Sunday, July 12, 2009

Union Regiments Seized Lake Providence; Regiments Stationed at Carroll Parish

On May 1, 1862 New Orleans was occupied by the Federal Forces. Cotton bales all along the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to L.P. were being seized and burned by the order of Governor Thomas O. Moore.
While in an attempt to take Vicksburg in June of 1862, Union forces occupied a portion of Madison Parish opposite Vicksburg for over a month. Swamp fever, extreme heat, and stomach disorders drove them to Baton Rouge.
In trying to capture and control Vicksburg, General Grant sent General William T. Sherman to Milliken’s Bend, December 25, 1862, with 30,000 troops. The naval convoy slipped past Providence the night before. (An alert telegrapher named I. I. Daniel, stationed at Point Lookout south of Providence had seen the convoy… see “The Carroll Telegraph” on this website). Sherman stormed the bluffs north of Vicksburg but sustained heavy losses and returned to Milliken’s Bend.
General A. J. Smith had debarked at Milliken’s Bend early Christmas morning surprising the Confederate outpost there. The Southerners fled inland evading capture. Captain Harper’s company hid in the swamp. Union troops cut telegraph and rail lines, a small detachment went on to Delhi burning bridges and the depot there. Reference: Georgia Pinkston’s book “A Place to Remember”
“There were raiders from west of the Bayou Boeuf going to the aid of their neighbors on the Big River, according to Frederick Williamson’s "History of N. E. La.". In the "Monette Diary" we find this notation “Aug. 29, 1862, Captain John McKoin and his Rangers left for Lake Providence today to help the people drive out the raiders.” Reference: Florence Stewarts McKoin’s book “Between the Rivers”

