Baton Rouge Tri-Weekly Gazette and Comet

East Baton Rouge Parish                                                     

On the eve of the Civil War, Baton Rouge had a population of approximately 5,500 people and was one of the most important shipping centers on the lower Mississippi River. It had served as the capital of Louisiana since 1848. In 1862, one year after the war’s outbreak, the town was abandoned by the state legislature (which would not officially return until 1882) and occupied by Federal troops. Although spared the level of destruction experienced by other Southern cities, its economy was severely affected.

Among the businesses that suffered were newspapers. Before the war, the Gazette and Comet had been issued in both a daily [LCCN: sn88083120] and weekly [LCCN: sn85038555] edition. These were consolidated in 1865 to form the Baton Rouge Tri-Weekly Gazette and Comet. Owned and edited by Joseph C. Charrotte, Thomas B. R. Hatch, and George A. Pike, it was published on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays in four pages.

The paper consisted mostly of advertisements and thus provides a snapshot of the former capital’s business life in the aftermath of the Civil War. Brief editorials and other articles discuss a wide range of topics, from Reconstruction, universal suffrage, and labor, to railroads, road building, sanitation, yellow fever, and the repatriation of soldiers’ remains. A recurring subject of discussion was Southern immigration to Mexico and other parts of Latin America. The paper also reported on proposals to improve the navigation of Bayou Manchac, which would have provided Baton Rouge with more direct access to the Gulf of Mexico via Lake Pontchartrain.

By the 1870s, the paper had come under the ownership of William C. Annis and was being published as the Tri-Weekly Gazette-Comet [LCCN: sn88064484]. It appears to have gone out of business around 1873.