Growing up in New Orleans in the 1950s was full of contradictions. Although Whites and African Americans lived on the same block, we could not go to the same neighborhood school, the neighborhood restaurant or the community park together. It was a time of rabid segregation. From the signs which announced Colored water to the Colored entrance to the office of our family physician, the sting of segregation was everywhere.
The treats of a city such as New Orleans were denied to the citizens of African descent. For example, eating at the lunch counter at the Canal Street Woolworth, having a cup of hot chocolate and an order of "beignets" at Cafe Du Monde, or attending a movie at the Saenger Theater were all activities which were denied to African-Americans. Most Americans would be surprised to discover that the drive-through window at their local fast food restaurant has its origin in cities like New Orleans, where it was the only place from which african-American citizens could purchase food; eating a meal on the premises was a treat denied.
This denial of opportunity for full participation in the New Orleans of the 1950s harks back to an era before and during the civil war. During the period of the 1860s, the men of African descent were denied the opportunity to fight to gain their freedom. It was not until the African-American troops of Milliken's Bend that the Union recognized the talent and courage of these citizens. Their bravery in combat resulted in the wholesale recruitment of soldiers of Aftican descent.
The story of the exploits of the men of Milliken's Bend reads like a script from a Hollywood movie. The African-American soldiers of the 9th Louisiana, 11th Louisiana and the 1st Mississippi regiments fought the Confederate troops valiantly. Although poorly trained and ill-equipped, these soldiers engaged the Confederate troops in one of the longest close-order battles of the Civil War. Their victory was a demonstration of their courage.
This site is a testament to the courage and character of the men of Milliken's Bend. It will include eyewitness testimony about the battle along with official archival information retrieved from United States Military records. It is my sincere hope that this site will illuminate the adventures of the African-Americans who fought and died in the American Civil War. It is my further hope that this web site will open up a dialog between interested parties so as to tell the full story of the battle at Milliken's Bend.
LOUIS ELLOIE JR.