Camp Moore History
Camp Moore, named for Louisiana Governor Thomas Overton Moore, was located about 78 miles north of New Orleans on the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern Railroad ( currently the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad) about one half mile north of Tangiphoa Station, La. The vast majority of the volunteer regiments and battalions which brought fame and honor to the State of Louisiana during the War for Southern Independence were assembled, organized and trained at this camp.
After the secession of Louisiana on January 26th, 1861, the Convention which took Louisiana out of the Union, approved an ordinance which established a regular State military force. During the months of January and February, 1861, military companies were forming, some with funds from the Military Board and many with private funds. By the middle of February, 28 volunteer companies had been furnished arms by the Military Board. Most of these arms had come from the seizure of the Federal arsenal at Baton Rouge, La. There were enlisted a total of 1,765 men with the size of the companies varying from 120 men to 30 men, the minimum size set by the Board.
On March 19th, 1861, a call was made by Confederate Secretary of War, Leroy Walker for 1,700 volunteers to garrison forts inside the Confederacy. The Louisiana Legislature allowed Governor Moore to transfer State troops to Confederate service and permitted Louisiana citizens to volunteer for Confederate service. On April 8th, 1861, President Jefferson Davis asked Louisiana for 3,000 additional troops and after the bombardment of Fort Sumter, asked for 5,000 more.
New Orleans was the place designated to receive the volunteers. The Metairie Race Course (located where Metairie Cemetery now stands) was used as the military camp and by early May, 1861, some 3,000 troops had trained there. The training camp, called Camp Walker, was deficient in many ways. The lack of easy access to clean drinking water, the swarms of mosquitoes from surrounding swamps and the soft, marshy soil in the camp made the place intolerable to men.
Henry Forno and James Wingfield were sent into the piney woods of (then) St. Helena Parish to find a suitable training ground with good water and convenient to transportation of large quantities of men. Both men were from the area and settled on a site just north of the village of Tangipahoa, along the New Orleans and Jackson Railroad. Two companies of men from the 4th Louisiana regiment were sent north to secure and begin clearing the campsite. There were villages along this railroad approximately every ten miles to serve as water and wood stops on the railroad headed to Jackson, Mississipp and points north.
The site was chosen and militia General Elisha Tracy, who commanded Camp Walker, began to transfer most of his troops by rail to Camp Moore on May 13th, 1861. The 3rd Regiment of Louisiana Volunteers was left to complete its training at Camp Walker. The 4th Regiment and many unattached companies transferred to Camp Moore. Camp Moore was much better suited for use as a military camp than Camp Walker. Camp Moore sat 179 feet above sea level. At Camp Moore there was an abundance of fresh, clean drinking water, both from Beaver Creek and the Tangipahoa River. There was plenty of shade, well drained soil and according to many reports, almost no mosquitos. Individual companies that formed in the various parishes in the state would travel by boat, rail or by march to Camp Moore to be formed into regiments. While at Camp Moore, companies were brought to full strength (minimum of 64 privates and 8 NCO's would become the standard), the men elected their officers and then formed into groups of ten companies willing to serve together and thus became a Regiment. Groups forming into less than ten companies became Battalions. The men elected their own officers, both at the company level and the regimental level, thus there was much campaigning and politicking happening at Camp Moore.
Once a regiment was formed and the Colonel, Lt. Colonel and Major elected, the men were all sworn into State (of Louisiana) service. The State then allowed the men to be mustered into Confederate service. Most regiments left Camp Moore for the "seat of war" within a couple of days after being mustered into Confederate service. A regiment at this time numbered approximately 850-1000 men. Among those regiments mustered at Camp Moore that went to the Army of Northern Virginia were the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th Infantry Regiments of Volunteers as well as the 1st (Wheat's) Special Battalion, Louisiana Infantry. Among those serving in the western part of the Confederacy were the 4th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 27th, 28th and 30th Regiments of Louisiana Infantry.
