Nicholas Gonzales came prepared for the Foundation for Historical Louisiana’s 28th annual ceremony keeping alive the memory of the Aug. 5, 1862, Battle of Baton Rouge.
Dressed as a Union Army solider, the 9-year-old watched in amazement during Saturday’s events, which included his favorites, a rifle volley and cannon fire.
“I’m a history buff, and I watch history, and I dress up like it, and I act it out,” an enthusiastic Nicholas said.
Nicholas also came to the event with his grandmother, Carolyn Maggio, a new member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
“This is our heritage, and this says a lot about our ancestors who served and what they stood for and died for,” Maggio said.
According to information provided by the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, Baton Rouge and New Orleans — both port cities on the strategic Mississippi River — were taken early in the war by Union forces.
The Battle of Baton Rouge, fought on Aug. 5, 1862, was an attempt by the Confederates under Gen. John C. Breckenridge to regain control of Baton Rouge and, they hoped, the river.
A strong early Confederate push led to high casualties on both sides in Baton Rouge, but the Confederates eventually were repelled when a gunboat expected to aid the attack from the river broke down and never arrived to help the Confederates, organizers said.
Chip Landry, southeast brigade commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, spoke of Maj. Bolling Chinn, a Confederate Army officer from Grosse Tete, who fought in the battle and is buried in Magnolia Cemetery.
The ceremony also included a firing salute, a presentation of colors and flag raising, taps, a wreath-laying and musical offerings.
“We’re preserving history, our heritage and educating,” Landry said.
“A lot of people don’t know what we went through,” he said. “It gives us a chance to honor and respect our grandparents.”
Margaret Tyler, with the United Daughters of the Confederacy, agreed.
Tyler said members of her group have been performing battle anniversary wreath-laying ceremonies annually since the United Daughters of the Confederacy was founded in 1899.
“It’s a tradition for our group to do this,” Tyler said.
“Faithful ladies have come every year to honor soldiers buried.”
Carolyn Bennett, executive director of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, told the more than 120 people attending the event that the “ceremony is something close to my heart” and that “it was a sad and terrible time in our history.”
On Aug. 10, 1852, the city of Baton Rouge purchased a tract of land from John Christian Buhler Jr. for $3,000 and Magnolia Cemetery was established, organizers said.
Following the Civil War, due to a poor economy, Magnolia Cemetery fell into disrepair.
Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Civil War Discovery Trail, the cemetery is in the process of being restored with assistance of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana through its Historic Magnolia Cemetery Trustees, BREC and others, organizers said.