1862: The American Civil War in Louisiana

On p. 145 of Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy, by Edward Ball

The author’s forebears, the Lecorgnes, were Frenchmen from the Breton region who built a home for themselves in French Louisiana. They held a few slaves, but no plantations. Their homes were in old New Orleans, and they were swept into the Civil War:

It is at the peak of sugar grinding season on Bayou Lafourche. Every worker on every plantation is cutting sugarcane, feeding it into the stone teeth of grinding machines, and boiling the sludge in churning cauldrons to make cane juice. Up and down the bayou, black smoke traces the air from the fires that feed the boil.

The day of the fight, October 27, is supremely cold, with frozen cane in the fields and a coat of ice on the cypress trees. The two thousand Yellowjackets move upstream from Thibodaux toward Labadieville. They stop at a choke point with impassable swamps on one side and the water of Lafourche on the other. Here the Yankees must push through a narrow field. Terrance Lecorgne’s Company K is placed at the center of the Confederate line, on a dirt stretch of Texana Road. According to the memoir of one soldier, as the Union advances down Lafourche, enslaved people abandon the fields, flee the plantations, and join their line.


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