A Civil War Biography

Jean Mouton

Mouton, the son of ex-Governor and US Senator, Alexander Mouton, was born 18 February 1829 in Opelousas, Louisiana. The young Mouton was privately tutored by his mother then entered St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, Louisiana on 1 December 1838. In 1846 Mouton was appointed to West Point. He graduated 38th in the class of 1850 and on 18 June 1850 was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the 7th US Cavalry. With the war with Mexico over new West Point graduates were given the option to resign which Mouton did. He returned to Louisiana and ran the family plantation, 'Ile Copal' at Vermilionville. Mouton did some work as a railroad construction engineer, dabbled a little in local politics, and rose to the rank of brigadier general in the local militia. He even got the chance to lead troops into battle. In the 1850s an increase in cattle rustling in southwest Louisiana and a subsequent breakdown in convicting suspects because of jury tampering, led to the formation of 'comites des vigilance,' or vigilante committees. Excesses of the vigilantes in turn led to the formation of 'anti-vigilante' groups and the region was soon plunged into its own miniature civil war. Mouton was one of the leaders of the vigilantes and the conflict came to a head on 3 September 1859 with the battle of Bayou Queue Tortu near what is now Crowley. Mouton led about 600 men in the attack, which overwhelmed the anti-vigilantes.

After Louisiana's Secession Convention met, with Mouton's father as president, and voted to leave the Union, Mouton was called upon for his leadership to help prepare to defend his state. He formed a company called the Acadian Guard which when it reported for service became part of the 18th Louisiana. Mouton became the 18th's colonel. The 18th saw its first action at Shiloh where it was attached to the 3rd brigade in Daniel Ruggle's 1st division of Braxton Bragg's II Corps of the Confederate Army of Mississippi. While leading a counter attack on the second day, 7 April 1862, Mouton was severely wounded. He recovered quickly and returned to duty in October 1862. He was promoted to brigadier general to rank from 16 April 1862 by order of President Jefferson Davis. Mouton was assigned to defend the Lafourche District with his headquarters at Thibodaux, Louisiana. He would spend the rest of his war service in Louisiana , first holding off Union advances in Southern Louisiana then during the Red River campaign in the northern part of the state. Mouton was killed on 8 April 1864 while leading a charge commanding a brigade at the battle of Mansfield.

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