Louisiana Tigers

Thomas' Legion
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The Louisiana Tigers
Virginia State Line Artillery

Louisiana Tigers History
Thomas Legion's Artillery Battery

Colonel Isaac Avery's North Carolina Brigade with Brigadier General Harry Hays' Louisiana Brigade, known as the fierce "Louisiana Tigers", charged across the rolling Culp Farm and struck the Union positions at the base of the hill. Louisiana Tigers at the Battle of Gettysburg


The nucleus that formed Captain John T. Levi's Artillery, later Barr's Light Artillery, had previously served in the famed Louisiana Tigers, a regiment which had received its nom de guerre while attached to Hays' Louisiana Brigade. Some say that the Thomas Legion's artillery merely adopted the namesake, Louisiana Tigers, because Hays' Tigers and the Virginia State Line Artillery had both served in the Army of Northern Virginia, and when the latter disbanded only to reform the core of the North Carolina Legion's battery, they liked the name and adopted it. 


During the Civil War (1861-1865), the Thomas Legion, the largest single military unit raised in North Carolina, recruited more than two thousand five hundred officers and men (including 400 Cherokee Indians), which were distributed in infantry, cavalry, and artillery. The legion's artillery battery, aka Levi's Light Artillery Battery, or Louisiana Tigers, formerly served in the Virginia State Line Artillery before being added to the unit on April 1, 1863.


The Louisiana Tigers traces it origin to former members of Wheat's Battalion, a unit which had been raised in 1861 but disbanded after Major Robert Wheat's death. The remaining Tigers were transferred to various regiments of Hays' command where the other Louisiana soldiers had taken a liking to the nickname and the fame attached to it. When the Thomas Legion would add its battery of four cannons in early 1863, the nom de guerre would continue.

The battery was under the command of Captain John T. Levi from April 1, 1863, to January 25, 1864, before being placed under the command of Captain John W. Barr from March 22, 1864, to April 9, 1865. The light battery was active in April 1865, according to Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. General Martin (O.R., 1, 49, pt. 1, p. 1048), General Stanley (O.R.,1, 49, pt. II, p. 309), and Lt. Colonel Stringfield (Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions From North Carolina in the Great War 1861-65, Vol. III, p. 761) each mention this battery at or near the close of the conflict. 

Recommended Reading: The First Louisiana Special Battalion: Wheat's Tigers in the Civil War (Library Binding). Description: From the little-known Filibuster Wars to the Civil War battlefield of Gaines' Mill, this volume details the fascinating story of one of the South's most colorful military units, the 1st Louisiana Special Battalion, aka Wheat's Tigers. Beginning with a brief look at the Filibuster Wars (a set of military attempts to annex Latin American countries into the United States as slave states), the work takes a close look at the men who comprised Wheat's Tigers: Irish immigrant ship hands, New Orleans dock workers and Filibuster veterans. Continued below... 

Commanded by one of the greatest antebellum filibusterers, Chatham Roberdeau Wheat, the Tigers quickly distinguished themselves in battle through their almost reckless bravery, proving instrumental in Southern victories at the battles of Front Royal, Winchester and Port Republic. An in-depth look at Battle of Gaines' Mill, in which Wheat's Tigers suffered heavy casualties, including their commander, completes the story. Appendices provide a compiled roster of the Wheat's Tigers, a look at the 1st Louisiana's uniforms and a copy of Wheat's report about the Battle of Manassas. Never-before-published photographs are also included.

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Recommended Reading: Irish Rebels, Confederate Tigers: A History Of The 6th Louisiana Volunteers (Hardcover). Description: The first book-length treatment of an important Confederate regiment composed mostly of Irish immigrants who were involved in most of the important Civil War battles in the East. About the Author: James P. Gannon is a former reporter and bureau chief with the Wall Street Journal and former editor of the Des Moines Register. Jim and his wife Joan run the Old Sperryville Bookshop in Sperryville, Virginia.

Recommended Reading: The Louisiana Tiger in the Gettysburg Campaign, June-July 1863 (Hardcover). Description: Previous works on Confederate brigadier general Harry T. Hays's First Louisiana Brigade--better known as the "Louisiana Tigers"--have tended to focus on just one day of the Tigers' service--their role in attacking East Cemetery Hill at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863--and have touched only lightly on the brigade's role at the Second Battle of Winchester, an important prelude to Gettysburg. In this commanding study, Scott L. Mingus, Sr., offers the first significant detailed exploration of the Louisiana Tigers during the entirety of the 1863 Gettysburg Campaign. Mingus begins by providing a sweeping history of the Louisiana Tigers; their predecessors, Wheat's Tigers; the organizational structure and leadership of the brigade in 1863; and the personnel that made up its ranks. Covering the Tigers' movements and battle actions in depth, he then turns to the brigade's march into the Shenandoah Valley and the Tigers' key role in defeating the Federal army at the Second Battle of Winchester. Continued below...
Combining soldiers' reminiscences with contemporary civilian accounts, Mingus breaks new ground by detailing the Tigers' march into Pennsylvania, their first trip to Gettysburg in the week before the battle, their two-day occupation of York, Pennsylvania--the largest northern town to fall to the Confederate army--and their march back to Gettysburg. He offers the first full-scale discussion of the Tigers' interaction with the local population during their invasion of Pennsylvania and includes detailed accounts of the citizens' reactions to the Tigers--many not published since appearing in local newspapers over a century ago. Mingus explores the Tigers' actions on the first two days of the Battle of Gettysburg and meticulously recounts their famed assault on East Cemetery Hill, one of the pivotal moments of the battle. He closes with the Tigers' withdrawal from Gettysburg and their retreat into Virginia. Appendices include an order of battle for East Cemetery Hill, a recap of the weather during the entire Gettysburg Campaign, a day-by-day chronology of the Tigers' movements and campsites, and the text of the official reports from General Hays for Second Winchester and Gettysburg. Comprehensive and engaging, Mingus's exhaustive work constitutes the definitive account of General Hays's remarkable brigade during the critical summer of 1863. About the Author: Scott L. Mingus, Sr., has written numerous books on the Civil War, including the two volume Human Interest Stories of the Gettysburg Campaign, its companion volume Gettysburg Glimpses: True Stories from the Battlefield; and Flames beyond Gettysburg: The Gordon Expedition, June 1863.He lives in York, Pennsylvania.


