Hiram Gustavus Roberts


Hiram G. Roberts died in New Orleans, a prisoner of war.  He was taken with approximately five hundred of his neighbors after a Union Captain was shot.  This is an account of his sufferings and a recording of his death.

The following is an excerpt from:


Compiled From Sworn Testimony - under direction of Governor Henry Watkins Allen

Edited and Annotated by David C. Edmonds

page 55

    As the army marched up the Bayou Boeuf, a Captain [Howard] Dwight, following in the rear, was shot from the opposite bank of the bayou by some Confederate scouts.  Under the circumstances, as they have been related to us, the act was according to the usages of war.  But whether it was or not, it was done by soldiers of the regular army acting in their line of duty; and this fact was made apparent to the Federal General Commanding.24

    Yet, notwithstanding, he [General Banks] caused to be arrested the next day all the male citizen dwelling on the bayou over a line of forty miles.  Sixteen from St. Landry - grandfathers, fathers and sons, from early youth to four-score, respectable citizens, accustomed to the  comforts and luxuries of life--were forced along twenty-

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eight miles of road, and guarded at night in an open enclosure on a dung-heap.25

    The next morning they were carried back forty miles to Washington, part of the way on foot, part of the way in open wagons without seats.  None were permitted to stop at their homes on the way, neither to bid farewell, nor explain their position to their families.  Mr.  Jesse Andrus, aged eighty years and the head of a numerous and respectable family, after being dragged on foot over fifteen miles, hauled in a wagon forty, and confined and guarded as above stated, all with the space of thirty hours, was permitted to return home.

    The others were taken the next day to Opelousas and confined four days in the common jail, from which felons had just been loosed upon the community. 

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They were then brought out, formed in line, and marched between lines of soldiers to Port Barre; from thence they were shipped to Brashear City, and on the passage had only the cotton bales with which the boat was laden to sleep upon.

    At. Brashear they were placed on the railroad, in a box car without seats, which had last carried stone coal, and were thus transported to Algiers.  There they were imprisoned in a deserted iron foundry for three weeks and then sent across the river to New Orleans.  There they remained confined two months, after which the survivors were released to make their way home as well as they could.

    The trials of the march had brought Mr. James Hicks, an old man, to the verge of the grave, and he remained in the hospital during the time the others were confined.  Two died in prison:  Mr. Hiram G. Roberts, aged 46 years, and Mr. Solomon Link, aged fifty.  It is a simple story.  We have read before of a similar fate befalling a party of men--they were shipwrecked mariners thrown upon a barbarous coast.

24  But Admiral Porter writes:  “Out of the hundreds of Negroes who had been promised transportation for themselves, their families and their effects, very few got away, and the last that was seen of these poor wretches, they sat down in despair upon the river banks, where they had conveyed their little, all to try and escape the conflagration.”  Porter, Naval History of the Civil War, 532-33.

25. General Banks puts this number at five hundred.  Official Records, XXXIV, 212.