William Cousans

William Cousans

Pictured belw is elderly William Cousans in 1913. During the Civil War he was the Barracks hospital druggist, running the pharmacy and treating thousands of mostly Union soldiers. Sounds mundane enough, right?

Well... as a Confederate sympathizer in New Orleans, he was caught after Union forces captured the city. In fact, he was on the boat trying to run the money out of the mint. He was given the option to go to prison on Ship Island or work as the barracks pharmacist since that position was empty at the time and a experienced pharmacist was needed. A large amount of Northern soldiers were occupying Southeast Louisiana who had never been exposed to the variety of diseases associated with our swampy climate.

Prior to the war, Cousans was one of a small group of survivors of a failed coup d'etat in Cuba. Most of the other Americans involved were killed in the attempted attack, publicly executed by Spanish authorities, or died of exposure or disease after escaping into the jungle. Cousans was eventually transported to Spain as a prisoner. The Queen granted him clemency after some diplomatic efforts by the Buchanan administration.

After the Cuba debacle but before the war, he narrowly escaped some unpleasant business in Nicaragua involving banana plantations and another coup d'etat attempt. At some point afterward he gained experience as a druggist, which of course saved him from the harsh Ship island prison time in the 1860s.

Once the Civil War was over, Cousans decided he had enough adventure and moved to Biloxi to work as a pharmacist. By the time the photo was taken (1913), he was 80 years old, about to retire and celebrate his golden wedding anniversary.

Jackson Barracks has seen some characters some and go over the years!