The Victory of the People of New Orleans Over the Kellogg Usurpation.
A History of the Causes That Led Up To It.
Organization of the White League--Seizure of Arms by the Kellogg Police--The Grand Rally and Arming of
or the Citizens.
The Battle, the Victory and the Surrender.
The grateful population of the city turned out en masse to greet him on his entry, and his pathway was strewn with flowers and garlands--offerings of the fair women whose homes he had defended.
Chalmette saved New Orleans from the fearful disaster of capture and occupation by a foreign army, which had made the vilest threats against her people; the Fourteenth of September saved New Orleans from even a worse fate. Saved her from a degradation which one thinks of shudderingly even now--the horror of being held in absolute bondage by the rapacious and conscienceless carpet-baggers who had been installed by bayonets over a people to whom they were aliens, and whom they regarded as their just prey--to be
For months anterior to the conflict the Kellogg usurpation, aided and abetted by the Federal government and chiefly instigated by that unsparing foe of the South, Landaulet Williams, who disgraced the position of Attorney General of the United States, had been committing outrages of the most glaring character in the city and parishes. Every difficulty was magnified into a rebellion against his authority and against the Federal government itself, and the usurper seized upon every pretext to call for troops to sustain his government, which,
Difficulties in Grant parish, Baton Rouge and St. Martineville were magnified into battles; were used to fire the Northern heart and to give color to the wild appeal for Federal troops. Failing to obtain all the assistance be required, Kellogg determined to organize an army of his own and found an excellent nucleus in the Metropolitan Police Brigade, which was at once under the supervision of Gen. Longstreet, greatly increased, armed with the most improved weapons, including several Gatling guns, and placed on a war footing.
The men had most of them been old Federal soldiers, and were drilled in the manual and in maneuvering until their distinguished commander was quite satisfied that they could be depended upon for any possible emergency. He had a lofty contempt for the citizen soldiery, and expressed the belief that one volley from his brigade would put them to rout. A cavalry force was also organized for raiding the parishes, while the steamer Ozark was fitted up and armed as the necleus of a navy.
Civil government was virtually at an end, 1 and burly militia officers of all colors, with golden and glossy epaulete, and gleaming swords, marched their armed companies about the streets of the city, to overawe the people and inspire them with a wholesome fear of the usurpation.
Those days, so full of misery and injustice and intolerable wrongs, seem, at this distance of time, almost unreal. It is marvelous how rapidly and with what audacious strides the usurpation progressed in its march toward absolute power; how insolently it trampled the rights of the people in the dust, and
spurned them from the courts erected by Kellogg and subservient to his will. No greater exhibition of patience under gross wrong was ever given than was offered by the people of Louisiana in submitting as long as they did to the Kellogg government.
time, cool and determined.
On the outskirts of the meeting, Justin Bourdonnay a member of the White League, was most foully murdered by a Radical desperado and paid hanger-on of Kellogg; yet, such was the calmness of the crowd, that although there were fifteen thousand of Bourdonnay's friends around, who felt that Kellogg would pardon the murderer (as he subsequently attempted to do), they refrained from what almost any other crowd would have demanded, an immediate vindication of justice--lynch law.
Thus began the campaign of 1874 in New Orleans. The first blood was spilt by the Radicals.
The registration offices were thrown open at the beginning of September, and then the Radical plan of the campaign became only too evident. This was to throw such difficulties in the way of the registration of white citizens as to practically disfranchise them, and, at the same time, produce some popular
uprising, which the Radicals hoped, with their State arms, backed by United States troops, to defeat and break thereby the spirit of the people and the opposition to the fraudulent Kellogg government.
From the first they meant that the campaign of 1874 should be a fight of armed forces, not a contest of votes.
An appeal based on the Coushatta affair was made by Kellogg, through Landaulet Williams, early in September, for more Federal troops for use in Louisiana. These, of course, were promised him. At the same time his own forces were largely increased in number, particularly on September 4, when they were joined by a large number of levee hands, thieves and convicts, familiarly known as "The Mulligan Guards," and drilled each day to make them thorough soldiers.
On the other hand, companies of citizens were organized in all portions of the city. There was no lack of men--everybody offered himself freely to Louisiana--but weapons were sorely needed. The police were armed with the finest breech-loading rifles, supplied by the United States government as the
State's quota of arms, while the citizen soldiery had old shotguns, rusty Belgian riles, and many not even these.
