Fight With Desperation to the Last – Sherman’s Words for his Men

April 25, 1864 (Monday) General Nathaniel Banks’ troops were even now marching back into the streets of Alexandria, Louisiana. The attempt to capture Shreveport was a failure. On this same day, General Grant, his headquarters now at Culpeper, Virginia, alongside the Army of the Potomac, received the news of Banks’ retreat following the victory atRead 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

Tracing Rumors and Rebels through Virginia

April 21, 1864 (Thursday) The action, and even the skirmishing, had died down in Eastern Tennessee, as the Federals under General John Schofield lost track of James Longstreet’s Corps. Early in the month, Schofield’s cavalry probed out from Knoxville, north toward the Confederate camps. By the middle of the month, all his cavalry could reportRead More

‘Impossible for Me to Dispense with Your Services’ – Banks Ignores Sherman

April 16, 1864 (Tuesday) General A.J. Smith was ready to leave. The day previous, he had received orders from William Tecumseh Sherman to load his troops on transports and begin their journey down the Red River and up the Mississippi to Vicksburg. The spring campaign season was about to start. This should have come asRead 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

Union Victory and Retreat at Pleasant Hill

April 9, 1864 (Saturday) “Our forces silently retired during the night,” wrote Union General Nathaniel Banks following the previous day’s battle outside Mansfield, Louisiana, “and in the morning took up a position on Pleasant Hill, joining the forces of General [A.J.] Smith.” Confederates under Richard Taylor had launched an attack against Banks’ Army of theRead More

‘Too Late, Sir. The Battle is Won.’ – Confederate Victory at Sabine Crossroads

April 8, 1864 (Friday) Almost immediately after General Kirby Smith left Richard Taylor’s headquarters in Mansfield, Louisiana, Taylor enacted his plan, which was in contrast to Smith’s own in almost every way. Smith had wanted Taylor to remain on the defense, falling back toward Shreveport if pushed by the Federals under Nathaniel Banks. Taylor, however,Read More

Steele Placed in ‘Command’ of the Red River

April 7, 1864 (Thursday) News from the West often came slowly to the East. While communication between General William Tecumseh Sherman in Nashville and Ulysses S. Grant in Culpeper took at most a day, messages coming out of both the Red River and in the hills of Arkansas took considerably longer. Nathaniel Banks’ troops, byRead More