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[535]

Battle of Pleasant Hill.

in the field, Pleasant Hill, La., Saturday, April 9, 1864.
General Andrew Jackson Smith, commanding detatchments Sixteenth and Seventeenth army corps, after being delayed five hours by a brigade cavalry wagon-train long enough for transporting the troops of a good-sized army, reached Pleasant Hill at sundown yesterday, according to his promise with General Banks several days previous. It was only through the greatest personal exertions of General Smith that his troops were hurried through the thick pine country, while the narrow road was completely blocked up with this long train, half of the wagons filled with trunks, chairs, valises, and other cumbersome baggage, such as greatly embarrass, and oftentimes, as in the disaster of yesterday, imperil the lives of thousands of men.

Finding the officers in charge were not competent men, General Smith at once ordered Colonel Shaw, commanding Third brigade, to place the Fourteenth Iowa infantry in front with fixed bayonets, and, if necessary, fight their way through the road. Finding it useless to dally longer, the sleepy, indigent crowd got waked up, and, rather than submit to a bayonet-charge, they concluded to “get up and git,” as the soldiers say. Late in the afternoon quite heavy cannonading was heard about fourteen miles distant, and shortly after, one of General Banks's staff-officers reported to General Smith with despatches. From this officer we learned that General Lee's cavalry forces and a portion of the Thirteenth army corps were indulging in some pretty heavy skirmishing with the enemy about four miles beyond Pleasant Hill.

General Smith sent back word that notwithstanding the needless delay of five hours, he would have his command at Pleasant Hill at the promised time, Friday night. At sunset on Friday, the sound of fifes and drums innumerable, whistling and beating their lively martial music, told of the arrival of “Whitey Smith,” as the boys call him, and “Smith's guerrillas,” as they delight to be called. In an hour's time the troops were snugly encamped on the old Methodist camp-meeting grounds, not, however, before a vigorous assault was made on the buildings, which disappeared as if by magic. There is a peculiar style of legerdemain practised by our soldiers in relation to the procurement of fire-wood, which must be seen to be appreciated.

We had retired to our sumptuous couches, with the broad canopy of a clear starlight sky above us, stretched our exhausted forms upon the consecrated soil where, in days of yore, the Gospel of Christ was preached to listening and repentant sinners, when a solitary horseman dashed up to headquarters with the doleful tidings of the great calamity that had befallen our forces. So extensive a disaster was supposed to be impossible, and the cavalryman who brought the startling intelligence came near being placed under arrest for making false statements. An hour later, Colonel Clark, of General Banks's staff, arrived at General Smith's headquarters and imparted the gloomy information. An order was at once issued by General Smith for his troops to be in readiness before daylight for a march. Nothing beyond some slight skirmishing along our front, at Pleasant Hill, disturbed the monotony of Saturday forenoon.

At noon, two or three buildings were set on fire and burnt to the ground, in order to give our artillery full range on the low belt of woods that skirted the open hollow in front of the rebel lines. The nature of the ground on which our lines of defence were formed, rendered it necessay for an open-field fight, if the enemy should venture to attack us. Pleasant Hill is a small village of about two hundred inhabitants, situated on a slight eminence, thirty-five miles from Grand Ecore. The town boasts of a miserable one-story hut, which was dignified with the name of hotel, three stores, and an academy. At a quarter past four o'clock Saturday afternoon, while the wagon-trains of the Nineteenth army corps were moving rapidly to the rear, the enemy suddenly opened on our right and centre with four pieces of artillery, which was promptly responded to by the Twenty-fifth New-York battery, and the First Vermont battery.

The disposition of our troops was as follows: On the left, Colonel Lynch, Second brigade, Third division, Sixteenth army corps, consisting of the Fifty-eighth and One Hundred and Nineteenth Illinois regiments, and Eighty-ninth Indiana, with the First Vermont battery, of the Nineteenth army corps. Centre--Colonel Moore's First brigade, comprising the Forty-ninth and One Hundred and Seventeenth Illinois regiments, with the One Hundred and Seventy eighth New-York, while immediately in their rear, for support, the Third Indiana battery was masked, with the Forty-seventh Illinois regiment of infantry and the Ninth Indiana battery. General Franklin, with the Nineteenth army corps, was strongly posted on the left, where his men gallantly withstood the galling fire of the enemy. Colonel Shaw, commanding Third brigade, Third division, Sixteenth army corps, consisting of the Fourteenth, Twenty-seventh, and Thirty-second Iowa regiments, with the Twenty-fourth Missouri, were holding an exposed position on our extreme right, assisted by the Twenty-fifth New-York battery.

General Dwight was ordered to support Colonel Shaw's right flank, but neglected to do so, and, in consequence of this lack of proper support, the rebels nearly flanked Colonel Shaw's brigade, inflicting a heavy loss in killed, wounded, and missing. General Joseph A. Mower commanded the First division, Sixteenth army corps, and he handled his men in a scientific manner during the entire engagement. The statement of the New Orleans Era, that Colonel Gooding was sent out with his cavalry brigade to bring on an engagement. with the enemy is not true. Colonel Gooding received orders to proceed on a short distance, as far as prudent, from Pleasant Hill, for the purpose of bringing in as many of our [536] stragglers as he could find, and at the same time to ascertain, while out, the whereabouts of the enemy.

He had proceeded not more than a mile and a half from Pleasant Hill when he came upon a large body of rebel cavalry, who were within close support of solid phalanxes of infantry, the bayonets of which gleamed through the dense woods wherever the sun's rays penetrated. According to his instructions, Colonel Gooding commenced falling back slowly and in good order, at the same time continuing to reply to the fire of the enemy. While thus retreating, Colonel Gooding lost some thirty men, killed, wounded, and missing, and it was at this period that Captain Basset and Lieutenant Hall, of the Second New-York veteran cavalry were severely wounded, Lieutenant Hall surviving his injuries but a short time. Colonel Gooding had a very narrow escape from instant death, a Minie ball cutting the crown of his felt hat in two places.

We had barely finished our frugal meal at four o'clock on Saturday afternoon, when the previous quietude was suddenly disturbed by the roar of the enemy's artillery and quite rapid musketry firing on our left. During the forenoon, General Banks had evidently decided upon a retreat, as a large body of troops were ordered to fall back to Grand Ecore, thirty-five miles distant. Among the troops sent back were Colonel Dudley's and Colonel Gooding's cavalry brigades, the remnant of the once formidable Thirteenth army corps, several batteries, and nearly, if not all, of the colored troops, as I could not learn of any of the latter participating in Saturday's fight.

Hundreds of wagons were likewise sent to the rear. In fact, preparations were made to fall back to Grand Ecore on Saturday night. The reason for this retrograde movement was the lack of subsistence for our troops, and forage for our horses. The report of our anticipated retreat was received with expressions of dismay and disgust by the officers of the Sixteenth army corps, all expressing a desire to press on toward Mansfield, some fourteen miles distant, the point where Friday's disgrace occurred. From Mansfield, it was General A. J. Smith's intention to push a sufficient force toward Red River, eighteen or twenty miles, where a junction could have been formed with the balance of his forces, some two thousand men, belonging to the Seventeenth army corps, and under the immediate command of Brigadier-General Kirby Smith.

Here our transports were ordered to rendezvous until further instructions were received. Our commissary and ammunition boats were to be met at this point, and after establishing communication, it would have been an easy matter to supply our men with rations for ten days or more, enabling them to pursue the enemy, who, we learned from undoubted authority, were in want of water, which could not be found within fourteen miles of the battle-field. Our forces controlled all the water within a circle of ten or twelve miles, and the rebels suffered severely for want of water. This fact is corroborated by the prisoners whom we captured on Saturday.

The weather on Saturday was most unpropitious for a fair fight. The morning air was intensely cold, and a more cheerless, disheartened sea of bronzed countenances I never beheld. Each private seemed to comprehend the vast magnitude of our needless disaster. There was a gloomy silence apparently pervading every camp, and we could hear no gladsome shouts of victory ring throughout the decimated ranks. It is useless to deny that the universal opinion of the rank and file was that our repulse was an ignominious defeat, which ordinary generalship might have foreseen and prevented.

The wind howled piteously through the trees, fanning the long pendants of gray, funereal-like moss which decked the tops of the tall, waving cypress and pines. The sky was shrouded with portentous clouds, while dense volumes of dust partially concealed the long pontoon-trains as they rumbled heavily to the rear. At halfpast four o'clock precisely, the rebel cavalry advanced toward the right and centre, the exultant foe yelling in the most fiendish manner, at the same time brandishing their sabres in the air.

On they came, at a slow trot, in good order, as they neared our lines gradually quickening their pace, while close in their rear came the three solid battle-lines of the enemy, shouting an indescribable battle-cry, which would cause the nerves of the timid to vibrate, reminding one of all the ferocity of savages. From out the woods belched the enemy's artillery, when there arose from the crouching forms of several thousand loyal men a fearful roll of musketry, opening wide gaps in the rebel lines; but they were as speedily closed, and the enraged foe, with a sudden dash, threw his gigantic force against our front, and for a moment our whole line seemed to waver, giving way a few yards.

The suspense of this fearful moment was terrible to bear, for it did seem to portend defeat. In another moment our artillery scattered grape and canister in appalling quantities upon the exasperated enemy, literally mowing them down as with an enormous scythe. With deafening cheers, and waving of starry banners, our lines pressed on the rear lines, going into the latter conflict at the “double-quick.” It was now five o'clock, and the battle was at its highest, raging with unabated fury, the long and deadly roll of musketry continuing until night, spreading her sable mantle over the bloody picture, screened the combatants from each other's view, and put an end to that day's hostilities.

There was something more than solemn grandeur in the scene at Pleasant Hill at sunset on Saturday, April ninth. Standing on a slight eminence which overlooked the left and centre of our lines, I could see the terrific struggle between our well-disciplined troops and the enemy. The sun shone directly in the faces of our men, while the wind blew back the smoke of both the enemy's fire and that of our own gallant men, into our [537] ranks, rendering it almost impossible, at times, to distinguish the enemy in the dense clouds of smoke. All of a sudden our whole front seemed to gather renewed strength, and they swept the rebels before them like chaff, following them up closely.

The enemy made another desperate stand, when Colonel Shaw, commanding the Third brigade, First division, Sixteenth corps, gave the order to charge bayonets, and the crisis was soon over, the rebels being unable to stand the pressure of “Yankee” steel. In the very thickest of the fight, on our left and centre, rode the patriarchal-looking warrior, Colonel Andrew Jackson Smith, whose troops received an increased inspiration of heroism by his presence. Wherever he rode, cheer after cheer greeted him, for there is an irresistible attraction around this officer, who has exhibited the real Jacksonian energy. Not less conspicuous were Major-General Banks and staff, General Joseph A. Mower, of the First division, Sixteenth army corps, General Franklin and staff, and General Emory and staff.

