The state’s oldest museum with a collection of war memorabilia unmatched in the deep South, this institution is a must-see for all Civil War enthusiasts. Tucked in New Orleans’ museum district, the museum’s permanent and rotating exhibits offer visitors personal experiences of the war and its costs.
Location: 929 Camp St., New Orleans
Contact: 504-523-4522, confederatemuseum.com
Downriver from the French Quarter, Jackson Barracks was completed in 1835 for troops who were stationed at the forts protecting New Orleans. It served as one of the first Confederate posts at the time of secession, but was later reoccupied by Union forces in April 1862.
Location: 6400 St. Claude Ave., New Orleans
Contact: 866-275-8176; Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; www.geauxguard.la.gov/installations/jackson-barracks/
Construction on the Egyptian-Revival style structure began in 1849 and concluded after the Civil War. During the Union occupation of New Orleans, the Custom House served as General Benjamin Butler’s headquarters and as a prison for captured Confederate officers. During Reconstruction, it served as the center of Federal authority in New Orleans. Today, it houses the Audubon Insectarium, America’s largest museum dedicated to insects.
Location: 423 Canal St., New Orleans, LA 70130
The remains of Leonidas Polk, Confederate general and former Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana, were relocated to Christ Church Cathedral in 1945.
Location: 2919 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans
Contact: 504-895-6602, ccnola.org
Hours: This is a functioning church and congregation; please call for access information.
A Gothic Revival-style church built of handmade brick designed with a separate seating gallery for slaves. The church was consecrated by Bishop Leonidas Polk in 1861. It is best known for a memorial altar window of stained glass dedicated to the Right Rev. Polk by the Bishop Polk Society in honor of his service as the first Episcopal bishop of Louisiana.
Location: 1329 Jackson Ave., New Orleans
Contact: 504-522-0276; trinitynola.com
Hours: This is a functioning church and congregation; please call for access information.
One of New Orleans’ most famous above-ground cemeteries, it holds the remains of Confederate Generals Richard Taylor, P.G.T. Beauregard and John Bell Hood. It also includes monuments dedicated to Louisiana soldiers who served in the Army of Tennessee and the Army of Northern Virginia, as well as a separate monument to the famed Washington Artillery.
Location: 5100 Pontchartrain Blvd., New Orleans
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
Perched near Jackson Square and overlooking the Mississippi River, the Washington Artillery Monument is a cannon modeled at an 1861 Parrot Rifle used in the Civil War. The monument honors the 141st Field Artillery of the Louisiana National Guard that saw action from the Civil War through World War II.
Location: Washington Artillery Park on Decatur Street, across Jackson Square, French Quarter, New Orleans
Hours: Public Location
Built in the decades after the War of 1812 as part of a major expansion of the United States’ sea defenses, including a major commitment to protect New Orleans, these two brick forts guarded the eastern invasion routes to this important city. They had an intriguing history up to the Civil War, but did not see any actual combat during the war. They are still of interest as they housed primarily African American garrisons both during the conflict and after.
Location: 27100 Chef Menteur Highway, New Orleans
Contact: 504-255-9171 or 888-662-5703
The old battlefield at Chalmette, site of Andrew Jackson’s victory over the British in 1815, became a cemetery for Union soldiers in May 1864. More than 12,000 soldiers, with many relocated from other burial sites in south Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region, are buried at the site. The Grand Army of the Republic, a Union veterans organization, later erected a fitting monument to these honored dead.
Location: 8606 West St. Bernard Highway, Chalmette
Louisiana figured prominently in early Union plans to defeat the Confederacy, primarily because of its control over the mouth of the Mississippi River. Consequently, in early 1862 Admiral David Farragut led a Union fleet up the great river to the major obstacles on his way to New Orleans: Forts Jackson and St. Philip, located across from each other about 70 miles downriver from New Orleans. He began the bombardment of these forts April 16, but failed to silence the fleet’s guns. Without any other option, he simply decided to run his ships by the forts, and early April 24, led the daring charge upriver past their blazing cannons. He continued to New Orleans, where he subsequently accepted the city’s surrender. Cut off and surrounded, the garrisons of the two forts surrendered on April 28, 1862.
Fort Jackson is now owned and operated as a historical museum by Plaquemines Parish and is also home to the annual Plaquemines Parish Far and Orange Festival. Fort St. Philip, located across the Mississippi River, was heavily damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and is now privately owned and only accessible by boat or helicopter.
