The Civil Rights Plank, No. 4

By June, 1873, the white citizens of New Orleans were weary of the Republicans fighting over patronage spoils. The African-Creoles simply wanted stability. These two groups formed the Committee of One Hundred. They called themselves Fusionists, for bringing together various parties. They arrived at policy platforms, known as the Unification Movement. They adopted ten resolutions. These resolutions included all the civil rights planks that had percolated for the past few years. Full integration of public accommodations and public amusement. Integration of public schools, restaurants, taverns and hotels. These planks essentially represent what would later be codified in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Among the men behind the Unification Movement was Harry T. Hays, of the famous Hay’s Brigade and one of Lee’s most reliable lieutenants. P.G.T. Beauregard, then in charge of the Louisiana Lottery Company, was one of the 100. Perhaps no one single person had as much influence in New Orleans as Gen. Beauregard. Conservative whites (meaning they were moderate in their views) from the Reform movement in 1872 were involved. The African-Creoles included Aristide Mary, Charles Roudanez, Edmund Rillieux, and others. These African-Americans had been squeezed out by Henry Clay Warmoth. The Unification Movement represented an opportunity for them to regain influence.

Lack of Support

But, the movement attracted little or no support outside of New Orleans. The Committee of 100 also included a few black politicians who owed much to the Republican party, then controlled by the Custom House ring. Within weeks, Gen. Beauregard felt it necessary to defend his position regarding integration of public schools and transportation. Fr. Abram Ryan, the Poet of the Confederacy and editor of the Catholic Morning Star and Catholic Messenger,  claimed Beauregard’s arguments were “lame.”

The Unification Movement pledged to have a meeting in July at which it would announce these political goals. The meeting came, but many of the leading voices did not attend. Gen. Beauregard did not attend. The attendance was mostly black. One Republican, more loyal to the Custom House ring, attended. He congragulated the whites sarcastically, for finally seeing the light regarding racial equality.

Racial Polarization

The Unification Movement flamed out within just a couple of months. In the end, white support was not deep. The 1870’s saw a rising focus on racial purity among some elite whites. The ancient Creole system of plaçage became embarrassing for the French Creoles. Plaçage was a long-time Creole practice of forming a relationship with a “free woman of color,” whether as a mistress or otherwise. Starting in the 1870’s, many well-known Creoles stated to find it embarrassing that they shared last names with prominent African-Creoles. The ascension of William P. Kellogg to the governor’s office further polarized racial politics. See this site for more about plaçage here.

George Washington Cable’s short story, “Belles Demoiselles Plantation,” with its mixing of the races, was published in Scribner’s magazine in April, 1874. Much of New Orleans found it offensive, even though plaçage had been an institution since the city’s founding. Dr. Nystrom suggests the Unification Movement was partly a desperate attempt by the conservative whites to retain control and also a throw back to a more tolerant time in New Orleans.

Source:

Justin A. Nystrom, New Orleans: After the Warr, Vol. 9 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press 2010), p. 150-154

Pinchback and Badger, No. 3

Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback was not from New Orleans. He was not part of the African-Creole tradition of solid education and somewhat laissez faire attitude toward politics. He was a hard-nosed gambler from the Mississippi River. His father was a Mississippi planter and his mother was a freed slave. After the death of his father in 1849, he lead a hard-scrabble life. He worked as a steward on river-boats and as a part-time gambler. He learned from the notorious cardsharp, George Devol. When New Orleans was first occupied by the Union army, Mr. Pinchback made his way there and recruited a company of Native Guards. The Native Guards was the long-time militia composed of free men of color. They were then preparing to join the Union army.

But, after a year in Federal service, Pinchback resigned his commission. He went to Alabama, seeking political success. Not finding what he was looking for, he returned to New Orleans by 1867.

Pinchback’s light skin, impeccable manners and quality clothing helped him fit in well with the African-Creoles of New Orleans. See more about former Lt.-Gov. Pinchback here.

