Matters in New Orleans were now rapidly approaching a climax. This was precipitated in 1874 by the White League. The White League was a secret society which aimed at uniting the white people of the entire state in opposition to the radical regime. It first made its appearance at Opelousas, in April, 1874. Prior to that time there had been other similar organizations, like the Society of the White Camelia, which were premature and failed to accomplish anything. In New Orleans, for example, as early as 1868 there had been formed among the members of the Chalmette Club a secret society known as the Crescent City Democratic Club, which professed practically the same principles as were later adopted by the White League. This organization ultimately changed its name and affiliated with the White League. The leading spirits in it were Gen. Frederick N. Ogden and F. R. Southmayd. The latter, in 1873, on his return to New Orleans from Washington, whither he had been summoned by the Congressional Committee on Privileges and Elections, with the official returns of the Louisiana election of the preceding year, suggested that the society be called together to consider what action should be taken in the existing emergency. General Ogden was unwilling to do this, fearing that his action might be considered a political move. In December, Southmayd urged that the organization be extended to include the city in general and as much of the adjacent country as possible. Again Ogden objected, and for the same reason.
The situation in the city was deplorable. Citizens were being robbed in open daylight. In May, 1874, a young lady of a respected family was attacked and robbed at midday in the heart of the residence district in the Fourth District in the presence of two policemen and no attempt was made to apprehend the offenders. This incident naturally created much alarm. General Ogden felt that the time had now come to act. At his suggestion, Southmayd wrote a call for a meeting of the Crescent City Democratic Club, to which he signed the names of some twenty prominent citizens, who had authorized him to do so. There was considerable opposition to the proposed meeting. Members of the State Central Democratic Committee, members of Congress and other leading citizens called on Ogden and urged him to cancel the call. They argued that any overt act at this time would injure the prospects of the democratic-conservative party in the coming election and might result in the establishment of a military government over the entire state.1
In the meantime, the movement in Opelousas was spreading slowly to other parts of Louisiana. To counteract it, the partisans of the radical administration appear to have planned to arm the negroes. In the latter part of May steamboatmen leaving New Orleans reported that the nearly every vessel going up the Mississippi carried arms to be delivered at certain places to certain designated persons. The impression that steps were being taken by Kellogg and his adherents to subjugate the whites completely, reacted favorably upon the new society. On June 14th p360the White League was organized in St. Martin Parish. Many persons began to feel that if there were an armed secret society of whites throughout the state the mere fact of its existence would suffice to recover for them their political rights without the shedding of blood or firing a shot. The two movements, which had so far progressed independently, one in the city, the other in the country, thus tended to converge and amalgamate.
The meeting of the Crescent City Democratic Club took place on July 1st and resulted in the change of the name of the organization to the Crescent City White League. The following day the constitution of the league was published in the local newspapers. This document gives reason for the adoption of a new name, and states the object which the organization had in view. It proposed "to assist in restoring an honest and intelligent government to the State of Louisiana; to drive out incompetent and corrupt men from office, and by a union of all other good citizens, the better to maintain and defend the Constitution of the United States and of the state with all laws made in pursuance thereof; and to maintain and protect and enforce our rights and the rights of all citizens thereunder." A conflict "between enlightenment and thick ignorance, between civilization and barbarism — a barbarism artificially stimulated and held up by the perverted authority of the most civilized nation in the world," was, according to this declaration, inevitable. It was, however, useless "to repeat the old story of brutal violence stalking at midnight in the draggled shroud of judicial authority, and under the execrable oligarchy of the most ignorant and profligate negroes, leagued with the most dangerous class of rapacious whites, the scum of society." The program of the league was very specific in regard to the status of the negro. "Where the white rules," it ran, "the negro is peaceful and happy; where the black rules, the negro is starved and oppressed. But it is worse than idle to reason with those people. They have become maddened by the hatred and conceit of race, and it has become our duty to save them and to save ourselves from the fatal consequences of their stupid extravagance and reckless vanity by arraying ourselves in the name of white civilization, resuming that just and legitimate superiority in the administration of our state affairs to which we are entitled by superior responsibility, superior numbers and superior intelligence; and while we declare it is our purpose and fixed determination not to interfere in any manner with the legal rights of the colored race, we are determined to maintain our own legal rights by all the means which may become necessary for that purpose, and to preserve them at all hazards."2
The following officers were elected: President, F. N. Ogden; first vice president, W. J. Behan; second vice president, W. I. Hodgson; corresponding secretary, Donaldson Jenkins; recording secretary, Theodore Shute; treasurer, W. A. Bell; marshal, W. T. Vaudry; first assistant marshal, John Payne; second assistant marshal, Harrison Watts. Other prominent men who threw their lot in with the organization were Col. J. B. Walton, who had command of the Washington Artillery during the Civil war; Benjamin R. Forman, F. C. Zacharie, Archibald Mitchell, J. D. Hill and C. L. Walker. The headquarters of the league were established in a building on Prytania and Felicity streets, known as Eagle p361Hall. Branches were speedily organized in the various wards of the city, which had their own individual headquarters.
At the same time another organization was formed under the name of the First Louisiana Regiment, or "Louisiana's Own," as it came to be called. It was, nominally, part of the McEnery state militia, though none of the officers appear ever to have received any formal commission. It was formed by Col. John B. Angell at a meeting in his office on the corner of Camp Street and Commercial Alley. The second in command was Col. J. D. Hill. There were four companies, commanded respectively by Capts. Euclid Borland, Frank McGloin, Captainº Blanchard and F. A. Richardson. The rank and file were recruited from among the ex-Confederate soldiers of whom the city was full. They met and drilled in cotton presses and halls in various parts of the city. The central headquarters was established in a building on the corner of Camp and Poydras streets. In effect, this organization was a secret, anti-radical society, not unlike the White League, with practically like purposes, and prepared and ready to unite with the league in any action required when occasion arose, as happened on the 14th of September. Angell had been an officer in the same brigade with Penn in Virginia in the Confederate Army.
