Friday, September 2, 2011



The dramatic story of the capture of the U.S.S. Indianola on the Red River
in 1863 will be the program of Captain James W. Bryan Camp 1390's September
meeting.  The Union ironclad warship was blockading the Red River where it
connects to the Mississippi River to prevent the Confederates from getting
supplies and reinforcements to Vicksburg and Port Hudson.
     The next meeting of Captain James W. Bryan Camp 1390 will be from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13, at the Pitt Grill Restaurant in Sulphur Former La. Div. Cmdr. Scott Thorn will give the program on the capture of the U.S.S. Indianola. Please come and enjoy this informative program and good food and fellowship.

      September will be a busy month for Captain James W. Bryan Camp 1390. Besides our regular monthly meeting, we also have an information table scheduled for the Lake Charles Gun Show on the weekend of September 3-4. Then we hope to have a presence at the big reenactment of the Battle of Sabine Pass the following weekend of September 9-11. By keeping our name before the public and getting our message out in our own way, we will continue to make a difference locally in both defending and advancing our Confederate Heritage.
     We will be having camp elections coming up in November, with nominations being made in October. If you are at all interested in camp leadership, please consider running for one of the positions. Fresh ideas and enthusiastic participation always make a difference and keep the camp growing and moving forward. Our camp is doing well and we are fortunate to have a dedicated membership who are dependable and get the job done.
     I was very  impressed by the first meeting of the  Louisiana Civil War Sesquicentennial Task Force in Shreveport, of which I am a member. Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne put the Task Force together to promote tourism of Louisiana’s battlefields and other historic sites related to the War Between the States.
     Dr. Gary Joiner, a history professor at LSU-Shreveport, was elected chairman of the task force and laid out some good ideas that can be developed. There will be a web site which will be a clearinghouse of information for upcoming events related to to Sesquicentennial. Other ideas included having the classic history of the war in the state, “Louisiana in the Civil War” by John Winters, reprinted in a special Sesquicentennial edition. The group’s next meeting will be Oct. 28 in Baton Rouge.
     Your obedient servant,
     Mike Jones, camp commander

Local Men Served with the Tiger Rifles
By Mike Jones
    I've been writing historical stories for years and it never fails that often you learn more about your subject when the story comes out. That is logical since not many people know that you are writing an article or a book before it is published.
    I recently received a phone call from a gentleman wanting to buy a copy of my new book, "Tiger Rifles: The Making of a Louisiana Legend," who was a descendant of one of the members of that unit, Cpl. Joseph Nichols. The descendant, Gilbert W. Nunez, Jr., sent me some additional information about his ancestor. Since one of the goals of my book was to find a much personal information as I could about the individual Tigers, I thought I'd add such supplementary information to my blog as I receive it.
   This was the first time I've talked to a descendant of one of the Tiger Rifles soldiers. For my book I was in contact with a descendant of A. Keene Richards, the wealthy New Orleans and Kentucky businessman who donated the Tiger Rifles their famous Zouave uniforms. I have a nice picture of Richards in the book.
     Corporal Nichols was one of the older men in the Tiger Rifles. According to the 1860 census,  he was born about 1819 in South Carolina and was farming in Rapides Parish, Louisiana. He raised cotton and sheep and was a lumberman. At least one other member of the unit, Private John S. Williams, was a farmer from Rapides Parish. Nichols had a wife and eight
children listed in the 1860 census.
      He enlisted as a private in the Tiger Rifles April 25, 1861 in New Orleans and was elected to the rank of corporal on January 15, 1862. His election to corporal after the unit had been through the First Battle of Manassas and so many trials and tribulations in camp in the winter of 1861-62, indicates he was a good soldier and well respected by his fellow Tigers.
     After the Tigers were disbanded in August, 1862,  he traveled down to Vicksburg, Mississippi, possibly with Captain Alexander White, commander of the Tiger Rifles, who  also went there, and joined Company C, 27th Louisiana Infantry. His oldest child and son, Isaac Nichols, was serving in the same unit. Father and son battled the Northern invaders throughout the Siege of Vicksburg and were surrendered July 4,  1863. Joseph Nichols then reported for exchange April 1, 1864 at Shreveport, Louisiana. He continued with the 27th Louisiana and was surrendered in the command of General E. Kirby Smith May 26, 1865 and was paroled June 19, 1865 at Alexandria, Louisiana. At some point he moved to what was then Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, later becoming Beauregard Parish. He died February 17, 1904 and is buried in the Cooper Cemetery in Beauregard Parish just west DeRidder, Louisiana off U.S. Hwy. 190.
      There is also one other local Confederate Tiger highlighted in the book. He was Pvt. Joseph Perkins of the Starks area. Perkins joined at the beginning of the war and fought at First Manassas, the Shenandoah Valley Campaign and was wounded in action at the Battle of Malvern Hill, July 1, 1862. After the unit was disbanded, he returned home and served the final year of the war with Ragsdale Texas Cavalry Regiment.
       Anyone interested in my book can order it from,, or If you'd like a signed copy from the author send $19.95 plus $3.50 shipping to Michael D. Jones, P.O. Box 1318, Iowa, Louisiana 70647.