On January 29, 1863 General Grant arrived in Young’s Point, Louisiana. His project was to dig a series of canals to connect to the Miss. River .
Some Carroll and Madison residents refugeed to Texas.
Grant organized his army into 4 corps:
General Sherman and his 13th Corps’ attempt so that troops and supplies could be sent safely below the guns of Vicksburg, was abandoned when a flood ruined the canal and almost drown Sherman’s men.
Up river at Ashton (just below the AR line where the Macon River came within three miles of the Miss.) McPherson decided to cut the levee so the flood waters would make a natural passage for the gunboats to the Macon River. The countryside overflowed by never reached deep enough to be used.
General James B. McPherson’s Corps, headed by Colonel G. W. Dietzler, [picture at right] chose to dig acanal from the Miss into Lake Providence by way of Baxter Bayou. Colonel Duff, the Engineer Brigade, reported “…plan involves the destruction of the town (now nearly deserted), we do not consider this a matter of sufficient importance to interfere with the accomplishment of the object in view.” Dietzler round up 100 slaves (Negroes that owners had sent to the Macon hills to avoid capture) that he moved to Delta work on the canal there. By March 15 Baxter Bayou was cleared and dredged, the next day Negro laborers cut two 30 ft. trenches 30 feet apart and flooded the town of Lake Providence and the lake. Union troops were moved to Berry’s Landing 5 miles north.
On March 31, 1863 small steamboats could navigate through Baxter Bayou and into Bayou Macon.
On February 5, 1863, Grant headquartered at Arlington Plantation while he inspected the work at Lake Providence. (Arlington was the home of General Edward Sparrow) Grant ordered other Federal troops in to help on the canals. Federal troops numbered 20,000.
General McPherson established his headquarters on Oakland Plantation on Feb. 24, 1863. (The plantation had been deserted by Dr. Matthew B. Sellers)
13th Corp.; Colonel G. W. Dietzler
17th Corp. (arrived Feb. 24, 1863)
3rd Division; General John L. Logan
6th Division; General John McArthur
Bissell’s Engineering Brigade
32nd Ohio Regiment
Dr. Alfred Brundage was with this reg.;
(see Letter of Alfred Brundage)
Reference: Georgia Pinkston’s book “A Place to Remember”
On March 9, 1863 Grant round up all the Negro slaves on the plantation and set them to work picking the cotton on the abandoned farms. Northern cotton speculators had swarmed into Providence signing contracts with McPherson agreeing to pick, gin, and bale cotton for ½ share. Paying the Negro laborers $1 per hundred pounds, and feeding & clothing them. (This continued under the supervision of the Freedman’s Bureau during the Reconstruction). Also General McPherson established a training camp at Goodrich’s Landing (lower part of the parish) for the Negro men in the Union Army. Reference: Georgia Pinkston’s book “A Place to Remember”
A few planters signed and allegiance to the United States that brought a rift among neighbors. There were those willing to lose everything for the cause of the South and felt bitter toward any neighbor signing such an oath. These unfortunates were often sought out by the guerrillas and murdered, one such was Graham Benjamin whose father built Homestead Plantation located south of Lake Providence. Reference: Florence Stewart McKoin’s book “Between the Rivers”
When General McPherson left General Hugh T. Reid was left in command of one of the Union soldier regiments. His force was posted along the river at 3 places; (1) Bass Plantation south of L. P., (2) Two companies at the Wilton Plantation, and (3) 5 companies stationed at Camp Butler in Providence were the 1st Kansas Mounted Infantry, 1 company of the 16th Wisconsin & 1 company of the 8th Louisiana (African descent).
West of the Macon the 13th Battalian, La. Malitian “Partisan Rangers, headquartered in Delhi and commanded by Colonel Frank A. Bartlett.
The 13th Louisiana, Co. E., was commanded by Captain W. C. Corbin and stationed at Floyd, with Co., C. posted at Caledonia and commander was Captain John McKoin.
May 2, Saturday night, Captain Matt Johnson and a small force crossed the Macon near Caledonia, burned the cotton gin and made off with about twenty Negroes, raiding a Federal-leased plantation near Ashton.
May 10, General Hugh T. Reid sent Major William Y. Roberts retaliated sending about 200 mounted infantry. Union troops the small Confederate force posted in a brick kiln & Negro quarters near Caledonia. Defenders retreated to Pin Hook (Oak Grove).
Major Roberts divided his troops in 2 columns. The column sent marching along Bayou Macon Road was ambushed by Captain W. H. Corbin near Lane’s Ferry, re-grouping the Federals went to Pin Hook where the Confederates refused to budge. There were few casualties and the Union force went back to Providence.
June (early)., A large Confederate offensive along the Miss. River at the Federal Outposts was made. A force of Texas troops, commanded by General J. G. Walker attacked Milliken’s Bend (upper Madison Parish), but retreated when Union gun boats were in the river.
June 9, At Floyd Colonel Frank Bartlett’s 13th La Regiment and the 13th Texas Infantry (about 900 men) set out for Lake Providence to destroy the Negro training camp and the plantations held by leasees & Federal agents as far down as Milliken’s Bend. Bartlett going around the lake meeting 2 companies of the 1st Kansas Mounted Infantry near Baxter Bayou. The Confederates captured 9 army wagons loaded with supplies and 36 mules. Bartlett moved on to Bayou Tensas, where he found the bridge burned by the retreating enemy. Bartlett was driven back to Floyd. 300 Negro soldiers of the 8th La. Volunteers (many former slaves of Carroll), helped with the Union victory at Bayou Tensas.
June 22, General Walker left Delhi to go to Goodrich’s Landing along the east side of the Macon River, breaking up the Northern possessed and disloyal Southerner’s plantations along the way.
June 29, Walker reached Mounds Plantation (about 10 miles south of L. P.) A fort had been set up atop the largest Indian mound. Negro troops fortified the fort. Three white officers surrendered without a fight to the Confederates. 113 men of 2 companies of the 1st Arkansas were taken prisoners.
After July 5, all along the river General Walker set fire to homes, slave quarters, and cotton gins leaving nothing for the enemy. Colonel Frank Bartlett’s Partisan Rangers were the only Confederate force left in the area.
After the fall of Vicksburg the west side of the Miss. River remained isolated for the remainder of the war. The only troops left garrisoned at Carroll was the Negro troops posted at Providence and the other at Goodrich’s Landing.
