Not much is known about what was probably the only distinctly
Scandinavian unit in the Confederate army, the
Scandinavian Guards of New Orleans. Its muster roll,
with the names of 100 officers and men, is reproduced here.
This is the only roll in existence,
and was provided by the Military Library, Louisiana National
Guard (Jackson Barracks, New Orleans)
According to existing papers, the Scandinavian
Guards was probably organized early November 1861. It became
Company A of the Chalmette Regiment, Louisiana Militia, led
by Colonel Ignatius Szymanski, native of Poland and known as
"Old Sky". The regiment was entirely made up of foreigners.
They were only to be called into service when the situation
in the vicinity demanded it, in accordance with the regulations
for local defense troops, established by act of C.S Congress
on 21 August 1861.
A letter from an anonymous Danish ex-member of
the Scandinavian Guards, dated New Orleans 15 Aug 62, sheds
a little light on the organization of the company: "..
In order to avoid coming among so many different nationals,
each nation organized its own companies for the defense of New
Orleans. We now formed a company of Danes, Swedes, and some
Norwegians, which was styled the Scandinavian Guards. We were
armed with revolver-rifles,..., sword bayonet, dagger and pistol
in the belt.." [printed in Almuevennen (Christiania
(Oslo), Norway) no. 45, 8 November 1862, p. 359-60]
|- 1st Lieutenant
|- 2d Lieutenant
|- 3rd Lieutenant
|- 1st Sergeant
BERG, P. E.
BRANDES, S. E.
BURNEMAN, G. W.
CARLSON, C. G.
CARLSON, C. J. [same as above?]
CONWAY, Robert E.
MARGEL [Markel], John
OSTERMAN, J. L.
RICHARDSON, R. N. C.
SWENSON, Charles C.
TRAUTH, J. A.
In the early months of 1862 (February-April),
Governor Thomas O. Moore of Louisiana arranged with Maj. Gen.
Mansfield Lovell, commanding Department No. 1 (primarily the
defenses of New Orleans), to transfer two brigades of militiamen
to Confederate service. Lovell accepted 11 regiments and 2 battalions
of "Volunteer State Troops" (including the Chalmette
Regiment). These regiments were to be mustered into 90 days
national service only, under the command of state Brig. Genls.
Benjamin Buisson and Edward Tracy. The Chalmette Regiment entered
Confederate service on 25 February 62, as part of Buisson's
In April 1862, Lovell organized the defenses of New Orleans
into two districts; the Coast Defenses (exterior lines) under
Brig. Gen.. Johnson K. Duncan, and the Chalmette-McGehee Defenses
(interior lines) under Brig. Gen. Martin L. Smith. Buisson's
1780 poorly armed state volunteers were assigned to Smith's
command. On April 5, the Chalmette Regiment, with a strength
of about 500 men, arrived at Quarantine Station, about 5 miles
above Forts Saint Philip and Jackson, to guard the approaches
to the city from the sea through the bayous and canals, on
both sides of the river. Shortly afterwards, however, unprecedented
high water dislogded many of the troops, who had to be removed
to the west bank. Company D was detached to man the water
battery at Fort Saint Philip.
On 18 April the Union Navy began a six-day bombardment of Forts
St. Philip and Jackson. Then, on 24 April, the Federal fleet
blasted past the forts and landed 18000 men on the eastern
shore, near Fort St. Philip. The entire Chalmette Regiment
(except Company D) was captured and paroled at Quarantine
Station on 24 April 1862.
Lieutenant George H. Perkins of the USS Cayuga described
the scene in a letter dated New Orleans, April 27, 1862:
"..The Cayuga still led the
way up the river and at daylight we discovered a regiment
of infantry encamped on shore. As we were very close in, I
shouted to them to come on board and deliver up their arms,
or we would blow them all to pieces. It seemed rather odd
for a regiment on shore to be surrendering to a ship! They
hauled down their colors, and the Colonel and command came
on board and gave themselves up as prisoners of war. The regiment
was called the Chalmette Regiment, and has been quite a famous
one. The officers were released on parole and allowed to retain
their sidearms, all except one Captain, who I discovered was
from New Hampshire..."
At the military court of inquiry assembled in Jackson, Miss.,
to investigate the fall of New Orleans, Colonel Szymanski
made the following statement when asked about the surrender
of his regiment (April 18, 1863):
"When the forts were passed,
just about break of day, the fleet came upon my small camp
and opened fire. After losing some 30 men killed and wounded,
without a possibility of escape or rescue- perfectly at the
mercy of the enemy, he being able to cut the levee and drown
me out- I thought it my duty to surrender. A single shell
could have cut the light embankment."
Later, when Union Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler assumed command
in New Orleans, the officers and men of the Volunteer State
Troops residing in the city were arrested as prisoners of
war, and those who did not take the loyalty oath were exchanged
on 8 October 62 near Vicksburg, Miss. The majority did take
the oath, but a number enlisted in Confederate Louisiana units
serving in the Vicksburg area.