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Louisiana Tigers
The Louisiana Tigers was the common nickname for certain infantry troops from the state of Louisiana in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. Originally applied to a specific company, the nickname expanded to a battalion, then to a brigade, and eventually to all Louisiana troops within the Army of Northern Virginia. Although the exact composition of the Louisiana Tigers changed as the war progressed, they developed a reputation as fearless, hard-fighting shock troops.

The original Louisiana Tigers
The origin of the term came from the "Tiger Rifles," a volunteer company raised in the New Orleans area as part of Major Chatham Roberdeau Wheat's battalion of Louisiana infantry. A large number of the men were foreign-born, particularly Irish immigrants, many from the city's wharves and docks. Another large segment were French-speaking Creoles.
Originally, Company B of Wheat's Tigers wore distinctive uniforms similar to the French zouave, with straw hats or red cloth fezzes, blue-striped chasseur-style pants, and short dark blue jackets with red lacing or tombeaux. As time went on, this garb was replaced by Confederate uniforms and what clothing the men could purchase or otherwise obtain from civilians. Within months of arriving in Northern Virginia, Wheat's entire five-company battalion began to be called the Louisiana Tigers. The battalion first saw combat during the First Battle of Manassas, where it anchored the left flank on Matthews Hill for several hours until reinforcements arrived.
In action finally at First Manassas, the Tigers showed they could fight in battle. An English observer wrote of them: "Although few in number these heroic soldiers sustained every shock with unwavering courage, and on more than one occasion dropped their rifles and rushed among the enemy with long bowie knives.
In early 1862, Wheat's Tigers were assigned Brig. Gen. Richard Taylor's First Louisiana Brigade in the army of Stonewall Jackson. They participated in his 1862 Valley Campaign, proving instrumental in Confederate victories at the battles of Front Royal, Winchester, and Port Republic.
In late spring, Jackson's force was sent eastward to participate in the Peninsula Campaign. Following Wheat's death at the Battle of Gaines' Mill, his battalion was merged with Coppens' Zouaves within the Army of Northern Virginia. The combined unit was heavily depleted during the Northern Virginia Campaign and the subsequent Maryland Campaign, where its leader, Colonel Auguste Gaston Coppens, was killed. The amalgamated battalion was disbanded shortly after the Battle of Antietam and the men dispersed among other units.
By then, the nickname "Louisiana Tigers" had expanded to encompass the entire brigade. By the Battle of Fredericksburg in late 1862, Hays' Brigade was composed of the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th Louisiana, and was a part of the division of Maj. Gen. Jubal Early.
During the 1863 Gettysburg Campaign, the Brigade played a crucial role in the Confederate victory at the Second Battle of Winchester, seizing a key fort and forcing the withdrawal of Union troops under Maj. Gen. Robert H. Milroy. During the subsequent invasion of southern Pennsylvania, much of the populace feared the thievery and drunkenness often associated with the colorful Louisianans. At the Battle of Gettysburg, the Brigade stormed East Cemetery Hill on the second day and seized several Union artillery pieces before withdrawing when supporting units were not advanced.
The nickname Tigers came to encompass all Louisiana infantry troops that fought under Lee. Nearly 12,000 men served at one time or another in various regiments that were destined to be part of the Louisiana Tigers. The name was at times also used for other Louisiana troops, including Levi's Light Artillery Battery and Maurin's Battery, but it was the infantry that is most often associated with the term.
Descriptions of the uniform vary somewhat. Probably each company was clothed differently in the beginning and in whatever scraps of uniform each could find. Clearly no distinctive Battalion uniform was adopted, but it seems likely that by certain unique features of dress it was readily possible to distinguish the Tigers. For one thing, observers always speak of red shirts: one wonders if Wheat's service with the Garibaldians led to his colorful addition.
Another distinctive item was the full trousers made of white and blue striped material, said by some to be bedticking. The use of this strong cloth for trousers was not new so its entirely possible that such was its origin.
General Bradly Johnson, in his memories written from wartime notes, says of the execution of two Tigers in the fall of 1861:6

The cortege wheeled slowly around the exterior of the open space; the condemned got out, their coffins were taken from the wagon and placed by the stakes and they sat on them. Each was attended by a prior, in clerical vestment, whose consolations were eagerly received. They were clad in the picturesque uniforms of their company, the scarlet fez or skull cap. Light brown jacket, open in the front, showing the red shirt, large Turkish trousers, full and fastening just below the knee, of white and blue stripes, white (gaiters) and shoes."7

A Member of the 79th New York Militia described a tiger captured at First Manassas, who "entertained us by his quaint remarks."

His uniform attracted our attention: A Zouave cap of red and jacket of blue with baggy trousers made of blue and white striped material, and white leggings, gave him a rather rakish appearance: he announced himself as a member of the Louisiana Tiger Battalion, Major Wheat commanding.

Another account stated the following: The men were issued red wool fezzes with blue tassels; loose-fitting red woolen, placketed battle shirts; red woolen sashes; dark-blue wool, waist-length Zouave jackets with red trim; blue-and-white striped sailor's socks; blue-and-white striped cotton pantaloons cut in the baggy Zouave fashion; white canvas leggings and black leather grieves.

Wheat, brave to the point of recklessness, was killed 27 June 1862 at Gains Mill. For the first time the Battalion was disbanded and its men transferred to other Louisiana regiments serving in Virgina.9 The name "Louisiana Tigers," however, lived on to describe the Louisiana Brigade as it fought through to Appomattox.

Body-DML-I added a beard and then repainted the whole thing.
Shirt, trousers, gaiters, pistol and haversack are from Battlegear Toys
Shoes- SOTW
Canteen, cup, and ammo pouch are from Sideshow Toys
Rifle-Cotswold(it was the closest I could find to a Mississippi Rifle)
Hat-Twisting toys- repainted.


wave man TDY staff
41,776 Posts
Great history and a whoppin' fine figure. We've been needing some more ACW around here.
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