Location: 38039 Highway 23, Buras, Plaquemines Parish
Contact: Fort Jackson Museum and Welcome Center, 504-393-0124, www.plaqueminestourism.com/history
In the rolling countryside of Tangipahoa Parish, Camp Moore served as the primary training ground for Louisiana troops entering the Confederate army in 1861 and 1862. Despite its location in the healthy uplands north of Lake Pontchartrain, it proved deadly for many young men thrown together in large numbers for the first time. Infectious diseases raged, and the lack of modern medical and sanitary facilities contributed to a high death rate, long before any of the men saw the battlefield. Today a small museum interprets the site, which includes a large cemetery for those soldiers who died at the camp hospital.
Location: 70640 Camp Moore Rd., Tangipahoa
Contact: 985-229-2438, campmoorela.com
Pentagon Barracks/Old Arsenal
After the fall of New Orleans and Baton Rouge in the spring of 1862, Confederates attempted to recapture the capital at Baton Rouge in August. General John C. Breckinridge led his troops in an attack across most of present day downtown Baton Rouge Aug. 5, from Magnolia Cemetery to the Mississippi River. His anticipated naval support, the ironclad ram Arkansas, however, had broken down, and the combined guns of the Union navy and the soldiers on shore turned back the assault. The Pentagon Barracks, which today serves as apartments for state legislators, and the nearby arsenal both survived as witnesses to this intense battle. The grounds of the Barracks are open to the public and the Capitol Park Welcome Center next door includes a small interpretive exhibit. The Old Arsenal Museum, however, houses a more complete set of exhibits detailing the battle, and preserves actual graffiti left by Union soldiers.
Location: Capitol Park, Baton Rouge
Contact: 225-342-0401; sos.la.gov/museums
This building served as Louisiana’s capitol in the decade before the Civil War, and again from 1882 to 1932. It was the site of the state’s secession convention in 1861, although the Confederate state government abandoned it with the approach of the Union fleet in the spring of 1862. The building was gutted by fire in December 1862 while occupied by Union troops, and was not remodeled until the movement of the state government from New Orleans to Baton Rouge after Reconstruction. Today, it houses the Museum of Political History, with numerous exhibits on Louisiana’s colorful history. On its grounds, stands the monument to Confederate general and wartime governor of Louisiana, Henry Watkins Allen.
Location: 100 North Blvd., Baton Rouge
Contact: 225-342-0500 or 800-488-2968; louisianaoldstatecapitol.org
Located across the street from each other, these are two of Baton Rouge’s older cemeteries. Magnolia was created officially as a city cemetery in 1852; much of the Battle of Baton Rouge raged over its grounds, and a number of the Confederate dead are buried here, in addition to many citizens of old Baton Rouge. The Union dead from the battle were buried across the way, and the site was designated a National Cemetery in 1867.
Location: Magnolia Cemetery, 422 N. 19th St. National Cemetery, 220 N. 19th St.
Contact: Magnolia is operated by BREC and is open from dawn to dusk daily, 225-272-9200. National Cemetery is open Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is closed all federal holidays except Memorial Day, 225-654-3767.
The Museum, located in the Capitol Park area of downtown Baton Rouge, includes a set of exhibits on the Civil War in Louisiana among its many other displays and kiosks that interpret Louisiana’s rich history and culture.
Location: 660 N. Fourth St., Baton Rouge
Contact: 225-342-5428; louisianastatemuseum.org
In conjunction with Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s offensive against Vicksburg beginning in April 1863, General Nathaniel P. Banks moved his army upriver from New Orleans to Port Hudson, about twenty miles above Baton Rouge on the Mississippi River, reducing the Confederate stronghold. Since it guarded the entrance to the Red River, and provided a safe transportation route across the Mississippi, Port Hudson had to be captured to ensure Union control of the “Father of Waters.” Banks launched major attacks on May 27 and June 14, using African-American troops in these assaults; however, they were not successful. He finally settled down into regular siege operations and the starving garrison surrendered on July 9, after learning of the fall of Vicksburg a few days earlier.
Location: 236 U.S. Hwy. 61, Jackson
Contact: 225-654-3775 or 888-677-3400
Right off U.S. Hwy. 61 just outside St. Francisville is Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site, one of the area’s most illustrious plantation homes. Its mistress, Martha Turnbull, waged an unsuccessful campaign after the war to gain compensation for thousands of dollars worth of property confiscated by Union troops during the conflict. Operated by the Office of State Parks, the site interprets the antebellum and Civil War years.
Location: 12501 La. Hwy. 10, St. Francisville
Contact: 225-635-3332 or 888-376-1867
Heading east on La. Hwy. 10, you will enter the small town of Jackson, site of a skirmish associated with the Port Hudson campaign. Centenary State Historic Site, the original home of Centenary College (now in Shreveport), housed many wounded and sick Confederate soldiers in 1862. Those who died were laid to rest in a small cemetery located on the property. The site is operated by the Office of State Parks, and includes exhibits, interpretive markers and walking trails.
