The Official Site of Fort DeRussy, Louisiana
Fort DeRussy News
Issue 4 November 1998
Delta Queen Visit Generates Excitement
The Delta Queen, an authentic sternwheel steamboat, came up the Red River on a Civil
War tour in mid-
From Fort DeRussy, the tour moved on to lunch at the Mansura Pavilion, and visits
to the battlefields at Mansura and Yellow Bayou, Callico Plantation, and the site
of the steamboat bridge at Simmesport. After-
Park Day ’98 Big Success
On April 25, 1998, 900 volunteers showed up at 38 Civil War sites throughout the
nation to clean up, repair, and otherwise maintain the sites. Fifty of these participants
– over 5% of the total – showed up at Fort DeRussy to work and listen to presentations.
Steve Mayeux gave an update on recent improvements at the fort and Corey Bordelon
presented his prize-
Thanks to Donors
Donations of goods and services continue to roll in, and we are grateful.
Bob and Joel Smith, operators of the Saxon Guild in Alexandria, generously donated an original “colorized” and framed sketch of the Capture of Fort DeRussy, from the April 9, 1864 Frank Leslie’s Illustrated. The picture is really striking, and will be a valuable addition to our future museum.
Patrick Bordelon of Hamburg found a 58-
Mack Lemoine, of Lemoine’s Tree Service, generously donated his services, and those
of his father and crew, to remove a very large and very dead oak tree from the northeast
corner of the fort. They made quick work of a job that would have taken at least
a full day (and probably resulted in significant medical bills) by a non-
In addition to donations of goods and services, we have also been fortunate to continue to receive cash donations. Generous gifts have been made by the Cenla Historical Reenactors and Mrs. Gloria Gardiner Carlisle, as well as three anonymous donors from among the Delta Queen visitors.
Inquiries have been made concerning tax-
New Books Out
Fort DeRussy mentioned
Two new books have recently appeared on the market that mention Fort DeRussy. Peculiar
Honor: A History of the 28th Texas Cavalry 1862-
Drought Affects Fort
This summer’s drought had serious effects on attempts to establish ground cover on
the earthworks at DeRussy. White Dutch clover was planted last year with the expectation
that it would reseed itself and spread so that this year we would have good cover
going into the Winter months. But the severe lack of rain (which continues even as
this issue goes to press) hampered seed production and seriously hurt the over-
Fort Now Findable
Sign goes up in March ’98
For years, people have been driving up and down Fort DeRussy Road looking for the fort and not finding it. Even with the underbrush cleared away and the fort actually visible from the road, a lot of people did not recognize it for what it was. This should all be changed now that the official entrance sign is up.
The handcrafted, sand-
The sign is 3’ x 8’ and is really quite impressive. It was a needed addition to the fort. Special thanks to Nolan Bordelon, for digging most of the postholes for the sign, and for not yelling at me when I broke the handle on his posthole digger.
Monument to be Erected
Slaves who died building fort to be honored
Shortly after records were found in the Louisiana State Archives detailing the names
of the 69 slaves who died in the process of building Fort DeRussy, it was decided
that a granite marker would be placed on the fort grounds in memory of these men.
The marker is currently under construction in Georgia and hopefully will be in place
before the rainy season sets in. The monument will be approximately 4 feet wide and
8 feet high, on a granite base, and the entire assembly will weigh over 3 tons, so
it will be necessary that the ground is dry when the marker is installed. Sixty-
Funding for the slave marker was provided by CLECO (the Central Louisiana Electric Company) and State grant money.
While forts throughout the country have monuments honoring the men who fought and died at those locations, it is believed that this marker may be unique in honoring by name the men who made the supreme sacrifice during the actual construction of the fort. While there may be no glory in death by dysentery, perhaps eternal remembrance will be some small consolation.
State Parks Completes Feasibility Study
Good news and bad news for FFD
The Office of State Parks completed their feasibility study of Fort DeRussy in Spring of 1998, and overall, the findings were very encouraging. The study said that “the Office of State Parks will [be] pleased to recommend inclusion of Fort DeRussy as a state commemorative area in the State Parks System” – but only if additional acreage can be acquired to bring the site up to the minimum required acreage to comply with a Louisiana State Commemorative Area designation.”
So the good news is that the State has evaluated the fort and is satisfied with its historical significance, and would be happy to add the fort to their collection of interpreted Civil War sites if we can give them a total of 25 acres to interpret.
