Ordinance of Secession

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Lieutenant General Richard Taylor
Lieutenant General Richard Taylor, b. 1826, d. 1879, was the owner of Fashion Plantation. He was the son of President Zachary Taylor and the brother-in-law of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Taylor was a U.S. Senator, 1856–1860; a colonel in the Louisiana Ninth Infantry (appointed by Governor Moore); was appointed brigadier general in 1861; fought with distinction under Generals “Stonewall” Jackson and Robert E. Lee; was a member of Louisiana Secession Committee and chairman of the Committee on Military and Naval Affairs; and enacted the Conscription Act to enlist aid to fight Union troops. He is interred with his wife at Metairie Cemetery.

St. Charles was one of 29 parishes that supported secession on January 26, 1861. General Richard Taylor of Fashion Plantation was elected to represent the German Coast. His signature is included among those signing the document with the notation “of St. Charles” directly below.

The German Coast was then no longer a part of the United States. For two months the German Coast was part of a new nation named the Republic of Louisiana. Then, on March 21, 1861, Louisiana became a part of the Confederate States of America.

As chairman of the Committee on Military and Naval Affairs, General Richard Taylor warned at the state convention that the lower Mississippi River should be reinforced because New Orleans was open to attack.

His warning was not heeded, as many thought the Union would not attack New Orleans. Governor Moore stated that the Baton Rouge Arsenal held all that was needed to hold off Union troops. General Taylor was aware of the inevitable destruction and with profound sadness returned home.

He decided not to serve the South, unless asked, because he considered this a futile cause. He was called in April of 1861 and, being loyal to his state and to the German Coast, joined in the battle.

General Taylor's Signature
General Taylor’s signature. (Right edge, two-thirds the way down the page.)

When New Orleans fell without a shot in 1862, the German Coast fell to occupation by Union troops. Life was difficult for the people at home. The war department forced the local militias to participate and offered $50.00 for enlistees. The German Coast wanted to cooperate and offered an additional $40.00 to insure a full complement. The Mississippi River was patrolled by Union ships, some of which fired shells over the levees. Reportedly, cannon shells hit Ormond Plantation. General Butler authorized Union troops to appropriate anything at will, which resulted in plantations and smaller farms being wantonly looted and destroyed. Some property owners fled, leaving everything behind. The state and local governments were unstable and often powerless to enforce the laws. Some slaves fled and joined the Union army, while some decided to remain in place; crops could not be sold, banks did not have money to lend, and merchants could not afford to give credit. All markets were cut off for the German Coast. Had General Richard Taylor’s warning been heeded that New Orleans was vulnerable, the outcome might have been very different.

St. Charles Parish Currency
St. Charles Parish currency $2 Post Civil War currency. (Courtesy of Pat Yoes)
Call for Cavalrymen
A Call for Calverymen, L’Avant Coureur, April 19, 1862.
A Call for Cavalrymen — Advertisement
A Call for Cavalrymen — Advertisement in the April 19, 1862, edition of L’Avant Coureur – Journal Officiel de Saint-Charles.
Pastoral Letter - Image
A pastoral letter from A History of the Archdiocese of New Orleans by Charles E. Nolan. Pastoral letter announces praying a Forty Hour Devotion of Peace.

This text is copyright © material by Marilyn Richoux, Joan Becnel and Suzanne Friloux, from St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History, 2010.

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The Human Side of the Civil War in the River Parishes from SCPhistory.org on Vimeo.

Video by Chip Zeringue. Speech by Dr. Gerald Keller.