The Carpet Bagger

Like all African-Americans at the time, Mr. Pinchback supported Republican causes and politicians. He advocated for civil rights protections for blacks in New Orleans. He was never offended by Governor Warmoth, as some black leaders were. Warmoth was a scheming, ambitious, morally corrupt carpet-bagger, But, Warmoth was also successful. Pinchback likely appreciated Warmoth’s daring. Pinchback started a very successful factorage with a prominent African-Creole native of the Crescent City. Pinchback allied himself with Warmoth, perhaps to balance against the Lieutenant Governor, Oscar J. Dunn. Mr. Dunn was Pinchback’s chief rival for leadership of the black community in New Orleans. Unlike either Warmoth or Pinchback, Dunn was known as generally honest.

The Custom House Gang

The principal Republican rival to Warmoth’s power was a group known as the Custom House gang. One of their key leaders was Stephen Packard. Packard was the U.S. Marshall for New Orleans. His office was in the venerable Custom House building on Canal street. The Collector of customs was James F. Casey, brother-in-law to President U.S. Grant. Casey also officed in the Custom House. Those two Republicans, both ambitious for personal gain, gradually acquired more and more power. Eventually, Mr. Pinchback also allied himself with the Custom House gang.

The War Hero

At the same time, Algernon Sidney Badger was finding success as a leader of the Metropolitan police force in New Orleans. Badger, unlike Pinchback, served during the war with distinction. He was a Massachusetts native and African-American. He came to New Orleans with his Massachusetts regiment. He later transferred to a Unionist Louisiana cavalry regiment and did well. He was cool in battle and competent.

The Metropolitan police force was created by Gov. Warmoth to enforce his orders. He knew he could not rely on the Federal troops. The Metropolitans had members from all races, even though today, it is often remembered as solely African-American. It was designed to be a modern police force, with some modern innovations. Even if it was in effect a private militia for Governor Warmoth, it also represented advancements in the science of policing.

By 1877, Republican interests had changed dramatically. Some conservative whites had supported a moderate white, Francis T. Nicholls, for governor. He won. The Republican state legislators and Gov. Warmoth then set up a rival state Senate. Warmoth hid four of the state senators in the city, so he could control the quorum. Pinchback attended the rival state senate, to lobby for appointment as U.S. senator. Quickly realizing the situation, Pinchback, instead, talked with Warmoth and asked him how he would control the senate. Warmoth, apparently not seeing Pinchback as a threat, mentioned where he had stashed the four missing state senators.

The Bribes

Immediately, Pinchback obtained $8,000-16,000 per state senator from the Louisiana State Lottery Company. He persuaded the four state senators to come with him, with the inducement of bribes.

The Metropolitans by 1877 were much reduced from their prior prowess. Their numbers had been reduced by low morale and a skirmish with white citizens. But, they still had Superintendent Badger and a few trusted officers. Stephen Packard, now the rump Governor, ordered Badger, the acting Sergeant-of-Arms for the rump senate, to go to Pinchback’s mansion and bring back the absent four state senators.

Badger grabbed some of the remaining Metropolitans and proceeded to Pinchback’s mansion on First Street, the area known today as the Garden District. Badger still limped from the bullet wounds he received in the Battle of Liberty Place in 1874.

At first, no one answered the door. Eventually, Pinchback appeared, pointing a repeating Henry rifle and told Badger he did not think Badger would take anyone from his house. Badger threatened to assault the home. But, Badger reconsidered when he discovered a handful of White League citizens positioned behind the Pinchback mansion. Badger and his men withdrew. But, as they were leaving, the White Leaguers overtook them and arrested all but two of Badger’s men and took them to a nearby jail. Badger, a man universally respected by all who knew him, was left to make his way back downtown by himself. The man known for his integrity and physical courage lost to the man known for his lack of integrity.

Justin A. Nystrom, New Orleans: After the War, Vol. 9 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press 2010), p. 36-38, 101-104, 180-182.

Bleached Bones from Shiloh to Corinth

As the Civil War progressed, the Union army picked up a new innovation, burying the bodies after a battle. During prior wars, the European armies did what armies had done forever, they focused on the moment and left their dead behind. But, as the civil war commenced in 1861, the Federal government issued an order that each commander would be responsible for burying his dead. Even with this order, the Union forces often buried their dead quickly in graves which were quickly undone.