As the dusk of evening became more and more intense, and the last glimmering streaks of day were rapidly fading away, the enemy struggled merely for the possession of the battle-field, and a tremendous roar of musketry burst forth from their staggering lines, which was responded to by two or three terrific volleys from our side, and then came that dead, quiet calm, broken only by the moaning of our men's voices and the groans of the dying. The enemy retreated rapidly that night, General A. J. Mower, of the Sixteenth army corps, having pushed out some four miles from Pleasant Hill, without being able to overtake the enemy.

Where so much gallantry was displayed, it would be invidious for me to particularize; but the conduct of Colonel W. T. Shaw, Second brigade, Third division, Sixteenth army corps; Colonel Benedict, Nineteenth army corps, who fell mortally wounded at the head of his noble brigade while cheering them on to the fight; Lieutenant-Colonel James Newbold, of the Fourteenth Iowa, Sixteenth army corps; Colonel Mix, of the----New-York cavalry, Nineteenth army corps, both of whom sacrificed their lives in defence of their country's honor; Colonel Lynch, Second brigade, Sixteenth army corps; Colonel Moore, First brigade, First division, Sixteenth army corps; Colonel Hill,----brigade, First division, Sixteenth army corps, all deserve the highest praise. In fact, though the results were very unfavorable to our cause, yet in the battle of Pleasant Hill we can rest assured the stain of cowardice cannot blot the record of that bloody battle.

All of the troops seemed inspired with a degree of courage which nothing but the total annihilation of our men could subdue or extinguish. It is impossible to state who was in chief command on Saturday, Generals Banks and Franklin being both upon the field; but had it not been for the masterly manner in which General A. J. Smith deployed and personally led his troops, aided by the gallant Mower, who has reaped many substantial victories, we should have to record the extinction of the Nineteenth army corps and the Department of the Gulf.

This battle of Pleasant Hill is probably the first time on record where the rebels have manifested any desire to meet our soldiers in an openfield fight, and particularly where they have been the attacking party. This rebel phenomenon is easily explained. After the easy victory of Friday, Kirby Smith supposed it would not be a very difficult matter to completely exterminate the balance of the little army, against whose front he hurled his overwhelmingly superior numbers. Deluded with this belief, he at once sent to Shreveport for the balance of his forces, principally Missouri and Arkansas troops, fresh from their camps.

Upon their arrival at our front, Kirby Smith and Dick Taylor both harangued the new levies, exhorting them to strike together a steady blow, and the “Yankees” would surely be driven from the soil of Louisiana. They boasted with great bombast upon the capture of eighteen pieces of artillery from us, and nearly two hundred army wagons filled with Government stores, including considerable whiskey, which also fell into their hands. Pointing with exultation to the spoils and trophies which his men had secured, he filled the fresh troops with a degree of hopeful buoyancy, which afterward proved fatal; for while flushed with success, they were entirely ignorant of the arrival of General A. J. Smith's fresh troops; and this explains the recklessness and apparent indifference with which they assailed us, filing in their men to the very jaws of death.

This information I derived from wounded prisoners, nearly all of whom corroborate the statement. They deny that General Pop Price was there, although letters have been found by our troops which would seem to indicate that he was on the field during the battle.

General Banks, while encouraging his troops in the midst of a galling fire, had his coat pierced with a bullet. General Franklin manoeuvred his troops with great skill, and while leading his men on Friday, he had two fine horses shot from under him, while a Minie ball grazed his boot.

The First division of the Nineteenth army corps did nobly on Friday, coming up to the rescue of the remnant of the shattered Thirteenth army corps, with deafening cheers. An officer on General Ransom's staff was riding rapidly in front of our lines with an important order, when a solid shot struck his horse's head, severing it from his body in much less time than it takes to tell it. Battery L, Fifth regulars, was captured by the rebels, and retaken a few minutes after by our men.

Colonel Lynch performed a gallant little exploit, which came near costing him his life. Gathering up a small squad of men after the battle was nearly over, he pushed on two miles from our lines, and captured three caissons filled [538] with ammunition. While attempting to jump his horse over a deep ditch, a bullet whistled past his ear, and turning to see whence it proceeded, he saw a wounded rebel just preparing to fire again from the ditch where he lay stretched in a pool of blood. Before the relentless rebel had time to accomplish his base purpose, the Colonel drew his revolver, and that insatiate rebel passed to the dominions of Jeff Davis & Co. very rapidly.

Colonel W. T. Shaw, commanding the Second brigade, Third division, Sixteenth army corps, deserves great credit for the able manner in which he suppresses rebel cavalry charges. Colonel Sweitzer, of the----Texas cavalry, undertook to break Colonel Shaw's lines by a charge. Orders were given to “reserve your fire, boys, until he gets within thirty yards, and then give it to him.” As the cavalry dashed on at a gallop, each infantryman had selected his victim, and waiting till the three or four hundred were within about forty yards, the Fourteenth Iowa emptied nearly every saddle as quickly as though the order had been given to dismount.

Out of this rebel cavalry regiment not more than ten men escaped, and the whole movement was done with that terrible death alacrity which the science of war teaches, and the awful reality of which the eye alone can describe to the soul. One of the wretches was badly wounded, and falling from his horse, his feet caught in the stirrup, frighting the horse, which dashed off at a fearful speed, dragging the unfortunate rebel after him until his head was entirely severed from his body, his brains being dashed upon the ground.

On Sunday morning, at daybreak, I took occasion to visit the scene of Saturday's bloody conflict, and a more ghastly spectacle I have not witnessed. Over the field and upon the Shreveport road were scattered dead horses, broken muskets, and cartridge-boxes stained with blood, while all around, as far as the eye could reach, were mingled the inanimate forms of patriot and traitor, side by side. Here were a great many rebels badly wounded, unable to move, dying for want of water, and not a drop within two miles, and no one to get it for them.

Their groans and piteous appeals for “Water! Water! Water!” were heart-rending, and sent a shudder to the most stony heart. Such horrid expressions as dwelt upon each deathlike countenance can neither be described nor imagined. Here was a brave loyal sergeant, his trusty rifle grasped in his hand, while each eyeball glared from its glazed socket with fierce excitement. The dead were everywhere, and in every possible position which could render the scene more appalling.

I saw one sweet face, that of a young patriot, and upon his icy features there lingered a heavenly smile, speaking of calmness and resignation. The youth was probably not more than nineteen, with a full blue eye beaming, even in death, with meekness. The morning wind lifted his auburn locks from off his marble face, exposing to view a noble forehead, which was bathed with the heavy dew of Saturday night. I dismounted for a moment, hoping to be able to find some trace of the hero's name, but the chivalry had stripped his body of every article of value. The fatal ball had pierced his heart.

Not twenty feet from this dreary picture lay prostrate the mutilated body of an old man, apparently forty-five years of age. His cap lay by the side of his head in a pool of blood, while his long flowing gray beard was dyed with his blood. A shell had fearfully lacerated his right leg, while his belt was pierced in two places, both balls entering the abdominal region. In front of the long belt of woods which skirted the open field, and from which the rebels emerged so boldly, was a deep ditch, and at this point the slaughter among the rebels was terrific. In many places the enemy's dead were piled up in groups, intermixed with our dead. I saw two or three of our men whose bodies had been brutally violated by the exasperated foe, too horrible for mention.

It is universally supposed, and I am not prepared to deny its correctness, that we inflicted a heavier loss of life upon the enemy on Saturday. Admitting that the undiminished valor of our troops forced the enemy to retreat, leaving us in full possession of the battle-field, did we carefully bury our dead, and gather up the thousands of rifles that were thrown upon the field? No; we stole off stealthily before daylight Sunday morning, General A. J. Smith's forces covering our retreat, with five hundred cavalry as a rearguard, under the command of Colonel Lucas. The entire army reached Grand Ecore, on Red River, on Monday and Tuesday, April eleventh and twelfth.

Our loss will probably not exceed three thousand five hundred in killed, wounded, and missing, although some officers assert it will reach four thousand. I append herewith a partial list of casualties as collected by your correspondents with the Red River expedition. Quite a number of our wounded were left in houses at Pleasant Hill, in charge of two of our surgeons.



Brigade report of Colonel Lynch.

headquarters First brigade, Third division, Sixteenth army corps, Grand Ecore, La., April 13, 1864.
Captain J. B. Sample, A. A. G. First and Third Division, Sixteenth Army Corps:
Captain: I have the honor to report the following relative to the part taken by my brigade in the battle of Pleasant Hill, La., on the ninth day of April, 1864.