Fearful of a popular outbreak in consequence of this outrage, the police were again called in from their beats that night, and concentrated, fully armed, for a sortie, at the stations. This practice was followed for several nights in succession, during which the streets were free to burglars and murderers,
while the police drank themselves into braggart courage at the stations.
On September 10 the police, emboldened by their late successful seizure, invaded Olivier's store and carried off some seventy more muskets. A large crowd gathered at the corner. There were some threats, but no violence.
The next day the police visited the levee and carried off six more boxes of guns, just landed from the steamer City of Dallas.
Another attempt was made to take the matter into court and test it judicially, but this the Radicals would not permit, and continued their arbitrary acts in defiance of laws and courts. A similar attempt to seize some guns that came in by the Jackson Railroad proved unsuccessful and the arms were safely
distributed at Leeds' foundry.
It was publicly known that the steamer Mississippi, which was expected to arrive in this port Sunday, September 13, contained a large supply of arms for the citizens. This was well known to the police. In fact, the citizens made no concealment of it; claimed the right to have arms sent them, and declared that they would vindicate this right. On the other hand, the police authorities declared most emphatically that they would seize all and any arms coming to this city. In order to carry out this purpose, a large force of police, armed with Springfield rifles, with one cannon, was placed on duty Saturday evening at the wharf of the steamer, opposite Jackson Square, ready to seize the arms the moment they were landed.
The people, however, were just as determined to insist on their rights, and, in response to the strong popular feeling, a call, written on the inspiration of the moment, appeared in the Sunday papers, calling for a grand mass meeting at Clay Statue, September 14, to assert, demand and enforce the constitutional right of the people of Louisiana "to keep and bear arms," and "to meet in peaceable assembly and petition."
THE MASS MEETING.
Monday, September 14, proved a hot, sunny, southern day. The streets around Clay Statue were crowded from an early hour, and groups gathered on every corner discussing the situation. Some foreesaw war; others believed there would be no trouble, and not a few wandered off to the regatta fixed to take take place at Carrollton that day. Most of the stores opened in the morning, but finding business dull, no ladies out shopping, and the men to excited to think of anything but the approaching conflict, closed at an early hour.
From 10 o'look the crowd around Clay Statue increased rapidly in numbers, and within an hour there were some four or five thousand persons collected there. The appearance of half a dozen well known gentlemen on the gallery of the Crescent Hall opposite, with tables, glasses and papers, the paraphernalia of speakers, caused the crowd to surge over to that corner, where, bare-headed and with upturned faces, on which the hot sun glared pitilessly down, they waited for the watchword,
It came, after a long list of grievances read by Mr. Marr, in a formal demand for the immediate abdication of William Pitt Kellogg. At these words, the crowd burst forth in the wildest applause and cheers, in shouts that bore evidence that the movement was successful; that the people accepted the demand for Kellogg's abdication as the issue of the day; were determined on it; would insist on it, and would fight for it. The die was cast. The meeting had been called simply to defend the right of our people to bear arms; but when the people met together their enthusiasm grew so strong, their strength became so apparent, that they lost sight of their original grievance, and demanded that the tyranny that had so sorely afflicted them should end at once. From that hour the Kellogg government was doomed.
The history of that memorable day moved rapidly after this. A committee was chosen to bear this demand and challenge of the people of Louisiana to Kellogg. In half an hour they had returned and reported. Kellogg was gone; Kellogg was missing; Kellogg was not to be seen; but from the Federal stronghold, the Custom-House, he had mustered courage enough to refuse this demand.
"What must be done now?" asked one of the committee.
"We must fight!" "Give us arms!' "Call out the troops!" were the cries from a thousand men.
Dr. Beard stepped forward, and in glowing words called on them, in behalf of liberty and Louisiana, to defend their rights. They must bring their arms, pitch their tents upon the neutral ground, determined never to leave there until the last vestige of Kellogg's rule had been uprooted from our soil. If they needed food, their wives and children would gladly bring It.
"Go home, get your arms," said Dr. Beard. "Come here again at half-past 2 o'clock, and you will find leaders to lead you to victory."
It seemed scarcely a second before armed men began to appear in every direction. Old armories and gun stores had been ransacked to find something military. One man had an ancient Roman broadsword, taken from some theatre's green-room; another bore as his only weapon a keg of powder; old muskets, disabled shotguns appeared, carried on the shoulders of old and bending men.
