When secessionists attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina, the American Civil War began.
Leading up to the nation’s division, St. Charles Parish joined 29 parishes on Jan. 26, 1861 supporting succession, meaning the German Coast was no longer part of the United States.
For two months, it was part of a new nation called the Republic of Louisiana, according to the book, “St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History.” Soon after, Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor of Hahnville’s Fashion Plantation represented the German Coast until it became part of the Confederate States of America on March 21 of the same year.
Taylor, as chairman of the Committee on Military and Naval Affairs, warned at the state convention that the lower Mississippi River should be fortified, but it was not done as many thought the Union would not attack New Orleans.
In 1862, as he feared, New Orleans fell without a shot and the German Coast was occupied by Union troops.
“The Mississippi River was patrolled by Union ships, some of which fired shells over the levees,” according to the parish’s pictorial history. “Reportedly, cannon shells hit Ormond Plantation.”
The account further states, “Had Gen. Richard Taylor’s warning been heeded that New Orleans was vulnerable, the outcome might have been very different.”
Rachel Allemand, Destrehan Plantation’s heritage education coordinator, said historical accounts affirm the parish supported succession, but it narrowly got by statewide and those numbers were apparently hidden.
“It wasn’t a great majority of people who wanted to secede.” — Rachel Allemand
“For many years, the count was never made public,” Allemand said of the statewide vote. “It wasn’t a great majority of people who wanted to secede … 52 percent voted in favor and 48 percent voted against it. This was a state vote on delegates and they would decide whether Louisiana would secede from the Union.”
The secessionists won by a narrow passage, results she said indicate Louisiana was not overwhelmingly for the move.
St. Charles Parish, with its numerous plantations, voted 64 percent to support pro-secession delegates while only 35 percent sided with the Union.
Allemand said the parish had only 121 voters at the time because to register came with requirements like owning land.
“For the most part, people in Louisiana were not in favor of secession,” she said. “The people most in favor of secession were the big plantations. It kind of broke down South versus North.”
The pivotal moment
- Jan. 26, 1861: St. Charles Parish joined 29 parishes supporting succession, meaning the German Coast was no longer part of the United States.
- March 21, 1861: Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor of Fashion Plantation represented the German Coast as it became part of the Confederate States of America.
- April 1861: The American Civil War begins.