The principal difficulty was, however, not to recruit men, but to procure arms. These were ordered out, finally, from the North. The first shipment came by rail, disguised as machinery. The heavy packages were brought by switch track into the Leeds foundry, corner of Delord and Constance streets, over the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern Railroad. In due time squads of men were sent thither and individually at night carried away their weapons to the homes. A second shipment was made by sea on the steamer "Mississippi," and it was the arrival of this vessel and the measures taken by the radical administration to prevent her from unloading her cargo that brought about the uprising of September 14.
In the meantime, another group was discussing plans for the seizure of the entire radical administration. It was suggested that, taking advantage of the existence of the White League and of Angell's regiment, armed men might be secreted in buildings adjoining the State House. At a given signal the building could be rushed, the officials captured, taken aboard a vessel waiting at the wharf with steam up and carried out to sea. Ultimately they could be either landed at some foreign port or at any rate detained so long away from the city without the possibility of communicating with New Orleans or Washington that McEnery could be installed in the gubernatorial chair. The lieutenant governor, Davidson B. Penn, a man of great courage and determination, favored this project. It was by no means as mad as it might seem. Among sober, conservative men, leaders of the local democracy, it was felt that, if carried out without bloodshed, without the knowledge of the Washington officials, the recognition of McEnery by the national government would be the only possible course in the absence of the Kellogg officials, and be regarded as an easy and happy solution of all the troubles which were convulsing Louisiana.
Penn thoroughly investigated this subject and satisfied himself that it would be easily executed. He made an appointment with McEnery for an interview to discuss the final arrangements. He was accompanied by Colonel Angell, C. L. Walker and Capt. Frank McGloin. The plan p362was laid before the governor. McEnery felt that it could not be carried out without involving a conflict with the Kellogg government. He spoke of the serious responsibilities which he would incur in that event. Penn replied that the time had come when those who had accepted responsible positions should assume the duties implied, regardless of consequences. McEnery still hesitated. He had conferred with the authorities in Washington and believed that he had put himself under obligations to President Grant not to provoke a conflict. Penn closed the discussion by stating that the condition of affairs in the city and in the parishes was such that a conflict could not be long postponed.
Two days later Penn called on Ogden and told him about his interview with McEnery. The force under Angell was already available for the execution of the plan; Penn demanded of Ogden whether the White League could be similarly counted upon to co‑operate in the attempt to seize the radical administration. Ogden immediately answered in the affirmative. With these forces Penn felt that the plan could be carried out, even if the Kellogg supporters showed fight; the two regiments of citizens would suffice to overcome any opposition.
The organization of the White League in New Orleans was applauded generally by the press throughout the state. Conservative people supported its efforts "to put the control of the state government in the hands of the white people."3 The practical unanimity of the white population was demonstrated at the convention of "the white people of Louisiana," held in Baton Rouge, on August 24, under the auspices of the Committee of Seventy, at which a declaration of principles was adopted declaring that it was their intention "to have a free and fair election and see that the results were not changed by fraud or violence." The general restlessness of the people, continued clashes in the parishes, the tone of the press — all served to warn the Kellogg government that revolution was imminent. It was clear that the least indiscretion might provoke an outbreak. The radicals began to make preparations. The net effect was, that a favorable opportunity to execute the coup d'état contemplated by Penn did not present itself until matters, taking a new direction, culminated in the battle of September 14th, after which the project was abandoned.4
The steamer "Mississippi," with arms on board consigned to the White League, sailed from New York early in September, and reached New Orleans on the 12th. Kellogg, who had been preparing for eventualities as well as he could, by increasing the number of Metropolitan police under Badger's command, and by seizing weapons and ammunitions from stores and private houses, determined to prevent, if possible, any action of the league to obtain its property on the ship.5 An order was issued to that effect. That night a secret meeting of the leaders of the citizens was held, at which it was decided to convoke a mass-meeting on the following Monday, at Clay Statue, in Canal Street, in order to take action on the whole matter of the wrongs under which the people were suffering. The call for the mass-meeting was printed on placards and posted throughout the city on September 13. A picturesque method p363to attract the attention of the passer-by was the long narrow strips of paper on which the time and place of assembly were printed, which were pasted along the curbs at every street-crossing. Thus none could avoid seeing it. Moreover, in the Picayune, that Sunday morning, there appeared a "call," written by Dr. J. Dickson Bruns, and signed by the most prominent citizens, as follows:
"Citizens of New Orleans: For nearly two years you have been the silent but indignant sufferers of outrage after outrage heaped upon you by an usurping government.
"One by one your dearest rights have been trampled upon, until, at last, in the supreme height of its insolence, this mockery of a republican government has dared even to deny you the right so solemnly guaranteed by the very Constitution of the United States, which in article II, of the amendments, declares that 'the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.'
"In that same sacred instrument, to whose inviolable perpetuity our fathers pledged 'their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor' it was also declared that even Congress shall make no law abridging 'the right of the people peacefully to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances.' It now remains for us to ascertain whether this right any longer remains to us.
"We, therefore, call upon you, on Monday, the 14th of September, to close your places of business without a single exception, and, at 11 o'clock, A.M., to assemble at the Clay Statue in Canal Street and, in tones loud enough to be heard throughout the length and breadth of the land, declare that you are of right, ought to be, and mean to be free."