The Confederate Army issued no such order. Even if they had issued such an order, it is unlikely the Confederates had the resources to bury their dead. After the Battle of Antietam, Matthew Brady took pictures of the dead soldiers. Most of the dead soldiers we see today in his pictures are Confederates. The Northerners had already buried their dead by the time Brady took his pictures. Historian Katherine Jeffrey recounts the story that the retreating Confederate army had rescued the body of one young officer from behind enemy lines, only to leave it lying by the road along with other officers. This occurred during the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) and the army was hastily pulling back to Virginia. They Confederate army lacked the wagons necessary to transport even the dead officers to a proper burial.

So, after the war, there were tens of thousands of Southern bones left lying beneath the sun unburied and unremembered. In the North, the federal government had started collecting and burying veterans in 1862. In that year, the federals set up the first veteran burial ground. Prior to 1861, fallen soldiers would have been buried at the post cemetery or in some quick grave on the prairie. But, by 1862, that simple system was quickly overwhelmed. The federal government responded by creating what we know today as national cemeteries for veterans. By 1865, there were some 30 national cemeteries for federal veterans. See National Park Service website here.

Gettysburg Battlefield

At the Battle of Gettysburg, 5,500 Southern boys were killed or suffered mortal wounds. Some 16,000 were wounded. In the ensuing retreat, hundreds of the wounded were left behind to die a slow, lingering death. Many of the dead lay in the open, to be feasted on by maggots and hogs. Those who received a shallow burial were uncovered by the heavy rains that fell soon after the battle. Two weeks after the battle, Southern bodies could be seen lying all over the battlefield out in the open, under the gray skies. One correspondent wrote:

“Day and night, rain or shine, cold or hot, there they lie. Hour by hour they die off, are carried to the trenches, a foot or two deep, in which they are to lie … and to remain there in continually increasing groups until the parties whose duty it is to come around to tend to their internment. It is awful, it is terrible, it is horrible beyond expression”

The Confederate dead at Gettysburg received a shallow burial or burial in trenches. None were buried in the national cemetery at Gettysburg. See website here.

“In the spring of 1864, there had been scattered calls in the Gettysburg Sentinel to collect the “Rebel remains,” in the name of “a common humanity,” but the pressures and politics of war-time had forestalled such.” See website here. And, how many of those 450,000 were buried? Not many. 482 dead Confederates were buried at Arlington cemetery. Arlington burials started in late 1864.

Wake County, North Carolina

There is no known figure for which or how many of the Confederate dead received a decent burial. Whatever burial the Confederate soldier received was ad hoc. For example, the ladies of Wake County, North Carolina first started making an effort to re-bury the Battle of Gettysburg dead Confederates in 1874. That means, nine years after the war, one group of women in one county made an effort to bury North Carolina bodies which had received a shallow burial at one battle. See University of North Carolina science website here. Other groups from other states also started making an effort to bury the Gettysburg dead years after the war had ended. See NPS website here.

Shiloh Battlefield

Confederate dead were left where they fell. The remains might be moved aside to gather the remains of a federal soldier, but not buried. So, advertisements appeared in the newspapers of the day seeking funds for recovering the bones of their deceased loves ones, like this ad:

“The Shiloh Burial Association, formed for the purpose of purchasing a portion of the field, where the gallant Johnson fell, for interring the Confederate dead, whose bones lie bleaching from Shiloh to Corinth, have issued an appeal to the people. The object is to obtain two hundred acres of this sacred soil, fell the timber, make a fence, and plant Osage Orange for a hedge. Contributions may be sent to S.D. Lee at Columbus, or Maj. Upshaw at Holly Springs.”

S.D. Lee was Stephen D. Lee, who served in the Confederate Army. He graduated from West Point. He was not related to Gen. Robert E. Lee. He lived in Columbus, Mississippi after the war. The statement about the bones refers to the thousands of dead from the many battles up and down the Mississippi River valley, from Shiloh, Tennessee down to Corinth, Mississippi and still further south. Mr. Lee helped create the Vicksburg National Park Association which later lead to the creation of the Vicksburg Battlefield Park. Stephen D. Lee died after giving a talk to Union veterans from Wisconsin and Iowa, regiments which he faced during the war. He was very active in planning and organizing veteran reunions.

Only in the early 1950’s, when the number of remaining Confederate veterans could be counted on one hand, were national cemeteries opened to Confederate veterans. Most Southern boys, especially in the western theater were simply left where they fell. So, in the South, those Confederate memorials took on added importance.

