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  • Writer's pictureRobert M

The Battle of the Blood River (Tickfaw)

Anyone who has ever been on the Tickfaw in the early hours of the morning knows of her magical beauty and otherworldliness. Her coolness leaves you full of mystery and wonder. Maybe that feeling is attributed to her natural beauty, or perhaps it is from the ghosts of the Confederate soldiers who died fighting on her. In the wee hours of the morning, between the cypress knees, you can hear the hoot of the barred owl, the whistle of the woodie, and the whispers of the swamp. Is nature speaking to you, or are the lost souls murmuring their sad stories?

For those who did not know, over 150 years ago, the Federal troops of the Union and the Rebel troops of the Confederacy met on the waters of the Tickfaw/Maurepas. To begin this short story, the name of the battle, to me, is a misnomer. The battle itself took place at the mouth of the Tickfaw River in Lake Maurepas. As the story goes, on March 12, 1865, two men, Wells and Goubernoter, were selling contraband on the river under the protection of the Union Army. The Confederate soldiers stationed in Livingston Parish were there to stop the Union from advancing further into their territory. However, when word returned to the Confederacy that the Union was allowing people to sell contraband on the river, the Confederates sent soldiers from Mobile, Alabama, to end the illegal contraband. Lieutenant McDermott led forty-five soldiers and four boats to Springfield, Louisiana. They arrived at Carter Plantation, where they spent the night, and then proceeded to the Blood River, where they boarded boats and rolled down the river.

As the Confederates approached Lake Maurepas, they came across the boat of Wells and Goubernoter. They boarded Wells and Goubernoter's boat and discovered Union soldiers hiding. What ensued was a half-hour fight resulting in the death of Lt. Mc Dermott and another soldier and also the capture of the contraband. The Confederates then traveled back up the Tickfaw River to Warsaw Landing and sold the goods to the local community. The Confederates then burned the captured boat in a bend of the Blood River. Lt. McDermott and one other soldier were then taken to the cemetery in Springfield and buried there.

Regrettably, these soldiers lost their lives so close to the war's end. Appomattox Court House occurred on April 9, 1865, signaling the official end of the Civil War. The soldiers still lie in the cemetery in Springfield, and a plaque was placed there to commemorate the battle and the lives lost.

On a quiet Saturday in July, the Tickfaw is flooded with party-goers and modern water crafts. From jet skis to pontoons to deafening cigarette boats. No one can hear the hoot of the barred owl. No one is even listening. What would Lt. McDermott think of the Tickfaw now? Would he shutter at the sight of man's encroachment on nature, or would he marvel at the advancements? Next time you find yourself on the Tickfaw, will you listen for the barred owl?

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