Algernon Badger family papers
Scope and Contents
- Badger, Algernon Sidney, 1839-1905 (Person)
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Biographical / Historical
Algernon Sidney Badger was born in Milton, Massachusetts to John Beighton Badger and Sarah Sprague. He was the eldest of five children. His siblings were John Henry Badger, Sarah Laine Badger, Frank Edward Badger and George Yendell Badger. In 1872, he married Elizabeth Florence “Lizzy” Parmele. They had four children: Frank Sidney, Frederick Parmele, John Algernon (“Algie”), and Harry Sprague. Lizzy Badger died in 1880. Badger married Blanche Blineau in in 1882. They had two children together: George Chester and Ida Marion.
Badger enlisted in the Union Army in 1861. He began his military career in the Sixth Massachusetts Infantry and was stationed at Harper’s Ferry in the first months of the Civil War. In 1863, he joined the First Louisiana Union Cavalry as commander of Company D. He was later promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
At the end of the Civil War, Badger relocated to New Orleans. In 1870, Badger was appointed Chief of the Metropolitan Police of New Orleans. As police chief, Badger was on the front lines of the increasing political unrest between Southern white conservatives and Louisiana’s Reconstruction-era government. During his tenure, he defended the city of New Orleans from multiple riots and attempted insurrection by the White League. The most notable of these conflicts was the Battle of Liberty Place.
On September 14, 1874 the White League’s armed militia staged a coup against the Louisiana’s government. The White League was largely composed of supporters of John McEnery, a democrat who lost the 1872 gubernatorial election to William Pitt Kellogg, a republican and the brother-in-law of President Ulysses S. Grant. White conservatives balked at the election of a Republican governor; political unrest, mob violence, and the formation of the White League were the result. During the Battle of Liberty Place, more than 5,000 members of the White League militia marched on downtown New Orleans, and overpowered Governor Kellogg’s much smaller militia. The White League occupied the state house and much of central New Orleans for three days, until Federal troops were deployed to re-establish the elected government.
Algernon Badger commanded a brigade of Governor Kellogg’s militia, and led the defense of New Orleans against the White League, in a conflict that would later be known as the Battle of Liberty Place. In a letter to his father, he gives a detailed account of his experience during the battle. Badger had established his brigade on the levee near Jackson Square, “where a line of breastworks could quickly be formed of a quantity of ship timber and freight that lay convenient and would have afforded a splendid protection to my men.” While waiting for the White League militia to approach, Badger received orders from General Longstreet, who commanded Governor Kellogg’s militia, to abandon their position on the levee and secure Canal street. This movement proved devastating for Badger and his men:
"We had no sooner reached the position indicated by Genl. Longstreet then we were fired upon by the enemy, who were well protected by cotton bales etc. and could not have enticed us into a better position for them or a worse one for us. . . My horse was shot and killed. I received a ball in the right hand, while mounted, and continued directing the fight on foot, receiving a ball through the left arm just below the elbo [sic] breaking both bones, a ball thro[sic] the body, entering 3/4 of an inch from the spine and coming out on left side under left nipple and a ball thro [sic] right leg below knee breaking & shattering the bone badly" (Algernon Badger to John B. Badger, 1874 December 22, Box 2, Folder 25).
In the following year, Badger left the Metropolitan police to serve as the state tax collector. Badger continued to support Governor Kellogg, and went on to hold a number of political offices in Louisiana, including postmaster of New Orleans and Customs House appraiser.
Algernon Badger died in New Orleans in 1905. He is remembered as one of the most influential Republican political figures in Reconstruction era New Orleans, and is particularly regarded for his leadership in the Battle of Liberty Place.
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