JULES VICTOR BOUQUET: AN ACADIAN CAVALRYMAN
© By W. T. Block
(click here for W. T. Block web page)
Jules Bouquet, my great uncle by marriage, was a
Confederate cavalryman of only limited book learning, but he could track and
scout like a Comanche Indian. He grew up in the saddle, worked as a Texas
cowboy, mule skinner, even briefly as a stage coach driver, long before the
Civil War. He was born on August 6, 1836 in Thibodaux, Louisiana.
Jules' father was Louis Edward Bouquet, who was born
in France on Jan. 24, 1803, but he immigrated with his parents to South
Carolina in 1815. About 1834 he resettled in Lafourche Parish, where he married
Rosaline Broussard. Louis Bouquet died in Thibodaux, LA. in 1838, only 2 years
after his son Jules' birth.
After Rosaline Bouquet remarried, Jules worked in the
cane fields around Thibodaux for several years until his stepfather began
treating him like a field slave. In 1851 he left home to live with an uncle in
Orange, Texas, who taught him to write his name and to speak English. At age 17
Jules began working as a cowboy for Alexis Blanchette, who taught him how to
brand calves and the rudiments of ranch life. Later he worked for the William
McFaddin ranch, and soon was engaged in long cattle drives from the San Antonio
River to New Orleans. It was while herding cattle at Port Lavaca in Calhoun
County that Uncle Jules found a spot on Hog Bayou, where he hoped some day to
own a "vacherie" (ranch) of his own.
In 1861, after the Civil War had begun, Jules Bouquet
enlisted in Captain January's cavalry company at Victoria, Texas. His ranch
foreman gave Bouquet the horse he had always ridden as a cowboy. Old Champ was
a saucy, gray stallion, whose erect head and bearing identified his Arabian
breeding. Champ could run with great speed and endurance, and before the war
ended many Union officers swore they would capture and own that horse. As a
Confederate scout on the Bayou Teche, Jules had accidently wandered 5 times
into the camps of Union cavalry, and each time old Champ's hooves had pounded
out clouds of dust while escaping.
In 1862 Jules' company was assigned to Gen. Tom
Green's Texas Cavalry Brigade, with which unit Bouquet remained until the war
ended. In both 1863 and 1864, Bouquet was part of a force of 2,000 cavalrymen
sent to Louisiana to help quell the Union advance, first along the Bayou Teche
in 1863, and a year later along the Red River, where Jules fought during the
Battle of Mansfield.
A statuesque sergeant while seated in the saddle,
Uncle Jules soon became one of Gen. Green's personal scouts because he could
question residents and soldiers in either French or English. In Feb. 1864 he
was detailed to a detachment of Col. Vincent's cavalry, who were tracking and
later fought a pitched battle with the Mermentau Jayhwkers, at which time
Milledge McCall, Jr. of Grand Chenier was killed. While stationed briefly at
Grand Chenier, Jules ate lunch at the home of John W. Sweeney (my great
grandfather), where Jules met 19-year-old Sarah Ellen Sweeney. And after
Cupid's arrows had punctured each of their hearts, Bouquet swore to Sarah Ellen
that he was coming back after the war to marry her.
and Sarah Ellen were married in Abbeville on Jan. 25, 1866, and the newlyweds
left immediately for Calhoun County, Texas, where they built a log cabin on Hog
Bayou, and began ranching with a small herd of cattle. In July, 1871 they
bought a larger place of Big Chocolate Bayou, where Jules and Sarah Ellen lived
for the remainder of their lives, and became parents of 12 children. Eventually
Sarah Ellen, her health weakened by frequent child-bearing, died at age 43 on
Jan. 28, 1889, and Uncle Jules Bouquet never remarried.
He continued to tend his herd of about 1,000 cattle
until 1926, when at age 90 he decided to retire, and he turned his herd and lands
over to his children. Each year on Aug. 6th his children gave Bouquet a big
barbeque to celebrate his birthday. Uncle Jules died on Nov. 27, 1933 at age
97, and he is buried beside Sarah Ellen not far from Big Chocolate Bayou.