President Jefferson Davis and family on the front porch of Beauvoir, now the
Jefferson Davis Shrine in Biloxi, Miss. (Library of Congress)

Beauvoir’s Fall Muster Coming Up

By Mike Jones
     BILOXI, Miss. – Beauvoir, the Jefferson Davis Shrine, has been lovingly restored after being nearly destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and will host the annual Fall Muster on the weekend of Oct. 15-16.
     About 300 living history re-enactors are expected to set up military camps and demonstrate military life of the 1861-65 period and give battle reenactments each day. There will also  be civilian re-enactors to educate the public of what life was like in the 1860s.
     Festivities will include a picnic basket auction, ladies’ tea, live period music and a Saturday night dance. There will also be period vendors (sutlers) selling everything from authentic uniforms, muskets, flags, and miscellaneous items of 19th Century life.
     Beauvoir was the retirement home of Jefferson Davis. It was there that he wrote his memoirs and met with many famous persons of his day. After he died in 1889, the home remained in the family until 1903 when it was sold to the Sons of Confederate Veterans. A home for Confederate veterans and widows was built on the premises and operated until 1957.
      The Fall Muster hours are from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. with the re-enactments at 2 p.m. each day. It is located at 2244 Beach Blvd. in Biloxi, and is about a 5 hour drive from Southwest Louisiana. For more information call (228) 3884400, or go to on the Web.

1st Lt Richard W. "Dick" Dowling

      The 148th anniversary reenactment of the Battle of Sabine Pass will take place September 9-11 at Sabine Pass Battleground State Park, 6100 Dowling Rd.
Port Arthur, Texas.
       There will be two days of fun and excitement for everyone. Here is the schedule:

SATURDAY, Sept. 10
9:00 A.M. - Open to the public. Living History demonstrations all day.
10:00 A.M. - Court-martial and Execution of Lt. Elijah P. Allen for Desertion.
11:30 A.M. - Memorial Ceremony hosted by the Jefferson County Historical Commission
2:00 P.M. – Battle Reenactment.
SUNDAY, Sept. 11
9:00 A.M. - Open to the public. Camp Prayer Meeting. Living History demonstrations all day.
10:00 A.M. - Court-martial and Execution of Lt. Elijah P. Allen for Desertion.
2:00 P.M. – Battle Reenactment.
      The site is located 1.5 miles south of the town of Sabine Pass on Dick Dowling Rd. and 15 miles south of Port Arthur via State Highway 87.
     State Highway 87 is closed between Sea Rim State Park and High Island, Texas. Address: 6100 Dowling Rd. Port Arthur, Texas

