Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A History of Des Allemands, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana & the Civil War

The following information was given to me in 1985 by Annabel Hogan, who believes it was written by the late Doris P. Candies for the dedication of the Civil War plaque on Hwy. 90 in Des Allemands.

      This peaceful bayou village was named after its body of water running through it, namely "Bayou Des Allemands" a French name meaning the "Bayou of the Germans". It was settled approximately 247 years ago, some 80 years before the Stars and Stripes were first raised at Place de Armes in 1803. The Germans and the Canadians are regarded as the founders of all settlements in Louisiana. The German settlement in Louisiana is often overlooked but once the "German Coast, " which started 25 miles above New Orleans and extended 40 miles up the river on the west bank, was well known as the place where the people who migrated from the land of the Rhine settled and later prospered.
      "German Coast" or "La Cote des Allemends" was first noted in a census taken in 1724. The first village was a mile and a half inland and the second was three quarters of a mile inland. It is believed that Carl Friedrich d'Arensbourg, who in June 1721 commanded a group of 250 Germans immigrating to Louisiana, founded the second village in 1721, and was regarded as one of the most famous of these settlers. The "German Coast" was bounded by Lake Maurepas on the north, Lake Pontchartrain on the east, and Bayou Des Allemands on the south.
      The German influence is still evident in St. Charles Parish. Direct descendants of the early settlers are still here, although their names may not sound like German.
      During the Civil War, 1861-1865, three skirmishes or battles, unimportant in themselves but historically significant as a group, occurred on the west bank of the Mississippi River in St. Charles Parish. They were the skirmish near the St. Charles Courthouse; battle of Boutte; and Battle Des Allemands, which took place Dec. 4, 1862, between the 8th company, commanded by Capt. Ed Hall and the confederates commanded by McWalters, and resulted in the capture of an entire detachment of union soldiers.
      The 8th company was partly composed of the Germans originally from St. Charles Parish area who had enlisted in the 8th company in New Orleans and after their capture were recognized by some of their former friends. The Confederacy had a claim on them for military service, and considered them deserters. They protested saying their enlistment was one of their rights as citizens of the United States. Their captors (the confederates) would not listen and after a quick trial they were found guilty and condemned to be publicly shot as deserters. They were interred in a long trench under some trees beside the railroad track somewhere between Des Allemands and Boutte.
      The centennial observance of the Battle of Des Allemands took place Sept. 2, 1962. A Civil War plaque commemorating the 100th year of the skirmish was placed in a road side park along Hwy.90. The plaque was provided by the Tourist Bureau of the Department of Commerce and Industry.
      An historical marker commemorating the first German settlers of St. Charles Parish was unveiled. It was obtained through the efforts of the German Council of New Orleans in Honor and Memory of the Germans who settled this village and who defended it in 1862.

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