In accordance with orders received, we marched from Grand Ecore, La., on the morning of the seventh. After proceeding some fifteen miles on the Shreveport road, we went into camp for the night. On the morning of the eighth we were detained somewhat in waiting for the Second and Third brigades to pass. We started at eight o'clock A. M., and arrived near Pleasant Hill at dark, having marched twenty-one miles that day. During the afternoon heavy cannonading was [539] heard in our front, denoting an engagement between our advance (the Thirteenth and Nineteenth corps) and the enemy. At two o'clock A. M., of the ninth, we were in line of battle awaiting the approach of the enemy, who had defeated the Thirteenth and Nineteenth corps. We remained on our arms until ten A. M., when we moved forward about one mile, and forme in the following order in the east centre of the field, namely, the Eighty-ninth Indiana infantry in front, the Ninth Indiana battery in its rear, and the Fifty-eighth and One Hundred and Nineteenth Illinois infantry in rear of the battery. We remained in this position till twelve M., when the Fifty-eighth and One Hundred and Nineteenth Illinois infantry were moved by the left flank to a point about three hundred yards to the left, and formed on a ridge in the woods facing outward. From this point the Fifty-eighth Illinois was moved about half a mile to the front and left of the original position. Here this regiment was halted, and a breastwork of fallen timber thrown up, behind which the men took shelter. After these arrangements were made,skirmishers were thrown out from this regiment and the One Hundred and Nineteenth Illinois. The Eighty-ninth Indiana was then moved a short distance to the left to support the Third Indiana battery on the right, and the First Vermont battery on the left. The Ninth Indiana battery was placed in position on the right of the Third Indiana battery and about two hundred yards therefrom, there being a New-York regiment between. In this position we remained till four P. M., when musketry in our front admonished us that the fight had begun. Soon the enemy advanced from the woods, driving before them a brigade of Eastern troops which had occupied a position in the ravine or ditch on the opposite side of the field. Pursuing this brigade, and flushed with victory, the rebels continued to advance with yells, that carried terror to many a stout heart. Still pressing on, they drove our troops back, and even had possession of one of our batteries, (battery L, First United States artillery,) when, on a sudden, the Fifty-eighth Illinois infantry, which had been advanced to the left and front, appeared in the edge of the woods, on the enemy's right flank. The order was given to charge, and with unearthly yells and with lightning-like rapidity they were on the enemy. Fierce was the struggle, and nobly did the brave Fifty-eighth do their work, driving the before victorious enemy before them. They halted not until they drove the rebels into the ditch in front. Here we captured about four hundred prisoners, whom I sent to the rear in charge of an officer, with instructions to report them to Brigadier-General Mower, but who delivered them to a staff-officer belonging, I have since understood, to the Nineteenth army corps. The Fifty-eighth Illinois claim to have captured more prisoners than they have men in the regiment. Certain it is that their furious attack completely turned the flank of the enemy, and decided in a great measure the fate of the day. At this point the battle was most fierce; first success seemed to favor one, and then the other. Twice were our boys driven back between the guns of the abandoned battery L, First United States artillery, and as often did they rally and repulse the enemy. At last the enemy were driven into the woods in confusion, and three pieces of artillery captured by the Fifty-eighth Illinois. During the fight a portion of the Fifty-eighth was aided by other troops of our corps and army. At the time of the driving back of the Eastern brigade, the Eighty-ninth Indiana was advanced, delivering volley after volley. They continued to move forward, inclining toward the right. Reaching the woods, they drove the rebels in confusion before them into the very depths thereof. In the advance of the Eighty-ninth regiment, they drove away a rebel brigade which had driven in disorder through the Ninth Indiana battery an entire Maine regiment and portion of a New-York regiment. The Eighty-ninth certainly saved the Ninth battery from capture. During the fight here many prisoners were captured by this regiment, among them several officers. The conduct of the officers and men of the Eighty-ninth was most gallant; nobly did they stand up to their work. At the time of the attack by the Fifty-eighth Illinois on the enemy's flank, the One Hundred and Nineteenth Illinois changed front obliquely to the rear, and advanced on the enemy, keeping the left of the field. They drove before them a Texas regiment, the colors of which they captured. This regiment, although less exposed than either the Eighty-ninth Indiana or Fifty-eighth Illinois, still did the work assigned to them with the greatest promptitude and courage. After driving the enemy far into the woods, the Eighty-ninth Indiana was withdrawn to the edge of the field, and formed into a new line, where it remained until it was joined by the other regiments of the brigade, at about half-past 6 P. M. The Fifty-eighth Illinois, after entering the woods, became separated, a portion following the colors and the remainder accompanying myself. After coming into the woods, I found the men in the greatest confusion; but knowing that our situation was most precarious, I ordered all to push forward. With a rush, the men obeyed, the color-bearers to the front. Closely we pressed the rebels, driving them to the left through the woods, and up the road for a distance of over three miles. Never did a man flinch, though the enemy outnumbered us six to one--the number of colors with us probably deceiving them as to our real strength. In the pursuit, so close were we to the rebels that our men seized them by the collars, bayoneting some and capturing others while in the very act of firing their pieces. Six caissons and a large number of very fine horses were taken by us during this charge. Having pursued the enemy three miles, I found him forming beyond an open field in considerable force. Hastily forming my broken column, I found myself opposed to about three thousand rebels, while my force did not exceed as many hundred. I directed the men to open fire, which [540] was done at once, causing the rebels to break in confusion. Being so far from any support, I found it necessary to rejoin our main force, and at once ordered a return, in which we were unmolested. I can only account for the unprecedented success of my little corps by the complete defeat of the rebels sustained on the open field, and in the woods near the field. It being quite dark, and being burdened with our wounded. which we brought with us, I was compelled to leave the caissons, though I at the time supposed we were to bring them off in the morning.

Having moved back to the open field, we joined the other regiments of the brigade, and after obtaining a supply of ammunition, moved out with the brigade about a mile upon the road over which we had driven the rebels, there formed line of battle, and remained during the night. At this time the Fifty-eighth Illinois regiment was detached, and moved to their original position behind their fortifications, upon the left of the open field.

The Ninth Indiana battery at the beginning of the engagement, although in the finest position on the field, was completely masked by battery L, First United States artillery, consequently could not be used till late in the engagement, at which time it made some very fine shots, dismounting one of the enemy's guns, and totally silencing the remaining guns of the battery.

The officers and men of the First brigade have fully indicated their great superiority over the rebel hosts to which they were opposed in the battle of Pleasant Hill. Feeling satisfied that if my brigade had been together, greater would have been the results, I still feel a pride in knowing that to the First brigade, Third division, Sixteenth army corps, belongs the credit of giving the enemy the first check, of turning his flank, of driving him further, and of holding longer the grounds captured, than any troops on the field. . . . .

Captain George R. Brown, of the Ninth Indiana battery, has proved himself a capable, cool, and gallant officer. Captain John Tobin, company K, Fifty-eighth Illinois, fell, shot through the heart, while gallantly leading his men in the charge. Captain F. S. Zeek, company C, Eighty-ninth Indiana, fell severely wounded in both feet, while bravely leading his men across the field. In this connection, I would respectfully state that quite a number of the One Hundred and Seventy-eighth New-York, with their colors, were with me on the three-mile charge through the woods, and acquitted themselves with honor. Again thanking the brave officers and men whom I have the honor to command, I am, Captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. F. Lynch, Colonel Commanding.


Lieutenant-Colonel Baldwin's report.

headquarters Eighty-Third regiment O. V. I., Grand Ecore, La., April 12, 1864.
Captain Oscar Mohr, A. A. General, Detachment Thirteenth A. C.:
Captain: I have the honor to submit the following report of the Eighty-third regiment O. V.I., under my command, from the time it left Natchitoches until the close of the battle of Sabine Cross-Roads:

My regiment, together with the balance of the Fourth division, by order of Colonel W. J. Landrum, commanding, left Natchitoches at halfpast six o'clock A. M., on Wednesday, the sixth instant, marched some fifteen miles on the Pleasant Hills road, and encamped for the night.

On the morning of the seventh, the division moved soon after six o'clock, and reached Pleasant Hills at half-past 1 o'clock, a march of nineteen miles, but by reason of a heavy rain the teams did not arrive until seven o'clock in the evening.

Friday, eighth instant, the division was ordered to march at half-past 5 o'clock, but my regiment was detailed as a guard for the ammunition train, and did not leave till more than an hour later. At noon the rear of the train had not advanced more than six or seven miles, on account of the heavy skirmishing in front, when Captain Dickey, Assistant Adjutant-General, brought an order from General Ransom for me to assemble my regiment, which was disposed as guard through the train, and move to the front as fast as possible to support my division. I immediately started with the rear-guard, assembled the regiment as I passed the train, and moved as rapidly as possible past troops and through the train, which was also moving forward to the front, a distance of eight or ten miles, and then moved to the right of the road diagonally toward the woods, and formed in line of battle at a point designated by Major Lieber of General Banks's staff. General Ransom then ordered bayonets to be fixed, and conducted the regiment forward into the woods to support a battery, and ordered a company thrown out to protect our right flank. Soon after, by order of Colonel Vance, an officer and twenty-five men were advanced as skirmishers.

It was about three o'clock when an order was received from General Ransom to pile up the knapsacks, advance through the woods and take a position at the edge of the field on the right of the Ninety-sixth Ohio, which was already in position. The enemy was advancing through the field in line of battle, and the regiment opened fire the moment it had gained the position designated, which was on the right of the line of battle. The enemy outflanked our line, and was closing in upon the right, when Captain----delivered to me an order from General Ransom to move the regiment by the left flank from its position on the right to the support of the centre, which was heavily pressed. I explained to him that we were outflanked upon the right, and that it was necessary for me to change the front of my regiment diagonally to the line of battle, and to hold my position to protect the right flank. But he assured me that the last order was peremptory, and must be obeyed. I therefore immediately moved my regiment by the left flank, in good order, to the position to [541] which I was guided by Captain----. In the mean time the intervening line of troops had been withdrawn, and the troops I was ordered to support had fallen back to the crest of the hill, to which position, by order of General Ransom, the regiment also fell back, having lost during the movement several men; also Captain C. A. Burns, who was instantly killed by a musketshot in the head. At this point, Colonel Brown, as ranking officer after the fall of Colonel Vance, took command of the brigade; and General Cameron, in place of General Ransom, who fell severely wounded just as the regiment reached the top of the ridge, took command of the detachment of the Thirteenth corps. After holding the position for some time, the regiment, together with the whole line, was forced to fall back over the crest of the ridge, where it was supplied with ammunition. My regiment and the Ninety-sixth Ohio, under the immediate command of Colonel Brown, commanding the brigade, then changed front perpendicular to the line of battle, and moved out about three hundred yards to the right of the right flank, to oppose a flank movement of the enemy, and threw forward skirmishers, who had advanced but a few yards when they were engaged with the enemy, who were concealed by the dense undergrowth. Nearly the same time the enemy, who had been lying concealed in line of battle, arose and opened fire upon our line, the left flank of which was not more than fifty yards distant. The line whose right we had advanced to protect in the mean time had fallen back, and the two regiments exposed to the fire of the enemy in front, in rear, six and on the left, to avoid being surrounded, fell back, with considerable loss, including Captain Waldo, missing, and Captain Cummins, wounded in the arm and side. From the fact that the regiment was nearly surrounded, I hope that many of the missing will prove to be uninjured. After falling back, a line was immediately formed, but was soon broken by retreating cavalry. The same attempt was repeated, but with little success, until a portion of the wagon-train, which choked up the only road not occupied by the enemy, and the line of the Nineteenth corps, which had formed in line of battle about one and a half miles from where my regiment first engaged the enemy, were passed. This was about six o'clock. In rear of the Nineteenth corps a line was formed of men from my own and other regiments, and moved to the left and remained in position until about eight o'clock, when the regiment assembled at division headquarters, and at ten o'clock P. M., by order of General Cameron, moved toward Pleasant Hills.

The loss of the regiment in killed, wounded, and missing is three officers and twenty-six men. To the coolness and fearlessness of the officers, and the bravery and strict execution of orders of the men, is due the comparatively small loss sustained by the regiment.

I have the honor to be, Captain, your obedient servant,

W. H. Baldwin, Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding.


Private letter from the Eighty-Third Ohio.

headquarters Eighty-Third regiment O. V. I., Grand Ecore, La., April 17, 1864.
A boat is to leave in a short time, and I will write until the last moment. I have been writing to the friends of killed and wounded. Captain Waldo is wounded in the left arm and left hip. I have written to his father. He is at Mansfield, in the enemy's hospital, doing well.