Sources:

West Baton Rouge Sugar Planter, Nov. 24, 1866

Katherine B. Jeffrey, First Chaplain of the Confederacy, (Baton Rouge: LSU Press 2020), p. 57, 75

The Committee of 51 and Reformers, No. 2

In 1872, after all the fighting over the New Orleans carcass, the white Democrats were becoming agitated. Some had allied with the Custom House faction, in order to get rid of Gov. Warmoth. Dozens gathered in Lafayette Square, off Canal Street. The meeting included many carpet-baggers and black Republicans, as well. It devolved into a meeting of the anti-Warmoth faction.

The State Militia

The Custom House leaders approached senior white officers in the state militia. Packard (the Custom House faction leader) and his supporters suggested the militia attack the Metropolitans guarding the state house, so as to provoke a crack-down by Federal troops. Eugene Waggaman, the commander, rightly asked Packard how he could be sure the Federal troops would not arrive and arrest the militia under the recently passed Ku Klux Klan law? Packard simply looked at him with his hands in his pockets. Waggaman, a former officer in the Washington Artillery during the war, was suspicious of the Custom House gang. Too, it simply struck him as dis-honorable to attack a force, simply as a ruse. The militia turned down the Custom House gang.

Eventually, Gov. Warmoth won. The legislators at Packard’s saloon eventually found their way back to the state house. The state house was securely guarded by the Metropolitans and the state militia.

Meanwhile, the white Democrats were more and more upset about this breakdown of government and order. They were anxious to restore New Orleans to something like normalcy. Many of them sought a middle ground, somewhere between the reactionary white radicals and the Warmoth carpet-baggers.

A group of merchants, including many members of the new Boston Club, formed the Committee of Fifty-One. They held a mass meeting on the steps of City Hall four days after the close of Mardi Gras. Thousands attended. The Committee included 162 Vice-Presidents. The Committee included the head of Leeds Foundry, Charles Leeds, prominent lawyers and doctors. It included well-known Creole African-Americans. New Orleans was unique in the South in that it had a long tradition of freed blacks who were well-educated and well-travelled. These Creole Blacks similarly sought a more stable government. The Committee also included many working class whites. The Committee included Frederick Ogden Nash, who in just a few years will lead the whites at the Battle of Liberty Place. Edward D. White, the future Supreme Court justice also joined the group.

The Reform Party

The Committee adopted resolutions supporting a return to work. The resolutions tossed aside any “Lost cause” sentimentality. They called for the creation of a new party, the “Reform” party. They called for a convention to select candidates, regardless of color and previous political association. They adopted a platform lamenting that the lack of “political sympathy” between the black and white races of Louisiana had rendered her a “victim to the most frightful spoliation and robbery.” The party platform attacked the Warmoth regime. But, they did not address the issues of sharing transportation between the races or discuss the many white and black men then supporting the Warmoth regime. That was still an issue too sensitive.

Lt-Gov. Pinchback’s newspaper, the Louisianian, criticized the Reform party as hypocritical. They would seek black support, but would not share a carriage or trolley car with a black man. Still, this was the first movement toward something like equality. Similar movements occurred across the South, as whites tired of Federal occupation.

Justin A. Nystrom, New Orleans: After the Civil War (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press 2010), p. 118-120

A View of the Constitution

Today, we take it for granted that secession is in some way unlawful or beyond the pale. Which is a good thing. Imagine the stock market if secession was bandied about whenever there was fussing over the national budget, or whenever there was a pandemic. But, it was not always assumed that secession or adjustment of the “united” states was beyond the pale. In William Rawle’s A View of the Constitution, (1829 2d Ed.), the author prescribed how to effect a secession in a lawful, binding way. Mr. Rawle, a well-trained lawyer for his day, lays out the requirements for a stable, effective secession:

… the secession must in such case be distinctly and peremptorily declared to take place on that event, and in such case — as in the case of unconditional secession — the previous ligament with the Union, would be legitimately and fairly destroyed. But, in either case [of a conditional or unconditional secession] the people is [sic] the only moving power

A View, p. 303

Mr. Rawle explains that by making clear the conditions for a secession, a state may secede and break that “ligament.” His book on the Constitution remained the pre-eminent text on the U.S. Constitution through the 1850’s. It remains today a primary source of information in court cases concerning the right to bear arms and the Constitutional role of militias. His views have been cited numerous times in various court cases concerning the Second Amendment, a President’s recess appointments and other Constitutional questions. Mr. Rawle was a prominent lawyer who had been a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly that ratified the Bill of Rights. See, e.g.District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 128 S.Ct. 2783, at 2805 (2008). You can read his book here.