A curious incident of that eventful day was the fact that Governor Penn, on his way from his home to the Boston Club, met in the street car Gen. A. S. Badger, commander of the Metropolitan Police, who, a few hours later, was to fall badly wounded in the fighting in front of the Customhouse. They saluted each other courteously. Penn, on arriving at Canal Street, found the mass-meeting in progress. About 5,000 white men were assembled in an orderly group around the Clay Statue and in front of the Crescent Billiard Hall, at the corner of St. Charles and Canal, from the balcony of which the speakers addressed the throng. The meeting was called to order by Judge R. H. Marr, and Michel Musson was elected to preside. Judge Marr made an address. Penn made his way through the crowd, which he found sober and thoughtful, rather than excited or enthusiastic. Although the speakers were cheered, there were no other demonstrations.
Clay Statue and Crescent Hallº
At the close of his address, Judge Marr presented a series of resolutions which he asked the audience to adopt. After reciting the fact that at the elections in the preceding November, McEnery had been elected governor by a majority of 10,000 votes over Kellogg, and Penn, lieutenant-governor over Antoine by a majority of 15,000, the document continued:
Whereas by fraud and violence those defeated seized the executive chair, and from time to time, by other fraudulent, irregular and violent acts, in the face of the report of the committee of the Senate of the United States appointed to investigate the affairs of Louisiana, that the existing government of the State is a usurpation, the result of a violent abuse of judicial functions and sustained by force, W. P. Kellogg has continued himself in power to the gross wrong and outrage of the people p364of the State of Louisiana, and to the imminent danger of republican institutions throughout the country; and
"Whereas, with a view to controlingº and determining the results in the approaching election to be held in Louisiana in November next, he has, under an act known as the registration act, and passed for the purpose of defeating the popular will, secured to himself and his party the power of denying registration to bona-fide citizens whose applications before the court for a mandamus to compel the assistant supervisors to enroll and register them has been refused, the registration law indeed punishing courts if they dare to take cognizance of such appeals; and
"Whereas, by false and infamous misrepresentations of the feelings and motives of our people, he has received promise of aid from the Federal army, placed at the order of the Attorney General of the United States, and subject to the calls of the United States Marshals, for the purpose of overawing our State and controlling the election; and
"Whereas, in the language of the call for the meeting one by one, our dearest rights have been trampled upon, and at last in the supreme height of its insolence, this mockery of a republican government has dared even to deny that the right so solemnly guaranteed by the very Constitution of the United States, which, in article II of the amendment, declares that 'the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed upon'; be it
"Resolved, That we reaffirm solemnly the resolutions adopted by the white people of Louisiana, in convention assembled, at Baton Rouge, on the 24th day of August, 1874, that the white people of Louisiana have no desire to deprive the colored people of any right to which they are entitled; that W. P. Kellogg is a mere usurper, and we pronounce him such; that his government is arbitrary, unjust, and oppressive, and can only maintain itself through Federal interference; that the election and registration laws under which this election is being conducted were intended to perpetuate usurpation by depriving the people, and especially our naturalized citizens, of an opportunity to register and vote, and therefore, in the name of the citizens of New Orleans, now in mass-meeting and of the people of the State of Louisiana, whose franchise has been wrested from them by fraud and violence, and all of whose rights and liberties have been outraged and trampled upon, we demand of W. P. Kellogg his immediate abdication.
"Resolved, That a committee of five be immediately appointed by the chairman, who shall be a member of said committee, to wait upon Mr. W. P. Kellogg to present to him these resolutions, to demand of him an immediate answer, and report the result of such interview to this meeting."
These resolutions were unanimously adopted by the mass-meeting. Judge Marr thereupon named the committee authorized in the concluding paragraph, as follows: Jules Tuyès, J. M. Seixas, J. B. Woods, Dr. Samuel Choppin, and himself. They started at once for the Hotel Royal, where Kellogg was supposed to be. He had, however, earlier in the day, sought refuge in the Customhouse. After an absence of fifteen or twenty minutes, during which time the crowd in Canal Street remained quietly waiting, the committee returned and reported that it had been unable to see Kellogg himself, but had had an interview with a member of his military staff, Col. Henry C. Dibble. Through Colonel Dibble, Kellogg replied to the committee's request for his resignation, with the statement, that "he must decline to receive any communication" from them, "because p365he has definite and accurate information that there are now assembled several large bodies of armed men in different parts of the city, who are met at the call which convened the mass-meeting," which they represented. "He regards this as a menace, and he will receive no communications under such circumstances [. . .] should the people assemble peaceably, without menace, he would deem it one of his highest duties to receive any communication from them or to entertain any petition addressed to the government."
To this, the committee had replied, denying that there were any "armed rioters" in the city. "There are no armed men on Canal Street, so far as we know," they said. "We came on a mission of peace, and we believe that if the governor had acceded to the proposition we brought — which was to abdicate — it would have pacified the people of Louisiana, and might, or would, have prevented violence or bloodshed. So far as we are concerned, we are prepared to pledge to him no violence in person or property, and we feel in a position, on the contrary, to assure him that there would be perfect immunity to both."6
The crowd at the Clay Statue received this report with cries of "Hang Kellogg!" and demands for leaders. Fiery addresses followed by Marr, E. John Ellis, and Dr. Cornelius Beard. The latter called the people to action. He told the crowd to go home, arm, and prepare to hold the city against Kellogg and his hirelings, to make the city an armed camp, and never to leave it until the last of Kellogg's henchmen had quitted its limits. Judge Marr asked the people to return to Canal Street at 2:30 o'clock, when they would find an organized body and leaders who would properly draft them, arrange all military details, and furnish the arms. In the gravest mood the great gathering dispersed in groups of twos and threes.
