“Were you ever at Camp Moore?” – Louisiana’s Largest Training Camp – Part II

Emerging Civil War welcomes back guest author Sheritta Bitikofer…

Part II of II…see Part I here

Though it wasn’t the only training camp in southeast Louisiana (Chalmette and Benjamin/Jerusalem, among others) Camp Moore continued to be a major hub for troop movements until nearly the end of the war. When the Federals were advancing upon New Orleans, orders were given by General Mansfield Lovell to withdraw the Home Guard north to Camp Moore.[18] In the summer of 1862, Camp Moore served as a launching point in General John C. Breckinridge’s plans to execute an attack on Union-occupied Baton Rouge.[19] In the fall of 1864, Federal troops finally stepped foot in Camp Moore. General Albert L. Lee took his division of cavalry and left a trail of destruction from the Mississippi border to Baton Rouge, raiding Confederate storehouses. At Camp Moore, he burned the barracks and made off with supplies. Though the troops left to guard Camp Moore were not completely beaten, November saw its final destruction as Lee came back with a larger force. He captured the troops and razed whatever remained from his last visit.[20] After it was left in ruins, Camp Moore lay at the mercy of nature and time for four more decades.

Camp Moore Confederate Cemetery (Authors photo)

In 1905, however, veterans who remembered Camp Moore returned, along with other organizations, and the land was once more in the hands of southerners. The cemetery where countless dead were buried during the camp’s heyday became their prime focus for restoration. Many of the modern erected headstones bear no names because the records for the dead were lost to time. Research has yielded some of their identities, while the monument dedicated in 1907 pays homage to those still unknown.

A museum was built on the site in 1964 to tell the story of Camp Moore and commemorate the troops who trained, fought, and died upon its soil. Today, Camp Moore can be visited by the public. The 6.5 acres, just a fraction of the former campgrounds, are open every day from sunrise to sunset. The museum is staffed purely by volunteers with the Friends of Camp Moore and Camp Moore Historical Association. The campgrounds feature a self-guided walking tour, starting at the entrance to the site and winding around toward the cemetery. Several detailed signs along the trail tell the story of the average soldier and Camp Moore’s turbulent history. The tour ends at the original meeting house for the United Daughters of the Confederacy Chapter #562 at Camp Moore, as well as a monument erected by them in 1976. The modern-day railroad that runs by the campgrounds today is in the same place it had been at the camp’s opening in 1861.

Camp Moore Museum & Visitor Center (Author photo)

Camp Moore also serves as an excellent place of research. The museum offers an array of artifacts that tell the story of the common soldier, not only from Camp Moore, but from other Louisiana regiments. Uniforms, personal items, medical kits, artillery ammunition, and post-war veteran paraphernalia can be found inside the museum. Do you have an ancestor who fought in a Louisiana regiment? Camp Moore can help you find out more about them. Their self-serve research room offers access to resources like muster roll copies, the ORs, biographical material, articles from the Confederate Veteran magazine, letters, diary pages, and much more. Much of their archives have been donated by researchers or personally acquired by volunteer staff.

Journals on display at Camp Moore (Authors photo)

Those who operate Camp Moore endeavor to keep the memory of the place alive. Every year on the weekend before Thanksgiving, living history demonstrations are held on the grounds. The place adjacent to the museum and cemetery, where the parade ground and tents once stood, is now private property, but the landowner opens up the field for reenactors to come and camp as the Confederate soldiers did so long ago. For two days, the reenactors conduct drills (infantry, artillery, and cavalry) and a staged skirmish for the public, as well as talk about life during the Civil War for those who came to Camp Moore. The reenactor group participation every year varies, while some like the Washington Artillery Unit are consistently present.

The museum runs purely on the donations and entrance fees of those who come to visit. Friends of Camp Moore contribute yearly or monthly to the preservation and expansion of the museum by funding the purchase of more artifacts that help to interpret the role Louisianans played in the Civil War. Volunteers are eager to share its rich and fascinating history and answer any questions visitors have about the camp or the Civil War in general.

New Orleans & Jackson Railroad from the Camp Moore parking lot (Authors photo)

To this day, Camp Moore remains the only former Civil War training grounds open to the public. For more information about the site, the annual reenactment, Camp Moore’s history, and how to get there, visit http://www.campmoorela.com.

The author would like to thank Wayne Cosby at Camp Moore for his assistance in the research process.

Sheritta Bitikofer is a lifelong student of history with a specific interest in the Civil War era. Along with being a wife, historical fiction author, and fur-mama of two, she is an active member of the Mobile and Pensacola Civil War Roundtables and currently pursuing a bachelors degree in US History at American Public University. She also manages her own modest Civil War blog where she writes about her studies and many travels to battlefields and other historic sites.

Citations:

[18] United States. Navy Dept., United States. Naval War Records Office. (18941922). Official records of the Union and Confederate navies in the war of the rebellion; Volume XVIII, page 256. Washington: Govt. Print. Off.,

[19] United States. War Department. The War Of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies; Volume XV, page 76. Washington :[s.n.], 1894.

[20] United States. War Department. The War Of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XLI, Pt 1, page 880-882. Washington :[s.n.], 1894.

“Camp Moore Cemetery and Museum.” Camp Moore Cemetery and Museum. Accessed October 18, 2020. http://www.campmoorela.com.

 

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1 Response to “Were you ever at Camp Moore?” – Louisiana’s Largest Training Camp – Part II

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