CIVIL WAR HISTORY, Volume XXXII, No. 3, September, 1986
FREE MEN OF COLOR IN GREY
Arthur W. Bergeron, Jr.
Contrary to Professor Wiley's contention, a number of Louisiana free blacks did serve as soldiers, and their white
comrades in arms did know them to be "free men of color." Some fifteen hundred or more New Orleans free blacks
made up the First Regiment Louisiana Native Guards. Free blacks in several country parishes of the state organized
themselves into military companies. Professor John D. Winters has estimated that nearly three thousand free blacks
had volunteered for militia duty by early 1862.6 With this many men in militia service, it seemed reasonable that a few
individuals could have seen combat duty. In researching this theory, I documented fifteen free blacks who volunteered
for and served in regular Confederate units as privates. Twelve of these men enlisted in Louisiana volunteer regiments,
two in a home guard or reserve unit, and one in a Texas cavalry unit. Three of the first twelve fought in several battles,
and two of the three received wounds. This manuscript will summarize the military service of these fifteen men and
speculate briefly on their reasons for wanting to fight for the Confederacy.
The three most prominent examples of free blacks who volunteered for Confederate military service all came from
St. Landry Parish.7 The three were Charles F. Lutz, Jean Baptiste Pierre-Auguste, and Lufroy Pierre-Auguste. Charles
F. Lutz, born in June 1842, was the son of Frederick Guillaume Lutz and Caroline Marx (or Manse), a mulatto woman.
Charles Lutz joined Captain James C. Pratt's Opelousas Guards company, which became Company F, Eighth Louisiana
Infantry Regiment, on June 23, 1861. This regiment went to Virginia and formed part of a brigade commanded by
Brigadier General Richard Taylor. The Eighth Louisiana fought in the battles of Winchester, Cross Keys, Port
Republic, the Seven Days, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, and Fredericksburg. In the battle of Second Fredericksburg,
or Marye's Heights, on May 3, 1863, Lutz fell intoenemy hands with more than one hundred of his comrades. He remained in Federal prisons for about two weeks before
being exchanged to rejoin his unit. At the Battle of Gettysburg, on July 2, 1863, Lutz received a severe wound in his
left forearm and again became a prisoner.
After holding him in a prison hospital in New York, Federal authorities exchanged Lutz on September 16, 1863, at
City Point, Virginia. He went home on furlough after his release. While at Opelousas, Lutz became involved in some
kind of difficulty in May or June 1864. As a result of this mysterious event, Lutz lost his right arm. He claimed in a
pension application after the war that he was shot in the arm but did not elaborate on the nature of the affair. Lutz went
to Texas to live with his brother in Polk County. On May 9, 1865, he received a discharge at the General Hospital at
Houston on the basis of a surgeon's certificate of disability. Lutz married after the war and later moved to Westlake in
Calcasieu Parish. After two attempts, Lutz finally received a Confederate pension from the state of Louisiana in 1900.
Of the men discussed here, Lutz was probably the only one who passed for and enlisted as white. The federal census of
1880 and 1900 list him as such.8
Jean Baptiste Pierre-Auguste was born in St. Landry Parish in May 1842. He was possibly the son of Ursin and
Caroline Pierre-Auguste, both free persons of color. Jean Baptiste joined Captain James W. Bryan's company at Lake
Charles in early 1862. He may have been living in Calcasieu Parish when the war began. Bryan's unit became
Company I, Twenty-ninth Louisiana Infantry Regiment, on April 15, 1862. The regiment went to Vicksburg,
Mississippi. There the unit participated in various campaigns in defense of the city, particularly the Battle of
Chickasaw Bluffs, December 28-29, 1862. The Twenty-ninth Louisiana was part of the Confederate garrison besieged
at Vicksburg between May 19 and July 4, 1863. The men fought back two major Union assaults on their trenches.
Jean Baptiste received a slight wound to his thigh during one of these actions. Following the surrender of the
Confederate garrison, he went home on parole.
The men of the Twenty-ninth Louisiana returned to duty in the summer of 1864 near Alexandria. From that time
until the end of the war, the regiment did little except routine garrison duty. In February and March 1865, Jean Baptiste
was detailed as a cook for his company's officers, possibly a duty he received because he was a free black. A clothingissue
book kept by Captain Bryan shows Jean Baptiste in service as late as May 12, 1865. The Twenty-ninth Louisiana
disbanded near Mansfield about May 19, and the men went to their homes without official paroles. Jean Baptiste was
married at least twice. The 1900 census for Calcasieu Parish lists him as a single parent, but he stated he had a wife and four children when he applied for a Confederate pension in 1912. The
State Board of Pension Commissioners originally rejected his application because he had no official parole. Several of
his former comrades sent in affidavits attesting to his service until the end of the war, and he received his pension in
Lufroy Pierre-Auguste was born in St. Landry Parish about 1830. He was the son of Pierre Pierre-Auguste and
Gabriele Tessier, free persons of color. The 1860 census shows that Lufroy worked as a stockherder for Francois P.
Pitre, Jr. Lufroy left his farm and joined Captain Daniel Gober's Big Cane rifles, which became Company K, Sixteenth
Louisiana Infantry Regiment. The first two muster rolls of this company list him as a free man of color—the only such
instance found in researching these men. None of the men discussed in this manuscript, except for Lutz and possibly
Gabriel Grappe, pretended they were white. The other men in their units undoubtedly knew them as free blacks.
The Sixteenth Louisiana fought in the battles of Shiloh, Farmington, and Perrysville. On December 8, 1862, while
in camp at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Lufroy received a discharge from Confederate service. The reason given for his
dicharge was that he was a "colored man." Apparently superior authorities had finally discovered that he was black and
ordered his separation from the army. Lufroy went home, but he did become involved in one other incident before war's end. On May 13, 1865, he surprised two Jayhawkers near Opelousas. These men made up part of a band of
outlaws, deserters, and draft dodgers who resisted Confederate authority. The two Jayhawkers fired at him, and he
returned fire, hitting one of the men. Lufroy married in 1869, but no further information on his life after the war has
come to light so far.10
Two free men of color—Evariste Guillory, Sr., and Evariste Guillory, Jr.—saw some service as home guards. Both
father and son were free mulattoes living on Bayou Mallet west of Opelousas when the war began. They joined
Captain M. McDavitt's Company I, Second Louisiana Reserve Corps. No information exists on when they enlisted in
this unit, but the regiment did not form until July 1864. The Reserve Corps consisted primarily of men who were over
or under draft age or who were in some manner ineligible for regular service, such as discharged or disabled former
soldiers. The men of the Reserve Corps saw practically no fighting