In the meantime Penn had made his way to his headquarters, which had been established in the meeting-room of the Howard Association, on the second floor of No. 58 Camp Street, just below Poydras. This was a large, rear room, with a long, green baize-covered table down the middle, and rows of chairs drawn up along the walls. On the previous day, orders had been issued to the members of the league and of Angell's regiment, for every man to be at his armory early on Monday morning. The orderly sergeants of each company were directed to report in person at the Camp Street headquarters. Accordingly, when Penn reached this place, he found General Ogden and Colonel Angell; while, seated in the chairs around the baize-covered table, against the wall, were the sergeants. Penn was at the head of the de jure state government. McEnery, as lawfully elected governor, had established himself in Baton Rouge. On the 13th he had gone to Vicksburg, to visit friends there. It was impossible for him to return to New Orleans in time to take the lead in the movement which was under way. This left Lieutenant-Governor Penn in charge as acting governor. Penn said afterwards that the absence of McEnery was accidental, and denied the frequently repeated story that the latter's trip to Vicksburg was pre-arranged. In view of McEnery's reluctance to a breach with the government, his absence on this occasion can only be regarded as one of those providential dispositions which fill the historians with marvel.
p366 A short while after the noon hour, Penn was standing in front of the Camp Street headquarters, in company with Horatio N. Ogden, the attorney-general, and the latter's law-partner, J. D. Hill. The governor and the attorney-general were discussing the advisability of proceeding by force, to put into immediate execution the plan to oust the Kellogg government.
After some discussion, Ogden, turning to Penn, said: "Let's take Hill's opinion. He is practical and level-headed, and his position with the armed groups makes him able to gauge the extent of their preparation to meet the emergency, which has now arisen." Hill unhesitatingly gave as his opinion that no such favorable opportunity to act could be expected to recur; that soldiers and people alike looked for immediate action, and their spirit would be chilled by delay; that unless action were taken that day, the people could never be got to respond in such numbers, with like enthusiasm, to any future call; moreover, the military preparation, as indicated by the reports of the orderlies of the White League and Angell's regiment, was as complete as could ever be hoped for.
As Hill finished his statement, Ogden, who had been gazing down Camp Street, towards Canal, said to Governor Penn: "I concur fully with Hill's advice for prompt and decisive action." Then pointing down the thoroughfare, he continued: "Here comes a man whose opinion of a New Orleans crowd I consider the best that can be had in the city; let us hear what he thinks of the meeting, and whether he believes the people are behind us." He had seen approaching Judge Alexander Walker, a well-known member of the local bar, and afterwards a distinguished editorial writer on the staff of the Times-Democrat.
To Ogden's question: "Judge, what sort of a meeting have you had on Canal Street? What does it represent and what will it do?" Judge Walker answered: "I have never seen a more representative meeting in New Orleans. All classes were there, bankers, merchants, doctors, lawyers, workmen, laborers, clerks and journeymen are altogether, and all of one mind, that Kellogg must go." He then told of the speech of Dr. Cornelius Beard, who had wound up with an appeal to "every man to get his gun," and to come back to where he could use it.
Penn thereupon turning to Ogden and Hill said, "Let us go up-stairs, and start the programme."
It was thus that the decision was taken which led to the battle now about to be fought.
Penn immediately ascended to the meeting-room above, to issue the necessary orders to the citizen-soldiery. He was confronted immediately by General Ogden, with the request that, precedent to everything else, the question of supreme command should be settled. There were two armed bodies supporting Governor Penn, of which he commanded one, while Colonel Angell commanded the other; he desired to know who was to be superior in command. This question was settled, without friction or discussion, by Angell's prompt declaration of his entire readiness to obey Ogden's orders and co‑operate with him in every way. Penn assured General Ogden that this arrangement had always been contemplated, and expressed his appreciation of Colonel Angell's willingness to obey General Ogden's commands. Penn thereupon issued General Orders No. 1, appointing Ogden, major-general, and investing him with p367full command.7 Ogden's promotion placed Col. W. J. Behan in command of the White League.
At the same time Penn issued a proclamation to the people of Louisiana, reminding them of the wrongs which for two years past had been heaped upon them. "Through fraud and violence," he said, "the government of your choice has been overthrown and its power usurped. Protest after protest, appeal after appeal to the President of the United States and to Congress, have failed to give you the relief which you have a right, under the Constitution, to demand. The wrong has not been repaired. On the contrary, through the instrumentality of partisan judges, you have been debarred from all legal remedy. Day by day taxation has been increased, with costs and penalties amounting to the confiscation of your property; your substance squandered, your credit ruined, resulting in the failure and bankruptcy of your valued institutions. The right of suffrage is virtually taken away from you by the enactment of skilfully devised election and registration laws. [. . .] To these may be added a corrupt and vicious Legislature [. . .] a metropolitan police paid by the city, under the control of the usurper, quartered upon you to overawe you and keep you in subjection." Penn then alluded to the recent seizures of arms, and the arrest of persons found with them in their possession. "To such extremities are you drawn that manhood revolts at any further submission. Constrained by a sense of duty, as a legally elected lieutenant-governor of the state, acting governor in the absence of Governor McEnery, I do hereby issue this, my proclamation, calling upon the militia of the state, embracing all males between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, without regard to color or previous condition, to arm and assemble under their respective officers for the purpose of driving the usurpers from power."
