8th BC Artillery Fires "The Big Gun"
The 8th Bridge City Red Raiders were among a group of 250 students from four schools that attended the Battle of Hickory Creek re-enactment at DeRidder, La., Feb 20.
Encamped on the grounds were the members of the 3rd Texas Light Infantry, a group of re-enactors that act as instructors and mentors for the Bridge City group.
In the actual battle, Union Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Bank had attempted to enter Texas at Galveston and Sabine Pass, but was unsuccessful.
The Red River Campaign was his next effort to “plant the flag in Texas.” He greatly underestimated the will of the people.
Hickory Creek was on the supply route for Confederate forces. Gen. Taylor had stockpiled two depots in Louisiana: Carroll Jones’ farm near Toro and James’ Store near Nachitoches. Spies of Jayhawkers had informed Banks of the depots and he sent pickets ahead to try and capture them.
Acting as guide for the 8th Bridge City was Lynn Young, who played “a soldier’s wife.” She explained to the group she was wearing nine layers of clothing “ … even though it is a cool morning, I only need a shawl for warmth.” She and her husband are members of Spaight’s Battalion.
Beth Spyron demonstrated the carding of wool and the spinning of yarn into wool yarn, done on a period spinning wheel. Jeanette Peveto showed the group how to operate an 1858 Wilcox-Gibbs hand-cranked sewing machine. “It is really easy to use, it does not go very fast and it makes a small chain stitch,” said Peveto.
At the tent next to Peveto, Carolyn Bean cooked a lunch of beans and cornbread over an open fire.
At the re-enactments, there is no running water. It all has to be carried in buckets from the source.
Young led the 8th Bridge City to the extreme southern end of the re-enactment grounds where the fort is located.
The earthen breastwork is crescent shaped, with three emplacements for cannon and an area for riflemen.
The 8th Bridge City Red Raiders were joined at the fort by the other students from Calcasieu and Beauregard Parish schools.
Union Sgt. Frank Crooks, mounted on his horse Willie, explained the arms and equipment carried by members of both sides. Pvt. Larry Young of Spaight’s Battalion told students that the forces had to march long distances, at times with little food and with limited comforts.
Sgt. Brandon West of the 6th Louisiana Infantry arrived with a musket, bedroll and barefoot. “My shoes wore out and the brogans they want me to wear are too uncomfortable. I’d rather be barefooted,”
Capt. Charles Lauret of the Pelican Battery, 5th Louisiana Artillery, explained the artillery at the fort. There were two mountain howitzers and a 12-pound Parrott Rifle.
The artillery crew of the 8th Bridge was informed that they were going to demonstrate firing the Parrott Rifle.
Artillerymen Clint Delahoussaye, Colin Smith and Kylie Stump proved that they were the equal of any artillery group anywhere.
They have had only a limited time to practice with Peveto’s howitzer, but they proved to the attendees that they were proficient in the operation of Civil War Artillery.
The Parrott Rifle was smoothly loaded and fired. The report of the rifle was much louder than that of the howitzer and the cloud of smoke was heavy.
The crew of the howitzer to the left of the big gun fired at nearly the same time.
A group of stragglers on the field in front of the fort hit the ground, possibly thinking they were the target.
Delahoussaye, Smith and Stump matched the adult crews shot for shot through the entire attack. The artillery crew showed that they have done a lot of hard work in a short period of time.
“The infantry has done a good job and are continuing to improve every time they drill. Lt. Zack Cole is proving to be an able commander,” said Lt. John Burleigh of the 3rd Texas, mentor for the infantry troop of the 8th Bridge City.
The blacksmiths John Ellis, Bryan Landrum and Justus Milligan and working with Ray Broomes, Blacksmith for the 3rd Texas.
In April there will be a re-enactment at Nibblett’s Bluff, the site of Camp Pleasant. Camp Pleasant was a small fort on the Sabine River.
The 8th Texas will make an appearance there in preparation for their reenactment later in the spring.