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:

0329_1_Snip_LA

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.

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Summary Statement, 3rd Quarter, 1863 – Louisiana Heavy Artillery

Moving down the pages in the summary statements for the third quarter of 1863, we have a placeholder entry for Louisiana:

0257_1_Snip_LA

Just that one line:

  • 1st Heavy Artillery:  No location given.  Just the notation for infantry stores.

Good to see the clerks at the Ordnance Department were holding to procedures and at least accounting for the artillery units then in service.  It would not be out of the normal practice for a heavy artillery unit to have a blank summary.  Much of the time, the heavy artillery pieces were assigned to the installation (be that a fort or other).  And the regiment was then only left to account for small arms… in this case covered under “infantry stores”.  I don’t have copies of the infantry summary statements, but presumably we’d find an entry for this regiment detailing muskets, other weapons, and accouterments.

But “this regiment” deserves a full explanation here.  If we consult Dyer’s Compendium, we find a listing for the regiment as:

1st REGIMENT HEAVY ARTILLERY (AFRICAN DESCENT).
Organized at New Orleans, La., November 29, 1862. Attached to Defences of New Orleans and duty as Garrison Artillery till November, 1863. Designation of Regiment changed to 1st Corps de Afrique Heavy Artillery November 19, 1863, which see.

As the name implies, this was a colored unit, formed from African-Americans then in New Orleans and other locations under Federal control.

Cross referencing those names against the returns from the Official Records (notably, the order of battle for the Department of the Gulf) we find subordinates of this regiment begin appearing in May 1863.  At that time, Company B was part of the Defenses of New Orleans, under Captain Soren Rygaard (the printed Official Records say “Loren” but his enlistment papers and other documents read “Soren”).  By August, the returns added Company C, with Rygaard now commanding a battalion of the regiment’s soldiers.

Rygaard had immigrated from Jutland, Denmark.  He was working as a merchant in New York when the war broke out.  In early 1863 he signed on as a private in Battery E, 3rd US Artillery.  But I don’t see that he ever joined that battery in the field.  Instead, he shows up next in New Orleans, accepting a discharge for commission in the 1st Louisiana Regiment of Heavy Artillery.  He was promoted to captain in early summer.  At that time there were but two companies of the regiment formed.   In September, the regiment consisted of three companies, numbering over 300 men.  Rygaard even put in a request for appointment to Colonel of the regiment.

So at the cut-off time for quarterly returns, Rygaard commanded what parts of the regiment were on duty, essentially a battalion.  And that battalion served as part of the defenses of New Orleans, with no field artillery or associated equipment worthy of mention in the summary.

However, as indicated in Dyer’s, changes were coming for this regiment… and not only a designation change.  On November 7, 1863, Special Orders No. 278 from Headquarters, Department of the Gulf came out, and read in part:

Company C, First Louisiana Heavy Artillery, under command of Capt. Loren Rygaard, commanding battalion stationed at Camp Parapet, New Orleans, having been reported by the commander of the Defenses of New Orleans in such a state of insubordination as to indicate unmistakably the incapacity or criminal action of the officers of the company, and that the conduct and character of the company is such as to make the men composing it unworthy to bear arms, Capt. Loren Rygaard, commanding battalion, and the following-named officers composing Company C, First Louisiana Heavy Artillery, viz, Capt. N. L. Rich, Senior First Lieut. H. C. Rawson, Junior First Lieut. M. J. Kenyon, Junior Second Lieut. F. Walton, are hereby dismissed the service of the United States, and the company will be immediately disarmed and sent under guard to Port Hudson, where the men will be placed at hard labor on the public works, under the direction of the commanding officer of the post, until further orders.

The quartermaster’s department will furnish the necessary transportation.
Senior Second Lieut. James M. Lawton, Company C, First Louisiana Heavy Artillery, not having served with the company during its insubordination, is honorably discharged the military service of the United States.

So no colonelcy for Rygaard.  He was discharged shortly after these orders were issued.

But the regiment remained.  In April, the 1st Corps de Afrique Heavy Artillery was brought in line with the naming convention for the US Colored Troops, thus becoming the 7th Heavy Artillery (USCT) in early April.  However, that designation was already in use by a USCT regiment then forming from contrabands from Alabama.  So in May, the Louisiana regiment was given another new designation – the 10th Heavy Artillery (USCT).  They would remain at New Orleans right up to the end of the war.  In April 1865 the regiment participated in several expeditions to speed the closure to the war.

While not a storied regiment with many battle honors, the 10th Heavy Artillery (USCT) reflects yet another aspect to the service of colored troops in the Civil War.  I do hope that some day a diligent researcher will come along to better illuminate the history of this regiment.

(Citations from Dyer’s Compendium, Part 3, Page 1213; and OR, Series I, Volume 24, Part I, Serial 41, page 791.)