|Born||February 18, 1829|
|Died||April 8, 1864(aged 35)|
|Place of birth||Opelousas, Louisiana|
|Place of death||Mansfield, Louisiana|
United States of America|
Confederate States of America
Confederate States Army
|Years of service||
1861 - 1864 (CSA)
Second Lieutenant (USA)|
35px Brigadier General (CSA)
Jean-Jacques-Alfred-Alexandre "Alfred" Mouton (February 10, 1829 – April 8, 1864) was a Confederate general in the American Civil War. He was born in Opelousas, Louisiana, and spent most of his life in Lafayette. Beloved by those under his command, Mouton was a strict drillmaster and disciplinarian who simultaneously freely socialized with his troops. He was killed at the Battle of Mansfield while leading his men in a cavalry charge.
Early life[edit | edit source]
Mouton was born in Opelousas, Louisiana, the son of former Governor of Louisiana Alexandre Mouton. Due to the elder Mouton's desire for his children to receive the best education possible, Alfred enrolled in the St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. Upon his graduation from St. Charles College, Alexandre Mouton secured for Alfred an appointment to the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Alfred was hesitant to go at first because up until that point in his life he had been only around French speaking people and customs; he knew little English and was not accustomed to speaking it. However, his father was adamant so he was enrolled in 1846.
At West Point, Mouton was an average student scoring good marks in certain areas, including French, but it was evident that he struggled with the new language he was around. Alfred graduated from West Point on July 1, 1850, 38th out of 44. He stayed with the United States Army just briefly before resigning his commission that September. As soon as he resigned his commission Mouton took up a civil engineering position as an assistant engineer for the New Orleans, Opelousas and Great Western Railroad. He held that position from 1852 to 1853. After resigning from the railroad business, Mouton took up farming sugar cane in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana.
While living in Lafayette Parish, Mouton became a prominent member of the community due to his family connections. He was well thought of and lived up to his position in the community. He served as leader of the Lafayette Vigilante Committee, which formed to dispense justice to those who paid off juries or perjured witnesses. He also served as brigadier general in the Louisiana State Militia from 1850 to 1861.
Civil War[edit | edit source]
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Mouton organized a company of men from the local population in Lafayette Parish. The company consisted of mostly farmers from around the area. Mouton was elected Captain of the company upon its organization. When the company was organized into the 18th Louisiana Infantry, he was elected colonel. Mouton quickly made a reputation for himself as a strict disciplinarian and an efficient drillmaster. However, after drill he mingled freely with his soldiers in camp stopping to talk to anyone of the regiment. One of his soldiers had this to say about him: "As a drillmaster, he had few, if any, equals. I have seen him drill the regiment for an hour in a square, the sides of which ware equal to the length of his line of battle, without once throwing a company outside or recalling a command when given. He was a strict disciplinarian and allowed no deviation from orders either by officers or soldiers."
During the weeks before the Battle of Shiloh, the 18th Louisiana was one of the regiments called to the tiny crossroads town of Corinth, Mississippi, for Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston's planned attack on Union forces encamped near Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee. At Shiloh, the 18th Louisiana was organized into Col. Preston Pond's brigade. It was while serving in this brigade that the regiment and their commander received their baptism by fire. Pond's brigade attacked against the Federal right against the divisions of Union generals William Tecumseh Sherman and John A. McClernand. During one of these attacks, Colonel Mouton was wounded. After the Confederate defeat, General P.G.T. Beauregard ordered a withdrawal back to Corinth, Mississippi. After arriving in Corinth, the 18th Louisiana was sent back to Louisiana to replenish its depleted ranks.
While back in Louisiana, Mouton was made interim commander of West Louisiana and did what he could with the limited men and supplies that he had to fight off Federal attempts to move into the state. His army, attempting to protect the sugar cane farms along Bayou Lafourche was brushed aside by Union general Godfrey Weitzel at the Battle of Labadieville, which led to Weitzel destroying much of the crops in that area. With the arrival of Confederate general Richard Taylor, Mouton was made a brigade commander and given the rank of brigadier general. The duo of Mouton and Taylor would prove to be one of the most efficient during the war and they, along with cavalry commander Thomas Green, would harass, confuse, frustrate, and delay Union attempts to secure the Bayou Teche region of southern Louisiana.
Mouton's leadership in his Louisiana brigade helped the Confederates undermine Union attempts to access the rich Bayou Teche region. He was a key participant in the battles of Irish Bend, Fort Bisland, Franklin, and Bayou Borbeau, along with numerous other smaller skirmishes.
Mouton's brigade was used as the lead unit in the Confederate attack at the Battle of Mansfield. While leading his brigade in a charge against the Union position, Mouton was shot and killed.
Historian John D. Winters reports on the battle: "On his horse, Mouton made a perfect target, and a Federal marksman dropped him from his saddle. The gallant Polignac now rode forward and took over the command. With tears of grief and rage in their eyes, the yelling men followed Polignac. They ran on through the deadly hail, determined to avenge the death of their leader. ... Mouton's division lost about one third of its total strength."
Mouton's death was lamented by General Taylor, who said, "Above all the death of the gallant Mouton affected me ... modest, unselfish, and patriotic. He showed best in action always leading his men." He was first buried on the battlefield but was moved in 1874 to St. John's Cemetery in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Mouton's stepmother was the sister of Confederate General Franklin Gardner.
Honors[edit | edit source]
The Brigadier General J. J. Alfred A. Mouton Camp #778, Sons of Confederate Veterans, in Opelousas, Louisiana, is named in honor of General Mouton.
A street in downtown Lafayette is named in Mouton's honor.
A street in Bossier City, Louisiana, near Barksdale Airforce Base is named General Mouton.
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Ayres, Thomas., Dark and Bloody Ground : The Battle of Mansfield and the Forgotten Civil War in Louisiana, Cooper Square Press, 2001.
- Parrish, T. Michael, Richard Taylor, Soldier Prince of Dixie, University of North Carolina Press, 1992.
- Taylor, Richard, Destruction and Reconstruction : Personal experiences of the late war, Time-Life Books, 1983.
- Warner, Ezra J., Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders, Louisiana State University Press, 1959, ISBN 0-8071-0823-5.
[edit | edit source]
- Encyclopedia of Cajun Culture
- History of the 18th Louisiana Infantry
- Cemetery Memorial by La-Cemeteries
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