Location: 3522 College Street, Jackson
Contact: 225-634-7925 or 888-677-2364
In the quaint river town of St. Francisville, a half hour north of Baton Rouge, the graveyard of Grace Episcopal Church was the scene of a unique incident during the war years. Under a flag of truce, a dead Union naval officer was buried by fellow members of the Masonic fraternity in the cemetery, an event commemorated annually in the program “The Day the War Stopped.” The church was well established before the war, and played a prominent role in the society life of the area’s wealthy plantation families.
Location: 11621 Ferdinand St., St. Francisville
Contact: 225-635-4065; gracechurchwfp.org
Hours: This is a functioning church and congregation; please call for access information.
On June 28, 1863, Confederate General Tom Green led an assault on the Union occupied town of Donaldsonville. The chief defense of this important river port was Fort Butler, garrisoned primarily by African American troops. The attack started shortly after midnight, but the black troops fought fiercely and they gained support from Union ships in the Mississippi River. Green and the Confederates were forced to withdraw.
Location: Public access on the levee front, downtown Donaldsonville
Contact: For tours, contact either the Historic Donaldsonville Museum, 225-746-0004, or the River Road African American Museum, 225-474-5553; www.africanamericanmuseum.org
In the fall of 1862, Union General Benjamin F. Butler, commanding Union forces in the Department of the Gulf, launched an expedition into the Bayou Lafourche region to eliminate Confederates in the area and to confiscate as much sugar and cotton as possible. This expedition was under the command of General Godfrey Weitzel. On Oct. 25, his men arrived at Donaldsonville, where Bayou Lafourche begins at the Mississippi River on Oct. 25. The Union force moved south, or “down the bayou,” and encountered the command of Confederate General Alfred Mouton just above Labadieville at a place called Georgia Landing. There, on Oct. 27, Mouton and his men fought a fierce battle, but outnumbered and outgunned, they were forced to retreat and thereby gave up the Lafourche region to the Union.
Location: Lafourche Parish (29.8604°N, 90.9811°W); This site is accessible, but is on private property.
In April 1863, Union General Nathaniel Banks launched an expedition up the Bayou Teche in western Louisiana, aiming for Alexandria. Moving up from Brashear City (now Morgan City), April 12 –13 the Union forces encountered and engaged Confederates at Fort Bisland. Fearing encirclement, though, Confederate General Richard Taylor withdrew his troops, and fought a battle the next day at Nerson’s Woods, or Irish Bend, a mile and a half north of Franklin. This delayed the Union advance and allowed time for his men to escape. Hopelessly outnumbered, Taylor could only fight small rear guard skirmishes, and was forced to give up the region.
Location: There are no visible remains of Fort Bisland to be seen. The battle site is located on private property at 29.7101°N, 91.351°W. The Battle of Irish Bend was located at 29.8116°N, 91.4615°W. Both sites are accessible, but are on private property.
One of the few homes to survive the back and forth of the Confederate and Union armies in 1862 and 1863 was the well-known Shadows-on-the-Teche in New Iberia. It served as headquarters for Union officers, and suffered the usual depredations of hungry troops in search of food, drink and Dixie souvenirs. The site offers a nuanced interpretation of the antebellum, Civil War and postbellum eras. It is the only National Trust Property in Louisiana.
Location: 317 E. Main St., New Iberia
Contact: 337-369-6446; shadowsontheteche.org
The Mouton home served as the Governor’s Mansion during the brief period from 1862 to 1863 when the Confederate state government resided in Opelousas. It was home at that time to the sitting lieutenant governor, who offered it for use.
Location: 261 N. Liberty St., Opelousas (corner of N. Liberty St. and W. North St.)
Contact: Private Residence
Founded in 1821 as a Catholic school and convent, the Academy survived the variations of war in the Bayou Country because, as legend has it, Union General Nathaniel Banks issued special orders for its protection because his daughter in the North was enrolled in an institution run by the same religious order.
Location: 1821 Academy Road, Grand Coteau
Hours: This is a functioning school; tours by appointment only.
Another survivor of the war in Bayou Country is Chretien Point Plantation, which witnessed one of the many small battles in the area fought across its front yard.