Ogden had available the following forces: Crescent City White League, Col. W. J. Behan, commanding, composed of Section A, Capt. W. T. Vaudry; Section B, Capt. George B. Lord; Section C, Capt. S. H. Buck; Section D, Capt. Archibald Mitchell; Section E, Capt. R. B. Pleasants; Section F, Thomas McIntyre; Section G, Wm. Kilpatrick; Second Ward White League, Capt. R. S. Denee; Third Ward White League, Capt. J. R. S. Selleck; Sixth Ward White League, Capt. O. M. Tennison; Tenth Ward White League, Capt. Ed. Flood; Eleventh Ward White League, Capt. F. M. Andress; Sixth District White League, Capts. H. E. Shropshire and C. H. Allen; the Washington White League, Capt. A. B. Phillips; the St. John White League, Capt. Charles Vautier; and Captain Romain's company, under Major LeGardeur. In addition there were Companies A, B, C, and E of the First Louisiana, under Colonel Angell; and the two companies of artillery, under Capts. John Glynn, Jr., and H. D. Coleman, the latter acting as chief of artillery. Glynn had but one piece, an old-fashioned twelve-pounder, which had been mounted in foundry, under the superintendence of Captain Mitchell. It proved quite ineffective when put to the test. Finally, there was a large number of citizens, chiefly ex‑Confederate soldiers, who were not actually enrolled in any organization, but who joined the movement on the morning of the 14th. These were grouped under Maj. John Augustin.8
p368 On the other hand, the Kellogg government could dispose of a force equal, and perhaps superior in number, although much inferior in quality. At the State House were about 3,000 colored militia. In the Cabildo, in the Third Precinct Police Station on the lower floor, and in the Supreme Court rooms on the upper floor of that building, were several hundred Metropolitan Police, amply provided with ammunition. Here, too, were "some forty or more sans culottes, not Metropolitans, and not wearing uniforms, but attired in rags and dirty shirts, and drafted especially for the occasion from the streets and the prisons, carrying their guns with a very martial air."9 In Orleans Alley were some thirty mounted policemen, or "Uhlans," as they were called. A dozen men were stationed at the arsenal in St. Peter Street. At the Customhouse were about 150 United States soldiers, comprising Companies D and E, 16th Infantry, from Baton Rouge. The soldiers were fatigued, but good humored, and neither expected nor desired to fight. Under their protection several hundred negroes of the laboring class collected at the Customhouse. Another large group of negroes, rather of the political than of the laboring class, assembled at the State House. At Jackson Square a battery of artillery was stationed, the horses picketed to the Cathedral fence in Orleans Alley. Longstreet, who was in supreme command, had, moreover, several Napoleon and Gatling guns.
At 3:00 P.M., General Longstreet issued written orders for the Metropolitans at the Cabildo to move up to Canal Street. This was promptly done. A battalion and one section of artillery was posted at the corner of Bienville and Chartres streets. Another battalion, accompanied by the remaining guns of Gray's battery, was stationed on Canal, at the corner of Peters and Tchoupitoulas. General Badger disapproved of this formation, and recommended a position on the levee. The objection to Longstreet's alignment was, that it could be flanked by an advance along the river, but it had the advantage of resting upon the Customhouse and upon an iron building at the foot of Canal Street, which had during the Civil war been used as a "free market."
General Ogden's forces were drawn up in Poydras Street, between the river and Carondelet Street. The right wing was composed of Companies A, B, C, E, and G of the White League, and the commands of Captains Flood, Andress, Allen and Shropshire, supported by one 12‑pound gun. The center, which extended from Tchoupitoulas Street to Camp, was composed of the commands of Captains Dupré, McIntyre, and Phillips. On the left were stationed the commands of LeGardeur, Tennison, and Vautier. Colonel Angell, with the First Regiment, took up a position in St. Charles Street, above Poydras, to guard against a possible attack from the Central Police Station in Carondelet Street. Colonel Hill was directed to use Company E to the best advantage, to check the Metropolitans from crossing above Canal Street, between Chartres and Front. He used his men largely as sharpshooters, placing them in the buildings, whose owners were agreeable to their being so used, on the upper side of Canal Street, in the upper floors and on the roofs, notably in the establishment of Bailey & Pond. Captain Coleman's guns, supported by Company D, and by Captain Denee's command, took up a position at Julia and Camp streets. The unattached forces, including the Louisiana Rifle Club, under Major Augustin, was p369placed at Carondelet and Julia streets, as a reserve. Ogden's immediate purpose, according to his report to the adjutant-general, after the action, was to cut off the upper part of the city from the enemy, and throw it into a species of armed camp, until the State forces could be thoroughly organized.
Operations began when Ogden, in obedience to instructions from Penn, sent McGloin's company to seize the City Hall. After occupying that building, McGloin was to co‑operate with Angell in an attempt to capture the police station, on Carondelet Street. Angell was also instructed to throw forward skirmishers to the corner of St. Charles and Canal, who were to fire on any armed troops whom they might encounter in the latter thoroughfare. In the event of an advance, these troops were expected to fall back rapidly to the main body, with the idea that the enemy, believing them merely members of a mob, would pursue incautiously toward Poydras. Penn thus hoped to deceive Longstreet as to the strength and character of the citizen forces, draw him away from the Customhouse, and then, by throwing the White Leaguers in between him and that point of vantage, cut off his retreat. This plan, if executed, could hardly fail to produce complete demoralization and defeat. Penn established himself at Tivoli (Lee) Circle, where he was joined by Jonas, Mitchell, Eustis, Bruns, and other members of the Committee of Seventy. This place was chosen not only on account of its central position, but because, in the event of disaster, Penn expected to take command of the reserve at Julia and Carondelet streets, and organize a second line of defense.