Those crazy Southerners who viewed human chattel so important, were apparently not so crazy, after all.

Fighting for the Spoils, No. 1

By 1865 and the close of the Civil War, New Orleans had been occupied by Federal troops for three years. That time allowed many carpet-baggers, persons from outside the state seeking fortune, to infiltrate the city. Clay Warmoth was one such person. Former Lt-Col. Warmoth was sent to New Orleans during the occupation and stayed. By 1871, he was governor of the state, and not yet 30 years old. Gov. Warmoth made several enemies. Though he courted all factions, Republican, freed slaves, and former Confederates, it was another Republican, another carpet-bagger, who sought to elbow Warmoth side. Stephen B. Packard, a Union veteran with an undistinguished war record, secured appointment as the U.S. Marshall for New Orleans. Packard’s office was in the Custom House, a large, imposing granite building in the downtown area. Packard’s faction became known as the Custom House ring.

The Republican Party Convention

In the Summer of 1871, the two factions wrestled for control of the Republican party as the party convention approached. Warmoth, as governor, had his own semi-military force, known as the Metropolitan Police Force. The Metropolitans were a modern innovation in some respects, but they also answered only to Gov. Warmoth. They were a private militia. Marshall Packard had his own armed ruffians. The two competed for control and influence with the ward clubs all summer.

The Metropolitans Strike

At a meeting of the Tenth Ward Mother Republican club, the Metropolitans came in force, in civilian clothes. They occupied a large number of the seats, to prevent regular members from staying for the meeting. The meeting ended with a riot between the two factions. The Tenth Ward included many African-Americans. The Metropolitans who broke up the meeting and beat numerous attendees were lead by light-skinned Negroes. The Convention took place in August, 1871. Marshall Packard out-smarted Gov. Warmoth by holding the convention at the Custom House and arranging for Federal troops to provide security. The Metropolitans came to the conventions seeking to upset the proceedings. But, they were met by one well-manned gatling gun.

At the Republican convention, Packard tried to engineer a quorum in the state legislature which would impeach Warmoth. The plan collapsed only when Lt.-Gov. Dunn, a close ally of Packard’s, died. Some suspected foul play.

The Warmoth Faction is Arrested

The Louisiana state legislative session opened in January, 1872. Packard still hoped to impeach Gov. Warmoth,. A,B Pinchback, a prominent man of color was now the Lieutenant Governor. Lt.-Gov. Pinchback was a close ally of Gov. Warmoth. Warmoth engineered an invasion of the session to move aside the Speaker, George Carter, a close ally of Packard. Packard promptly swore out arrest warrants for Warmoth, Lt.-Gov. Pinchback, some dozen legislators and some of the key leaders of the Metropolitans.

The Warmoth faction, however, soon got themselves out of jail. Warmoth called in the Metropolitans to “guard” the state house and called up the state militia. The Custom House ring retreated to a saloon and organized a rival legislature. Such was Reconstruction politics in 1872 Louisiana.

For more about Gov. Clay Warmoth, see this site.

Source:

Justin A. Nystrom, New Orleans: After the Civil War (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press 2010), p. 104-110.

Taking the Oath

Oliver Evans was a small, young man attending law school in New Orleans when the war broke out in 1861. Attending law school was still a new thing in 1861. Oliver was one of the first. His law school friend, E. John Ellis had enlisted. Although, John Ellis was a reluctant secessionist. Ellis came from a slave holding family. The Ellis family generally opposed secession. But, like many Southerners, he enlisted when his state, Louisiana, seceded.

