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Fort DeRussy Hospital Testimony

From the French-American Claims Commission

Odon Deucatte vs US


Q.        Where were you in the early part of 1863?

A.        I do not know anything about dates. I was here during the war and ever since.

Q.        Were you ever employed as a nurse in the Confederate Hospital while it was at Fort de Russey and after it was moved here to Marksville?

A.        Yes sir.

Q.        Do you remember what year the Hospital was broken up at Fort de Russey?

A.        I do not recollect.

Q.        You were there when the Confederate Hospital was moved from Fort de Russey, were you not?

A.        Yes sir.

Q.        Was not that Confederate Hospital moved away from Fort de Russey to Marksville on account first of the high water in Red River and about the time the Federal Gunboat Queen of the West was captured there?

A.        Yes sir

Q.        Who was the chief surgeon of the Hospital at Fort de Russey?

A.        Doctor Hill.

Q.        Do you remember ever to have heard him say just before the Hospital was moved from there anything about what preparations he had made for the establishment of the Hospital in Marksville?

A.        He said they had taken Mr. Voinche’s house in Marksville for the Hospital.

Q.        Did he say whether he had let them have it, or whether they had taken it anyhow for that purpose?

A.        I understood them to say that they had taken it for an Hospital.

Q.        Did you come with the sick to Marksville to serve as a nurse to serve in the Hospital?

A.        Yes sir.

Q.        How long were the sick kept in the claimant’s [Auguste Voinche] house in Marksville?

A.        I do not know, perhaps two or three months.

Q.        Was there any of the sick put in the cellar?

A.        No sir.

Q.        Was Mr. Voinche there during that time?

A.        Yes sir.

Q.        Was there any part of his house that was left exclusively to him outside of the cellar?

A.        The lower part where his store was and one half of the cellar which was closed. The other half of the cellar we used as a kitchen, that is the north end. I never saw inside of the other half of the cellar and I do not know where he slept.




Cross examination by S. R. Thorpe on behalf of the US Government


Q.        Were you often in the kitchen in the cellar?

A.        Yes sir.

Q.        Was there any cotton in that part of the cellar used as the kitchen?

A.        No sir.

Q.        Was not Mr. Voinche about the building all the time the Confederates used it as a Hospital?

A.        Yes sir.

Q.        Did he not have a building in the rear of the main building built out of bricks and called the Malakoff?

A.        No sir, it was at his wife’s place.

Q.        Where did Mr. Voinche take his meals?

A.        I do not know; he often asked me for bread which I gave him.

Q.        Why did he want you to give him bread?

A.            Because he told me he had none, and we were cooking light bread which he wanted.

Q.        What bread was it you gave him?

A.        The Hospital bread.


Re-direct by Counsel for Claimant


Q.        After the sick were moved out of claimant’s house in Marksville to what house were they taken?

A.        They were taken to the old Methodist Church back there and to Mr. Ricord’s house that stood near it on the opposite side of the town of Marksville.


In that same court case, the following is an excerpt from the testimony of Louis D. Laurent:


Q.        Were you at any time during the year 1863 in any way connected with the Confederate Hospital in Marksville?

A.        I was, sir.

Q.        What was the business you were charged with in the Hospital?

A.        I helped to make coffins and bury Confederate soldiers.

Q.        Were you ever at any time during your connection with that Hospital in the brick building in Marksville belonging to claimant and if you say yes, were you there often or not?

A.        Yes sir, I was there often, every time a Confederate soldier would die.

Q.        Can you recall to mind how long the Hospital was kept in that house?

A.        If my memory serves me well I think it was kept there until about July, August or September about that time.

Testimony of Jean Pierre Didier

62½ years old

Deucatte vs US

Excerpt from testimony


Q.        How long have you resided in Marksville?

A.        Since thirty years

Q.        Where do you reside now?

A.        At the corner of Main and Marks Street facing the courthouse square, in Marksville.

Q.        How long have you been living there?

A.        Since twenty seven years.

Q.        How long have you known Mr. Voinche?

A.        Since thirty years.

Q.        How far is your residence from the brick house of Mr. Voinche?

A.        Only the square of the court house separates us, at about one hundred yards from his brick house to my residence.

Q.        Mr. Didier, where were you in the latter part of March and the first part of April 1864.

A.        I cannot tell, I was sometimes the minute men, I do not recollect the dates.

Q.        Where were you when the Federal Gunboats were lying at Fort de Russy in the spring of 1864?

A.        I was here in Marksville at my home.

Q.        Mr. Didier, did you see the Marines or any other of the Federal Army or Navy, take out of Mr. Voinche’s cellar any quantity of cotton at that time or during that time?

A.        No, sir, I did not.

Q.        Did you see any cotton in wagons there or about?

A.        Yes, sir.

Q.        How came you to see that cotton?

A.        I saw the cotton because I was told by someone that Mr. Gilbert was on a wagon loaded with cotton and that wagon was before Mr. Voinche’s house. I went there and remained there about five minutes.

Q.        While you were there was anybody engaged or in the act of taking cotton out of Mr. Voinche’s building or cellar?

A.        No, sir, I did not pay attention to that.


Excerpt from Lucien P. Normand testimony

Q.        When did the claimant begin to build that large brick house in which he had the cellar, and in which the cotton was stored and when did he complete it or moved into it?

A.        Mr. Voinche commenced that building I think two or three years before the war and moved in it in the year 1860, the year before the war.

In early 1863, the hospital at Fort DeRussy was moved to Auguste Voinche's brick building in Marksville. This building is still in existence, across the street from the Courthouse. The following testimony concerns that building.


In 1864, a large quantity of cotton was removed from the basement of the building and carried to the Union gunboats at Fort DeRussy. Voinche's attempt to obtain reimbursement for that cotton resulted in over 2,000 pages of testimony, providing us with much insight into events at the Fort during its "Gunboat Station" period.


Testimony of Rachel Payne, age 46

On behalf of Auguste Voinche

Odon Deucatte vs US