The battle was shockingly managed. It was no doubt a surprise upon the General commanding. He endeavored to charge the enemy with a baggage-train, but it didn't work. It was some eighteen miles from Pleasant Hills, where we encamped the night before, that a portion of our division, after skirmishing all day, (our brigade marched out at three o'clock A. M.,) were brought to a stand by the enemy. The Eighty-third, some ten miles back, guarding an ammunitiontrain, was sent for and arrived at a rapid march, partly upon the double-quick, at about two o'clock, and after two or three changes of position became hotly engaged at three o'clock. Our line was stretched just as long as possible. The enemy outflanked us on both flanks, and massed in front. When we engaged the enemy there were nine thousand, perhaps, of our division engaged; not a man in reserve. The Third division came up and went in as it arrived; but we were opposed by some twenty thousand troops, according to the best information we can get, and they were reinforced by five thousand during the engagement. Our little force fought the enemy in a regular pitched battle from three to o'clock, after skirmishing all day, under every disadvantage. There was but one road, leading into an open field and passable wood. This wood and field were surrounded by ravines and tangled swamp, so that there was no ingress or egress but by the one road, and that road was choked up by wagons. There is a great deal of bitter feeling against our leaders. It is very much like “Grand Coteau,” where one brigade of our corps was left to be gobbled up by the enemy. Generals Banks and Franklin did not believe that there was any force but a few skirmishers in our front, and by their incredulity lost the day.

The Nineteenth corps came up to within one and a half miles of the field, and formed a line in a favorable place. They that night checked the enemy, but we all fell back to Pleasant Hills, eighteen miles, where we met General A. J. Smith. Upon meeting the fragment of the old Tenth, (now the Fourth,) he wept. He told General Banks, I am informed, that he had sacrificed the best fighting division in the army. The enemy followed us up and got a severe punishing at the hands of General Smith. General Banks said to him: “General Smith, you have saved my army.” Smith's reply was characteristic--“By God! I know it, sir.” When told that reinforcements were coming, Smith said he was very sorry. Before being asked the reason, he said: “The fellow has more men now than he knows how to use.” [542]

Our prisoners say that the slaughter of the confederates on the first day was enormous; that they lost many times the killed and wounded that we did. They were pretty crazy with Louisiana rum and whisky, and while they rushed forward fearlessly, their aim was not so steady as our men's. Still, they had sharp-shooters, who were cool enough. Our loss of officers was three times as great as usual, according to the number of men. Three out of the four brigade commanders were probably killed, and General Ransom, commanding detachment of corps, was severely wounded. We have but one general and three colonels remaining in the corps — that part of it with us, either fifteen or sixteen regiments.

The Eighty-third did finely. When it left the right to move to the left, although the enemy were close to us, and one captain and several men fell, still the regiment marched off coolly and in perfect order, at right shoulder shift arms, ranks well closed up.

The gunboats have had some flurries since the transports got down here, and the pickets are assailed occasionally; but there is little danger of an attack here, although it has been expected, and we have been ready for it all the time.

Troops at arms at three o'clock, and occasional orders that we shall be engaged in fifteen minutes, or that they are closing in on the right or left.

Our hospital teams and supplies are away to the rear. We are in line of battle in the woods, a slashing in front of us, (trees cut down,) and a part of the line extending from the river above to the river below has rifle-pits, breast-works, and batteries. We can whip forty thousand here, but they will not attack us in a place of our own choosing.

The river is falling fast, and I expect every hour an order to get out of here.

H. W.


Missouri Republican account.

Grand Ecore, April 13, 1864.
The grand expedition up Red River, which promised such beneficial results, has met with an unexpected and disastrous check.

On the sixth of April the Union army, under command of Major-General Franklin, moved from Natchitoches (pronounced Nackitosh) toward Shreveport. Natchitoches is four miles from Red River, the nearest point on the river being Grand Ecore, the place from which this letter is dated. The road from Natchitoches is through a dense forest of pine woods, the surface of the country being broken and hilly. There are but few plantations opened, and nothing upon which to subsist an army. On Thursday night, the seventh, the army camped at Pleasant Hill, a small town in the pine woods, about thirty miles north-east of Natchitoches, on the road to Shreveport. The wagon-road leaves the river to the right some fifteen or twenty miles, rendering the cooperation of the gunboats impossible. Before encamping at Pleasant Hill, there was a sharp cavalry skirmish about two miles beyond that place, resulting in no important advantage to either side. The cavalry encamped about seven miles in advance of the main army. Next morning (Friday, the eighth) the army started toward Mansfield, a distance of seventeen miles from Pleasant Hill. About noon, while the enemy was in line of march, arrived at the front, at a small bayou, where a bridge was being built. General Banks at once assumed command of the army in the field. There was almost constant skirmishing all the way from Pleasant Hill to the place where the battle afterward occurred. When General Banks arrived at the bayou, the Nineteenth army corps were several miles in the rear, the Thirteenth army corps were crossing the newly constructed bridge, and General Lee's cavalry, about five thousand men, some three miles in advance, together with Nim's celebrated battery, the Chicago Mercantile battery, First Indiana, and battery G, of the regular army. The Fourth division, Thirteenth army corps, under command of General Ransom, were hurried forward as a support to the cavalry. About three o'clock P. M., when within two miles of Mansfield, the advance army, consisting of cavalry, artillery, and Fourth division, Thirteenth army corps, above mentioned, while marching through a dense pine forest, there being thick undergrowth of pines on either side of the road, were attacked by the rebels in great force, on both flanks and in the front. The engagement soon became general; the rebels suddenly opening with artillery, and musketry, charging our suprised and panic-stricken columns with terrific yells, evincing a daring and determination worthy of a better cause. General Banks and General Franklin hurried to the front, and were in the thickest of the fight. The artillery was speedily put in position at the extreme front, and for a while did excellent service. Finding the front rather too dangerous for Major-Generals, Banks and Franklin returned to the rear of the wagon-train, just in time to save themselves from capture, as the rebels pressed upon both sides of our army with crushing effect. A ball passed through General Banks's hat. Every thing was soon in the wildest confusion; the wagon-train being in the rear, and in the narrow road, attempted to turn round to fall back, and completely blocked up the way, cutting off the advance both from a way of retreat, and from reinforcements. The rebels had formed in the shape of an isosceles triangle, leaving the base open, and at the apex planting their artillery. Our advance marched directly into the triangle, having the two wing's of the rebel forces on either side of them. These wings were speedily connected, compelling our forces to retreat or surrender. The batteries above mentioned, consisting of twenty pieces in all, were now captured, together with nearly all the officers and men. The Chicago Mercantile battery was captured entire, and I am informed that all her officers and men fell into the hands of the enemy. The Fourth division, Thirteenth army corps, two thousand eight hundred men, under General Ransom, and General Lee's cavalry, about three [543] thousand strong, and the batteries above mentioned, were the forces in advance of the wagon-train. These forces fought desperately for a while, but gave way under superior numbers of the rebels, and retreated in great precipitation. The scene of this retreat beggars all description. General Franklin said of it, that “Bull run was not a circumstance in comparison.” General Ransom was wounded in the knee, but rode off the field before he was compelled, by loss of blood, to dismount. Captain Dickey, of General Ransom's staff, was shot through the head and killed instantly. His body was left on the field. The position of the wagon-train in the narrow road, was the great blunder of the affair. The rear was completely blocked up, rendering the retreat very difficult, and in fact, almost impossible. Cavalry horses were dashing at full speed through the roads, endangering infantry and other pedestrians more than rebel musketry, the retreat having become so precipitate that all attempts to make a stand, for a while seemed impossible.

The immense baggage and supply train of General Lee's cavalry, consisting of two hundred and sixty-nine wagons, nearly all fell into the hands of the enemy, together with the mules attached thereto.

The Third division, Thirteenth army corps, mustering about eighteen thousand men, under command of General Cameron, were sent forward, and endeavored to make a stand. But the effort was futile. The rebels pressed so hard upon General Cameron that he could not resist them. After suffering terribly, he fell in with the retreating column. The Thirteenth army corps, numbering, in all, four thousand six hundred men when the fight began, sustained a loss in proportion to the number engaged, which is perhaps without a parallel in the history of this terrible war. The One Hundred and Thirtieth Illinois, commanded by Major Reed, attached to the Fourth division, could only find fifty-eight men after the battle. So precipitate was the retreat of the Fourth division of this corps, that the men only brought off six hundred and forty stand of small-arms, hundreds of them throwing away their guns to facilitate their movements. At least one half of the Thirteenth corps were killed, wounded, or captured. General Lee's cavalry lost heavily, but some time must elapse before correct estimates can be obtained.

The retreating column fell back some four or five miles, when the Nineteenth army corps, under General Ewing, came up and succeeded in making a stand. The rebels charged upon General Ewing's forces, but were checked and repulsed with considerable loss. Night came on, and thus ended the battle of Mansfield.

The stand was made by the Nineteenth army corps, which remained on the field until midnight, when it fell back to Pleasant Hill, a distance of about twelve miles, arriving there about daylight Saturday morning. General Lee's cavalry and the Thirteenth army corps continued their precipitate retreat from the battle-field to Pleasant Hill.

Saturday morning General Banks ordered a retreat of the whole army to Grand Ecore. The wagon-trains and the heavy artillery, guarded by the negro regiments, took the advance, leaving Pleasant Hill early in the morning. It required nearly all day to get the immense train in motion, the advance being at least fifteen miles distant before the rear got fairly started.

About five o'clock P. M., just as the wagontrain of General Banks's army had all got in motion, the rebels attacked our army in great force. Our forces were posted so as to effectually cover our retreat; the right resting about half a mile north-west of the town of Pleasant Hill, the centre about a half-mile to the west, and the left still further west, about a half-mile in the woods. The Sixteenth army corps, commanded by General A. J. Smith, occupied the right up to the centre, and the Nineteenth army corps, under General Franklin, the left up to the centre. The reserves were posted about a half-mile in the rear. The forces supporting the Sixteenth army corps were the Forty-ninth Illinois, commanded by Major Thomas W. Morgan; One Hundred and Seventy-eighth New-York, commanded by Colonel Waler; Eighty-ninth Indiana, commanded by Colonel Murray, and the Fifty-eighth Illinois. I have no list of the regiments supporting the Nineteenth army corps. The rebels under Kirby Smith attacked our whole front in great force, and after a half-hour of terrible fighting, with musketry and field artillery, our forces fell back on the reserve line, a distance of about a half-mile. The enemy pursued with great rapidity, fighting all the way, and doing considerable damage. For a time all seemed lost, but the presence of the Western troops inspired confidence in the whole army. When the rebels approached the line of the reserve forces, our army was brought into excellent position, and the fighting again became terrific. The Western boys threw their hats in the air, and raised a yell which was heard above the roar of artillery and the rattle of musketry. That tremendous yell was more terrible to the rebels than the thundering peals of cannon. One of the prisoners afterward remarked, that when they heard that shout, the word passed round: “There are the Western boys — we will catch h — I now.” In a short time their column began to waver. General A. J. Smith ordered a charge along the whole line. The order was quickly obeyed. Another shout was raised from our boys. General Mower advanced to the front, and led the charge in person, riding through the thickest of the fight, cheering his men on. The rebels could stand no longer. They broke and ran in great confusion, throwing away their guns, and giving up the day. They were hotly pursued by our forces, who pressed them closely, and inflicted terrible blows upon them. The repulse of the rebels was crushing, and attended with immense loss. Whole columns were mowed down, under the galling fire from the Western [544] army. They were driven about two miles into the woods, losing about one thousand men, who were captured, besides a large number of killed and wounded.

