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Start History of the Regiment

History of the Regiment

 

14th Louisiana Infantry Regiment


Also known as the 1st Regiment, Polish Brigade

Organized: June 16, 1861
Surrendered: April 9, 1865, Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia

First commander: Walery Sulakowski

In the spring of 1861 Major Kacper (Gaspard) Tochman, a Pole, arrived in New Orleans with a mission to organize a Polish Brigade. Tochman came to the States after his stay in Russia, where he was deported for taking part in the November Uprising. In the States, he was a lecturer and lawyer, and has made acquaintances with many high-ranking government officials. In May 1861, after the outbreak of the Civil War, Tochman received permission from his friend Jefferson Davis to create two Polish regiments. Because there were only 196 Poles in Louisiana in that time (including women and children), the main goal soon shifted to gathering as many foreigners as possible in one brigade.

Tochman's plan proved to be successful and soon two "Polish regiments" were created, consisting mostly of foreigners. These two regiments - instead of being merged into one brigade - were separated. The 1st Polish Regiment was renamed as 14th Louisiana Volunteers, and the 2nd Polish Regiment was henceforth called the 3rd Battalion, Louisiana Infantry. The count of Poles in each of these detachments is estimated at 20-30 persons - more than in any other detachment of the Confederate Army.

Colonel Walery Sulakowski was appointed as the Commander of the 14th Louisiana Volunteers. He introduced strict discipline and was probably the only officer who was able to control these troops. Born in Poland in a noble family, he perfected his military skills during the Hungarian Springtime of Nations revolution in 1848. After the fall of the uprising, Sulakowski made his way to the States, settled in New Orleans and worked as a civil engineer. Sulakowski helped Tochman with the organization of the Polish Brigade and was rewarded for it by being appointed as Commander of the 1st Polish Regiment.

His soldiers - of different nationalities, speaking different languages - were difficult to control, but Sulakowski commanded them with an iron hand. He was admired by his subordinates for his commanding and organizing skills, as well as his talent for discipline. He was said to be an incarnation of the military law - despotic, cruel and totally merciless.

Military trail:
The Siege of Yorktown (Apr 1861 - May 1862)
Williamsburg (May 5, 1862)
Seven Pines (May 31 - Jun 1, 1862)
Seven Days Battles (Jun 25 - Jul 1, 1862)
Mechanicsville (Jun 26, 1862)
Gaines' Mill (Jun 27, 1862)
Frayser's Farm (Jun 30, 1862)
Cedar Mountain (Aug 9, 1862)
Bristoe Station (Aug 26, 1862)
Kettle Run (Aug 27, 1862)
2nd Manassas (Aug 28-30, 1862)
Chantilly (Sep 1, 1862)
Harpers Ferry (Sep 12-15, 1862)
Sharpsburg (Sep 17, 1862)
Fredericksburg (Dec 13, 1862)
Chancellorsville (May 1-4, 1863)
2nd Winchester (Jun 14-15, 1863)
Gettysburg (Jul 1-3, 1863)
Bristoe Campaign (Oct 1863)
Mine Run Campaign (Nov-Dec 1863)
Payne's Farm (Dec 27, 1863)
The Wilderness (May 5-6, 1864)
Spotsylvania Court House (May 8-21, 1864)
North Anna (May 23-26, 1864)
Cold Harbor (Jul 1-3, 1864)
Lynchburg Campaign (May-Jul 1864)
Monocacy (Jul 9, 1864)
Kernstown (Jul 24, 1864)
Shepherdstown (Aug 25, 1864)
3rd Winchester (Sep 19, 1864)
Fisher's Hill (Sep 22, 1864)
Cedar Creek (Oct 19, 1864)
Petersburg Siege (Jun 1864 - Apr 1865)
Hatcher's Run (Feb 5-7, 1865)
Fort Stedman (Mar 25, 1865)
Petersburg Final Assault (Apr 2, 1865)
Sayler's Creek (Apr 6, 1865)
Appomattox Court House (Apr 9, 1865)

