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Cailloux, André(1825–1863) - Fights for Equality, Respect, and Freedom, Chronology

union confederate black cailloux’s

In July 1862, Cailloux helped to organize a Union regiment from people in his community and he became its captain. The regiment, comprised mostly of free men of color as well as some runaway slaves, faced hostile treatment from both the government and the white members of the Union army. White soldiers were openly disrespectful to black officers. Black officers and soldiers were scapegoats for many of the real and perceived flaws in the Union army.

Despite these conditions, Cailloux was admired by both Union and Confederate sympathizers for his polished professional manner, attractive looks, and bilingualism: he, like many of the free people of color, spoke both English and French. But this admiration would slight when compared to the adulation he received posthumously.

Port Hudson and Vicksburg were the two remaining Confederate strongholds. On May 27, 1863, Cailloux led a charge on the battlefield towards the Confederate army. Two hundred yards from the Confederate lines, gunfire was exchanged. Cailloux was shot in the arm. He kept on charging. The second shot to the head instantly killed him.

Cailloux’s body was retrieved from the battleground forty-one days after his death. Cailloux’s bloated, disfigured corpse was identified solely by his ring from the Friends of Order. On the day of his funeral, July 29, 1863, downtown streets were crowded with thousands of people, mostly black, waving flags. Claude Maistre, a Catholic priest and abolitionist, delivered an eloquent eulogy, calling Cailloux a martyr for the cause of freedom. The New Orleans black newspaper run by Afro-Creole radicals, L’Union , praised Cailloux for his patriotism and sacrifice. Cailloux’s courage and sacrifice contradicted the myth that black men were not capable of fighting in battle. Helen Johnson, Cailloux’s great-great-granddaughter, praised her ancestor to the Associated Press: “My mother was proud of him, proud of the Cailloux name. She would beam when she would say her great-grandfather was a Civil War hero. I often think how happy she would be to know that others have remembered André Cailloux and the contributions he made.”


1825 Born in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana on August 25

1827 Baptized at age two

1846 Freed at age twenty-one

1847 Marries Felicie Coulon on June 22

1849 Purchases his mother on January 22

1860 Elected secretary of the Society of the Friends of Order and Mutual Assistants in October; organizes a Confederate regiment of free blacks

1862 Organizes a Union regiment of free blacks in July

1863 Dies in Port Hudson, Mississippi on May 27

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