During the battle, the Forty-ninth Illinois, (Colonel W. R. Morrison's old regiment,) under command of Major Morgan, charged upon a rebel battery with determined bravery, and captured two pieces of artillery and a large number of prisoners. Adjutant Deneen, of the One Hundred and Seventeenth Illinois, reported this fact to General Banks. The General replied: “Present my compliments to Major Morgan and his regiment, and tell him that I will ever remember them for their gallantry.”

The rebel prisoners claim to have had twenty-five thousand men engaged on Saturday, but I doubt whether half that number were present. The rebel Generals Parsons and Mouton are reported killed.

Our army remained on the field until daylight Sunday morning, when the retreat to Grand Ecore was commenced.

The rebel killed and wounded were left on the field. Our wounded were taken to houses in Pleasant Hill, and there were placed in ambulances and wagons and brought on to Grand Ecore, except about twenty-five, who were badly wounded, and left at Pleasant Hill in care of two surgeons. Our dead were left on the field, but it is reported that they were afterward buried by the cavalry.

Our killed and wounded during the second day's battle, will, perhaps, amount to one thousand five hundred. That of the rebels is at least double that amount. The Sixteenth and Nineteenth army corps were the only forces engaged in this fight on our side.

In our retreat to Grand Ecore, a distance of thirty-five miles from Pleasant Hill, we were not molested in the least. By Monday evening, (the eleventh,) the whole army was at Grand Ecore, on Red River.

There is great dissatisfaction expressed on all sides, at the generalship displayed by General Banks. He has lost the confidence of the entire army. The privates are ridiculing him. Officers are not loudly but deeply cursing him, and civilians are unanimous in condemnation of the Commanding General. The Friday's battle was brought on contrary to General Franklin's plans. And both General Franklin and General Ransom protested against having the cavalry so far in advance of the main army. General Banks hurried on, supposing that there was no danger, but the sad defeat at Mansfield is the result. After General Banks left Grand Ecore, he wrote back to General Grover, at Alexandria, saying: “We hope to meet the enemy this side of Shreveport.” His hope has been more than realized. The troops are calling for General Sherman. They say if Sherman had been in command, he would now be in Shreveport, instead of at Grand Ecore. General Banks has been engineering his department more to further his presidential aspirations than any thing else. But if the Baltimore Convention were composed of the army of the Gulf, his chances would be hopeless. He would not get enough votes to save him from that unimportant list put down as “scattering” Personally, General Banks is a perfect gentleman. I have no prejudice against him, for he has invariably treated me with kindness and consideration. But the truth must be told. As a military man, he is, as the vernacular has it, “played out.”

General A. J. Smith protested against the retreat from Pleasant Hill. He wanted to pursue the rebels on Sunday on his own hook instead of falling back, but General Banks was firm, and ordered all the forces to return. General Smith is very popular with the army, and every time he makes his appearance he is cheered with great enthusiasm, and considered one of the ablest generals of the army.

It is difficult to determine at this time what will be the result of this expedition. It will take some time to reorganize before an advance can be resumed. If the river continues to fall, navigation above Alexandria will be difficult, if not impossible. In that event, Alexandria will necessarily become the base of operations instead of Grand Ecore, or some point above. The transports and gunboats are all above Grand Ecore, but are expected down here to-morrow. The rebels are very troublesome on the river above Grand Ecore. They succeeded in planting a battery between our fleet and this place. The gunboats shelled the woods all day yesterday, and perhaps dislodged them. The transports are almost constantly fired on from both sides of the river. Seventeen miles below here, the rebels have appeared on the east side of the river. Yesterday, the Ohio Belle, loaded with soldiers and quartermaster's stores, in charge of Chief Clerk, Mr. O'Neil, of St. Louis, was fired into at that point, and two soldiers were badly wounded. To-day, the fine passenger steamer, Mittie Stephens, loaded with troops, was fired into at the same place, sixty shots taking effect. Six persons were wounded and one killed.

To-day General Banks's army began crossing over to the east side of Red River, opposite Grand Ecore. Whether the whole army will cross over or not, I am unable to say. It is rumored that only Smith's army (Sixteenth army corps) is crossing, and that he is going overland to Natchez or Vicksburgh. But this wants confirmation, although it is generally understood that General Grant has sent an order for Smith's return to Vicksburgh. I do not see how General Banks can spare the Sixteenth army corps at this time. All the forces have been ordered here from Alexandria, except one regiment, and a few companies of home-guards. General Grover, commanding the post at Alexandria, has been ordered here, and is now expected. Fears are entertained that the rebels may attack Alexandria for the purpose of destroying the large amount of army supplies at that place.

Admiral Porter has arrived here from above with two or three of his iron-clads. The fleet of transports above here are in great danger at this [545] time, and the most serious apprehensions are entertained for its safety. The transports had gone as high up as Springfield Landing, expecting to meet the land forces at that place. The rebels are swarming along the river, and will sink every boat if they can.



Philadelphia press narrative.

Grand Ecore., La., April 10, 1864.
The object of General Banks's spring campaign is political as well as military. The importance of the South-West may be properly estimated when we consider our relations with Mexico, and the embarrassments occasioned by the French interference with that republic. The occupation of Brownsville, on the Rio Grande, by General Banks, last year, did much toward checking the designs of the French Emperor. An American army was placed on the frontier of the newmade dependency, and any diplomacy between Davis and Napoleon was thus shattered and silenced. That occupation was merely a check. To make it a checkmate, the capture of Shreveport was necessary. This town occupies a point in the extreme north-western part of Louisiana, near the boundary line of Arkansas and Texas. At the head of steamboat navigation on the Red River, in the midst of the largest and richest cotton district in the trans-Mississippi department, the rebel capital of Louisiana, the headquarters of Kirby Smith, and the depot of supplies for the rebel army, Shreveport is as important to this department as Chattanooga or Richmond. If purely military considerations had controlled, from it is probable that the armies of this department would have been devoted to an expedition against Mobile, or a cooperating movement with the army of General Sherman. But the Government desired Shreveport and the undisturbed possession of the Mississippi, and General Banks was charged with the duty of taking it. His army consisted of a part of the Nineteenth army corps, which he formerly commanded in person; a portion of the Thirteenth army corps, under General Ransom; and a portion of the Sixteenth army corps, under the command of General Smith. The Nineteenth corps is composed mainly of Eastern troops, and came with General Banks when he assumed command of this department. It is now under the command of General William B. Faulkner, formerly of the army of the Potomac, who is next in authority to General Banks. The divisions commanded by General Smith were recently in Grant's army, and in the corps commanded by General Hurlbut. They were sent to aid in the movement upon Shreveport, and began their operations by capturing Fort De Russy, and thus opening the Red River. General Smith occupied Alexandria, the parish-town of Rapides, situated on the Red River, and one of the most beautiful towns in the State. Alexandria was thus made the base of operations against Shreveport, and General Banks, proceeding thence in person, assumed command of the army.

After concentrating at Alexandria, the army marched to Natchitoches, an old Indian and French settlement on the banks of what is called, by a strange perversion of words, the “old Red River.” Natchitoches is as old as Philadelphia, and so queer and quaint, that I would be tempted to write you a letter about it, if the events of this busy time were not so urgent. About four miles from Natchitoches, on the river, there is another settlement of dingy houses called Grand Ecore. The river here, in one of its angry, whimsical moments, seems to have abandoned one bank and left it a low, wide, shelving plain, and so violently intruded upon the other bank that it is now a high, ragged bluff, with the sides in a condition of decay, as every rain-storm slices off layer after layer of earth. This is what is called Grand Ecore, and when our army occupied Natchitoches, General Banks came hither and made it his headquarters. Admiral Porter, with his gunboats, accompanied him, and it is now the headquarters of the army and navy. The rebels seem to have contemplated holding Grand Ecore, for on the bluffs around the settlement the remains of works intended for large guns and as rifle-pits, may be seen. These were built last summer when General Banks made a feint upon Shreveport by way of diverting the attention of the enemy from his attack upon Port Hudson. No attempt was made to fortify it when the present movement began on Sunday, April third. General Banks arrived here, and went into camp in a beautiful meadow ground, skirted by pine woods, about two hundred yards shore, and near a small shallow stream, with pine trees growing in it, which the inhabitants call a lake. The headquarters of General Franklin were at Natchitoches.

That army consisted of about twenty thousand men, and was thus commanded: The cavalry by General Lee, formerly of Grant's army — said to be a favorite of the Lieutenant-General, and with the reputation of being an efficient and active officer. The artillery was under Brigadier-General Richard Arnold, a captain of the Second artillery, in the regular army, and chief of the service in this department. General Franklin was second in command of the forces. He had one division of his army corps with him, that commanded by General Emory. The division of General Green was left at Alexandria to hold the post. General Smith's force consisted of two divisions. General Ransom's force also consisted of two divisions. On this calculation I make the estimate that the army around Grand Ecore, under General Banks, on the morning of the Sunday he assumed command, numbered altogether twenty thousand men. With this army he began his march. The country through which he was to move was most disadvantageous for an invading army. The topography of Virginia has been assigned as a reason for every defeat of the army of the Potomac; but Virginia is a garden and a meadow, when compared with the low, flat pine countries that extend from Opelousas, far in the South, to Fort Smith in the North, and cover hundreds of thousands of square [546] miles. There are few plantations and fewer settlements. These are merely built in clearings, of pine logs, thatched and plastered with mud. I have ridden for fifty miles into the heart of this pine country, and from the beginning to the end of the journey there was nothing but a dense, impenetrable, interminable forest, traversed by a few narrow roads, with no sign of life or civilization beyond occasional log houses and halfcleared plantations — the bark being stripped from the trees, that they might rot and die in a few months, and thus save their lazy owners the trouble of cutting them down. Into this country General Banks was compelled to march. He found, in the beginning, that two arms of his service would be almost worthless. So lone as he marched, his cavalry might picket the woods and skirmish along the advance; but in action they would be as helpless as so many wagontrains. His artillery would be of no use unless he should manage to get the enemy into an open clearing, which was as improbable as it would be to get troops with works to fight in front of them. The country was little more than a great masked battery. It was an unproductive, barren country, and it became necessary for permanent military operations to carry along every thing that an army could use. Such a thing as subsisting an army in a country like this could only be achieved when men and horses can be induced to live on pine trees and resin. General Banks had very much the same difficulties to meet that Lord Raglan found in the Crimea. In one respect they were greater. For, while our commander was compelled to march his army as a movable column, he was also compelled to keep open a long and dangerous line of communication. I make these explanations now in order that you may more particularly understand the nature of our recent operations, and give General Banks the credit that I feel to be due to him and to the army under his command.