Longstreet refused to be drawn into the trap prepared for him. He could not be induced to leave the vicinity of the Customhouse. Angell's skirmishers penetrated into Canal Street, and fired occasionally on the Kellogg pickets, but they did not reply, contenting themselves with merely withdrawing out of range. About 4 o'clock Ogden's left advanced, Captain Pleasant's company leading. Longstreet, advised of this movement, ordered Captain Flanagan's company and one section of Gray's artillery out on the levee to repel the anticipated attack. Pleasant, however, had effected a lodgment in the apron of the wharf before the Metropolitans were able to get into position. At this juncture — 4:15 P.M. — Badger opened fire with a Gatling and two Napoleon guns, supported by the rifle fire of some 300 Metropolitans. The advancing White Leaguers replied. Protecting themselves behind the piles of freight upon the levee, they poured a withering fire into the ranks of Badger's command. Badger called for reenforcements but before they could arrive, Captain Glynn, with his artillerymen, supported by Companies A and B, charged down the open levee and along the street, drove back the enemy and captured his guns. At the same moment Captains Allen, Shropshire, Andress and Flood advanced down Front, Peters, and Tchoupitoulas streets, forcing the enemy completely out of his positions. Badger fell badly wounded. In the meantime Captain Phillips and his company were ordered to make a flank movement around the enemy's right, in conjunction with Captain Tennison's command; which was done, a body of the enemy which was encountered at the corner of Chartres and Customhouse (Iberville) streets offering a smart resistance. The Metropolitans thereupon fell back to Jackson Square. Ogden, satisfied with the result, withdrew to his original positions in Poydras Street. He himself had been in the thickest of the fighting, on the levee, and had p370had his horse killed under him, and was knocked senseless by falling from the saddle to the pavement. His injury, however, was not serious, and he was soon able to resume his command, which in the interim had been exercised with energy and ability by General W. J. Behan.
Ogden, satisfied with the results thus far obtained, withdrew his men temporarily to the line in Poydras Street. At 6:00 P.M., scouts pushed forward as far as Canal Street found that great thoroughfare deserted. The enemy was concentrating in Jackson Square, and at the approaches, in St. Ann Street, had posted artillery, of which Longstreet personally took command.
The victory had not been won without loss. The White League reported twenty-one men killed and nineteen wounded. The killed were:
Captain Glynn's Company — A. M. Gautier, A. Bozonier, Charles Broulard.
Captain Vautier's Company — John Gravel.
Captain Vaudry's Company — E. A. Toledano, S. B. Newman, Jr.
Captain Flood's Company — Wm. A. Wells, Andrew Close, James Davis.
Captain Buck's Company — James McCrissin, Wm. C. Robbins.
Captain Phillip's Company — Michael Betz, Henry Peel.
Captain Pleasant's Company — R. E. Lindsey.
Captain Allen's Company — F. Mohrman.
Unattached — J. M. West, J. Considine, J. K. Gourdain.
Adrien Feuillan, Charles Dana, M. Bourse, Charles Lauer.
The wounded were: E. Blessey, Fidel Keller, Ernest Buisson, Sam Aby, J. M. Henderson, W. H. Morgan, W. C. H. Robinson, Francis Pallet, Charles Kell, J. B. Dalury, Wm. Mathison, W. Ormond, James Cross, John Mern, John McCabe, Frank Owens, F. Gueringer, Joseph Lonare, Fred Freuthaler.
The Metropolitans lost eleven killed and sixty wounded. Among those killed were: John H. H. Camp, John Kennedy, James McManus, Wm. Thornton, C. F. Clement (colored), M. O'Keefe, E. Simonds (colored), F. E. Kochler, D. Fisher (colored), R. Ziffle, Armstead Hill (colored). Kennedy was a veteran of the Mexican War, a deacon in the Episcopalian church of Algiers, and prominent in Masonic circles. He fell beside the cannon which he was helping to serve. Kennedy had been a gallant officer in the Confederate army. The others were patrolmen in the Metropolitan Force.
Among the wounded was General Badger, who was hit in three places, while vainly attempting to rally his men. The crowd which was watching the battle, unmindful of the danger, surged about the wounded man, as he lay bleeding on the ground, and would have killed him but for the opportune interference of Capt. Douglas Kilpatrick. Sword in hand, this gallant officer stood over the prostrate form of the fallen officer, and promised to kill the first who touched him.10 Badger was subsequently removed to his home. He recovered from his wounds, and was a well-known resident of New Orleans for many years after the memorable events here narrated.
