And it seemed to be a retreat of 24 miles through the

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were burning. And it seemed to be a retreat of 24 miles through the fire & smoke of burning cotton & cotton houses and when we 13Typed abstract of the testimony of Joseph A. Lattier, December 21, 1881. Ibid. 14Typed abstract of the testimony of Benjamin Molina, January 15, 1880. Ibid. 15Pocket notebook of A.L. DeBlieux, Folder 291, Robert DeBlieux Collection CHRC. 16Typed abstract of the testimony of Littleton Collins, October 18, 1882, Fol 11, Mills Collection, CHRC. 17Grappe's Testimony, Folder 4, Mildred McCoy Collection, CHRC. This content downloaded from 130.70.0.34 on Fri, 29 Sep 2017 14:54:01 UTC All use subject to
418 LOUISIANA HISTORY arrived at Natchitoches, there was cotton burning on the opposite side of the river from that place.18 After passing through the Cane River country on his way north to Natchitoches on March 30, 1864, Felix Pierre Poche, a Louisi- anian serving in Henry Gray's Brigade, made the following observation in his diary: ... the road all the way to Natchitoches, a distance of 18 miles one could say was a solid flame, and the air was completely permeated with the smell of burning cotton. My heart was filled with sadness at the sight of those lovely plantations in flames, and to see the work of the honest industry and perseverance of those good old Creole planters destroyed in the twinkling of an eye. I hope later to understand the advantage which the Confederacy hopes to obtain by destroying the source of their might, as at this time I cannot appreciate the wisdom of it.19 One Union soldier who marched through the territory noted, "From the day we started on the Red River expedition, we were like the Israelites of old, accompanied by a cloud (of smoke) by day, and a pillar of fire by night."20 Such was the scene in Natchitoches Parish as Union troops under General Banks made their way into the parish. From the evidence available, it appears that Union troops were guilty of some light foraging as they advanced along the river through the parish, but they apparently did not cause extensive damage as they passed. Most subsequent claims against the federal government were for stolen horses. A Natchitoches baker, Pierre Poete, reported the loss of two horses, one "a bobtail bay" and the other "a large American."'" The priest in Cloutierville also lost a horse. In his testimony before the French and American Claims Commission, Fr. Jean Marie Beaulieu described the manner in which a Union soldier rode to his residence and forced him to open his stable. The soldier threatened to hurt the 18Ibid. 19Edwin C. Bearss, ed., A Louisiana Confederate: Diary of Felix Pierre Poche (Natchitoches, La., 1972), 102. 20John A. Bering and Thomas Montgomery, History of the Forty-Eighth O Veterans Volunteer Infantry (Hillsboro, Ohio, 1880), 129. 21Typed abstract of testimony by George Relm, June 3, 1882, Folder 11, Mills Collection, CHRC.

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