About thirty-four miles from Grand Ecore there is a clearing of more than usual size, and upon it there are built more than the ordinary number of houses, and showing more than the common degree of enterprise and taste. This clearing forms a plateau, and as it rises as high perhaps as fifty feet, the people have taken advantage of the fact, and called it “Pleasant Hill.” Against this point it was determined to march. We knew that the rebel army was in that direction, and it was not at all unlikely that they would make a stand and show us battle. The army marched accordingly — Lee leading the advance, moving slowly with his cavalry, and followed as rapidly as possible by the infantry divisions of General Ransom. By Thursday, April seventh, the whole army was in motion, and the advance was nearing Pleasant Hill. General Banks broke camp, and with his staff and a small escort rode to the front. Before him were two thirds of his army; behind him, the remainder, under General Smith, and composed of many of the bravest veterans in Grant's army, was marching rapidly. We had not ridden more than ten miles when the rain began to fall. It continued to fall, and for the remainder of the day we had a storm of unusual fury. This delayed the march so much that it was dark before the General reached the encampment of General Franklin, on Pleasant Hill. The rain was then pouring in torrents, and the shelter of a tent and a cup of coffee became luxuries that even a Sybarite would have craved. Early in the day, on Thursday, our cavalry had passed beyond Pleasant Hill, and about two miles above, near a ravine, they had met the rear-guard of the enemy. A sharp skirmish ensued. The fighting became so earnest at last, that General Lee began to doubt the ability of his cavalry to force a passage, and sent to General Franklin for a brigade of infantry, as a reinforcement. The enemy were driven, however, before the infantry arrived, with severe loss, the cavalry being compelled to dismount, and fight through the woods. In this skirmish we lost about fifty men, killed, wounded, and missing.

This skirmish convinced us that the enemy in front were in more than usual force. We learned from prisoners that Lieutenant-General E. Kirby Smith, of the rebel army, was in command, that his trains had fallen back on the road to Mansfield, and that his army was retreating with more than usual disorder. It, of course, suggested itself that our pursuit should be rapid, and, if we showed proper enterprise, we might capture Mansfield and the whole train of the rebel army. An order was given that the army should march early in the morning, and shortly after dawn the whole force was on the advance, General Banks and staff following. The advance was pushed with energy. Our army skirmished all the way, and once or twice the enemy made a demonstration of force. Our troops quietly drove them, and we moved on. The roads began to be in a horrible condition, and frequently we were compelled to halt and repair them, building bridges, removing stumps, and widening the paths. At about eleven in the morning General Banks reached General Franklin, at a point about ten miles from Pleasant Hill. The cavalry had passed on, the train following. One division of his infantry had crossed, the Fourth division of the Thirteenth army corps, under the immediate command of Brigadier-General Ransom. His men were engaged in building a bridge over a bayou that embarrassed the march, and his trains were about to cross. He reported to General Banks that every thing was going on finely; that his force was pressing the enemy, who was slowly falling back, and that as he could not hope to march much further, he had thought it best to make his headquarters at a neighboring log hut, and had accordingly halted his trains. General Banks directed his own trains to be halted there, and, after resting awhile and holding a conference with General Franklin, remounted and rode to the front.

This was shortly after noon. A brief ride brought the General to the advance. He found the cavalry slowly pushing on, and the enemy disputing their march. It was a tedious process. [547] The quietly retiring foe — the quietly advancing cavalry — the soldiers dismounted, and, creeping from tree to tree, occasionally interchanging shots — and sometimes so many at a time that it sounded like the badly-fired volleys by which some of our militia escorts at home pay the last honors to a dead comrade. Still, we pushed an, making progress, but very slow progress indeed, until we reached a point that seemed to be about five miles from the bayou, and the clearing beyond, where General Franklin had established his headquarters. At this point another clearing had been made for a plantation. It was roughly divided into fields for cotton and cane, and an old saw-mill near by seemed to indicate that the owner had a larger share of enterprise than is generally given to the chivalrous lords of these majestic pines. The irregular firing was at an end, for here the enemy ceased to creep, and seemed disposed to make a stand. Evidently we were marching too rapidly, and if they desired to save their trains they must fight for them. General Banks saw this, and ordered the infantry to the front to support the cavalry and make a spirited assault. In the mean time, in the event of the enemy being stronger than was expected, or too strongly posted, aids were sent to the rear to hurry forward the advance of Ransom's other division, commanded by General Cameron, as well as to General Franklin, directing him to advance with Emory's division of the Nineteenth army corps. We placed our artillery in position, and began to shell the woods where the enemy were posted. They made a feeble reply, but were evidently in strength. Our dismounted cavalry formed the first line of battle. The Fourth division formed in their rear, the line crossing the road, and extending its flanks into the woods. It was now about four o'clock, and it became evident, from the manner in which our cavalry attack was received, that the enemy was stronger than was anticipated. The events that I have been describing transpired very slowly, and the afternoon seemed to be wearing lazily away. But after four o'clock events began to grow and thicken with a bewildering fury that makes it difficult for a mere spectator like your correspondent to remember precisely what was done, and how it was done. The attack of our cavalry was weak and spiritless. The firing lasted for a few minutes, the discharges of musketry became incessant, the long, thin line of clay-colored rebels began to emerge slowly from the woods, firing constantly, but always advancing at a pace that seemed like an uncertain, shuffling run. Their fire was too strong for our cavalry, and it fell back with precipitation — too much precipitation it proved; for before Ransom had his line properly formed, he was compelled to meet the onset of the whole rebel force. The retreating cavalry had partly demoralized his men, for in the heat of action, and being where they could not see the field, they could not understand why this multitude of flushed and frightened men should thus be running from the scene of battle. Many who wanted nothing but a cheerful look or nod to make them brave men, turned around without having seen a rebel, and ran likewise, so that before the battle had really opened the road presented the strange sight of hundreds of armed and unarmed men hastening to the rear, some the pictures of fright, others of abject fear, and carrying exaggerated stories to all who troubled them for information.

Four o'clock had passed, and the long shadows of the evening were darkening the pine woods. Ransom's division fought with intrepid bravery, all things considered — the sudden attack, the panic-stricken cavalry, and the number of the enemy — with a bravery that cannot be too highly commended. The rebels, however, saw their advantage, and pressed it. In the beginning of the fight General Ransom was struck in the knee, and carried from the field. This dispirited the men, for they all loved the young commander, and rejoiced to speak his praise. The fight became furious, and for a few minutes there was doubt, and gloom, and anxiety among the Federal commanders. Aid after aid galloped down the road to bring up the Third division of the Thirteenth corps, commanded by General Cameron. It was evident Ransom's men could not stand the attack. It was doubted if even Cameron's men would be more successful. But other troops were behind — Emory and his splendid division — and we knew that the day was ours if time only permitted us to make a proper disposition of our forces. Ransom's column finally broke, but not until Cameron's was formed in the rear to renew the battle. Through a long hour — an hour that seemed to be an age to all who stood under those pine trees on that Friday afternoon--the fight raged. The enemy had a temporary advantage, and they pressed it with an energy that seemed to be appalling. They must have suffered terribly, for our guns poured into their lines one constant fire. Our men fought them with unavailing valor, for all the disadvantages were on their side.

If I have succeeded in making plain my account of this fight, the reader will understand that our forces were in an open space — a pine wood clearing — that our line of advance was one single, narrow road, and that, having made the attack ourselves, we found the enemy superior, and were compelled to make a defensive fight. There were other troubles. The country was so formed that artillery was almost useless. We could not place a battery without exposing it in a manner that suggested madness, and yet we had the guns and were compelled to fight them. A further disadvantage was to be found in the long trains that followed the different divisions. The cavalry had the advance; immediately behind came the baggage-wagons, moving in a slow, cumbersome manner, and retarding the movements of the infantry. This made it impossible for us to have our divisions in supporting distance, and when the time came for that support, it could not be rendered. General Banks perceived this at once, but it was too late to remedy it, and he was compelled to fight the battle in [548] the best manner possible. Ransom's division had been engaged and routed. Cameron's division was in the thickest of the fight. General Franklin had arrived on the field, and a division of his magnificent corps, under General Emory, was pushing along rapidly. General Banks personally directed the fight. Every thing that man could do he did. Occupying a position so exposed that nearly every horse ridden by his staff was wounded, and many killed, he constantly disregarded the entreaties of those around, who begged that he would retire to some less exposed position. General Stone, his chief of staff, with his sad, earnest face, that seemed to wear an unusual expression, was constantly at the front, and by his reckless bravery did much to encourage the men. And so the fight raged. The enemy were pushing a temporary advantage. Our army was merely forming into position to make a sure battle.

Then came one of those unaccountable events that no genius or courage can control. I find it impossible to describe a scene so sudden and bewildering, although I was present, partly an actor, partly a spectator, and saw plainly every thing that took place. The battle was progressing vigorously. The musketry-firing was loud and continuous, and having recovered from the danger experienced by Ransom's division, we felt secure of the position. I was slowly riding along the edge of a wood, conversing with a friend who had just ridden up about the events and prospects of the day. We had drawn into the side of the wood to allow an ammunition-wagon to pass, and although many were observed going to the rear, some on foot and some on horseback, we regarded it as an occurrence familiar to every battle, and it occasioned nothing but a passing remark.

I noticed that most of those thus wildly riding to the rear were negroes, hangers — on and servingmen, for now that we have gone so deeply into this slaveholding country. every non-commissioned officer has a servant, and every servant a mule. These people were the first to show any panic, but their scamper along the road only gave amusement to the soldiers, who pelted them with stones, and whipped their flying animals with sticks to increase their speed. Suddenly there was a rush, a shout, the crashing of trees, the breaking down of rails, the rush and scamper of men. It was as sudden as though a thunderbolt had fallen among us and set the pines on fire. What caused it, or when it commenced, no one knew. I turned to my companion to inquire the reason of this extraordinary proceeding, but before he had the chance to reply, we found ourselves swallowed up, as it were, in a hissing, seething, bubbling whirlpool of agitated men. We could not avoid the current; we could not stem it, and if we hoped to live in that mad company, we must ride with the rest of them. Our line of battle had given away. General Banks took off his hat and implored his men to remain; his staff-officers did the same, but it was of no avail. Then the General drew his sabre and endeavored to rally his men, but they would not listen. Behind him the rebels were shouting and advancing. Their musket-balls filled the air with that strange file-rasping sound that war has made familiar to our fighting men. The teams were abandoned by the drivers, the traces cut, and the animals ridden off by the frightened men. Bareheaded riders rode with agony in their faces, and for at least ten minutes it seemed as if we were going to destruction together. It was my fortune to see the first battle of Bull Run, and to be among those who made that celebrated midnight retreat toward Washington. The retreat of the Fourth division was as much a rout as that of the first Federal army, with the exception that fewer men were engaged, and our men fought here with a valor that was not shown on that serious, sad, mock-heroic day in July. We rode nearly two miles in this madcap way, until on the edge of a ravine, which might formerly have been a bayou, we found Emory's division drawn up in line. Our retreating men fell beyond this line, and Emory prepared to meet the rebels. They came with a rush, and, as the shades of night crept over the tree-tops, they encountered our men. Emory fired three rounds, and the rebels retreated. This ended the fight, leaving the Federals masters. Night, and the paralyzing effect of the stampede upon our army, made pursuit impossible. The enemy fell back, taking with them some of the wagons that were left, and a number of the guns that were abandoned.