Those having arms rapidly coalesced into squads, and these squads were organized into companies by officers who moved here and there among the crowd, and then marched up the street.
At the same moment that the meeting broke up the papers appeared on the streets containing the proclamation of Lieut. Gov. Penn, Gov. McEnery being absent from the State,declaring the McEnery government organized and calling on the citizens and militia to arm and drive Kellogg from power. This proclamation also appointed Gen. Fred N. Ogden commander-in-chief of the militia.
It having become apparent that the object of Kellogg's military forces, then assembled down town, was to disperse the mass meeting and arrest the leaders of the people under the lately discovered crime of State treason, messengers were at once sent to the various offices of the White League and other forces in waiting, each at its own rendezvous, with the information that the police was determined to precipitate a fight, and that a conflict was, therefore, unavoidable.
Accordingly, at 2 o'clock, Gen. Ogden put his forces in movement from Felicity street down Prytania and thence down Camp. Shortly after a portion of Gen. Angell's command, about twenty strong, under Capt. McGloin, occupied the City Hall, in order to be in possession of this important position, and the Central Police Station. Care was taken at once to break up the telegraph communication between the various police stations which centred there.
Company A, Capt. W.T. Vaudry; Company B, Capt. C.H. Lord; Company C, Capt. S.H. Buck; Company G, Capt. D.M. Kilpatrick: Company K, Capt. Ed. Flood; Andress' Company, Allen's Company, Dupre's Company, Company F, C.C. W.L., Capt. McIntyre; Phillips and Tennyson's Company; Roman's Company--which formed the extreme of the line on Poydras street, being stationed at the corner of St. Charles and Poydras. Angell's Battalion, Capts. Boiland, McGloin, Richardson, Blanchard, Lincoln and Hill, were in line on St. Charles, some of them being stationed in the Crescent Hall, and others along Canal street as skirmishers.
The rear line was formed on Julia street, where Coleman's Battery, and Captains Augustin's, Mitchell's and Prados' commands were stationed. There were altogether twenty-five companies on duty; few of them, however, were strong in numbers, the whole force of men with muskets or rifles amounting to probably less than 800. The new recruits were drafted into these companies, while many lookers-on, armed only with pistols, fell into line and prepared to do battle for Louisiana.
A few minutes after this line was formed the news spread along the line that the police were advancing to attack them. There was intense excitement. The men knew that the police were better armed and better drilled than they, were nearly equal in numbers and boasted of a large artillery force; they foresaw, therefore, a desperate and bloody fight, but not a single man wavered at this thought. Every one was determined to fight to the bitter end, to give up his life if necessary in defense of the rights of Louisiana. Fortunate, indeed, was it for the Metropolitans that day that they were so easily beaten and so early in the action, for had they been temporarily successful, had they gained some slight advantage at the beginning, their defeat, which ultimately must come, such was the firm determination and spirit of the people, would only have been the bloodier and more destructive to them.
Scouting parties and spies were frequently sent out during the morning to report the action and feeling of the citizens. About 3 o'clock these reported that the citizens were organized and armed, and preparing to march to the steamer Mississippi, lying opposite the station, to protect the landing of the guns she contained. A conference was at once held, and it was determined to advance to Canal street and give battle there.
A picked body of men, organized into three companies, chosen for their conspicuous courage, very few of whom, by-the-by, were colored, was accordingly marched down toward Canal street, under the command of Generals Longstreet and Badger. At Canal these took up a position in the middle of the street, just in front of the Custom-House. with four guns pointing northward toward St. Charles so as to sweep it.
A squad of mounted police rode up both sides of the street, calling to the citizens to disperse, as the police were about to open fire. The crowd on Canal street was, at that time, very large, particularly around Clay Statue. Most of these were non-combatants, lookers on, and not a few of them ladies, but, here and there armed men could be seen in the crowd and, at the corner of St. Charles, Company A, of Angell's command, Capt. Borland, was stationed as skirmishers.
Believing that the police were really going to fire, most of the lookers-on fell back to the side street, but some still lingered around Clay Statue and many sought galleries and roof-tops, from which to witness the expected fight.
