the nation's first Black military hero
known photograph ever taken
Cailloux, a black Creole who was born a slave, attained freedom, carved out a
niche for himself and his family as an artisan in the antebellum Afro-Creole society
of New Orleans, and died a U.S. Army captain and Civil Was hero whose courageous
example continue to inspire civil rights activists in New Orleans down into the
The life of
Captain Andre Cailloux, a thirty-eight-year-old Afro-Creole had ended two months
earlier, on May 27, 1863, as he gallantly led Company E of the 1st Regiment of
Louisiana Native Guards in a doomed assault on the Confederate bastion at Port
He landed as the nation's first black military hero, one of
the first Afro-Creoles men to hold an officer's commission in the United States Army,
and a member of the first black regiment to be officially mustered into the Union
army and to engage in a major battle.
of the First Louisiana
Paschal Maistre one of the earliest white radical voices in New Orleans and practically
the sole public champion of abolitionism and racial egalitarianism among the local
Catholic clergy. Maistre would perform the funeral rites of his church in defiance
of New Orleans' formidable archbishop, Jean-Marie Ordin, who, like Maistre was
a native of France.
A black patriot and a radical white priest: two relatively
ordinary men transformed by their responses to the crisis of war into symbols
of freedom and hope for people of color in New Orleans and of dangerous radicalism
to many southern whites.
To Creoles, this
funeral for one of their own attested to their capacity for patriotism, courage,
and martial valor. They also intended the public tribute to atone for the desecration
of Cailloux's corpse, which had lain neglected and rotting on the battlefield
for forty-one days until the surrender of the enemy fortress.
As word of the captain's
death had filtered back to New Orleans, women of color had donned crepe rosettes
in mourning. Immediately after the Confederate surrender of Port Hudson, black
troops recovered Cailloux's body, identifiable only by a ring in his finger. Union.