Although its results might seem to be more unfortunate than the real events of the day would justify us in believing, this battle convinced us of the strength of the rebels in our front, and their determination to resist our advance. It became necessary to fight a battle, and, as we could not do so on ground so disadvantageous, General Banks ordered the army to occupy Pleasant Hills, the position in our rear, that had been held by General Franklin on the morning of the fight. The division of General Emory remained on the field, picketing the front. The headquarter trains were removed back to Pleasant Hill, and the divisions of General Smith were formed in line of battle, in which position they remained the whole night. The divisions of Ransom and Cameron, which had suffered so much in the engagement, were withdrawn from the field. When this had been done, Emory slowly withdrew his line to a point about two miles beyond Pleasant Hill. General Banks made his headquarters on the left of the elevation, and shortly before daybreak he arrived in camp, accompanied by his staff. The tents were pitched, and a hasty cup of coffee served for breakfast.

Having described as faithfully as possible the events of this bloody day, it now becomes my duty to describe one of the most brilliant and successful battles of the war. The first day's engagement was an accident. Nothing but the discipline of the troops, and the presence of mind displayed by the Commanding General, prevented [549] it from becoming a disaster. On the second day we retrieved and redeemed all that had been lost. Pleasant Hill, as I have said before, is a clearing in the midst of these vast pine woods, about thirty-five miles from the Red River, on the road that leads from Natchitoches. It forms a plateau that rises to a noticeable elevation above the country around. It was probably intended as a settlement of more than usual importance, for I noticed an unfinished seminary, a church, a sawmill, many fine houses, and one or two that would have done credit to our Northern towns. The land was in a high state of cultivation, and every acre seemed to be traversed by ridges of ploughed soil. On the elevation where the unfinished seminary stands, a complete view of the whole field could be obtained, and with a glass, the features and the rank of men at the other could be readily seen. Here we determined to make a stand. The day was as bright and clear and fresh as a May day in the North, and the air was so bracing that the officers found their great-coats grateful. The morning passed on. The plateau had the appearance of a paradeground on a holiday. For any one man to see all that was to be seen, or to understand the different movements of the armed and uniformed men before him, would be impossible. Regimnts marching to the right, and regiments marching to the left, batteries being moved and shifted, cavalry squads moving in single file through the brush, now and then an aid galloping madly, or an orderly at full speed, driving his spurs, and holding an order or despatch between his teeth, bugles sounding the different cavalry calls, and drums repeating the orders of the captains, all passed and repassed, and controlled the vision, making very much the impression that a spectator in the theatre receives as he looks upon a melodrama. In an inclosure near the roadside was a small cluster of gentlemen to whom all this phantasmagoria had the meaning of life, and death, and power, and fame. General Banks, with his light-blue overcoat buttoned closely around his chin, was strolling up and down, occasionally conversing with a member of his staff, or returning the salute of a passing subaltern. Near him was General William B. Franklin, his face as rough and rugged as when he rode through the storms of the Peninsula, the ideal of a bold, daring, imperturbable soldier. There are few braver men than this Charles O'Malley of major-generals. He had two horses shot under him the day before. His face was very calm that morning, and occasionally he pulls his whiskers nervously, as though he scented the battle afar off, and was impatient to be in the midst of the fray. General Charles P. Stone, the chief of staff, a quiet, retiring man, who is regarded, by the few that know him, as one of the finest soldiers of the time, was sitting on a rail smoking cigarettes, and apparently more interested in the puffs of smoke that curled around him, than in the noise and bustle that filled the air. There was General Smith, with his bushy, grayish beard, and his eager eye, as it looks through spectacles, giving him the appearance of a schoolmaster. General Arnold, the chief of artillery, with his high boots, and his slouched hat thrown over his head, seemed the busiest of all. The other members of the staff, colonels, and majors, and captains, completed the group; with orderlies in the distance, and servants chiding or soothing their masters' restive horses, and the body-guard dismounted and dozing under the trees. It was rather a tedious party, and group after group formed and melted away, and re-formed and discussed the battle of the evening before, and the latest news and gossip of New-Orleans, and wondered when another mail would come. It might have been a parade; it might have been a fair-day, and these men around us so many plain farmers who came to receive medals for their cattle and swine, and hear the county lawyer deliver the agricultural address. It certainly could not be war, and yet the slow rumbling of gun and caisson, the occasional shell bursting from the cannon, whistling in the air, and exploding in the woods beyond; the sudden musket-shot, and the distant cheer — all gave the picture the deep and deathly tints that made it a battle-piece. It is curious to study the feelings which such a scene produces. This morning scene became so weary and tame that, from very languor and apathy, I began to weave up the bright and real tints of the picture with as many unique fancies as the imagination could suggest, and, finally, turning over on a pine board, which was resting against a fence, and made an inviting bed for a weary man, endeavored to regain a portion of the sleep that the last night had taken away. I had scarcely time for wooing a nap when the General called for his horse and proposed to go to the front. The different generals around him returned to their commands, and, slowly picking our way out of the yard, we rode along the ridge to an elevation near at hand, and from thence surveyed the field.

It was one of those scenes that battles rarely present, but which enables us to see what is really the pomp and glory of war. Below, or rather before us, was the whole army of General Banks. There were three distinct lines of battle, two of which could be seen by the eye, the other being hidden by the woods. The batteries were in position, and each regiment displayed its flag. On our flanks were small detachments of cavalry, who busily scoured the woods to prevent any thing like a surprise, or a movement in our rear. It was now eleven o'clock, and our whole army was prepared for action. The generals had determined to await the attack of the enemy, and finding it impossible to subsist the army in a country without water or forage, concluded to move the trains back to Grand Ecore, there concentrate our army, and await news from the cooperating column of General Steele, which is known to be moving through Arkansas on Shreveport. Accordingly, before our lines were formed, the trains were ordered to move, and before noon we had a clear field, and were ready for the attack. In order to look his army face to face, and [550] satisfy himself that the dispositions were proper, General Banks rode to the front with his staff, and thence along the whole line, saying kind words to officers and men, and wearing that bright, winning smile so peculiar to him, and which seemed to give new confidence to the men whose lives were on their country's altar. Noon came and passed; but beyond the slow shelling of the woods, and a stray shot from some impetuous picket, there was no sign of an engagement. Our men remained in line all day, and passed the hours by their guns; some lying down, some sleeping and dozing, others reading and eating the remnants of yesterday's ration; but all ready for the signal that would bring on the action. The day remained bright, and warm, and clear, and it began to be thought that it would close without an action, and that the enemy had withdrawn with their booty. Those in the front knew better. The rebels were there, making their dispositions and preparing for the onset. In the mean time the General and staff returned to the ridge near the brick house, and partook of some refreshment, satisfied that the day was ours, and determined to await events.

On our left centre, far in the advance, was a battery of four guns, belonging to a New-York regiment. It occupied an exposed position, and it had been suggested by some of the staff-officers that there was danger of its capture. This battery had been making itself an object of interest to the rebels, for every ten minutes it sent a shot into their midst. About half-past 4 in the afternoon, a sharp volley of musketry was heard, and all eyes turned toward this battery, for over it circles of smoke were ascending, and around it men were engaged in battle. The rebel line rushed from the woods and charged the battery. The contest was sharp. The smoke obscured the sight, and for a few minutes we could only guess how the struggle was going. Finally our line was seen to retreat, but we had no fear. We knew that the men composing that line were men of the Nineteenth corps. We had seen their valor on the day before, and, although there, before our eyes, they were falling back, we felt assured it was with a purpose. So it proved. The temporary retreat was a feint, intended to draw the rebels from the woods. They came, rushed upon the battery, and surrounded it. This success brought another line of clay-colored rebels, and they cheered as though they had gained a victory. The time had come. The enemy was before us. Emory's division rallied; and one of Smith's divisions, which had been lying on the ground, arose, and sent volley after volley into the enemy's midst. This was something different from fighting an exposed division in pine woods, in the midst of baggage-trains, and so the poor rebels found. Again and again they rallied, but only to fall back again and again, and finally to retreat and scamper through the woods. The battery which tempted them from their covert was retaken, and its shot and shell went plunging through their retreating column. It seemed as though death was reaping a mysterious harvest, and to the right and left the sheaves were falling.

The battle was extended along the whole line; it was nothing but charge and rally, to charge and rally again. In every point our men gained the day. The lines of Smith's division stood like the stone walls that Virginian patois has contributed to our military language, and every effort of the enemy to force them was futile. Thus it continued for an hour; and in describing the scene at the battery, I find that I have given in detail all that can be remembered of this brief and glorious fight. One other movement was noticeable. The rebels, toward the end of the engagement, tried to flank our left by sending a column over the ridge, upon which the unfinished seminary stood. The effort was more disastrous than the attempt upon the battery. They were driven back with fearful slaughter, routed from the field, leaving many hundreds of prisoners in our hands. This ended the engagement, and our forces were victorious.

Night was over all, and the stars began to shine. Our wounded were removed, and, unmolested, General Banks accomplished his movement toward Grand Ecore.

Our losses in the two days battle in killed, wounded, and missing, are estimated at two thousand. Colonel Benedict, commanding a brigade, was the only general officer killed. We learn that General Mouton, commanding a part of the rebel army, was also slain.



Another account.

camp of the Eighty-Third O. V. I., Grand Ecore, La., April 12.
The past week has been an eventful one in the military history of this department. Doubtless, exaggerated reports of rebel success and the demoralization of the Federal troops have reached you, and it is with a view to counteract the influence of such reports that I propose to give you as brief a description of recent events as is consistent with a proper understanding of them. Let me premise by assuring your readers that the troops are in the best of spirits, and fully confident of their ability to carry the campaign to a successful close, provided they have leaders upon whose judgment they can place reliance.

On Wednesday, the sixth instant, our whole force, with the exception of General A. J. Smith's immediate command, left Natchitoches, and pursued their way through the “Piny” woods, in the direction of Shreveport, one hundred miles distant. On the evening of the seventh, we reached Pleasant Hill, a small village, thirty-five miles from Natchitoches, our cavalry advance skirmishing nearly all the way through the woods. They had a severe one on that morning, two miles beyond Pleasant Hill, in which the Eighty-seventh Illinois (mounted infantry) lost quite heavily.

On the morning of the eighth, we resumed our march, the Fourth division (to which the Eighty-third has been re-transferred, since I last wrote [551] you) leading the infantry force. A severe skirmish occurred at an old saw-mill, ten miles beyond Pleasant Hill, in which Lieutenant-Colonel Webb, of the Seventy-seventh Illinois, was killed; but the enemy kept falling back, and were pursued by the cavalry and our division, about eight miles further, to Sabine Cross-Roads, three miles this side of Mansfield. Here the enemy was met in force, and a check made to our progress.

