Memorial Poetry for Captain Andre Cailloux

Sketch of an eagle spreading its wings with a banner in its mouth

These poems were written after the Union attack at Port Hudson on May 27, 1863, and the death of Captain Andre Cailloux, a Black officer in the 1st Louisiana Native Guards Regiment (Union). The first poem here "Captain Andre Cailloux and His Companions in Arms" was written by someone identified as "E.H." and published in L'Union in New Orleans on July 4, 1863. The second poem—"The Black Captain"— was penned by George H. Boker, an abolitionist poet during the Civil War era. Both pieces poetically eulogize Captain Cailloux's battlefield death and emphasize the courage of African American soldiers.


Captain Andre Cailloux and His Companions in Arms

What! You weep for the brave captain,

Whose valor astonished Port Hudson!

Why, in falling in the open field, 

He struck down vile conjecture. 

We console ourselves, we, men of his race, 

That before God alone he bent his knee. 

Let both Whites and Blacks follow the noble path 

Of the brave Andre Cailloux.


Yes, it was among the cannon-balls, the grapeshot

That this hero of the black brow so proud

Directed his steps, leading in battle

His black brothers, brave as steel!

It was in the midst of enemy bullets,

Hissing of death, and bearing it everywhere,

That these soldiers, possessed of a thousand lives,

Followed Andre Cailloux!


God, what ardor! What sublime courage!

Without any help in this bloody battle,

They made the enemy tremble in his rage;

Banks recognized the saviors of the state!

Six times that day they attempted victory:

A thousand cannons crushed them everywhere.

Those noble dead in the abode of glory! 

Always follow Cailloux!


Oh Liberty! Our mother, contemplate

What your children will henceforth be able to do?

Doubt has fled; open your temple to them,

And let the Union bide its time

Conquered soon the unworthy rebels,

Bloodthirsty men, of your grandeur jealous,

Will disappear, and there will be faithful to you

Over a hundred thousand Cailloux!!!


The Black Captain

He just lay where he fell,

Soddening in a fervid summer's sun,

Guarded by an enemy's hissing shell,

Rotting beneath the sound of rebels' guns

Forty consecutive days,

In sight of his own tent,

And the remnant of his regiment.


He just lay where he fell,

Nearest the rebel's redoubt and trench,

Under the very fire of hell.

A volunteer in his country's defense,

Forty consecutive nights and days,

His lifeless body pieced and rent,

Leading in assault the black regiment.


But there came days at length,

When Hudson felt their blast,

Though less a thousand in strength,

For "our leader" vowed the last;

Forty consecutive days

They stormed, they charged, God sent

Victory to the loyal black regiment.


He just lay where he fell,

And now the ground was theirs,

Around his mellowed corpse, heavens tell,

How his comrades for freedom swear,

Forty consecutive nights

The advance pass-word went,

Captain Cailloux of the black regiment.




Poetry quoted in A Black Patriot and a White Priest: André Cailloux and Claude Paschal Maistre in Civil War New Orleans by Stephen J. Ochs (Baton Rogue: Louisiana State University Press, 2000).

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Related Battles

East Baton Rouge Parish and East Feliciana Parish, LA | May 21, 1863
Result: Union Victory
Estimated Casualties