The Official Site of Fort DeRussy, Louisiana
Fort DeRussy News
Issue 2 July 1997
State Pledges Money to
Fort to receive $75,000 in capital outlay funds
During the recent legislative session, a capital outlay bill was approved that will give $75,000 to the Fort DeRussy project. As of presstime, no one at Friends of Fort DeRussy knows exactly how or when this money will be received. Nonetheless, a hearty “thanks” goes out to Representative Charles Riddle of Marksville for his efforts in our behalf, and also to Senator Don Hines of Bunkie for his help on that side of the Legislature.
Cash, cannonball, bayonet given
Grand Casino Avoyelles and the Tunica-
CLECO, the Central Louisiana Electric Company, also donated generously to the cause,
contributing $500 in cash for the preservation of the fort. Cash donations of $100
were also received from Mr. Jimmy Dauzat of Opelousas, Dr. and Mrs. Jim Guillory
of Lafayette, and the West Point Society of the Mid-
Mrs. Lucille Ducote of Cottonport donated a Model 1856 Enfield Saber Bayonet to FFD. Mrs. Ducote’s ancestor, Prudhomme Aymond, joined Walker’s Texas Division near Marksville in January of 1864, so he quite probably served at Fort DeRussy.
All of these gifts are greatly appreciated and will be put to good use.
Corrections & Adjustments
In our last newsletter, we said that the opening in the East wall was the “sally port” (the entrance into the fort). We also said that a notch in the South wall was made by the Yankees in their attempt to tear down the fort in 1864. This is not true. I have been informed that neither of these holes in the walls existed in the 1940’s. The notch in the South wall may have been worn down by cattle, and the “sally port” was probably opened up by the Hunt Oil Company when they had a well on the fort site in 1949.
The Friends of Fort DeRussy suffered a loss with the passing of Richard J. Dupuy, Sr., on June 1, 1997. Dickie had a keen interest in the history of this area, and had been involved with the Fort DeRussy project since its inception. He will be sorely missed. Our sincerest condolences go out to all of his family and friends.
Cleanup takes place on schedule
Fort can now be seen from road
Inmates from Avoyelles Correctional Center arrived at Fort DeRussy early on the morning
of March 17, 1997, and by the end of the day on March 27, eight working days later,
the jungle that had been Fort DeRussy had become a showpiece. Working only with ditchbank
blades, the twelve inmates cleared the dense underbrush and piled it into several
Before the cleanup, it was not possible to stand at any one point and look at the whole fort. It can be done now, and it is certainly gratifying. For the most part, the walls are in very good shape, and it definitely does look like a fort. Susan Braselton, Director of Programs for The Civil War Trust, and Dale Philips of the National Park Service, toured the fort while the cleanup was in progress and both were favorably impressed with the condition of the fort and the community involvement in its renovation. They rated the fort’s preservation in the top 1/3 of existing Civil War fortifications.
With the underbrush at the fort cleaned up, it became necessary to plant some sort of ground cover to prevent erosion on the earthworks. To this end, bermudagrass seed was spread over the entire five acres. It seems to have taken well in places, but in general we did not get the desired results. A winter grass will be planted this Fall, and with normal Winter weather we should have better results.
Better results have come from the application of the Crossbow™ herbicide that was donated by DowElanco. Work is still in progress, but we seem to be having good luck with controlling a lot of the undesirable broadleaf vegetation (poison ivy, privet, thorn trees, tallow trees and mimosas, etc.) that had taken over the fort grounds.
Armadillos, redbugs cause problems at fort
When the fort was cleared of its underbrush, we thought that we might have a problem with relic hunters climbing the fence to dig for artifacts. In addition to being unsightly, this would contribute to erosion. Fortunately, we haven’t had much of a problem in this department (this may be due to the fact that it has been well publicized that anyone caught digging at the fort will be prosecuted). We do have a problem with armadillos doing serious digging all over the earthworks. The digging is going on to such an extent that armadillo control will be necessary. Any suggestions or volunteers?
The fort has one other problem of a zoological nature. (Actually, we have two, but I figure the chance of someone actually stepping on one of our cottonmouths is too slim to worry about.) Our other serious problem is redbugs, or chiggers. These little mites can cause very aggravating itching, as those of you who attended our meeting may have found out. (Cover the affected area with kerosene, baby oil, or cooking oil to suffocate the miserable creatures.) Our apologies to those of you who were affected. The bugs weren’t there during the winter, and we weren’t expecting the problem.
On the evening of May 5, Ted Bordelon showed up at the fort with two large pumps provided by the Brouillette Water Works and with the assistance of Nolan Bordelon proceeded to pump out several thousand gallons of water that had accumulated in the crater/cow pond inside the fort. This should aid considerably in mosquito control, as well as in any archeological investigations into this part of the fort.
We’ve had quite a growth of membership since our last newsletter came out. To all of our new members listed below, “Welcome aboard.”