Their flank and rear thus cleared, the main body of the police, with three guns, under Badger, marched down Canal to the levee, leaving Longstreet behind with a small force. Here they took up a position with their right resting on the old Iron building, in the centre of the street, since removed, and their left just in front of the Mobile depot.
To meet this movement Col. Behan ordered Companies A, B and C, of the Crescent City White League, to the foot of Poydras, where they stood opposed to the Metropolitans.
Just at this juncture Col. Behan was advised that it would perhaps be more prudent to fall back to Julia street, but he knew his men and felt sure it was their wish as well as the part of wisdom to be led against the enemy, now in full view and about to open fire.
He rode slowly along the line of his veteran troops, men who had faced death with him upon other battle fields, and said to them, "Boys, we are all soldiers, and the first duty of a soldier is to obey orders. You must keep cool, fire low, take good aim and remember that you have officers who will command and lead you." Turning to Capt. Vandry, he pointed to the Gatling guns of the Metropolitans, which were in full view, and said, "Captain, those must be our guns."
With the eye of an experienced soldier Col. Behan saw at once that a flank movement on the enemy's left, rapidly executed and under cover of the sloping apron of the wharf, would be successful, and instantly ordered Capt. Glynn, Protector White League, and Capt. Pleasants, Company E, Crescent City White League, to the position.
A few minutes after, at a quarter-past 4. Capt. Glynn's command, consisting of Company E, Crescent City White League, Capt. Pleasants, and Protector White League of the Second District, Lieut. Guibet, with one gun, marched down Delta street and formed in line just in front of Morgan's depot, where the
men were partially protected by some hay and other freight on the levee.
The loss of the Metropolitans, in consequence of their exposed position, was quite severe, and a great many of them wavered and retreated, while most of the rest showed a disposition to act similarly. Taking advantage of this, and of the fact that the fire of the police toward Poydras street was less brisk in consequence of this flank attack, Col. Behan ordered Companies A and B to charge the battery. A full volley was fired on the police, and the men then advanced gallantly in the face of a hot fire from the enemy. S.B. Newman, Company A, fell killed, and several seriously wounded, before they reached Gravier street; while E.A. Toledano was killed at the very corner of Canal street, and within a few feet of the battery. At the same time Capt. Glynn's command charged from the levee.
It was this gallant charge that decided the victory of the day. The men who charged were few in number; less, probably, than the Metropolitans; but the latter were so astonished and demoralized by this bold attack that a whole company which had almost altogether escaped fire, broke and fled, making for Customhouse street. A few of the bolder ones remained around the Gatling gun to the last moment and kept up a fire until the citizens were close upon them.
Badger, their commander, while vainly endeavoring to rally his retreating men, fell, bleeding from several wounds. The fall of their leader completed the demoralization of the police, and those few that remained, seeing the day lost, joined in the flight, deserted their cannon and retreated precipitately up Canal street. One of the cannon was carried off the field, but the traces of the horses were cut and it was left standing in the centre of the street.
At the rout of the Metropolitans, Capt. Buck was unable to restrain the impetuosity of his company (Company C), and they charged down Front street, joining in the attack on the retreating Metropolitans.
The Metropolitans scattered in their flight. The left wing sought refuge in the Mobile depot, whence they fired a volley on the citizens, but were soon dislodged therefrom and driven down Customhouse street. The greatest portion, however, fell back behind the iron building, under cover of which they kept an irregular but telling fire on the citizens, who were ranged in the middle of the street and
wholly unprotected. A. M. Gautier, Chas. Boulard and A. Bozonier, a one-armed man, all of Battery C, or Protector White League, and W.C. Robins, of Company C, Crescent City White League, fell, either killed or mortally wounded by this fire, while some eight or ten citizens were severely wounded by it.
Gen. Ogden at once ordered Company G forward down Fulton street, to flank the Metropolitans. Their fire proved effective. The police were dislodged from the iron building and broke again and retreated up Canal street, chasely pursued by the citizens. A large number of policemen dashed into the Custom-house, while many did not even stop at the Granite Building, but fled in the utmost haste, up Canal street, toward St. Charles. Some thirty or forty joined Longstreet at the corner of Peters and Canal streets, where they organized again, and by keeping up a fire with the only cannon left them, prevented, for awhile, the citizens from taking off the captured guns, Even when this was done the citizens found themselves without ammunition and unable in consequence to make use of their captured cannon.
