George Goodwin — Part 9, Plaquemine & Indian Village

Plaquemine & Indian Village

Our chief occupation here was guarding the Negro garrison and its doughty Colonel. He was naturally of a timid, retiring disposition and addicted  to commissary whiskey. When recovering from such painful attacks, he would, as is usual in such cases, see frightful visions, and we must mount in hot haste and scour the country before he could calm his fears sufficiently for another spree. Sergt. Horr fell a victim to one of his scares.

[Charles H.] Horr’s term of service had nearly expired and he was counting the days that remained for him to serve. I remember his saying to us the morning before he was killed, at roll call, that he should not call the roll only so many times more. Poor fellow, he was mustered out sooner and in a different manner from what he expected. A splendid soldier, a good comrade, killed by his own company by mistake. Had he been killed by the enemy, it would not seemed half so sad for that would have been a more soldierly death. [Michael] Haggerty, one of the recruits that joined us after we came back from our Veterans Furlough, met his fate in the night attack on Indian Village. He was a pugnacious little Irishman and would fight you or share his dinner with you with equal readiness. He did not like the difference between his own rations and those of the officers. He said “the officers had their tea, their tea, tea and chocolate tea and new born eggs,” while he had what he could get.

The commander of the Negro regiment in garrison at Plaquenine was also in command of the post. He was subject to spells of nervous depression of spirits, whether it was when he was full of the ardent kind or when he was out of a supply. I was not on intimate terms enough with him to decide, but at such times we would be ordered out to scour the country until he was assured there was no enemy within striking distance. If the fit was a bad one we were kept out several days, or a week according to the duration of his distemper. I was one of a squad sent by him one night to West Baton Rouge, ten miles up the river, to arrest a planter and bring him in, just for a joke. It was ten o’clock when we started, we found the planter and his family retired for the night, but soon routed them. They were greatly alarmed, not being familiar with the Colonel’s freaks. Some of the boys staid [sic] outside, and while the gentleman was dressing and getting ready, they interviewed his poultry. We got back in the small hours of the morning and delivered our prisoner. It was said they emptied many a flowing bowl before the morning light appeared. The planter was allowed to return home the next day. I think he saw the point of the joke, when he came to count up his chickens, if not before.

One of our last scouts from Plaquenine, we brought up a sugar mill six miles from Plaquenine on the Bayou with an advanced post at Indian Village, three miles farther down the bayou, a favorite crossing for guerrillas with prisoners. The village consisted of a saw mill and several dwellings situated on higher ground than the surrounding country which was overflowed from the bayou leaving a small space occupied by the mill and houses on dry land. Here Capt. Rice was stationed to intercept, with a small squadron, any rebel force crossing the bayou. The rest of us under Lieut. Bond commanding were stationed at the sugar house three miles away. We had been there several days I think, when one night I had been on picket coming off at 11 o’clock if I remember right. I had just laid down in my little bed, which was one of the big square cooling troughs in the sugar house when I heard volleys of musketry. I was soon out and so were some of the others, Lieut. Bond being the first in the saddle. As soon as eight or ten were in the saddle, we started leaving the rest, except the guards, to follow. We made the best time our horses were capable of, and more noise than the same number of men ever made before or since. We found that the few men at the village had been attacked by three companies of Rebs. It was a surprise, but under the cool leadership of our Captain, our men held their ground until our noisy arrival when the rebels called out “the second brigade!” thinking probably from the noise that the reinforcements consisted of at least, a Brigade. They withdrew soon after, but we were kept in readiness for them and, hearing occasional splashing in the water, would fire at we knew not what, but when it became light enough the cause of our alarm was found to be a number of the enemy roosting, like hens on stumps, afraid to stir, as every noise drew our fire. They succeeded in getting up something that answered for a flag of truce and came in with chattering teeth, for it was a cold night. Our ride to Indian Village that night, has not as yet, to my knowledge been the theme of any poet’s inspiration, as was Sheridan’s to Winchester, but I don’t believe he made half the noise that we did. The enemy left several dead and wounded behind them besides carrying off some. Our loss was, one man killed.

The enemy, during our stay at Plaquemine, did not seem to be anxious to cultivate our acquaintance. They probably got the impression when they did come in contact with us that we were inclined to be quarrelsome.

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