Kelly Anderson, Simmesport
Alton Bettevy, Hessmer
Erk Bordelon, Marksville
Nolan Bordelon, Marksville
Patrick Bordelon, Hamburg
Ted Bordelon, Marksville
Mark Borrell, Marksville
Susan Braselton, (Honorary), Arlington, Va.
LeRoy & Donna Caubarreaux, Marksville
Errol Barré Clark, Baton Rouge
Greg Coco, Bendersville, Pa.
Merlin Coco, Mansura
Edward & Candace Cotham, Houston, Tx.
Derek Dauzat, Marksville
Dyrel Dauzat, Marksville
Jimmy L. Dauzat, Opelousas
Sacred Heart 8th Grade, Moreauville (Mrs. Susan Decuir, teacher)
Ernest & Geane Desselle, Big Bend
Lucille Ducote, Cottonport
Willy Ducote, Cottonport
Roland & Nathalie Dupuy, Marksville
Gerard A. Dupuy, Moncla
Randal & Libby Dupuy, Moncla
Dr. Sue Eakin, Bunkie
William Ferretto, Hessmer
John Gagnard, Marksville
Elster P. Gaspard, Marksville
James J. Gaspard, Marksville
Martin & Gloria Gaspard, Batchelor
Grand Casino Avoyelles, Marksville
Laura M. Gremillion, Marksville
Sister Mary David Hecker, MSC, Cottonport
Stephen G. Henry, Jr., Baton Rouge
Senator Don Hines, Bunkie
Wilbur F. Joffrion, Baton Rouge
John Ed Laborde, Marksville
Dr. & Mrs. Walter Laborde, Long Bridge
Hannon & Ethel Laprairie
Murray Mayeux, Bowling Green, Oh.
Sam & Marilyn Mayeux, Alexandria
Rusty Rabalais, Simmesport
Thomas W. Reynolds, Pineville
West Point Society of the Mid-
Union Bank, Marksville
These are the people who are making things happen at Fort DeRussy. You can be one of us, too. Join today.
HistoryAmerica, a Dallas-
by Steve Mayeux, Chairman, FFD
The Fort DeRussy Project owes its existence to a lot of work by a lot of people. I try to thank those people in this newsletter, but I don’t always manage to mention everyone who should be mentioned. Sometimes this is because of a poor memory on my part, and sometimes it’s because some individuals are doing their jobs so quietly that I’m not even aware that a particular job was done.
Several people spring to mind in this category. In no particular order, I present
to you a few modern-
Carlos Mayeux of Hamburg, president of La Commission des Avoyelles, was the “master-
I’ve listed the names, but I haven’t said much about what these individuals have done. That’s because I really don’t know everything they’ve done. They just do what needs doing, and don’t hang around for a pat on the back. These people are the backbone of the Friends of Fort DeRussy.
Yes, you too can be a Friend of Fort DeRussy. It’s easy, it’s simple. Dues are $10 a year, and you can send yours to Friends of Fort DeRussy, 7162 Hwy. 29, Cottonport, LA 71327. Membership puts you at the forefront in the effort to preserve Central Louisiana’s premiere Civil War site. Let’s save this place for our grandchildren to see and walk over. Join today.
Office of State Parks to Conduct Feasibility Study
House Concurrent Resolution 168 made its way easily through both houses of the 1997 Louisiana State Legislature. The resolution urged and requested “the Office of State Parks to study the feasibility of making Fort DeRussy in Avoyelles Parish a state commemorative area and to report the findings of such study to the House Committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs and the Senate Committee on Natural Resources prior to the beginning of the 1998 Regular Session of the Legislature.” Copies of the resolution were to be sent to Virginia Plauche, Assistant Secretary of the Office of State Parks; Phillip J. Jones, Secretary of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism; and Lt. Governor Kathleen Blanco.
The Resolution was introduced by Representative Charles Riddle of Marksville.
If the decision to designate a site a commemorative area is based on its historical significance, then Fort DeRussy should be an easy pick.
Fort DeRussy now has two flags to go on the flagpoles that were erected by the ACC
inmates during the cleanup at the fort. The flags, both 3’ x 5’, are reproductions
of the 1864 era flags that would have actually flown over the fort, as shown in the
sketch of the capture of the fort that appeared in the April 9, 1864 issue of Frank
Leslie’s Illustrated. The flags are a 34-
Congratulations to little Virginia DeRussy Dodenhoff of New Orleans (and her parents)
on her birth this past February. Virginia is the great-
On May 17, 1997, the Friends of Fort DeRussy held their first meeting. Approximately
120 people showed up to tour the fort, and 25 new members were signed up. Attendees
included over thirty re-
A business meeting was called to order by Steve Mayeux, who spoke on the history
of the fort and plans for the future. Short talks were also given by State Senator
Don Hines; Carlos Mayeux, president of La Commission des Avoyelles; Eleanor Gremillion,
of the Marksville Chamber of Commerce; and Mark Borrell, of the Avoyelles Parish
Police Jury. Warden Baron Kaylo of Avoyelles Correctional Center was recognized for
his Center’s contributions to the cleanup at the fort, and Red Holsomback, president
of the Cenla Historical Re-