Pickets of the First Louisiana "Native Guard" Guarding the New Orleans, Opelousas and Great Western Railroad
An engraving in the March 7, 1863, edition of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper shows members of the Louisiana Native Guard protecting the New Orleans, Opelousas, and Great Western Railroad from attack by Confederate forces during the Civil War. The accompanying article notes, "Our Artist says that among the cypress swamps of Louisiana negro soldiers are invaluable …" Ironically, a description of the effectiveness of the black forces is immediately followed by a report that Union officials in New Orleans had recently reinstated restrictive racial laws:
In strange forgetfulness of the use to which the colored race may be put, the new régime has empowered Provost Marshal Col. French to put in force the old Slave Laws of Louisiana. Our Artist says: The first result of the Emancipation Proclamation has been attended with a paradoxical effect, namely, a revival of the old Slave Laws of Louisiana.