Historical Articles by W. T. Block

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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.

Jules 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.