The bad news is that all of the neighbors with appropriate acreage have been approached, and there is not enough acceptable land available to meet the State’s needs.
This is only a minor setback, and merely means that our priorities will have to change. Land acquisition will move from Priority 1 to Priority 10, and we will now concentrate on preserving and interpreting the land that we currently own.
Summer Maintenance Is No Picnic
But City of Marksville does excellent job
Given our Central Louisiana climate, keeping Fort DeRussy looking as sharp as it
does for our many summertime visitors is no easy job. The reason the fort looks as
good as it does is the several visits paid each summer by Parish inmates under the
supervision of Mr. Twyman Guillory and Mr. Dan Bordelon. They work under a broiling
sun and have to fight redbugs, fire ants, and black widows as well as the ever-
Jimmy Holloway, sales representative for Dow Agrichemicals, has once again donated products to assist in weed and chigger (redbug) control at the fort.
IT LOOKS LIKE we finally have to accept the fact that Fort DeRussy will not be taken over by the Louisiana State Park system any time in the foreseeable future. While this is somewhat frustrating to those of us on the front lines, it is not all bad. Now that we know what we have to work with, we can get to work. And that is just what we plan to do.
Being confined to just five acres will prevent us from doing a lot of the things
we would like to do – we will not be able to have re-
For now, we have to concentrate on what we can do. And there are a lot of things in that category. We have five acres of the most historically significant ground in Central Louisiana. Fort DeRussy has an amazing history. This history must, and will, be preserved. And that is where we’ll be spending our time, energy, and money. The preservation and interpretation of Fort DeRussy’s main redoubt is now Priority One.
DeRussy Visits Fort
On October 17, 1998, Fort DeRussy was honored to receive a visit from Deborah DeRussy
Caraway and her husband, David. Deborah is a great-
While the Delta Queen tour may have gotten all the publicity, it was not the only
tour to come to the fort this year. Senior Friends of Avoyelles made a visit to the
fort on June 24, and the Young-
Friends of Fort DeRussy Still Growing
Our membership continues to increase, and once again we want to welcome all of our new members.
B. C. Bennett, Jr., Marksville
Lora Cahill, Attica, OH
Gloria Gardiner Carlisle, Houston, TX
Michelle L. DeRussy, New Orleans
Karen Frye, Ypsilanti, MI
Francis C. Furman, Rolla, MO
Gary D. Joiner, Shreveport
Mary A. Legere Littlejohn, Los Alamos, NM
David Madden, Baton Rouge
Jeff and Sally Moore, San Jose, CA
Plauche’s Environmental, Cottonport
Ory Poret, Baton Rouge
M. L. Thorpe, Santa Barbara, CA
Ronald Tinlin, Richardson, TX
One matter needs to be clarified at this time. It is possible to be a member of Friends of Fort DeRussy without also being a member of our parent organization, La Commission des Avoyelles. If you wish to join FFD, or renew your membership, you may do so by sending $10 to us at 7162 Hwy 29, Cottonport, LA 71327. All dues collected by FFD are spent exclusively on improvements to the fort.
Every once in a while, one of our members provides us with really neat information. An old diary from the 119th Illinois Infantry said that Privates Phelps and Ledger of Co. B had died in the assault on Fort DeRussy. Earlier this year, Mary Legere Littlejohn saw our Web Page and wrote me inquiring about her ancestor, William Leger, who had died at Fort DeRussy. While I was unable to provide her with any information, she was able to provide me with the proper spelling of Pvt. Leger’s name, as well as with details of his death that I would never have otherwise found. Thanks, Mary, and if any of you have any similar information, please pass it on to us. A few little scraps can add up to some pretty interesting stories.
Mapping Project Complete
Christie Hardy, a student at the University of Southwestern Louisiana working
under the guidance of Dr. Chip McGimsey, Regional Archeologist and USL professor,
completed a topographical mapping project of Fort DeRussy in April, 1998. The completed
maps were officially presented to Friends of Fort DeRussy at Park Day ’98. These
maps give an accurate representation of the earthworks and surrounding topography
of the fort as they now exist, and as such are an invaluable addition to our knowledge
of the fort. Although several Civil War-
The mapping project included all of the Fort DeRussy earthworks, both those
on our property as well as the L-