August 9, Captain John McNeil and 70 mounted Partisans attempted to capture Providence by the Federal gunboat “Mound City‘s” shells drove them off.
Union soldiers were sent of Goodrich’s Landing to disperse the rebels with raids carried out against Floyd and Monticello but Lee and Bartlett easily evaded the Union forces in the swamps. Reference: Georgia Pinkston’s book “A Place to Remember”
“RIFT AMONG NEIGHBORS: From Winters History of “The Civil War in Louisiana” pages 197 - 198, May, 1863, I have taken these excerpts pertaining to the raids made west of the Macon: “Military action at Lake Providence centered around the Bayou Macon area. Nine companies of the 1st Kansas Mounted Infantry and a hundred men from the 16th Wisconsin, led by Major William Y. Roberts, crossed over the Macon to Caledonia on the morning of May 10th. The Confederates posted in a brick kiln, in heavy timber, and in Negro Quarters, were outnumbered five to one. They were driven from their positions and fled towards the hills of Pin Hook (Oak Grove) nine miles away.
“Major Roberts divided his men into two columns, planning to encircle the Confederates. The Federal column moving along the banks of Bayou Macon was ambushed near Lane’s Ferry by Captain W. H. Corbin and was temporarily routed. The column re-formed and rejoined the other column, however, and the entire Federal force moved toward Pin Hook. Captain Corbin’s small Confederate Force was joined by troops from Delhi and by a detachment at Floyd which had been guarding the court house there. Colonel Frank A. Bartlett assumed command of these forces, which numbered about 250 men. The Confederates took cover in log cabins and behind trees and easily repelled the first attack on the Pin Hook position. Rallying, the Kansas and Wisconsin troops made another half-hearted attack. The action of May 10, 1863, ended with the disorderly retreat of the Superior Federal forces back to Lake Providence, losses were light on both sides.”
This was the first attack on Oak Grove, and Emmanuel Braswell said that the Masons on both sides in the battle recognized each other and stopped fighting.” Reference: Florence McKoin’s book “Between the Rivers”
“RIFT AMONG NEIGHBORS: From Winters History, page 302 - “Crossing the Macon on August 24, 1863, the Federal troops, a Brigade of the 6th Division of the 17th Army, and three batteries of artillery, plus a battalion of cavalry, embarked from Vicksburg on an expedition to Monroe. After debarking at Goodrich‘s Landing, Stevenson moved toward Bayou Macon, skirmishing lightly with Confederate forces.” Reference: Florence McKoin’s book “Between the Rivers”
May 29, After sporadic raids of Lee along the river, the Federal post at Providence was dismantled and companies of Negro soldiers, under the command of Colonel A. Watson Webber, went to Goodrich’s Landing post.
June, Lee and Bartlett raided below L. P. seizing mules, horses, and Negroes on Union leased plantations.
Aug 26, Captain Lee and 200 guerrillas raided plantations south of Transylvania leased by Hiram B. Tebbetts, killing 4 white men and several colored people. In retaliation Webber took Doctor Richardson as hostage for the return of a clerk named Webster, who had been kidnapped by Lee. The Federal force, 230 mounted Negroes under the command of Major C. H. Chapin, 3rd U. S. Colored Cavalry, destroyed a few loyalists property, crossing into Pin Hook and Floyd burning those villages and killing 12 Confederate partisans in the process. Lee offered no resistance to Chapin, and the Union force returned to Goodrich’s Landing. Reference: Georgia Pinkston’s book “A Place to Remember”
“RIFT AMONG NEIGHBORS: I found this account in Winter’s History, page 393 - “On August 26, 1864, Captain Joseph C. Lee, a Confederate, of the Missouri Guerrillas, with two hundred of his guerrillas, with 200 of his guerrillas, made a costly raid on the plantation leased by the H. B. Tibbett & Company in the area below Lake Providence. Colonel A. Watson Webber, of the 51st Regiment, U. S. Colored Infantry, Commander of the Federal Post at Goodrich’s Landing, sent an expedition of 230 mounted Negro troops, under Major C. Chapin, to drive Lee from the region.
Chapin crossed Bayou Macon to the west on August 30, and continuing down the Macon, several plantations were raided and houses burned. Arriving at the village of Pin Hook (Oak Grove, La.) Chapin left only one house standing. Several Confederate soldiers were encountered near Floyd and shot down. A few minutes had stripped the place of all valuable goods and had set fire to four fifths of the town. Most of the residents along the Macon were left destitute.”
From “Between the Rivers”, by Florence McKoin
“A Mr. Phillips brought this terrifying news to Colonel Templeton one day, The Yankee vandals had conduct at those villages. About 200 Corps D’Afrique, officered by five or six white men, came out and laid the two villages low, Floyd and Pin Hook, in ashes, not allowing the people to save any of their possessions from their homes. They were very rough and insulting to the ladies, tearing pockets from their dress , rings from their fingers, cursing done in revenge for a guerrilla raid a few days before, in which a good many government stores were destroyed and 80 to 90 Negroes brought out.” From “Brokenburn” the Kate Stone Journal
Major Chapin’s raid brought the close to most of the military action in Carroll Parish, although Lee’s guerillas remained in the area until after the war. The Confederates resigned themselves to defeat. Bands of draft-dodgers and deserters, known as jayhawkers, moved into the area and menaced everyone.
It was to a ravaged and bitter land that the weary veterans returned from the eastern battle fields. Maimed and scarred they came -- Thomas Scarborough, Charles Purdy, Ed Kleinpeter, and John Draughon; Charles DeFrance, C. R. Egelly, E. J. Delony, and J. S. Richards, Cyrus Hedrick, W. R. C. Lyons, J. D. Lott, and Mark Valentine, Jr., among others. The refugees returned from Texas; their desire - to build their lives and fortunes in peace. From the north came the paroled prisoners of war, including W. F. Pennington, John O’Brien, Abraham Bass, and V. M. Purdy.
Sons of Carroll lay buried from Virginia to Baton Rouge. Franc Whicher, Nathan Trotter, George Sanderson, George Burrus, D. D. Kilcrease, B. A. Sanford, W. H. Farrar, and young Wesley McGuirt-these were but a few of the casualties. Georgia Pinkston’s book “A Place to Remember”.
Thanks, Sandy Schimtz Moore


  1. They weren't "Negro Laborers " ...THEY WERE SLAVES. STOP IT!

  2. They weren't "Negro Laborers " ...THEY WERE SLAVES. STOP IT!