Battle of Baton Rouge reenactment Aug. 3 at Historic Magnolia Cemetery

Staff Writer
Plaquemine Post South

BATON ROUGE - The Historic Magnolia Cemetery is hosting the 151st commemoration of the Battle of Baton Rouge with a lecture and reenactment of the event Saturday, August 3 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. under the oaks at the cemetery.

The program remembers the 1862 Battle of Baton Rouge and honors those who perished, both Union and Confederate.

The Foundation for Historical Louisiana, Historic Magnolia Cemetery Board of Trustees, BREC and Rabenhorst will sponsor the event.

The event will feature a color guard, canon firing, wreath laying, taps, a vocalist and civil war enthusiasts in period dress.

Special guest speaker, Dr. Matthew Reonas, will give a short lecture entitled, "What Lies Remnant in the Land," which will review the memory and meaning of the Civil War in today's age.

The event is free and all ages are welcome to attend. A tent, chairs and bottled water will be provided. The cemetery is located at 422 N. 19th Street.

The Battle of Baton Rouge took place on August 5, 1862 on the grounds of Magnolia Cemetery. Louisiana seceded from the Union on January 25, 1861. On May 29, 1862, Union troops led by Brigadier General Thomas Williams began the Federal Occupation of Baton Rouge.

On August 5 at 4 a.m., Major General John C. Breckinridge and his 2,600 troops from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky entered Baton Rouge and began fighting Union forces.

The Confederate army forced the Union troops back toward the Mississippi River. In order to recapture Baton Rouge, the Confederates needed their iron-clad ram, the C.S.S. Arkansas, to destroy all the Union ships on the river. The Arkansas, however, suffered engine trouble and was burned and set adrift by its crew four miles upriver from Baton Rouge.

Unharmed, the U.S.S. Essex and four other Union gunboats bombarded the Confederate troops until they withdrew and marched out of Baton Rouge that same day. Among the soldiers that fell was Brigadier General Williams and A.G. Todd, half-brother of Mary Todd Lincoln, President Lincoln's wife.

Magnolia Cemetery was established in 1852. Following the war, due to a poor economy, Magnolia Cemetery fell into disrepair. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Civil War Discovery Train, the cemetery is receiving stewardship thanks to FHL, the Historic Magnolia Cemetery trustees and the Baton Rouge Recreation and Parks Commission.