The Final Surrender

May 26, 1865 (Saturday) While the surrender of Lee’s army had gone off with little trouble, and Johnston’s eventually worked out, that of Kirby Smith’s sprawling yet dwindling army west of the Mississippi was a different story. It had been coming, of course. Ever since they learned of Lee’s capitulation it was certain. There wereRead More

The Pause in the Operations – Lee Misreads Grant

June 9, 1864 (Thursday) “The indications are that Grant, despairing of a direct attack, is now seeking to embarrass you by flank movements,” wrote Jefferson Davis to General Lee on this date. The day previous, Davis had joined Lee at the front, together observing the lines of the enemy. When he returned to Richmond, heRead More

‘Undaunted by a Most Destructive Fire’ – Victory Along the Saline

April 30, 1864 (Saturday) “The command reached the Saline River on the 29th,” recorded Capt. Charles Henry, the Chief Quartermaster for Frederick Steele’s Federal Army of Arkansas. Following their aborted attempt to join Nathaniel Banks along the Red River in Louisiana, Steele’s army had become holed up in Camden, Arkansas. When reports that Confederate reinforcements,Read More

‘Our Position Was By No Means a Safe One’ – Steele Prepares to Retreat in Arkansas

April 26, 1864 (Tuesday) “At that time our force, acting as escort for the train, was surrounded and over a hundred of the wagons in the hands of the enemy. The rebel forces were under Shelby and Fagan. and at least 5,000 strong. He thinks the entire train and artillery is captured, and the escort,Read More

Banks’ Victorious Army Escapes Handful of Rebel Cavalry

April 23, 1864 (Saturday) The Union cavalry to the front saw them first. Through the dim grays of the predawn, figures across the Cane River held the bluff overlooking Monett’s Ferry, Louisiana. Nathaniel Banks’ retreating army had no recourse but to push its way through to make it back to Alexandria. Banks himself rode forward,Read More

Louisiana Rebels Pursue Banks; Sherman Gets Some Bad News

April 22, 1864 (Friday) General Nathaniel Banks was retreating in Louisiana. Following his victory at Pleasant Hill, he retreated to Grand Ecore on the Red River, where he stayed for a spell, his army digging in, preparing for the Confederates under Richard Taylor to give chase. But now he was retreating once more, this timeRead More

‘Enemy Was In Larger Force Than Anticipated’ – Excuses and Reasons in the West

April 15, 1864 (Friday) William Tecumseh Sherman was understandably worried. He had loaned more than a corps worth of men to Nathaniel Banks’ Red River Campaign, with the understanding that they would be returned to him by April 15th at the latest. While he never fully trusted Banks to return the troops on time, heRead More

Cat and Mouse in Louisiana and Arkansas

April 14, 1864 (Thursday) Following General Nathaniel Banks’ retreat from Pleasant Hill, Louisiana, things were not exactly going well. The victorious Union troops had left the field to the defeated Rebels, returning to Grand Ecore on the Red River. Aiding Banks in his stab toward Shreveport was the naval fleet under David Dixon Porter. OnceRead More

‘After Us Like a Pack of Wolves’ – Federal Navy Retreats Down the Red

April 11, 1864 (Monday) On the 7th, the same day that Nathaniel Banks’ troop began their march away from the Red River toward Shreveport, Louisiana, Admiral David Dixon Porter began to steam his fleet of gunboats toward the same city. Shortly after leaving, Porter began to realize that the water levels were dropping. This wasRead More

‘Falling Flames of Muskets’ – Rebels Fall Back in Arkansas

April 10, 1864 (Sunday) When last we visited with the Federal Army of Arkansas, Frederick Steele commanding, the Northern troops had just bested their Rebel counterparts along the Little Missouri River. Since then, however, much had changed. The day following the battle, rumors held that the Confederates had retreated some, but were felling trees acrossRead More