Oliver wanted to join his friend. He felt the pull of patriotism then resounding through New Orleans. Though barely old enough, Oliver joined in 1861, despite the protestations of his father and John Ellis. The young Oliver was small and thin. His friends did not think he could withstand the rigors of soldiering. In December, 1862, Oliver was wounded in the leg at the Battle of Murfreesboro. Oliver could not walk and was left behind when Gen. Bragg retreated. Oliver was taken prisoner and sent to a military hospital in Cincinnati. Oliver’s uncle, Caleb Evans, lived in Cincinnati. Uncle Caleb tried to provide personal medical treatment by his own doctor. But, Uncle Caleb insisted Oliver first take the oath of loyalty to the Union. The young Oliver feared for his honor. He would not take the oath. His wound festered until he was finally exchanged the following Spring.

At the Battle of Chickamauga, Oliver was wounded again, more seriously this time. Ellis looked at his young friend in the field hospital and was overwhelmed by Oliver’s willingness to sacrifice his body for a cause he believed in so deeply. Oliver joined in part to emulate his friend’s service. Now, Oliver was seriously injured. Capt. Ellis left his manservant, an enslaved African-American named Stewart to look after Oliver. A week later, the captain returned. Stewart told him Oliver had died, but he left a packet of letters for Ellis to deliver. The reluctant secessionist would in time become more ardent.

Justin A. Nystrom, New Orleans: After the War, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press 2010), p. 45-46

The Venerable Hon. Charles Le Poer Trench

The Venerable Honorable Charles Le Poer Trench died in 1839. He was son of the Earl of Clancarty. The Trench family’s great house was located in Garbally, just outside Ballinasloe, in eastern Co Galway. The home is now St. Joseph’s college. Visit this site here to see a picture of Garbally Park (house).

Rev. Trench was the Vicar for the Church of Ireland parish in Ballinasloe for many years and was also Archdeacon of Ardagh. As Archdeacon, he was responsible for supervision and discipline of clergy. Another Trench relative was the last Protestant Archbishop of Tuam for the Church of Ireland. The Trench family erected this beautiful memorial to him when he passed. According to the plaque mounted at the base, the funds for the memorial were raised through subscriptions “of all ranks and religious distinctions.” See Irish Aesthete post here.

Some of the local folks believe this is a monument to the Earl of Clancarty’s pack of hunting dogs built during the Famine when folks were starving. The plaque is in Latin, so it is not surprising that many people do not know what it says. If they could read it, they would see that the memorial was erected years before the famine. For more about the Trench family and the Earls of Clancarty, see Ask About Ireland here.

During the Great Famine of the 1840’s, the Trench family refused to conduct mass evictions, as some landlords did. But, one Earl established free public schools and required tenants to send their children. But, the Earl also required that Protestant religion be taught. The family established a Bible study in Ballinasloe. The family was said to use physical force when proselytising. The Earls did not allow sub-tenants, which often lead to the predatory practices of middleman sub-lessors. If they were evangelical in their religious views, they were also fair-minded landlords.

During the Great Famine of the 1840’s, the Trench family refused to conduct mass evictions, as some landlords did. But, one Earl established free public schools and required tenants to send their children. But, the Earl also required that Protestant religion be taught. The family established a Bible study in Ballinasloe. The family was said to use physical force when proselytizing. The Earls did not allow sub-tenants, which often lead to predatory practices by middleman sub-lessors. If the Earls of Clancarty were evangelical in their religious views, they were also fair-minded landlords.

The Trench family legacy was mixed. Yet, the Protestant memorial remains in a town that is now much more Catholic than back in 1839. The American South is not the only place where memorials to a distant past remain despite changing populations. I visited the Charles Trench memorial in 2019 and found it neglected, but otherwise in wonderful condition. A memorial to a distant time and once cherished relationships.

Who Were the Montgomery Guards?

I talked about the Montgomery Guards getting ready to deploy in 1861 here. We talked about their first commander, Michael Nolan. But, how about the other Montgomery Guards? Who were they? They did not leave a diary or memoir, that I can find. But, we can glean some clues about these early Irish immigrants to the port city of New Orleans. Many were members before the war began.

Dennis Callahan/Callihan started with the Montgomery Guards from the beginning. He enlisted on April 24,1861, suggesting he was a member prior to the start of the war fever. He started as the First Sergeant. But, by November, 1861, he had been promoted to 2d Lieutenant. He was 31 years old in 1861 and was a clerk before the war. He does not appear in the 1860 census or the 1861 City Directory. As a clerk, he was doing well for an Irish immigrant. But, he still remained invisible in greater New Orleans. Dennis was the Drill Master in camp. That role afforded him extra pay. Doubtless, he developed those drill skills during his militia days.

