“1st Special Battalion”
|May 25||Five companies of the were organized at Camp Walker, near New Orleans, under Major Chatham Roberdeau Wheat and Major Atkins:
Captain Robert Harris’ ‘Walker Guards’
Wheat, who had extensive military experience in Central American and Italy, hoped to grow the four companies into the 8th Louisiana Infantry Regiment. But that command was given to Colonel Henry B. Kelly. Wheat continued to recruit as the 1st Special Battalion. He was joined by Captain J.W. Buhoup’s company of Catahoula Guerrillas, who left the 8th Louisiana when they were disappointed that Wheat was not given command. A sixth company, the Rough and Ready Rangers, was left behind when it did not fill its ranks.
The uniforms consisted of loose fitting red wool shirts, red wool sashes, blue and white striped socks, blue and white striped baggy Zouave pantaloons, white canvas leggings and black leather greaves. The jacket was a dark blue waist length Zouave jacket with red trim, and the ensemble was topped off with a red wool fezz with blue tassel.
The enlisted men were issued Model 1841 ‘Mississippi’ rifles that had been seized from the U.S. arsenal at Baton Rouge, along with large Bowie knives.
|June 6||The battalion was officially designated the 2nd Louisiana Battalion. It reported 415 men in the ranks.|
|June 13||Moved to Virginia by train via Tennessee|
|June 20||Arrived at Manassas and was assigned to Brigadier General Philip St. George Cocke’s Brigade.at Centreville.|
|June||Wheat requested to be stationed the honor of the most advanced post and was sent to Frying Pan Church near the Potomac River. They were joined by the 4th North Carolina Infantry and troops of Virginia Cavalry, all under the command of Brigadier General Nathan Evans.|
Skirmish at Seneca Falls
Company B killed three enemy and lost one man wounded, James Burnes, the battalion’s first casualty.
|July 16||Evans was ordered to withdraw to behind Bull Run with the main army.|
The battalion lanched an unsuccessful charge against the 2nd Rhode Island. Then, while establishing a defensive line, Major Wheat was badly wounded in the left side and lung. The battalion broke up and retreated, destabilizing General Bee’s defensive line. Lieutenant Thomas Adrian of Company B was wounded rallying the battalion.
Major Wheat was told by a surgeon that there was no record of a man surviving a wound such as his. Wheat replied, “Well then, I will put my case on record.” He did.
|August||Lt. Colonel Charles de Choiseul took temporary command of the battalion while Major Wheat recovered from his would. The battalion challenged his leadership, and he was only accepted after he shot a violently disobedient soldier point blank in the face (the soldier turned his head at the last second and survived).|
|Assigned to Taylor’s Louisiana Brigade|
|November||The battalion’s discipline problems culminated in two enlisted men who were guilty of drunkenness and insubordination being executed.|
|May||Joined Jackson’s Valley Campaign|
Battle of Cross Keys
Seven Days’ Battles
Battle of Gaines’ Mill
Major Wheat was mortally wounded, shot in the head while rallying the battalion. After the battle Captain Robert Harris of Company A was promoted to major and took command of the 60 survivors of the battalion.
|summer||The battalion disbanded.|