Company G pursued the retreating police almost to the corner of Peters, but the fire from that street, as well as a volley from the Custom-House, compelled them to retreat with the loss of Major Wells. They retired behind a deserted street, from which position they kept up their fire. Firing was also kept up from Techoupitoulas, where Hill's company, Company E, of Angell's command, were. The police replied briskly, killing Mohrman. Allen's company, and Bernes on Tolhoupitoulas, and Gousidine, Lincoln's company, near the corner of Magazine. It was at this time that Gen. Ogden, while riding down Tehoupitoulas, directing the operations of his men and reconnoitering the position of the enemy, had his horse shot from under him and was himself slightly wounded.
The police finding the firing too warm again retreated, proceeding up Customhouse, still pursued by Company G, which opened on them from the head of Crossman street. The police proceeded thence up Old Levee, Capts. Phillips and Tennyson's oommands, together with a number of irregulars, firing on them from Bienville and Customhouse, which was replied to by the retreating police as well as by those at the station. By this fire one policeman and two citizens, J. Graval, St. John White League, and M. Betts, Washington White League, were killed.
The police marched on the station, murdering J.K. Gourdain on their way. Here the single gun left them was placed in position, pointing up Chartres street, and scouts, dressed in old United States uniforms, to delude the citizens into the belief that the Federal government had interfered in behalf of the police, were thrown out at St. Ann, Jefferson and St. Peter streets. Of Kellogg's army of that morning there remained only sixty or seventy men, many of them wounded and all completely demoralized and broken in spirits.
The police had lost in their fight on the levee and retreat fifteen men killed, while five or more of those carried off the battlefield into the Custom-House, were mortally wounded. Of those seriously or slightly wounded there were fully sixty or seventy.
The fighting began about 4:20 p.m. Fifteen minutes after the first gun was fired the citizens were in possession of the cannon of the enemy, and by half-past 5 the firing had almost altogether ceased.
It was some time after the fight before its result was known among the men not engaged in it. The news, however, when it spread though the streets, attracted a large number of the people to the foot of Canal street, and these assisted in carrying off the wounded, both citizens and police, and attending to all their needs.
The men engaged in the fight were withdrawn to Poydras street, where they rested on their arms.
A conference was held to determine whether the citizens should move forward and take the State-House while the police were still demoralized by their late defeat, but a forward movement was thought premature, it being the general opinion that if the police were left alone they would be overcome by terror during the night and disperse. Moreover, the supply of ammunition was very small and not sufficient to enable the citizens to keep up the fight, If such became necessary, sufficiently long to make it complete. The forces of the citizens were therefore not moved forward beyond Canal street.
From the hour of their defeat until midnight parties of police deserted, eagerly surrendering to any citizens they met. They seemed greatly to dread the popular vengeance, and threw away their hats and took off their coats to escape recognition.
Gen. Ogden held his headquarters at the store of Kursheedt & Bienvenu, on Camp street, near Poydras, and thence directed all military movements. Ammunition and provisions were also distributed among the various companies.
Col. Angell's command, supported by Coleman's Battery, was at once ordered to move forward to the State-House and Arsenal. Companies A, B, C and E accordingly moved down Royal street, Company A, Capt. Borland, in advance. At the news of the approach of the citizens the negro militia in the State-House, probably three hundred strong, broke and dispersed, and when the citizens reached the building a white flag was exposed from an upper story as a signal of surrender. Companies A and C immediately occupied the building. The other two companies, B and E. under Capt. McGloin, with Coleman's Battery to support them, proceeded down the street toward the arsenal.
It was soon evident that whatever was the disposition of the police officers their men would no longer fight. When the citizens appeared in sight the police refused to fight, reversed their cannon, which had previously pointed up Chartres street, threw down their arms, and took flight down town, a few of them discharging their guns, accidentally, it is said, at the citizens, wounding one.
The arsenal, containing one cannon and three thousand stands of arms, was at once taken possession of by Capt. McGloin. Twelve policemen, one of them dead, were found in the building.
This ended the victory. Every point in the city was now in the possession of the citizens, and the only remnants of the Kellogg government were a few dozen broken, hungry and mournful men, cooped up in the Custom-House, under the protection of the United States flag.
To the men who fought and fell on that day do not only the people of Louisiana, but the people of the whole Union, owe thanks as men who did not fear to risk their lives in defense of those rights we all hold dear.