The 1st Louisiana Zouave Battalion was organized at Pensacola, Florida in March of 1861 and was disbanded in southern Virginia in December of 1864. The original enrollment was 616 officers and enlisted men, of whom 52 were killed in action, 26 died of disease, and 2 died in accidents. One company was English-speaking Americans, a second was French-speaking Creole. Many of the battalion were foreign-born, including a large number of Swiss as well as Germans, Italians, Spanish and Irish.
|March 27||Six companies were organized for twelve months service at Pensacola, under Lieutenant Colonel Georges Auguste Gaston Coppens and Major Waldemar Hylested. Two of Colonel Coppens’ brothers served in the battalion and his father, Baron August de Coppens, served as Quartermaster.
The Zouave uniform consisted of red turkish trousers and kepis and blue jackets. Many of the men were experienced veterans of the French Army in the Crimean War, and orders were given in French.
|May||At Pensacola, Florida|
|June||Moved to Virginia and assigned to the Department of the Peninsula.|
|October||Assigned to Hunt’s Brigade, Department of the Peninsula|
|January||Assigned to Rains’ Division, Department of the Peninsula|
|April||Reorganized for the duration of the war.|
|May||Companies B and C of the 7th Louisiana Infantry Battalion were transferred to the First Zouave Battalion.|
Battle of Williamsburg
|May 31-June 1||
Battle of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks)
The battalion lost almost half of the 255 officers and men that went into battle.
|June||Assigned to Pryor’s Brigade of Longstreet’s Division of the Army of Northern Virginia|
|June 25-July 1||
Seven Days Battles
Battle of Gaines’ Mill (Beaver Dam Creek)
The battalion lost 5 men killed and 42 wounded.
|End of June||Following the death of Major Chatham Roberdeau Wheat at Gaines’ Mill the 60 survivors of the 1st Special Louisiana Battalion (Wheat’s Tigers) were merged with the Zouaves.|
Battle of Frayser’s Farm
|end of July||Assigned to Lousiaiana Brigade, McLaws’ Division.|
|early August||Assigned to Second Louisiana Brigade, A.P. Hill’s Division, Jackson’s Command|
|late August||Assigned to Second Louisiana Brigade, Jackson’s Division, Jackson’s Command|
|August||Company E became Company A of the 12th Battalion Louisiana Heavy Artillery|
Major Hylested was captured. The battalion is referenced on a trailside marker on the Deep Cut loop trail on the Manassas battlefield.
|September 15||Captain Fulgence DeBordenave of Company B was promoted to major.|
Lieutenant Colonel Coppens was killed while in temporary command of the 8th Florida Infantry Regiment.
At the end of the battle the battalion mustered only 12 men fit for duty. Captain Marie Alfred Coppens, Lieutenant Colonel Coppen’s brother, took command of the survivors of the battalion and was promoted to lieutenant colonel after his brother’s death.
From the War Department marker for the brigade on the Sharpsburg battlefield:
On the evening of September 16, Starke’s Brigade formed line perpendicular to this road on the left of Taliaferro. When the Brigades of Jones and Winder were forced back on the morning of the 17th, this Brigade advanced with Taliaferro’s and the rallied Brigades, but was driven back. Supported by Early’s Brigade it again advanced, but was obliged to retire and reformed, with its Division, beyond the West Woods, where it supported the assault of McLaws’ Division on Sedgwick’s Division of Sumner’s Corps. During the engagement, General Starke was killed and the command devolved upon Colonel L. A. Stafford of the 9th Louisiana.
|November||Assigned to Second Louisiana Brigade, Jackson’s Division, Second Corps|
|November 8||Major Hylested was exchanged and returned to the battalion.|
|November 10||The battalion was reorganized due to its heavy casualties.|
The battalion was in reserve.
|Decmeber||Transferred to the Department of Henrico (defences of Richmond) and assigned to provost duty.|
|January||On provost duty in the Department of Henrico.|
|February||Guard and picket duty on the Blackwater River.|
Siege of Suffolk
|August||Attached to Ransom’s Division, Department of Richmond|
|December||Attached to Department of North Carolina|
|January 29||Skirmish near Windsor, North Carolina|
|February||The battalion mustered 18 officers and 41 enlisted men.|
|June -December||Siege of Petersburg|
|June||Guarded the Meherrin River bridge|
|August||Attached to Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia|
|September||Attached to Garnett’s Brigade, Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia. The battalion mustered 9 officers and 32 enlisted men.|
|November 17||Lieutenant Colonel Coppens retired due to his wounds. Major DeBordenave took command of the battalion.|
Raid at Hicksford
One enlisted man was killed and six were wounded.
|December||The battalion disbanded|