New Orleans became a base for regiments like the 42nd Massachusetts Infantry.

42nd Massachusetts Infantry Headquarters in Gentilly.

42nd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment

Illustration of the New Orleans headquarters of the 42nd Massachusetts Infantry, 1863. The regiment set up shop in Gentilly. They staged here for actions outside of New Orleans, most notably Port Hudson and Bayou Teche.

Description from The Historic New Orleans Collection:

View of a wood and log military building during the Civil War. In front of it are Union soldiers in military uniforms and horses. The building is located in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans. It was headquarters of the 42nd Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteers during the occupation of New Orleans.

So, at this time, Gentilly was well outside the city proper.

Bayou Gentilly

The 42nd Massachusetts operated out of the swampy mess that was the merge of bayous in what is now Mid-City New Orleans. Bayou Metairie fizzled out when it merged with Bayou St. John. The waterway continued east, but as Bayou Gentilly. The regiment chose high ground we refer to as the Gentilly Ridge. along the water.

The Union forces recognized the importance of Bayou St. John. The combination of the bayou and the Carondelet Canal provided a navigable waterway linking Faubourg Treme and the French Quarter to Lake Pontchartrain. That waterway concerned the US Army greatly during the War of 1812. While the overall situation was different in the 1860s, the Union forces did due diligence. In the first half of 1863, the 42nd Massachusetts performed picket duties along Bayou St. John, up to the lake.

Successes of the 42nd

The 42nd provided engineering and support services to Union forces moving north and west from New Orleans. Their success in this regard demonstrates the utter failure of the CSA Army and Navy in the Gulf. New Orleans provided the Union with a well-supplied staging area. They engaged the CSA from both directions in the West.

Additionally, the 42nd contributed to the formation of the 1st Louisiana Engineers, a USCT unit.

The 42nd left Louisiana on 8-August-1863.

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