the attack that at break of day they had to charge and take Spanish Fort. It was customary with the general to tell the troops by what regiments they would be susttained. The men did not seem to be very enthusiastic, but when they were told how the rebels had murdered men of their own color and their white fellow-soldiers without mercy, they sprang to their guns and called unanimously for 'revenge.' Great God! they had their revenge sure enough! The charge was made, the fort taken, and nearly every rebel slaughtered amid the deafening yells of the colored and white troops of 'Remember Fort Pillow.' The 1st and the 3d regiment cleared Alabama up to Selina.
"As it is impossible for me to devote my time any longer, and to turn over the leaves of the past in my clouded memory, which is quite impaired lately on account of my declining years, besides the metacarpal bone of my right hand, which was broken by a musket in the army, is always painful when I write too much, I will refer you to Sergeant Calice Dupie, of Company H, 1st Louisiana Native Guards, Captain Sauer, who is employed in the custom house. I am told that Captain R. H. Isabell of the 2d Louisiana Native Guards, has taken a memorandum of all the historical incidents of those three regiments. They are all Louisianiaians and reside in New Orleans. As for the officers of my regiment (the 3d Native Guards) they are all dead nearly, which makes me think that my time soon will be on hand.
"Though my information is limited, I have strictly confined myself to facts which I am sure will be corroborated by others, I court investigation upon my statements, and will always be glad to furnish witnesses to sustain them.
"Fraternally yours, E. LONGPIE;
"Ex-1st Lt. Co.H 3d L. N. G., Ex-officer of Anselino Post No.6 G.A.R."]