Location: 665 Chretien Point Road, Sunset
Contact: Private residence
In the early stages of the Red River campaign of 1864, the Union fleet approaching upriver from Simmesport found its passage blocked in the area of Marksville by the guns of Fort DeRussy, which had been built over the previous winter to protect the water route to Alexandria. The fort had to be captured before the advance could continue. Shortly thereafter on the evening of March 14, General A.J. Smith ordered his men forward. The small Confederate garrison was overwhelmed in 20 minutes and the way to Alexandria was open.
Location: Fort DeRussy Road, Marksville (4 miles north of Marksville)
Contact: Fort DeRussy is managed by the Louisiana Office of State Parks. As a non-operational site, tours can be arranged by contacting Marksville State Historic Site at 318-253-8954.
Constructed from October 1864 to March 1865 by Confederate soldiers and enslaved African American workers, these forts were intended to protect the upper reaches of the Red River Valley from another Union invasion. This invasion never came, and when the Confederacy began to fall apart in the spring of 1865, the poorly clothed and poorly fed soldiers mutinied, forcing the forts’ abandonment. The two forts overlook the site of Bailey’s Dam, constructed in April and May 1864 during General Nathaniel Banks’ retreat back down the Red River Valley.
Location: 135 Riverfront Street, Pineville
Contact: 318-484-2390 or 877-677-7437
After abandoning Alexandria, Union General Nathaniel Banks continued his retreat down the Red River and reached the relative safety of the Atchafalaya River crossing at Simmesport on May 17. The Confederate army was in hot pursuit, however, and while waiting for his engineers to finish the bridge over the Atchafalaya, Banks sent a force back to hold the Confederates at Yellow Bayou. It was a back and forth affair that lasted several hours but lacked any real conclusion. Banks was then able to move his army over the river to safety.
Location: Just west of Simmesport, on La. Hwy. 1
Contact: Avoyelles Commission of Tourism, 800-833-4195; travelavoyelles.com
Hours: Daily from dawn to dusk
This cemetery was established in 1867 to offer a permanent place of rest for the many Union soldiers who died in Central Louisiana from wounds and disease during the Civil War. It later took in the remains of veterans from other conflicts, including many from the Indian Wars in Texas. It is located in Pineville, across the Red River from Alexandria.
Location: 209 East Shamrock St., Pineville
In 1860 the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy, now LSU in Baton Rouge opened in Pineville. The original superintendent was William Tecumseh Sherman who later earned a dubious reputation for his generalship for the Union Army during the Civil War. Still, Sherman is acknowledged as LSU’s first leader, and a painting of him hangs in Hill Memorial Library on the Baton Rouge campus. During the war years, the buildings were used as a hospital, but a fire destroyed the site later. Today, a walking trail, ghost outlines of the buildings and markers interpret the site.
Location: Highway 71 in Pineville, next to the U.S. Forest Service’s Kisatchie National Forest headquarters.
Contact: 318-442-9546 or 800-551-9546; www.louisianafromhere.com
Hours: Daily from dawn to dusk.
This museum features exhibits on the development and history of Alexandria, Rapides Parish and central Louisiana. It has a particularly strong interpretation of Alexandria’s role in the Civil War, including Bailey’s Dam and the burning of the town in May 1864.
Location: 503 Washington St., Alexandria
Contact: 318-487-8556; louisianahistorymuseum.org
Grand Ecore served as an important staging point and supply depot for the Union army and navy during the Red River campaign. Sitting high on a bluff overlooking the Red River, it held a strategic position and was used by Confederate forces, both before and after the spring 1864 invasion. Today, the Visitors Center offers excellent exhibits on the site’s history and importance, as well as spectacular views of the river.
Location: 106 Tauzin Island Rd., Natchitoches
Contact: 318-354-8770 or 800-874-9431
During the opening moves of his Vicksburg campaign in the spring of 1863, Union General Ulysses S. Grant marched 30,000 troops south through Tensas Parish to Hard Times Landing. From there they crossed the Mississippi River to attack the Confederate stronghold from the rear. Along the way, Union soldiers enthusiastically carried the war to the enemy, pillaging homes and plantations, and burning buildings wherever they went. Along placid Lake St. Joseph, they left only one of the 16 stately plantation homes standing: Winter Quarters. This was the home of Haller Nutt and his family. His wife, Julia, obtained letters of protection, which spared the home the fate of its neighbors. Today, Winter Quarters is a State Historic Site, operated by the Office of State Parks, interpreting both antebellum life in the area and the trauma of the Civil War.
Location: 4929 Highway 608, Newellton
Contact: As a non-operational site, tours can be arranged by contacting Lake Bruin State Park at 318-766-3530.
