"The Battles of Texas will be Fought
in Louisiana ": The Assault of Fort Butler,
June 28, 1863
DONALD S. FRAZIER*
"If we ever meet them again, we have made up our minds to leave none of them unscalped. "
Anonymous Private, Third Arizona Cavalry
DURING THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR, UNION AND CONFEDERATE
armies turned the Lafourche District of southern Louisiana into a
hotly contested prize. Including all of the parishes fronting Bayou
Lafourche and along the west bank of the Mississippi to its mouth, the
district contained some of the richest acreage on earth. "The stranger,"
writer T. B. Thorpe of the Harper's New Monthly Magazine observed, "is
filled with amazement, and gets an idea of agricultural wealth and pro-
fuseness nowhere else to be witnessed in the world." When New
Orleans fell in April 1862, this region became a theater of war.'
For Texans, this meant the war had arrived next door. When the
Union invasion came, most of the Louisiana troops were already serving
on other fields. As time passed and northern reinforcements arrived,
Texans were called on to come to the aid of their beleaguered Pelican
State neighbors, and they were happy to answer the call. Better that the
fighting take place east of the Sabine River, than among their own
farms. "The battles of Texas will be fought in Louisiana," wrote Texan
adjutant John E. Hart of the Fourth Texas Cavalry. "And there it
behooves us to strike for our homes." Before long, there were many
Texas battlefields along the bayous of Louisiana.'
* Professor Donald S. Frazier is chair of the History Department at McMurry University in
Abilene, Texas, and executive director of the McWhmey Foundation.
1 As quoted in Robert F. Pace, " 'It was Bedlam Let Loose': The Louisiana Sugar Country and
the Civil War," Louisiana Hastory, 39 (Fall, i998), 389. A fine work that captures the feel and
importance of the entire sugar region is Charles P. Roland's Louisana Sugar Plantatzons Dunng
the Civil War (Lieden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1957; reprint, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State
University Press, 1997).
'John E. Hart, adjutant, Fourth Texas Cavalry, Niblett's Bluff, Louisiana, to editor, Houston
Tri-weekly Telegraph, Apr. o20, 1863, Houston Tn-Weekly Telegraph, May 11, 1863.
VOL. CIV, No. 3 SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY JANUARY, 2001
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/. Accessed March 16, 2014.