The regiment was organized on June 16, 1861 as the 1st Regiment of the Polish Brigade. It was included into the Confederate States Army as the 13th Louisiana Regiment in Camp Pulaski near Amite on August 24, 1861. The regiment received marching orders for Virginia. During the march, a group of soldiers became drunk and mutineed in Grand Junction, Tennessee. Before the officers restored order, five man were killed. As a result of this incident, one company (probably the B Company) was disbanded. The regiment made its way to Yorktown in September 1862. On September 1st, 1862 the War Department changed the regiment's designation to the 14th Regiment of Louisiana. The soldiers were entrenched during the Siege of Yorktown in April 1862 and fought in the Battle of Williamsburg on May 5. On the second day of the Battle of Seven Pines, the regiment did not take part in any serious fighting. The regiment took part in the battles of Mechanicsville (Jun 26), Gaines' Mill (Jun 27) and Frayser's Farm (Jun 30). During these operations 243 men were killed or wounded. On June 26 the regiment joined the Louisiana 1st Brigade, consisting of the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th regiments. The soldiers saw only skirmishes during the Battle of Cedar Mountain (Aug 9). During the Second Manassas Campaign, the regiment fought in the battles of Bristoe Station (Aug 26), Kettle Run (Aug 27) and the Second Battle of Manassas (Aug 29-30), also taking part in the Battle of Chantilly (Sep 1). The losses sustained by the regiment in these battles amounted to 49 dead, wounded or missing. The 14th Louisiana was transfered to the Louisiana 2nd Brigade in exchange for the 9th Louisiana Regiment, joining the 1st, 2nd, 10th and 15th regiments. During the Battle of Fredericksburg, on Oct 13 the regiment was in the reserve, joining the fight against the enemy on the next day.

The regiment took part in Stonewall Jackson's march on the flank of the Federal Army at Chancelorsville on May 2-3 1863. During the Battle of Winchester on Jun 15, the regiment captured 300 to 400 POW's from the 67th Pennsylvania Regiment. During the Battle of Gettysburg, on Jun 2-3, the brigade was attacking Culp's Hill, resulting in 65 men dead or wounded. Returning to Virginia, the regiment took part in the Bristoe Station Campaign (Oct 9-22). During the Battle of Payne's Farm (Nov 27), the unit lost 28 men.

In 1864, the 14th Louisiana took part in the Battle of Wilderness (May 5) and the Spotsylvania Campaign (May 9-20). On May 12, the enemy reached the brigade's trenches and took most of the soldiers captive. After the fights around Cold Harbour (Jun 1-3), the regiment joined general Early's army in the Shenandoah Valley. There, the unit took place in all of the army's battles from July to October. The regiment sustained such heavy losses, that it had to be merged with the 1st Regiment into a single A Company. The unit joined the Army of North Virginia at Petersburg in October and was entrenched until the city's evacuation in April 1865.

At the moment of surrender at Appomattox, on Apr 9, 1864, the unit consisted of only two officers and 25 soldiers. Around 1026 men have served in the regiment during the entire war: 184 were killed, 84 died of diseases, one died in an accident, one drowned, one was murdered and five were killed during the mutiny at Grand Junction.

Officers:
The initial officer cadre of the regiment: Colonel Walery Sulakowski, Lieutenant-Colonel R.W. Jones, Major Zebulan York.
Walery Sulakowski, a Polish immigrant, was appointed as Colonel and served until his resignation in January 1862. His successor, Lieutenant-Colonel R.W. Jones, resigned in August 1862. He was succeeded by Lt.-Col. Zebulon York, who commanded the unit until his promotion to General in June 1864, being afterwards replaced by Lt.-Col. David Zable.
None of the field officers was killed during the war, 10 line officers were killed or fatally wounded, one died of disease, five deserted and joined the enemy.

Companies:
- Armstrong Guards
- Jefferson Cadets (Guards) - sources imply that this company probably served in the 15th LA Volunteers
- Askew Guards -  this company probably served in the 15th LA Volunteers
- McClure Guards
- Concordia Infantry (Rifles)
- Avegano Rifles
- Nixon Rifles
- Lafayette Rifle Cadets
- Franco (Rifle) Guards

- Empire (Parish) Rangers - this company switched places with Quitman Rangers of the 3rd LA Battalion in December 1861

Six of these companies came from New Orleans, one each from the parishes of Plaquemines, Point Coupee, Tensas, Concordia. Available documents show that the 1st Regiment of the Polish Brigade consisted of these 10 companies, but - as mentioned earlier - in official sources, only 9 companies are shown as parts of the regiment. The explanation is simple - the Franco (Rifle) Guards company was disbanded because of taking part in the Grand Junction mutiny.

Sources point out that the 10th company was added in Sep 1861, along with the renaming of the regiment into the 14th Louisiana Volunteers. One of the sources identifies this company as the Catahoula Guerrillas of Wheat's Battallion, but this is not consistent with the other sources. The Tiger Bayou Rifles were added in the summer of 1861, but were transferred to the 1st Louisiana Volunteers on Aug 5, 1861. Either the Catahoula Guerillas were added to the regiment in Sep 1861, or the sources are erroneous as to the dates and the regiment was renamed to the 14th Louisiana Volunteers at the moment of the incorporation of the Tiger Bayou Rifles.