Letters from soldiers and visitors to the Camp describe it as being about one half mile above Tangipahoa Station and being bounded on the west by the Railroad, on the south by Beaver Creek, and on the east by the Tangipahoa River. General Tracy's headquarters was near Beaver Creek. There was a large Commissary and Quartermaster stores house located along the railroad. There was a coffee house, a grocery, sutlers, soda and refreshment shops, various kinds of shanty restaurants, a butcher's shop and a photographer's salon located along the western end of Beaver Creek. Just north of the creek was the main camping ground for companies of soldiers. The men cleared a large parade ground where they drilled and performed reviews for the generals just north of the main camp. Soon, a second camping site was laid out north of the Parade ground and this was unofficially known as Camp Tracy. There was also a burial ground at the northern edge of the Camp where soldiers were buried that died there of disease or accident. The first fatality would occur only three days after the Camp had opened when a member of Wheat's Battalion was accidentally killed by rail cars on May 16th, 1861. There were two large epidemics of measles in the Camp, one in late 1861 and the other in the Spring of 1862. This accounted for the largest numbers of death in Camp. Estimates of the number of men buried in the cemetery range from 200 to 800 men.
Major General Mansfield Lovell, commander of all troops defending New Orleans, came to Camp Moore in October 1861 and due to a lack of arms there, ordered the troops organized there to transfer to camps close to New Orleans. When Federal forces passed the river forts protecting New Orleans and then arrived at New Orleans on April 25th, 1862, all troops in New Orleans, including all locally impressed militia, were ordered to Camp Moore. Most of these men eventually were sent to other areas or in the case of the militia, simply went home to occupied New Orleans. Governor Moore visited Camp Moore in May 1862 and stayed about 10 days. In the following months, Camp Moore remained a camp of instruction for Louisiana conscripts and also served as a prisoner of war camp briefly. Gen. Daniel Ruggles, commanding the area comprising the Florida Parishes of Louisiana, made his headquarters at Camp Moore with about 1000 men. Gen. Elisha Tracy died suddenly in late 1862 at or near Camp Moore.
On July 28th, 1862, General John C. Breckinridge arrived at Camp Moore to make ready his campaign to liberate Baton Rouge from Federal occupation. He commanded Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Kentucky units. Breckinridge divided his 4000 men and Ruggles' 1000 men into two divisions and marched to Baton Rouge. On August 5th, 1862, they attacked the Federal garrison at Baton Rouge. Winning the land battle, the Confederate attack was eventually doomed due to the failure of the arrival of the ironclad CSS Arkansas, which was to disperse Federal gunboats and ironclads on the Mississippi River. Thus the Confederates were unsuccessful in regaining Baton Rouge.
Most infantry and artillery units in southern Louisiana were moved to Port Hudson, above Baton Rouge, when that place was fortified. This left mostly cavalry units in the vicinity of Camp Moore. Conscripts continued to be trained at Camp Moore in early 1863 and were also used to look after supplies left there. The forces left there were a skeleton force. Camp Moore was twice raided, once in April 1863 and then again in October 1864, at which time the Federal cavalry out of Baton Rouge destroyed a large amount of stored clothing, a tannery, tanned hides, all parts of the Camp, captured the garrison flag and dispersed a herd of cattle destined for Confederate use. In November, 1864, Gen. Davidson passed through Tangipahoa with 5,000 men and burned Camp Moore and all outbuildings. One soldier's letter says they even burned the wooden headboards in the cemetery. This last raid finished Camp Moore.
Camp Moore returned to nature for almost the next 30 years. In 1892, Camp No. 60 of the United Confederate Veterans was established at Tangipahoa, with their chief purpose being the care of the graves at Camp Moore. The Camp Moore chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was responsible for getting the donation of a two acre tract which encompassed the cemetery. They also got the Louisiana Legislature to appropriate funds to build a wall and fence around the cemetery in 1904. The monument was dedicated in the Cemetery in October 1907. In the 1960's, another tract of land was procured and a musuem built using State funds. The museum was dedicated in May, 1965 and the site was designated a State Commemorative Area. The site now was 6.5 acres of the original site.
In 1986, Governor Edwards closed the site, along with other commemorative areas across the State, during a State monetary crunch. It sat idle again for six years. The site was reopened in June, 1993 by a private, non-profit entity, the Camp Moore Historical Association. The Association has a 97-year lease with the State of Louisiana.
The museum contains numerous artifacts of the period and is open from 10 am to 3pm, Tuesday through Saturday. The grounds are a beautiful place for a picnic, wedding or just a quiet day in the country. Camp Moore is located along Hwy. 51, just north of Tangipahoa, LA. For more information, call the museum at (504) 229-2438.
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Website design by N. Wayne Cosby
In memory of my beloved Christin