Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – Louisiana

In the third quarter of 1863, we discussed a single line entry under the Louisiana heading, showing no ordnance reported with the 1st Louisiana Heavy Artillery (African Descent). From that I introduced the administrative history of that regiment. As noted in that post, in November 1863 the regiment changed names to the 1st Corps de Afrique Heavy Artillery. Later, in the spring of 1864, the regiment went through a series of designation changes, finally set as the 10th Heavy Artillery (USCT).

We also discussed, when summarizing all the batteries not covered within the official summaries, three Louisiana batteries formed in the second half of 1863. All of which were later given USCT designations.

But for the fourth quarter, all we have is a heading:


So let us try to fill in some of the blank spaces here and discuss those formations which should have appeared in this section:

  • 1st Corps de Afrique Heavy Artillery: In August, the department returns indicated two companies under Captain Soren Rygaard. The command later possibly included a third company and was rated as a battalion. As discussed in the previous quarter, Rygaard was relieved of duty on November 7, for insubordination. And much of Company C was either dismissed or sentenced to hard labor due. The department returns for the end of December have the “battalion” down to a single company, under Lieutenant Thomas McCormick, in the garrison of New Orleans. That officer was the senior lieutenant of Company B. Another company was organized under Lieutenant Charles A. Bailey starting in January, initially resuming the designation of Company C. The status of Company A remains a gap to be resolved.
  • 1st Battery Louisiana Light Artillery (AD):  Organized at Hebron’s Plantation, Louisiana, and mustered in November 1863. Captain Isaac B. Goodloe commanded. The battery’s first posting was Goodrich’s Landing, Louisiana. However, Goodloe, promoted from Battery E, 2nd Illinois Artillery, where he’d been a sergeant, was not long in command. In January he was brought up on charges of conduct unbecoming, and resigned instead of facing a court martial. Captain Robert Ranney replaced him in March. In April 1864, the battery became Battery C, 2nd US Colored Light Artillery. Based on the following quarter’s return, the battery had a mix of weapons – two 6-pdr field gun, one 12-pdr field howitzer, two 3.80-inch James rifles, and four 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 2nd Battery Louisiana Light Artillery (AD): Organized at Black River Bridge, outside Vicksburg, Mississippi, and mustered in December 1863. Captain William M. Pratt, who commanded, had been a lieutenant in Battery A, 1st Illinois Artillery. The battery was assigned to the garrison of Vicksburg. In the spring, it became Battery D, 2nd US Colored Light Artillery. In the following quarter (first of 1864), the battery reported four 6-pdr field guns.
  • 3rd Battery Louisiana Light Artillery (AD):  Also mustered in December. Captain Jonas Fred Lembke had been a corporal in Battery B, 1st Illinois Artillery.  The battery formed at Helena, Arkansas, and was posted there upon muster. They were designated Battery E, 2nd US Colored Light Artillery in April. Lembke was also not long in command. He was killed in action on July 26, 1864. Looking forward to the first quarter, 1864 returns, the battery had one 12-pdr field howitzer and one 3.80-inch James rifle.

Given the problems with leadership, recent musters, and general war situation in December 1863, we can understand why formal returns were not posted in Washington for these Louisiana batteries.

Historians have not spent much time examining the service of these USCT artillerists. The infantry formations tend to get most of the attention… where the USCT are discussed in any detail. And that is a shortfall for all of us to consider reconciling. Given that the service of the white artillerymen differed from that of the white infantrymen, we would assume the same for the USCT. What would make for an interesting study were the parallels, intersections, and divergences which existed in the experiences from artillerists, regardless of race, during the war.