Civil War - Ponchatoula, Louisiana
Ponchatoula was pillaged in 1863 by the Union Army during the American Civil War. After a light skirmish, Confederate troops withdrew, and the Sixth Michigan occupied the town. Historian John D. Winters describes the fate of Ponchatoula:
"Women and children scampered about, begging for protection. There was no Confederate force to be found, and suddenly all discipline crumbled. The men went wild, and they were joined in the orgy of pillage by their corpulent commander Colonel [Thomas S.] Clark. First the depot was sacked, and the men grabbed up bundles and boxes they found stored within. The next targets were the two small stores in the village. The doors were battered in, and the blue-coated soldiers rushed in. The liquor supply was quickly confiscated. The post office was next. Mail bags were slit open, and letters and newspapers soon littered the streets. The Turkish clad Zouaves . . . came up the railroad and joined in the pillage, raiding the Masonic Hall and taking the silver stars, squares, and other emblems. Private homes were broken into, and everything of value -- fine coverlets, wine, and women's clothes -- was removed. Soon the neat little village was in a shambles.
"Colonel Clark was disappointed to find no cotton in Ponchatoula, but he consoled himself by gathering all of the mules and wagons in the vicinity, loading them with valuable turpentine and resin and with the plunder of the village, and sending them . . . to be loaded aboard waiting schooners. The citizens of the town who remained behind were administered the Federal oath of allegiance and promised protection by the officers."