John Dunlap joined the Montgomery Guards at the outset on April 28, 1861. He left in February, 1862 to join the Confederate Navy. There was one John “Dunlop” in the 11th Ward. That John was 27 years old in 1860 and was born in Ireland. He was a laborer. He owned no real state and claimed the paltry sum of $90 in personal possessions.

James M. McDonald/McDonnell enlisted on April 28, 1861, suggesting he was a probably a member of the Montgomery Guards before the war fever started. James went AWOL in April, 1862 and did not return until he was arrested. He was court martialed. He was released from arrest by Gen. Jackson and lost $30 pay. He died July 28, 1863 at a Richmond hospital due to double pneumonia. His death reflects the reality that in camp, illness was a deadly killer. He started as a private and died as a private.

Most of the service returns use the name “McDonald.” There are several James McDonalds in the New Orleans census for 1860. All of them live within the Third, Second, and Eleventh Ward area. That area was not just the home of the Montgomery Guards. It was also the center of the Irish community. One James McDonald lived in a boarding house and coffee house. It appears his family ran the boarding house and coffee house. This James had no specified occupation, suggesting he helped with the family business. A second James McDonald of military age was a laborer and married. Neither James McDonald claimed any personal estate. In the 1860 census

John R. Maskew was literate. He started as a private and ended up s 1st Lt. by 1865. Then, as now, it was an extraordinary achievement to be commissioned as an officer from the enlisted ranks. 1stLieut. Maskew commanded the Montgomery Guards, now Co. E by the end of the war. He enlisted on April 28, 1861 in New Orleans. He was apparently a member of the Montgomery Guards before the war. He was wounded and captured at the Battle of Gettysburg. He was retired from active service in March, 1865 due to some unspecified impairment.

No Maskew appears in the 1860 census. But, there is a James Maskey who lives at 177 Tchoupitoulas, which was near the wharves. James Maskey was a track driver, according to the 1861 City Directory. That meant he rode horses in the races. New Orleans had a vibrant horse and mule track. In 1865 John Maskew married Mary Hickey. In the 1868 City Directory, which generally reflects 1867 information, John was Constable for the First Justice Court. He also worked at a coffee house in the same building as the Justice Court. He lived at 197 Magazine, somewhat close to the future Irish Channel neighborhood. John Maskew died in 1867. He was 27 years old. He was said to be a native of Ireland. His widow, Mary Hickey Maskew, 45 years old, died in 1885. She was a native of County Tipperary.

James McClaughery and Andrew M. McClaughery both enlisted in the Montgomery Guards on April 28, 1861. Andrew was enlisted by Capt. Nolan himself. They lived in the Second ward, close to the Armory. Andrew and probably James were enlisted by Capt. Nolan himself, suggesting they were prior embers of the Guards. The 1860 census records James McClaughery as “John,” but that is such an unusual name. It appears the census taker made a mistake. James/John was a tinner or tinsmith. Andrew was a “C.P.” C.P. perhaps represented colporteurs, or seller of books and newspapers. Both McClaugherys were skilled workers Both were born in Ireland.

Andrew was promoted to Sergeant in 1862. He later wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg and left in the “hands of the enemy.” Eventually, he was paroled back to a Confederate hospital. Andrew was found to be unqualified for further duty.

Sources:

New Orleans Daily Picayune, Oct. 13, 1867, p. 3, obituary available at the New Orleans Public Library (Maskew)

New Orleans Daily Picayune, March 29, 1885, p. 4, obituary available at the New Orleans Public Library (hickey)

1868 Gardner’s New Orleans City Directory

Confederate Service records, available at http://www.fold3

The Montgomery Guards Go to War

The city of New Orleans had militia units, mandatory and volunteer since its founding in 1718. Several militia units helped defend the city against the British in 1815. The Irish immigrants formed their own militia units. The oldest Irish militia and the most prestigious was the Montgomery Guards. I previously spoke about the Montgomery Guards and Emmet Guards here. As the drum beats of war sounded in early 1861, the Montgomery Guards ramped up their activity, as did the other New Orleans militias. They elected as their commander, Michael Nolan, a grocer with a shop on Common street. This was the heart of the third and fourth wards, the working class areas of the Crescent City.

