Monday, September 27, 2010
The Chasseurs d'Afrique
The 1st Louisiana Native Guard [which would become the 73rd Regiment United States Colored Troops], the first all black regiment to fight for the Union Army was formed September 27th 1862. They sometimes called themselves the “Chasseurs d’Afrique”; the Hunters of Africa. New Orleans Louisiana fell into Union hand in April 1862. Union Major General Benjamin F Butler organized the regiment whose initial strength was about a thousand men. Membership in the Guard was mainly made up of “free men of color”, but there were some runaway slave from nearby plantation. Field grade officers [majors, and colonels] were all white men, but line officers were all black.
From its formation until May 1863 the regiment mostly performed fatigue duty, and guarding railroad depots between New Orleans and Brashear City Louisiana. The number of men had dwindled to about half. The Guards first combat came on May 27th 1863 during the first Siege of Port Hudson. In April 1864 the Guard was dissolved and its members became part of the newly organized 73rd and 74th Regiments of the United State Colored Troops. At the end of the war about 100 of the original 1,000 members of the First Louisiana Native Guard still remained in uniform.