Andre Cailloux, a Black Creole who was born a slave,
attained freedom, carved out a niche for himself and his family as an artisan
in the antebellum Afro-Creole society of New Orleans, and died a U.S. Army
captain and Civil Was hero whose courageous example continue to inspire civil
rights activists in New Orleans down into the mid-twentieth century.
Officers of the First Louisiana
The life of Captain Andre Cailloux, a thirty-eight-year-old
Afro-Creole had ended two months earlier, on May 27, 1863, as he gallantly
led Company E of the 1st Regiment of Louisiana Native Guards in a doomed assault
on the Confederate bastion at Port Hudson, Louisiana.
He landed as the nation's first black military hero, one of the first black men to hold an officer's
commission in the United States Army, and a member of the first black regiment
to be officially mustered into the Union army and to engage in a major battle.
Claude Paschal Maistre one of the earliest white radical
voices in New Orleans and practically the sole public champion of abolitionism
and racial egalitarianism among the local Catholic clergy.
Maistre would perform
the funeral rites of his church in defiance of New Orleans' formidable archbishop,
Jean-Marie Ordin, who, like Maistre was a native of France.
A black patriot and a radical white priest: two relatively ordinary men transformed
by their responses to the crisis of war into symbols of freedom and hope for
people of color in New Orleans and of dangerous radicalism to many southern
Sketch of Captain Cailloux's
To Creoles, this funeral for one of their own attested
to their capacity for patriotism, courage, and martial valor. They also intended
the public tribute to atone for the desecration of Cailloux's corpse, which
had lain neglected and rotting on the battlefield for forty-one days until
the surrender of the enemy fortress.
As word of the captain's death had filtered
back to New Orleans, women of color had donned crepe rosettes in mourning.
Immediately after the Confederate surrender of Port Hudson, black troops recovered
Cailloux's body, identifiable only by a ring in his finger.
Union Officials sent Cailloux's remains, accompanied by wounded
members of his regiment, to New Orleans via the steamer Old Essex. Arriving
on July 25, the body lay in state in a closed casket for four days in the
Urquhart Street hall of the Friends of the Order, a mutual aid society in
which Cailloux had played a leading role and whose ring he had worn at the
time of his death.
Flowers and lit candles, characteristic of Catholic funeral
rites, framed the flag-draped coffin; Cailloux's sword, belt, uniform coat,
and cap lay on the flag. A guard solemnly paced back and forth near the casket.
Northern newspapers such as the New York Times, the
New York Herald, and Harper's Weekly, which had urged the use of black combat
troops in the war, gave extensive coverage to Cailloux's funeral.
correspondent eulogized the fallen captain as a soldier who "had sealed
with his blood the inspiration he received from Mr. Lincoln's Emancipation
Proclamation," and noted that the scene called forth a single sentiment
in those who witnessed it: "the struggle must go on until there is not
legally a slave under the folds of the American flag.
In life and in death, Cailloux, an Afro-Creole who took great pride in his
ebony color, helped to bridge the gap between Creole free people of color
and slaves on the one hand and Anglophonic, Protestant blacks on the othe
His wartime experience pointed to a growing alliance between leaders of the
two groups and to their shared embrace of radical politics. Cailloux's heroics
represented the zenith for black combat officers during the Civil War.
other black officer figured so prominently in a major engagement, since most
were forced out of the army within a year. With Cailloux's death, Union officials
effectively buried the brightest hope for black combat officers in the U.S.
Francis E. Dumas, origanally captain
of Company B of the 1st Regiment, was promoted to major in the 2nd Louisiana
Native Guards, Highest ranking, Creole , Person of Color combat officer during the Civil
Other Famous Creoles:
Known photograph Available
Black (Creole) commisioned officer in U.S. Military"
Nations first Civil War Military Hero "Person of Color "