Shreveport Confederate Monument
Erected on the site of the headquarters of the last organized Confederate army, the monument features beautiful, stylized sculptures that highlight the major themes of the “Lost Cause” movement in the decades after the end of the Civil War.
Location: Lawn of Caddo Parish Courthouse, 501 Texas St.
Hours: Public Location
Located in downtown Shreveport, this center features exhibits on the history and navigation of the Red River, including its importance during the Civil War. Of great interest is the display on a Civil War-era steamboat that sank in the Red, only to be uncovered on dry ground when the river shifted course. It yielded a treasure trove of artifacts from the time period.
Location: 600 Clyde Fant Parkway, Shreveport
This museum located in downtown Shreveport contains rotating exhibits on the history of Shreveport, including its antebellum and Civil War past.
Location: 525 Spring St., Shreveport
Contact: 318-424-0964; springstreetmuseum.com
Shreveport’s original “City Cemetery” opened in 1847. Numerous mayors and more than a thousand Confederate veterans lie buried within its gates. Of particular interest is the burial mound for victims of the yellow fever epidemic that struck the city in 1873.
Location: 1000 Milam St., Shreveport
Contact: Shreveport Public Assembly and Recreation, 318-673-7751
A product of 1930s Louisiana, replete with larger than life murals and delicate, superbly crafted dioramas showing various aspects of the state’s industrial and agricultural life at the time, the Exhibit Museum also features an impressive collection of Civil War memorabilia sure to intrigue the interested visitor.
Location: 3015 Greenwood Road, Shreveport
Contact: 318-632-2020; sos.louisiana.gov/museums
Approaching Shreveport from the south during the climactic period of the Red River campaign in spring 1864, Union General Nathaniel Banks and his army met a much smaller force of Confederates led by the charismatic General Richard Taylor. Rather than continuing a withdrawal, Taylor decided to attack. He smashed the lead Union column at Mansfield on April 8, and then attacked the Union army again the next day a few miles away at Pleasant Hill. Mansfield State Historic Site features an excellent museum and interpretive trails and markers.
Location: 15149 Highway 175, Mansfield
Contact: 318-872-1474 or 888-677-6267
During the winter of 1862-63, Union General Ulysses S. Grant put his troops to work hacking canals into the back bayous and rivers of northeast Louisiana in the vain hope that he could find a passage around the mighty Confederate fortress at Vicksburg. One of those is still visible at Lake Providence—a nice boardwalk that allows visitors to look out over the placid waters of the lake while several interpretive signs provide context.
Location: 600 Lake St., Lake Providence. Overlook park on Lake Providence, across from the Byerly House
Contact: Byerly House Visitor’s Center and Museum, 318-559-5125
Louisiana’s Delta was, and still is, big plantation country, and in large part this means one crop: cotton. Now soybeans and corn are more prevalent, but this part of the state was built around planting and harvesting the fleecy white staple. The Cotton Museum has a number of excellent exhibits on the history of cotton, along with many plantation structures such as a chapel, gin and tenant houses. In addition, it has a thorough exhibit on freed African Americans recruited from the region during the Civil War to fight for the Union army. These troops saw action in several sharp fights along the Mississippi River, such as Young’s Point and Milliken’s Bend.
Location: 7162 Highway 65 North, Lake Providence
Contact: 318-559-2041; sos.louisiana.gov/museums
The Hermione Museum, run by the Madison Historical Society, is located in Tallulah and highlights the rich history of this plantation parish. Its exhibits include cotton growing, agricultural aviation (crop dusting), Civil War, the 1927 Flood and Teddy Roosevelt’s famous 1907 bear hunt. For Civil War enthusiasts, it features several displays on the Battle of Milliken’s Bend and Grant’s March, which took place in the area just east of town. It is a must stop for those wishing to retrace this opening move of the Vicksburg campaign. The Museum staff can provide materials on historic markers and sites, such as the Duckport Canal, Crescent Plantation and Milliken’s Bend.
Location: 315 Mulberry St., Tallulah
In the early morning hours of June 7, 1863, the African Brigade of the Union army, composed of formerly enslaved African Americans from nearby plantations, found itself facing an advancing Confederate force at the river landing of Milliken’s Bend, just northeast of present day Tallulah. The Union troops fired several volleys, but the Confederates came on and intense hand-to-hand combat ensued. Ultimately, the Union gunboats Choctaw and Lexington appeared on the scene and drove the attacking Confederates away. But the black troops had proven themselves as willing fighters, and increasingly they would take on a larger role in the Union war effort.
Location: The original site of the battle is now in the Mississippi River, but several markers highlight the action.
Contact: Hermione Museum, 318-574-0082, for additional information.