Battle of Baton Rouge, Part 3

General John Breckenridge, the former Presidential candidate in the 1860 election, approached Baton Rouge with a Confederate force too small for the job. He had some 3,000 troops to the Federal force of some 4,500 soldiers. He sought to free Baton Rouge from the Yankees. As the cannon fire awakened Eliza and her now two month old baby girl, the mother flew into action. Hundreds of civilian residents fled the city. They all passed on the one road, by the McHatton home. Many were dressed still in their slippers, and night clothes. Most were hatless and bonnetless. A man would be riding bareback clutching a small child with a terrified woman clinging behind. Men were trundling along with small children in dirty wheel barrows. Eliza provided food for all as best she could.

By noon came news of the Confederate defeat. The half-starved Eliza wept and hushed her two month old baby, also half-starved.

The rest of the day, defeated and wounded Confederate soldiers collected at Arlington Point. Eliza and James provided all the support they could. Near the end of the day came a message from the Federal commander: remove the Rebels or they would shell the house. James was gone with another group of wounded. So, Eliza replied that she could not force all these helpless men to leave. The hungry and wounded, however, recognized Eliza’s plight and gradually left the home. Many left, but dozens still remained at her home. Soon, a Federal gunboat began to shell the home, but far wide of the mark. The home was right on the river, so the gunboat could surely hit the home if it wished. No, this was a warning to the wounded and tired Rebels to leave. By two’s and three’s the wounded left the relative safety of the home.

Arlington Point again returned to some measure of normalcy.

Eliza McHatton-Ripley, From Flag to Flag (United Kingdom: Dodo Press 2009) (reprint), pp. 21-23

Be Safe.

The State Penitentiary (Part 2)

Weeks after taking Baton Rouge, the Union forces opened the gates of the state penitentiary in that city. The inmates were told to leave and report to headquarters to enlist.

One such inmate from South Carolina turned up at Eliza’s door seeking food. He said he had to return home and see his wife and children. The McHattons loaned him a horse, and gave him money. They rifled the trunks left at their house by departing Confederates. They found for him civilian clothes. The inmates were clothed in striped garb by the prison. The McHattons wrote him careful instruction and directions, so as to avoid the Federal patrols.

With moistened eyes, the man left for his distant home.

Eliza McHatton-Ripley, From Flag to Flag (United Kingdom: Dodo Press 2009) (reprint), pp. 13