A curious feature of the battle was the fact that it was witnessed by thousands who took no other part therein. A regatta of the Carrollton p371Rowing Club had been set for that afternoon, and many persons, refusing to believe that trouble impended, prepared to attend. In the early afternoon they went to Canal Street to take the river steamers which would convey them to Carrollton. In Canal Street they discovered the Metropolitans drawn up awaiting attack. The steamboats, crowded with men, women and children, lingered in the river until the conflict was over, in order that their throngs of passengers might enjoy the spectacle. It is said that many of the bullets fired by the Metropolitans struck the vessels, and that a cannonball actually damaged the machinery of one of them; but no one was hurt. Equal recklessness marked the behavior of the crowds on shore. Scores of persons filled the windows from which the battle was visible. It is said that when the Metropolitans broke and fled, these ubiquitous urchins followed in their wake, picking up the weapons which the defeated troops cast away in their haste, and bringing them into the lines of the White League.11
As soon as the result of the fighting was made known to Penn, he instructed his adjutant-general, E. John Ellis, to issue a proclamation to the colored people of the city, assuring them that in "the grand movement now on foot against the enormities of the rule of Kelloggs'º usurpation," no harm was meant to their property or rights, and urging them to "pursue their usual avocations," with the assurance that they would not be molested. "The rights of the colored, as well as of the whites," ran the document, "we are determined to uphold and defend." Guards were ordered placed at the different gun-stores, to prevent them from being broken into by a mob which began to form, and which threatened violence, especially to the office of the "Republican" newspaper. A guard was also sent to General Longstreet's residence, which, there was some reason to fear, might be attacked. Orders were issued to the troops to rest on their arms. E. A. Burke, who acted as quartermaster, procured rations, which were issued to the fatigued men. In the midst of the confusion which naturally prevailed, many suggestions were made regarding the next step to be taken. Many favored an immediate attack on the State House. Penn, however, felt that this was unnecessary. The capture of several detachments of Metropolitans, and the evidences of demoralization in the enemy's camp which were reported during the night by citizens, showed that the surrender of the positions still held by the enemy was merely a matter of time. To facilitate this Penn caused his agents to scatter copies of his last proclamation among the negroes in the State House, and to inform them that if, at daylight, they were still in the building, they would be attacked, "when," he added, "he would not be responsible for the result." The result was, that, by midnight, the place was abandoned. The negro militiamen departed by every means of exit, some even sliding down the iron columns which supported the galleries over the street. Barber, their general, sought refuge in an undertaker's shop not far away, and it is said caused himself to be laid out in a coffin, in full uniform, as if prepared for burial, trusting in this way not to be molested, even if discovered.12
p372 Early on the morning of the 15th Angell's regiment, supported by Coleman's artillery, moved forward to occupy the enemy's positions. The State House surrendered without opposition. The Arsenal and Jackson Square were occupied by Captain McGloin's company. By 1:00 P.M. most of the citizen-soldiery were permitted to go home. The streets resumed their normal appearance. The barricades were demolished, the street cars began to run again, and ladies were seen shopping in Canal Street. The negroes, in general, did not seem disturbed by the recent events, and with the exception of the members of the dispersed Metropolitan Police, went quietly about their affairs. At 2:00 P.M. several thousand persons assembled in front of Penn's residence, on St. Charles Avenue, near Tivoli (Lee) Circle, to congratulate him upon the success of the previous day. After an informal reception, Penn entered a carriage and, accompanied by Judge Marr, E. John Ellis, and others, drove slowly down St. Charles Street, at the head of a procession of citizens numbering several thousand. Thousands more lined the route to the State House, where another crowd, estimated at 10,000 persons, waited. From the gallery of this building Penn, Marr and Ellis made short addresses, urging the people to preserve good order. Ogden declined to speak, on the ground that he was no orator. Penn was inducted into office as acting governor of the State; steps were taken to organize a police force, and preparations were made to supplant the Kellogg representatives in all parts of the State by the appointees of Governor McEnery. For the moment it seemed that the revolution had been crowned with complete success. It had, however, reached its climax. Events now rapidly shaped themselves to undo the work performed with so much effusion of patriotic blood.
Throughout the northern part of the United States the news of the battle in New Orleans was received with consternation. Was it the beginning of another Civil war? Had the South risen again against the National Government? Stocks fell on the New York Exchange. Penn was aware that a false construction might be put upon the movement. He was resolved that none of his actions should justify it, and he was careful at every opportunity to insist upon wholly local character of the revolt. What now ensued showed the necessity of this course; for Washington appears to have proceeded wholly on the assumption that another secession movement was under way, which could not be stamped out too quickly or too sternly. In no other way can we understand the President's determination not to recognize the fait accompli. Kellogg's government had disappeared; it could only be restored by a violent and tyrannical action, clearly opposed to the wishes of the vast majority of the population, not of New Orleans only, but of the whole State of Louisiana. Yet this restoration was carried out with every military resource of the nation. The remonstrances of the helpless people were regarded with an indifference which, except on the idea that Grant regarded the situation as involving a serious national peril, is inexcusable.
On September 14 Penn addressed a dispatch to President Grant informing him that the people of Louisiana had taken up arms against their oppressors, but that they were unswervingly loyal to the Government of the United States. He assured the President of entire ability to protect life and property, liberty, and the equal rights of all citizens, and, in conclusion, said: "We only ask of you to withhold any aid or p373protection for our enemies and the enemies of republican rights and of the peace and liberties of the people." Kellogg, also, telegraphed a statement of what had occurred, and appealed to the President for "aid to protect Louisiana from domestic violence." Grant emphatically disapproved of the course followed by Penn and his associates, and expressed his determination to use prompt and decisive measures "to restore order." Accordingly, he issued a proclamation calling on the "insurgents" to disperse within five days, directed a United States warship to sail at once for New Orleans, sent orders to General Emory to proceed thither, and, as a more immediate relief, telegraphed to the commander of the Third United States Infantry, at Brookhaven, Miss., Gen. John R. Brooke, to take his regiment to the city, without delay. Had Brooke been able to comply punctually with the President's order, he would have arrived on the 14th, possibly in time to take a decisive part in the fighting. But Major Burke, whose services on Penn's staff have already been noted, prevented it.º He was connected with the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern Railroad; in early life he had been a telegrapher; and both these facts enabled him to carry out an ingenious plan by which the train with Brooke's troops on board was detained until midnight. On Sunday afternoon he called up by wire the engineer who would have charge of the locomotive of Brooke's train; instructed him to delay the train, and when it had been effectually halted, to report the fact. Accordingly, on Monday afternoon, a message reached Penn's headquarters, to the effect that, at a way station where repairs could not be made, trouble had developed in the driving-gear of the locomotive. Several hours later, a new engine was procured and the command proceeded on its way, but did not arrive in New Orleans till too late to save Kellogg's army from defeat and dispersion.
Brooke had with him not less than 1,000 men. They were detrained upon arrival, and marched to the Customhouse. Ogden, who was immediately summoned, had an interview with this officer, in which Brooke stated that his instructions were to prevent any further bloodshed. Ogden replied that none was to be expected, as the revolution had accomplished all of its objects, and that the Penn government was preserving the peace of the city as the only constituted authority capable of performing that duty. Brooke was friendly in his manner, and when he asked Ogden to do nothing more until orders could be received from Washington, the latter cheerfully agreed. Brooke's men were even more cordial in their demeanor. When on the afternoon of the 16th the White League paraded in honor of the victory, traversing the scene of the battle, they were wildly applauded as the column swung around from the levee into Canal Street. The regulars in the top story of the Customhouse swarmed into windows, waving their hats and shouting enthusiastically. Ogden halted his column, faced towards the building, and returned the greeting with a ceremonious salute. As Kellogg was still hiding on the lower floor of this building, this evidence of good feeling between his protectors and the enemy must have been anything but agreeable to him.
