The Coushatta Massacre took place in August 1874 where the White League targeted Republican politicians presiding over Red River Parish and freedmen in the area. It would be the arrival of carpetbagger and Union vet Marshall H. Twitchell, his relationship with the freed Black community, and his position of power that ignited the league’s terror campaign in the parish.
Tensions in Coushatta
At this time, Black people of note and carpetbaggers are now in state legislature. They also hold office in a number of town offices throughout the south. One of them was Marshall H. Twitchell, a white captain for the U.S. Army’s Company H, the 109th Colored Infantry. He was originally a provost marshal of the Red River branch of the Freedman Bureau.
While in Red River, he married a local Black woman named Adele Coleman. To provide for his family, the Vermont-born Twitchell learns to farm cotton after being taught by the Coleman family. The tensions began as this northern-born Union veteran began to accumulate land and influence in political power. He is elected to the Louisiana Senate as a Republican and put his brothers and brothers-in-law in positions of power.
Rise of the White League
Because of his work with the Freedman Bureau and his family ties, he had a rapport with the recently freed Blacks in the parish. He built on this by pushing for civil rights for the Black populace. These changes in Red River resulted in the establishment of the White League in the area.
Made up of Confederate vets, the White League’s goal was to run carpetbaggers out of Louisiana and return the state to southern Democrat influence. They pursued this goal via intimidation, kidnapping, and assassination all while carrying out their terror campaign in public.
While the freedmen in the parish were always a target of the White League, now Twitchell and his family were in the group’s crosshairs. The actions of the league on one August night would become the Coushatta Massacre.