The New Iberia Times reported on the incident in which Capt. John Saunders, “a well-known pilot on Bayou Teche,” was murdered and a Mr. Williams, “an old settler of the region,” was badly wounded by a band of unidentified ruffians in the Gregg community, which was later renamed Delcambre.
According to the old news account, “The difficulty that led to the shooting grew out of an affidavit made by Mr. Williams a year ago against some parties for hog stealing.”
The men involved apparently admitted stealing the hogs and paid for them. That kept them out of jail, but neither they nor Mr. Williams apparently forgot what happened.
Things cooled down until early May of 1870, when some lumber belonging to Hugh Stewart of Gregg disappeared. Williams went to Abbeville and got a search warrant for the premises of the men who’d swiped the hogs.
It seems that the lumber wasn’t there, and the men became “indignant at the suspicion thrown upon them.”
All of it came to a head on a Saturday night (dare we say after some drinking was involved?) when “a band of armed men went to Mr. Williams’ store and fired upwards of one hundred and fifty shots into it.”
That left the store pretty well shot up, but nobody was hurt—then.
The following day, Sunday, Captain Saunders and a friend stopped by the store and “while Mr. W. was telling them of the occurrences of the previous night the same party came up … [and] Saunders went out to meet and pacify them.”
They weren’t about to be pacified.
“Words were passed about the hog difficulty” and then “they knocked Captain Saunders down with the butt of a gun and, while [he was] down, discharged the contents of the gun into his left side, killing him instantly.”
When that happened, Williams “imprudently” grabbed his own shotgun and returned fire.
It was imprudent because his gun was loaded only with small bird shot and his return fire “seemed to do no injury.”
The hog thieves had heavier weapons and did more serious harm to Williams, although he wasn’t killed.
The men fled and it appears that nothing was done about the fight at the time. But four months later, in September, the Lafayette Advertiser noted that Sheriff Gerard Landry and his deputies “made a raid on Cote Gelee [in the Youngsville area] and captured two individuals belonging to a band of horse and cattle thieves and murderers who have been carrying on an extensive business in the Attakapas parishes.”
That report said that the officers were “on the track” of the rest of the band, but I found no account of whether they were captured or what happened to the missing lumber that had been the immediate causus belli.
You can contact Jim Bradshaw at email@example.com or P.O. Box 1121, Washington LA 70589.