At midnight, on the 16th, Governor McEnery arrived in the city and assumed control. At the same time General Emory reached New Orleans. He promptly made a demand upon McEnery for the surrender of the state property which had been seized. McEnery complied, and to p374Brooke were delivered the arms, buildings, etc., that had been taken on the 14th and 15th. Brooke was also designated to command the city until such time as the state and side governments could be reorganized. Emory's instructions were expressly not to recognize the Penn government; his neglect to recognize the Kellogg government aroused some criticism in Washington. Emory's defense was that he acted to prevent anarchy. "Governor Kellogg did not and has not yet called on me for support to re‑establish the state government," he telegraphed to Washington; "the chief of police was shot down, and the next in command also, and the whole (police) force utterly dispersed and hidden away out of sight. For one of them to have attempted to stand on his beat would have been certain destruction, and even now the state authorities represented by Governor Kellogg have asked to defer taking charge for the present."
In surrendering the State House and government buildings on the 17th McEnery addressed to Brooke the following letter:
"As the lawful and acting governor of this State, I surrender to you, as the representative of the United States, the Capitol and the remainder of the property belonging to the State. This surrender is in response to a formal demand from General Emory for such surrender, or to accept as an alternative the levying of war upon our government by the military forces of the United States under his command. As I have already said to General Emory, we have neither the power nor the inclination to resist the Government of the United States. Sir, I transfer to you the guardianship of the rights and liberties of the people of the State, and I trust and believe that you will give protection to all classes of our citizens ruled and ruined by a corrupt usurpation presided over by Mr. Kellogg. Our people could bear the wrongs, tyranny, annoyance, and insults of that usurpation no longer, and they rose in their might, swept it from existence, and installed in authority the rightful government of which I am the head. All lovers of liberty throughout the Union must admit the patriotism which aroused our people to act as one man and throw off the yoke of this odious usurpation. I know as a soldier you have but to obey the orders of the Government of the United States, but I feel that you will temper your military control of affairs with and in all things exhibit that integrity of purpose characteristic of the officers of the army. I now hand over to you, sir, the Capitol and the other property of the State under my charge."
McEnery and Penn also issued an address to the people, in which they insisted that at every stage of the conflict they had asserted that they did not intend to provoke a conflict with the United States. "It only remains," said the document, in closing, "to urge upon you to summon all your courage and fortitude, your virtue and forbearance, to enable you to submit with becoming dignity to this great calamity, which no act of ours or of yours could have averted. [. . .] Make one more sublime effort and gain a great victory — a victory over your own passions and inclinations. Yield faithful, ready obedience to all legally constituted authority and be assured that the story of your virtues, your long forbearance, your heroic virtues displayed as well in your hour of triumph as in your hour of misfortune, will command and receive the respect and sympathy of the civilized world."13
p375 On the 18th Emory notified Kellogg, who was still at the Customhouse, that the insurrection was at an end. He offered him his support to re‑establish the State Government. Kellogg accordingly resumed control of the administration. His first act was to publish an order directing all state officials who had been displaced by the recent insurrection, to resume their functions, and calling upon the Metropolitan Police Board to resume its duties with a view to reorganize the police force, and protect the peace and order of the city. On the 19th the regular police force replaced the temporary police force under Boylan which had been doing duty in the city. Kellogg reorganized his guard, but this was a useless precaution; he did not need their services; his safety was guaranteed by the presence of the soldiers of the United States, who alone made his government possible.
Thus, on the surface, it would seem that the movement which had resulted in the battle of September 14, was a failure. But really it was far from such. Although Kellogg remained in power, it was with the clear understanding on all sides that the days of the radical government in Louisiana were numbered. Kellogg learned to pay more deference to the wishes of the people unhappily under his charge. The whole of the United States was interested in the situation which had culminated in so violent an outburst. Thoughtful men everywhere felt that the conditions must indeed have been unendurable which called for a remedy so drastic. Even the republican leaders began to see that they could not longer carry with safety the load of the "carpetbag" administration. Unquestionably, the results of the Congressional elections, which took place six weeks later, were influenced to a considerable degree by what had taken place in Louisiana. The democrats won a majority of 87 in the lower house of the National Legislature — the first time in over twenty years that they had found themselves in control of either branch of Congress.
1 Statement of F. R. Southmayd, in possession of the author.
2 Picayune, July 2, 1874.
3 Opelousas Courier, July 4, 1874.
4 Statement of Penn, Picayune, September 14, 1898.
5 It is not known whether the arms on the "Mississippi" were ever actually obtained by the White League, though it is probable that they were.
6 Appleton's Annual Encyclopaedia, 1874, p480.
7 Statement of J. D. Hill to author.
8 Ogden's report to E. John Ellis, acting adjutant-general. It is estimated that 2,400 men responded to the call of the White League, and that 6,000 citizens answered Penn's proclamation calling out the militia, making a total force of 8,400 men.
9 Quoted in Fortier, "A History of Louisiana," IV, 147‑8.
10 Times-Democrat, September 14, 1909.
11 Ibid. This account was written from data furnished by eye-witnesses.
12 Penn's statement, Picayune, September 14, 1898.
13 Appleton's Annual Encyclopaedia, 1874.
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J. S. Kendall's History
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