The Donaldsonville LA Artillery at the Siege of Petersburg: A 10 Part Series

by Brett Schulte on November 15, 2012 · 2 comments

In  late September I commented on the good stroke of fortune I experienced when NPS Historian John Hennessy contacted me with an offer of newspaper clippings focusing on the Siege of Petersburg.  One of the first emails I received from John contained an amazing set of ten articles on the Donaldsonville Louisiana Artillery, commanded by Captain R. Prosper Landry during the Siege of Petersburg.  Those ten articles take the reader from June 10, 1864 through to the surrender of Lee’s army at Appomattox Court House.  The articles were based on the diary of battery member Eugene H. Levy and were published in summer issues of the 1902 New Orleans Times-Picayune.  Levy based the articles heavily on his diary from the time, but he engages in some hyperbole and flowery Victorian language now and again and appears to possess some Nostradamus-like prophetic ability on the side.

Laying that aside, Levy saw some very interesting events during the Siege of Petersburg, including many artillery duels.  He was wounded at the start of the Battle of the Crater, and he convalesced in Mobile, Alabama near family in the late summer of 1864.  When he returned to duty on September 21, 1864, he was just in time to almost participate in the Battle of Fort Harrison, not as a member of his battery, but as one of many men rounded up in Richmond as the “Departmental Battalion” in this emergency.  He and his battery mates clearly heard the fighting at Boydton Plank Road on October 27, 1864.  Not long after, they experienced a heavy bombardment all along the line which clearly made an impression on the author.  Levy was diagnosed with scurvy in November 1864, and was eventually sent to convalesce with a section of his battery posted at the soon to become famous High Bridge, near Farmville, Virginia.  Levy stayed there until the Appomattox Campaign began and he and his section were present to surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.

I’m happy to announce that I’ve been able to transcribe all ten articles in their entirety over at The Siege of Petersburg Online, for those of you interested in reading the series.  I’ve linked to all ten parts individually below, but if you click on part 1 you’ll be able to keep moving on  to the next part in the series via links at the bottom of each post.

Donaldsonville Cannoniers Series from the 1902 New Orleans Times-Picayune


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Matt B April 23, 2014 at 4:30 pm

I know it is a nit pick. But as a descendant of Victor August Maurin I must add some corrections. 1) By this account Landry did not take command of this unit until Oct.15. It is my belief this is the point where Landry takes over the day to day duties of the unit. Maurin was the commanding officer of the Donaldsonville Artillery from day 1 until the very end. Which makes Maurin commanding officer of the unit for the Siege of Petersburg. 2) Both officers were promoted on July 11 1864 for actions taken on the Siege of Petersburg. Maurin to Major and Landry to Capitan. 3) Landry surrendered the unit. So all union documentation lists Landry as commander of the unit. 4) Major Maurin did not surrender with the unit. He was one of the officers with Jefferson Davis when he was arrested.

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