1st Louisiana Native Guard (CSA)

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1st Louisiana Native Guard (Confederate)
Louisiana Feb 11 1861.svg
Active May 2, 1861–February 15, 1862
Country  Confederate States of America
Allegiance  Louisiana
Branch  Confederate States Army
Type Infantry
Size 1,135
Engagements None
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Colonel Felix Labatut
Lt. Colonel Henry D. Ogden
Major S. St. Cyr

The 1st Louisiana Native Guard (CSA) was a Confederate Louisiana militia of free persons of color formed in 1861[1] in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was disbanded in February 1862; some of the members joined the Union Army's 1st Louisiana Native Guard regiment (later the 73rd Regiment Infantry U.S. Colored Troops).

Confederate Louisiana militia[edit]

Shortly after Louisiana's secession, Governor Thomas Overton Moore issued pleas for troops on April 17 and April 21, 1861. In response to the governor's request, a committee of ten prominent New Orleans free blacks called a meeting at the Catholic Institute on April 22. About two thousand people attended the meeting where muster lists were opened, with about 1,500 free blacks signing up. Governor Moore accepted the services of these men as part of the state's miltia.[2]

The new militia regiment was formed on May 2, 1861, consisting mostly of free persons of color Creole French Speakers (gens de couleur) between the ages of 15 and 50. At that time, an estimated 10,000 African American residents of the state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans had gained their freedom. On May 29, 1861, Governor Moore appointed three white officers as commanders of the regiment, and company commanders were appointed from among the free blacks of the regiment.[3]

The militia unit was the first of any North American unit to have African-American officers.[4] This regiment was called the Louisiana Native Guard. Though ten per cent of its members would later join the Union Army's 1st Louisiana Native Guard, the two were separate military units.

Activities[edit]

The South did not use this Confederate Native Guard regiment in any military action, and failed to provide it with uniforms or arms. Most of the men in the unit used their own resources to obtain weapons and uniforms which were displayed in a parade in New Orleans on January 8, 1862.[5] It was largely considered part of the Confederacy's public relations campaign.[citation needed] The Native Guard tried to become known by offering their service to escort Union prisoners, captured from Manassas, through New Orleans. Despite the Confederacy choosing white militiamen instead, the Native Guard still participated in two other grand reviews. The Louisiana State Legislature passed a law in January 1862 that reorganized the militia into only “...free white males capable of bearing arms… ”.[6]

The 1st Louisiana Native Guard was affected by this law. It was forced to disband on February 15, 1862, when the new law took effect. "Their demise was only temporary, however, for Governor Moore reinstated the Native Guards on March 24 after the Federal navy under Admiral David G. Farragut entered the Mississippi River." [7] As the regular Confederate forces under Major General Mansfield Lovell abandoned New Orleans, the Native Guard were left to fend for themselves. The Native Guard were again, and in finality, ordered to disband by General John L. Lewis, of the Louisiana Militia, on April 29, 1862, as the Union troops entered the city to take possession of it. General Lewis cautioned the Native Guard to hide their muskets and dispose of their uniforms before returning home.[8]

Notable members[edit]

  • Jamaican-born Lieutenant Morris W. Morris, who served as an officer in the Confederate Louisiana militia regiment and subsequently served for six weeks in the Union Native Guard regiment, was unique in that he was of Jewish ancestry, making him both the only Black Jewish Confederate officer and the only Black Jewish Union officer [1]. He later became a famous actor as Lewis Morrison and his granddaughters, Joan, Constance and Barbara Bennett, were actresses whose Black ancestry was never revealed.

Companies[edit]

Companies of the Confederate 1st Louisiana Native Guard prior to disbanding in 1862:

Company Name Commander Peak Strength Notes
Native Guards Capt. St. Albin Sauvinet 85 men
Savary Native Guards Capt. Joseph Joly 85 men
Beauregard Native Guards Capt. Louis Golis 52 men
Young Creole Native Guards Capt. Ludger B. Boquille 76 men
Labatut Native Guards Capt. Edgar C. Davis 110 men
Mississippi Native Guards Capt. Marcelle Dupart 64 men
Economy Native Guards Capt. Henry Louis Rey 100 men
Meschacebe Native Guards Capt. Armand Lanusse 90 men
Order Native Guards Capt. Charles Sentmanat 90 men
Crescent City Native Guards Capt. Virgil Bonseigneur 63 men
Perseverance Native Guards Capt. Noel J. Bacchus 60 men
Louisiana Native Guards Capt. Louis Lainez 75 men
Ogden Native Guards Capt. Alcide Lewis 85 men a.k.a. Turcos Native Guards
Plauche Guards Capt. Jordan Noble 100 men
Total[9] 1,135 men

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://lsm.crt.state.la.us/cabildo/cab10.htm
  2. ^ Louisiana Fast Facts and Trivia
  3. ^ Louisiana Fast Facts and Trivia
  4. ^ Louisiana Fast Facts and Trivia
  5. ^ Bergeron, Arhur W., Jr. Louisianans in the Civil War, "Louisiana's Free Men of Color in Gray", University of Missouri Press, 2002, p. 105-106.
  6. ^ Official copy of the militia law of Louisiana, adopted by the state legislature, Jan. 23, 1862
  7. ^ James G. Hollandsworth "The Louisiana Native Guard" p8.
  8. ^ Hollandsworth, ibid, p10.
  9. ^ Bergeron, Arthur W., Jr. Louisianans in the Civil War, "Louisiana's Free Men of Color in Gray", University of Missouri Press, 2002, p. 106-107.
  • Hollandsworth, James G., The Louisiana Native Guards, LSU Press, 1996.
  • Tretheway, Natasha. Native Guard.Houghton-Mifflin, 2006.