were burning. And it seemed to be a retreat of 24 miles throughthe fire & smoke of burning cotton & cotton houses and when we13Typed 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 CollectionCHRC.16Typed abstract of the testimony of Littleton Collins, October 18, 1882, Fol11, Mills Collection, CHRC.17Grappe's Testimony, Folder 4, Mildred McCoy Collection, CHRC.This content downloaded from 184.108.40.206 on Fri, 29 Sep 2017 14:54:01 UTCAll use subject to
418 LOUISIANA HISTORYarrived at Natchitoches, there was cotton burning on theopposite side of the river from that place.18After passing through the Cane River country on his way north toNatchitoches on March 30, 1864, Felix Pierre Poche, a Louisi-anian serving in Henry Gray's Brigade, made the followingobservation in his diary:... the road all the way to Natchitoches, a distance of 18 milesone could say was a solid flame, and the air was completelypermeated with the smell of burning cotton. My heart was filledwith sadness at the sight of those lovely plantations in flames,and to see the work of the honest industry and perseverance ofthose good old Creole planters destroyed in the twinkling of aneye. I hope later to understand the advantage which theConfederacy hopes to obtain by destroying the source of theirmight, as at this time I cannot appreciate the wisdom of it.19One Union soldier who marched through the territory noted,"From the day we started on the Red River expedition, we werelike the Israelites of old, accompanied by a cloud (of smoke) byday, and a pillar of fire by night."20 Such was the scene inNatchitoches Parish as Union troops under General Banks madetheir way into the parish.From the evidence available, it appears that Union troops wereguilty of some light foraging as they advanced along the riverthrough the parish, but they apparently did not cause extensivedamage as they passed. Most subsequent claims against thefederal 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 Cloutiervillealso lost a horse. In his testimony before the French andAmerican Claims Commission, Fr. Jean Marie Beaulieu describedthe manner in which a Union soldier rode to his residence andforced him to open his stable. The soldier threatened to hurt the18Ibid.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 OVeterans Volunteer Infantry (Hillsboro, Ohio, 1880), 129.21Typed abstract of testimony by George Relm, June 3, 1882, Folder 11, MillsCollection, CHRC.