The Fenian

And, who was Mike Nolan? Unlike most of the newly arrived Irish, Mike owned real estate./ He claimed $30,000 in real estate and $10,000 in personal estate in the 1860 census. Small groceries were used frequently by the Irish as a means to a white collar life. And, it worked well for Mike Nolan. He was married to Ellen. They had no children, but had three persons, probably employees, at their home.

Michael was born in County Tipperary about 1819. In 1848, Michael Nolan heard news of the rebellion in Ireland. He left his shop in New Orleans, bought a rifle, and sailed to his homeland. But, he was arrested as soon as he landed. He spent nine months in jail. He was released only after he agreed to leave the country. He was said to be a leader of the Fenian Brotherhood in ante-bellum New Orleans.

Fr. Hubert

Mike Nolan was also a close friend of the esteemed Father Darius Hubert. Fr. Hubert would become the chaplain of the First Louisiana Regiment and Mike Nolan would become their commander. But, before the war, Fr. Hubert was serving in Baton Rouge. So, it is not clear how the two met.

Lt.-Col. Nolan achieved some fame at the Battle of Manassas for his quick thinking. At  particularly bitter fighting at the Deep Cut, his men ran out of ammunition. Nolan quickly rallied his men to hurl stones and rocks at the Yankees, then literally just a stone’s throw away. The Mostly Irish Confederates did indeed hurl the works over a railroad embankment, holding their position until reinforcements arrived. Fr. Sheeran, another chaplain from New Orleans, would record in his diary that after the battle, many Union soldiers were found with broken skulls.

Lt.-Col. Nolan was badly wounded at the Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam). He was evacuated to a Richmond hospital and from there, he was sent on recruiting duty to Mobile. Many refugees from New Orleans and Baton Rouge had evacuated to Mobile at the time. His wife, Ellen, joined him in Mobile. He rejoined the First Louisiana Infantry Regiment just before the Battle of Gettysburg in July, 1863. Bravely, he lead his men in an attack on Culp’s Hill. Almost immediately, he was cut down by a 12 pound artillery shell. He was killed within 24 hours of his return to his unit. What was left of his body was buried in a nearby orchard in a shallow grave. Soon afterward, through the kindness of a local Catholic woman, Isabella “Belle” Gubernator, and aided by the estimable Regimental chaplain, Fr. Hubert, Lt.-Col. Nolan was re-buried in consecrated ground at the nearby Conewago Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. LTC Nolan received the a Catholic, marked burial, rare for a Confederate soldier or officer.

It was said that the death of Lt.-Col. Nolan was a blow to the kindly priest, Fr. Hubert. Another chaplain remarked upon hearing of Nolan’s death, “it was a great loss for Fr. Hubert!”

Later, , after Gen. Lee’s surrender, Fr. Hubert remained in Virginia long enough to coordinate with Federal authorities the future removal of Lt.-Col. Nolan’s body to New Orleans. See here for a picture of Micheal Nolan, but notice the web site states erroneously that Nolan was buried in Richmond.

Re-Burial

After the war, Michael Nolan’s body was indeed returned to New Orleans for re-burial. The logistics of removing a body in 1866 were enormous. He was accorded a large funeral. The funeral cortege was said to be more than two miles long. Fr. Hubert and Fr. Sheeran presided.

After his death, his widow, Ellen apparently sank into poverty. In the 1870 census she was living with the William and Kate Behan family. Ellen claims no property and is listed as “Domestic Servant.” Michael and Ellen did not have any children. Ellen was among hundreds of others who were cited for failure to pay taxes in 1870, 1872, 1874, 1876, and 1878. She sold her property at a sheriff’s sale in 1879.

And so passed a patriotic Fenian and his family.

Sources:

Kathrine B. Jeffrey, First Chaplain of the Confederacy (Baton Rouge: LSU Press 2020), p. 50, 53, 73.

Gardner’s 1861 New Orleans City Directory

Michael Dan Jones, The Fighting First Louisiana Infantry Regiment (Michael Dan Jones 2016), p. 15.

New Orleans Daily Crescent, Aug. 20, 1866, p. 1