Private Wheats Tigers

Photos Wheat Louisiana Tigers

A number of Confederate army units had unenviable reputations, but probably none was worse than that of the 1st Special Battalion, Louisiana Infantry, which was also known as "Wheat's Tigers" after their commander, Major Roberdeau Wheat. The battalion was raised in

June 1861 from an explosive mixture of the sons of planters, soldiers of fortune, and the riff-raff of the New Orleans back streets and shanties. The battalion won its nickname of "tigers" for its unmanageable behavior, "so villainous," wrote one officer, "that every commander desired to be rid of it." Yet their battle record was excellent and during actions such as First Manassas they suffered heavy losses and the battalion had to be disbanded in August 1862 after Wheat's own death at Gaines' Mill in June. The man had held the unit together and without him it collapsed. "Wheat's Tigers" were easily recognized by their colorful zouave costume of blue and scarlet, and their Model 1841 rifles.

1st Maryland Zouave Guards Image

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