A carpetbagger endures north Louisiana resistance
When white Southerners referred to “carpetbaggers” in the years following the Civil War, they had in mind men like Marshall Twitchell.
Born in Vermont, Twitchell joined the Union army at the start of the war and fought in many of the major battles in Virginia. Severely wounded at the battle of the Wilderness when a bullet entered his skull through his eye, he was left for dead by army surgeons. After a miraculous recovery, Twitchell served as an officer for a black regiment composed mainly of ex-slaves. Unlike other carpetbaggers who journeyed into the South after the war, often to exploit and loot the defeated Confederate states, Twitchell became an agent of the Freedmen's Bureau in Sparta in Bienville Parish to assist emancipated slaves in their transition to freedom.
Twitchell met and married a local woman, Adele Coleman, the daughter of prominent Bienville Parish planter Isaac Coleman. Twitchell acquired land on Lake Bistineau and down the Red River to Coushatta, where he established a veritable Yankee colony of his Vermont relatives at a plantation called Starlight.
In 1868 Twitchell entered local politics and, with the support of newly enfranchised black voters, was elected as a Republican to the state senate. He was responsible for the creation of Red River Parish with Coushatta as the parish seat. Twitchell appointed blacks to local government and placed his three brothers-in-law in the choice posts of sheriff, tax assessor, and clerk of court.