Visitors’ Center Developed for Oklahoma’s Largest Battlefield

     RENTIESVILLE, OKLA. – An impressive multi-million dollar partnership between four federal agencies, a state agency, McIntosh County, several local businesses, and a non-profit organization will provide funding, infrastructure and in-kind services to construct a visitors’ center at the historic site of Oklahoma’s largest military engagement, The Battle of Honey Springs.
     The federal involvement includes the National Park Service, as well as all three agencies of USDA Rural Development – Rural Business Service, Rural Utilities Service and Rural Housing Service.
      “With increasingly scarce resources, such an ambitious project is only possible with many public and private partners,” said Ryan McMullen, State Director of USDA Rural Development. “The partnership recognizes that rural areas should increasingly capitalize on the tourism industry. The development of this attraction will create jobs, as well as educate visitors on one of Oklahoma’s most historic sites.”
     The Battle of Honey Springs was the largest of the 107 documented hostile encounters in Indian Territory during the Civil War and the nation’s largest battle in which African American, American Indian, Hispanic and Anglo American soldiers engaged. The heroics of the Civil War’s first African American regiment, the First Kansas Colored, were largely responsible for the Union’s victory there. Often referred to as the “Gettysburg of the West,” the Confederate defeat at Honey Springs opened the way for Union occupation of Fort Smith and later Union victories in the Red River Valley.
     Bob Blackburn, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, is among many that worked for years to preserve and share the historic nature of the site.
     “Since July 17, 1863, the Honey Springs Battlefield has been hallowed ground where patriots on both sides of the conflict died for a cause they believed in,” said Blackburn. “To commemorate the significance of the battle, the Oklahoma Historical Society starting buying land there in the 1960s and followed with the development of a bridge, roads, and interpretive trails in the 1990s. The visitor center will complete the master plan for making the site accessible to the greatest number of people. We owe that to the men who fought and died there.”
     Today, the 1,100-acre battlefield site is owned by the Oklahoma Historical Society and features six walking trails with 55 interpretive signs. The site sits next to the historic African-American community of Rentiesville, straddling the Muskogee and McIntosh
County line.
     The site offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy hiking and area wildlife, while learning about the Battle of Honey Springs and the impact of the Civil War on American Indians living in Indian Territory. The Civil War’s toll on life and property was greater per-capita in what is present-day Oklahoma than any state in the country.
     The Friends of Honey Springs organization will lease the land from the Oklahoma Historical Society to construct the new visitors’ center. It will not only offer engaging educational exhibits about the 9,000 soldiers that fought there, but will serve as a library and a community center for the residents of Rentiesville, McMullen said.
     Upon completion of the 5,000 square foot visitors’ center, the National Park Service predicts an annual visitation of 150,000 people, which would represent $9 million in tourism revenues for the state, said Emmy Stidham of Checotah, President of the Oklahoma Historical Society Board of Directors. Stidham said the location of the battlefield is a benefit, as well.
     “Honey Springs is a perfect stop for people traveling between Oklahoma City and Little Rock or between Kansas City, Tulsa and Dallas,” Stidham said. “It’s a good stopping point, easily accessible from I-40 and Highway 69. Our area is known for hospitality, and we’d love more people to come.”
     USDA Rural Development has awarded nearly $500,000 in grant funds and over $600,000 in financing through the Rural Business Enterprise Grant and Community Facilities programs. A portion of the financing includes a guaranteed loan through Peoples National Bank in Checotah. The project also includes a Rural Utilities Service award to Cross Telephone Cooperative to extend high speed internet access to the area as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
     State and local funds will come from $800,000 worth of site development and in-kind services from the Oklahoma Historical Society and thousands more in road improvements from McIntosh County. Commissioner Bobby James plans to pave two miles of county roadway and rebuild a bridge to provide better access to the site. James will use funding from the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges (CIRB) program, which provides state construction funding for high-priority county roads or bridges.
     McMullen said the Friends of Honey Springs plan to complete the visitors’ center by July of 2013, marking the 150th anniversary of the battle.

[Press Release from Civil War Trust,]

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