Mr. Wilson Joseph Robichaux’s visit to the Center had been pre arranged by phone, but Roland Stansbury, Director for the Young-Sanders Center had no idea of the remarkable artifacts Robicheaux was about to show him.
As he carefully unfolded several towels, the bundles revealed four very well preserved gun barrels, several near complete lock plate assemblies, trigger assemblies, gun stock butt plates, many assorted gun parts three partial gun stocks, and a bayonet in very fine condition.
This collection was just not any old gun parts, but from the period of the War Between the States. Stansbury immediately identified one of the gun barrels as being part of a Springfield Rifle, a weapon of choice by the Union Army during the War Beween the States. Another gun barrel was a fine example of a converted “Flint Lock musket” to use primer caps.
Confederate soldiers used a large assortment of weapons due to the lack of arms for the soldiers. It was not uncommon for Confederate soldiers to use converted flint lock muskets from the early 19th century.
Robicheaux began to tell his story of how he acquired the artifacts. Years ago he owned a lot in Eastwood subdivision located on Bayou Teche in Franklin. He one day discovered what he thought to be a rusty old pipe buried at the edge of his bayou side property. He and his son Paul had discovered a wonderful find of artifacts from the War Between the States.
A dredging operation in the Bayou Teche had disbursed its plunder of artifacts that had been so carefully preserved in the silt of the bayou.
During the War Between the States St. Mary Parish was very active with the occupation of both the Union and the Confederate armies at various times. In 1863 there were three major land battles that affected the course of the war in Louisiana that took place in St. Mary Parish. These battles were the Battle of Brashear City (Morgan City), the Battle of Bisland a few miles west of Pattersonville (Patterson), and the Battle of Irish Bend west of Franklin. The bayous of St. Mary Parish were also the scene of several naval encounters. The CSA Gunboats CSS Cotton and the CSS Diana gave the Union flotilla considerable problems.
All of these encounters in St. Mary parish left their mark in the sugar cane fields of St. Mary and the bayous where battles occurred.
Artifacts are often uncovered during the plowing of the fields by the farmers. Relic hunters can often be seen walking with metal detectors through the cane fields searching for the precious relics such as Minnie balls, belt buckles, buttons, cannon ball fragments, and anything that they can identify from that period.
Stansbury cautioned the public about finding cannon balls. Should anyone find a cannon ball they need to be aware that some of these projectiles are still very dangerous. Many of the cannon balls used contained black powder within with a fuse that was designed to detonate upon contact and is more dangerous today than they were back then. Anyone finding a cannon ball should be very cautious and seek advice before bringing these projectiles into their home.
The Young-Sanders Center is located at 104 Commercial Street in Franklin, Louisiana one block from the St. Mary Parish Court House. For further information call (337) 413-1861.