Recommended Reading: Field Artillery Weapons of the Civil War, revised edition (324 pages) (University of Illinois Press). Description: "Field Artillery Weapons of the Civil War" is the definitive reference work for civil war cannon used in the field. Nothing else approaches its structured grouping and organization of the diverse and confused world of American Civil War field guns.

Recommended Reading: Confederate Artilleryman 1861-65 (Warrior). Description: This title guides the reader through the life and experiences of the Confederate cannoneer - where he came from; how he trained and lived; how he dressed, ate and was equipped; and how he fought. Insights into the real lives of history's fighting men, and packed with full color illustrations, highly detailed cutaways, and exploded artwork. Continued below...
When the Civil War began in 1861, comparatively few Southern men volunteered for service in the artillery: most preferred the easily accessible glory of the infantry or cavalry. Yet, the artillerist quickly earned the respect of their fellow soldiers, and a reputation for being able to "pull through deeper mud, ford deeper springs, shoot faster, swear louder ... than any other class of men in the service." Given that field artillery was invariably deployed in front of the troops that it was supporting, the artillerymen were exposed to a high level of enemy fire, and losses were significant.


Recommended Reading: Lee's Tigers: The Louisiana Infantry in the Army of Northern Virginia (Civil War) (Louisiana State University Press). Description: Sometimes called the "wharf rats from New Orleans" and the "lowest scrapings of the Mississippi," Lee's Tigers were the approximately twelve thousand Louisiana infantrymen who served in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia from the time of the campaign at First Manassas to the final days of the war at Appomattox. Terry L. Jones offers a colorful, highly readable account of this notorious group of soldiers renowned not only for their drunkenness and disorderly behavior in camp, but for their bravery in battle. It was this infantry that held back the initial Federal onslaught at First Manassas, made possible General Stonewall Jackson's famed Valley Campaign, contained the Union breakthrough at Spotsylvania's Bloody Angle, and led Lee's last offensive actions at Fort Stedman and Appomattox. Continued below...

Despite all their vices, Lee's Tigers emerged from the Civil War with one of the most respected military records of any group of southern soldiers. According to Jones, the unsavory reputation of the Tigers was well earned, for Louisiana – like all states – had its share of criminals, drunkards, and deserters in its commands. The author spices his narrative with well-chosen anecdotes-among them an account of one of the stormiest train rides in military history. While on their way to Virginia, the enlisted men of Coppens' Battalion uncoupled their officers' car from the rest of the train and proceeded to partake of their favorite beverages. Upon arriving in Montgomery, the battalion embarked upon a drunken spree of harassment, vandalism, and robbery. Meanwhile, having commandeered another locomotive, the officers arrived and sprang from their train with drawn revolvers to put a stop to the disorder. "The charge of the Light Brigade," one witness recalled, "was surpassed by these irate Creoles." Lee's Tigers is the first study to utilize letters, diaries, and muster rolls to provide a detailed account of the origins, enrollments, casualties, and desertion rates of these soldiers. Jones supplies the first major work to focus solely on Louisiana's infantry in Lee's army throughout the course of the war. Civil War buffs and scholars alike will find Lee's Tigers a valuable addition to their libraries.


Recommended Reading: Artillerist's Manual (Hardcover: 463 pages) (American Society for Training & Development)

Sources: Vernon H. Crow, Storm in the Mountains: Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers; Walter Clark, Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-1865; D. H. Hill, Confederate Military History Of North Carolina: North Carolina In The Civil War, 1861-1865; Weymouth T. Jordan and Louis H. Manarin, North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865; Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies; National Archives and Records Administration; Library of Congress: American War Casualty Lists and Statistics; William F. Fox, Regimental Losses in the American Civil War.

Try the Search Engine for Related Studies: Louisiana Tigers Origin Meaning Definition History Name, Where did the name Louisiana Tigers come from? Who named them the Louisiana Tigers? Date Louisiana Tigers were named (year, beginning, started or began)

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