The Eighty-third was six miles in the rear, as guard for the ammunition-train, and the remainder of the force had gone into camp near the sawmill before mentioned. Orders were immediately sent back for the Eighty-third and the Third division of the Thirteenth corps, to come up “double-quick.” The fatal error of that day consisted in having the forces divided, and the advance so far from support. A general engagement was not apprehended, but the mistake was, nevertheless, an inexcusable one, and the parties who are censurable, should meet with a severe punishment. Who they are, I am unable to say, but there is a very general want of confidence felt in the head of the department, who, although he proved himself on that day not devoid of courage, is not generally looked upon as possessing great military ability. Certainly, there never was a more forcible illustration of the old Indian chief's theory of the bundle of sticks, which, taken together, it was impossible to break, but when taken singly, the feat was easily accomplished. But I anticipate. The Eighty-third reached the division, before the engagement became general, and took up a position on the extreme right. Soon after its arrival, the enemy who were posted upon a small, crescent-shaped elevation, which commanded the road, opened fire, and the conflict soon became terrific. The rebels were in very heavy force, and closed in upon both our flanks, charging with desperate fury upon them, and it becoming evident that the position could not be maintained, a retreat was ordered, which was accomplished with heavy loss, until the broken ranks met the Third division coming to their assistance. Orders were now sent for the Nineteenth corps to come up, but they were eight miles in the rear, and it was feared they would not reach us in time to be of any avail. The Third division formed in line and checked the progress of the enemy, and the battle raged furiously once more, but their overwhelming numbers soon crushed the gallant little division, and drove them in all directions.

The Nineteenth corps was now most anxiously looked for, and they soon came up in gallant style, and formed in line three miles to the rear of the first line of battle, and in the face of the flying squadrons of the cavalry division and Thirteenth corps.

On came the rebels, charging furiously upon the new line, which, when they were within one hundred and fifty yards of it, opened fire upon them along its whole length, slaughtering them dreadfully, and bringing them to a stand, thus saving the remainder of the Thirteenth corps and the wagon-train from capture. Another error of this fatal day was bringing the train so close to the field of battle, by which the road was blockaded, and the artillery prevented from escaping.

The Nim's battery, of six pieces, Chicago Mercantile battery, of the same number, two pieces of the First Indiana battery, and two mountain howitzers belonging to the cavalry division, were lost, also the cavalry division's wagon-train and twenty-two loads of ammunition.

It was now nearly dark, and the fighting continued with some slight intermissions, until night brought it to a close. Estimates of losses are so various and contradicting, that a reliable report cannot be given until the official report is made.

The Second brigade, Fourth division, lost, in killed, wounded, and missing, about five hundred and fifty men, as near as can be ascertained. General Ransom, commanding the Thirteenth corps, was wounded above the knee, but is doing well. Colonel J. W. Vance, of the Ninety-sixth Ohio volunteer infantry, commanding Second brigade, Fourth division, was severely wounded and taken prisoner, as was also Colonel Emerson, of the Sixty-seventh Indiana, commanding First brigade of the same division.

The loss of the Eighty-third was three officers and twenty-eight enlisted men killed, wounded, and missing. I append a list of names: Captain Cornelius A. Burns, company F, was instantly killed by a musket ball through the head. Captain J. P. Cummins, company I, was severely wounded in the left arm and side, but is doing well; and Captain Lawrence Waldo, company B, is missing. The officers and men all behaved nobly, but Captain Waldo particularly distinguished himself by his coolness and bravery, and it is deeply regretted that he is among the missing; but hopes are entertained that he is still living.

As soon as the scattered fragments could be collected together, an order was issued to return to Pleasant Hill, which was reached at sunrise of the ninth, the Nineteenth corps covering the retreat, and forming in line a mile beyond it. The enemy followed us closely, and picket-skirmishing continued all the forenoon.

Here we met General A. J. Smith, with his force, coming to our rescue, and he was exceeding wroth at the manner in which his old command (Fourth division) had been handled and entrapped. The management of affairs was virtually placed in his hands, and about eleven o'clock A. M., the train was moved to the rear, the lines formed, and the artillery placed in position on the southern and eastern sides of an open field of perhaps three hundred acres in extent. General Smith divided his command and the cavalry force, placing a portion of each on the wings in the woods some distance to the rear, but within supporting distance of the batteries.

The shattered fragment of the Thirteenth corps was ordered to follow the train as a guard, and the Nineteenth was placed in front, with directions to fall back in good order before the enemy's advance.

Battery L, of the First United States artillery, was placed somewhat in the advance as a bait [552] for the rebels, and the horses, caissons, and limbers were removed.

The Nineteenth commenced falling back, and on came the rebels. Upon reaching the woods, the Nineteenth halted and formed a junction with Smith's troops and the cavalry on each wing, and the new line thus made formed two sides of a square, with battery L in the angle, and was invisible to the enemy.

The bait took, and the enemy, seeing the apparently unprotected battery, rushed forward en masse to capture it, which they were permitted to do, when the Federal forces opened upon them, subjecting them to a terrible crossfire which mowed them down in immense numbers, literally covering the ground with the slain, and threw them into the utmost confusion.

The lines now closed in and drove them flying across the open field and through the woods beyond, killing and capturing a large number, and also retaking most of the artillery captured from us on the previous day. It was a most brilliant victory, and could it have been followed up, would doubtless have resulted in the dispersion of the enemy and capture of Shreveport, but the check we had received necessitated a retrograde movement to this place as a base of supplies, it being evident that we could not effect a junction with our fleet at or near that place before they gave out. The movement was accordingly made, and we returned in good order, arriving at noon yesterday. The fleet is expected to join us here, and in the mean time, we are receiving reinforcements and making preparations for another onward movement.

The snake which was spoken of in my last has shown a considerable decree of vitality, and doubtless, like the tail of the reptile to which this portion of the Southern Confederacy may be likened, will continue to do so until the sun of secession has set in clouds; but I still adhere to the opinion that it would have died of itself, provided the vital point of the rebellion east of the Mississippi was effectually crushed, and it would have been much better to have let it had its own way, than to endeavor to kill it in such a bungling manner. But since the attempt has been made, it is now better to carry it out, and all are anxious and willing to see it done.

The loss of confidence in the military capacity of some of the generals, is counteracted by that felt in the abilities of General A. J. Smith, both as a counsellor and practical military man. He proved himself the man for the occasion, and his success on the ninth is the general theme of conversation. May our next attempt be more fortunate!

G. W. C.


Another account.

A correspondent of the Lacon Illinois Gazette, belonging to the Seventy-seventh Illinois regiment, furnished the facts relative to the following battles on Red River, in which his regiment was reduced from four hundred to one hundred and fifty-three men:

We marched from Natchitoches on the sixth instant. On the evening of the seventh, we reached a small village called Pleasant Hill, the road winding through heavy pine timber. While at Pleasant Hill, General Lee, who commands the cavalry of the expedition, sent word back that he had had quite a skirmish with the enemy, losing thirty-five in killed and wounded, and that he had driven them eight miles, where they made a stand, from which he was unable to dislodge them with his cavalry, and asking for infantry. General Ransom objected, saying: “Remain in camp here until General Smith comes up, and then move on them in force.” It was evident to him that the enemy would make a successful stand, but Generals Banks and Franklin thought differently, and ordered Colonel Landrum, who commanded the Fourth division of the Thirteenth army corps, to take the First brigade of his division and start at three in the morning, and assist General Lee in dislodging the enemy.

At three o'clock, General Lee started, meeting the enemy some eight miles from Pleasant Hill, routing him and following him in line of battle for about eight miles further, skirmishing with him the entire distance. Here we lost the gallant and brave Lieutenant-Colonel Webb, of the Seventy-seventh Illinois, who was shot dead while leading his men on the enemy's rear-guard. Eight miles from Pleasant Hill, and four from Mansfield, we came to a large plantation which was undulating and surrounded by heavy timber, but on the further side the belt was narrow and opened into another plantation of smaller size. Before we entered the first plantation, the Second brigade came up to the assistance of the First, and the Nineteenth regiment was thrown forward as skirmishers, and Nim's Massachusetts battery posted on an eminence, from which they shelled the opposite woods something like a mile distant.

The enemy soon left his position, although it was a very good one. We advanced the Fourth division to the timber on the opposite side of the field, and sent back for the Third division, General Cameron commanding, and for the Chicago Mercantile battery and First Indiana battery, both under charge of Captain White, Chief of Artillery detachment Thirteenth army corps. After gaining the opposite side of the field, we halted, and the fatigued men of the Fourth division lay down to take some rest, as they had marched sixteen miles, one half the time in line of battle and through the woods. Nim's battery was then put in position on the Shreveport road. Near the left of the road all was quiet, skirmishing having ceased, excepting once in a while a shot either from rebel or Federal. Here Generals Franklin and Banks came on the field. General Stone, of Ball's Bluff notoriety, (who, by the way, is on General Banks's staff,) had been in the front all the morning. General Lee was also present with his cavalry. General Ransom came up and was ordered to advance his line. Before doing so, he told General Banks it would bring on an engagement, which he thought it prudent to avoid at that time, but advised [553] withdrawing the troops, going into camp, and sending for Smith, getting all our troops together, and then advance on the enemy and whip him soundly. But Franklin and Banks overruled him. Ransom formed his line. While this was taking place, a lieutenant of the Second Illinois cavalry came to Generals Stone and Lee and reported the enemy massing his force on our right and preparing to attack us, which they soon did with a vengeance; but just before the attack, General Banks ordered General Ransom to move his forces to the right. General Ransom then exclaimed: “That beats us.” Too true! for the move on the right was only a feint; but with the practised eye of an old soldier, he detected the movement, but obeyed the order of his superior officer. Nim's Second Massachusetts battery was at the extreme front, (and here let me say there was no better battery in the United States service,) supported by the Twenty-second Wisconsin regiment. On the left of that regiment was a portion of Lee's cavalry; on the right of Nim's battery was the Sixty-seventh Indiana; next, the Seventy-seventh and the One Hundred and Thirtieth Illinois; next, the Nineteenth Kentucky, Forty-eighth Ohio, and the Third division, which came in just as the enemy and our skirmishers met. We drove their skirmishers back on their main body, which was advancing four deep in three lines, one after the other, at a “right shoulder shift arms” in the form of a half-circle massed in the centre. Our main lines soon met. The Nineteenth Kentucky and the One Hundred and Thirtieth Illinois were first engaged, then Nim's battery, the Sixty-seventh Indiana, and the Seventy-seventh Illinois, and then the whole line, including the Chicago Mercantile and the First Indiana batteries. The enemy soon pressed back our cavalry, which was on the flanks, and came at double-quick on the infantry. The cavalry giving way exposed the flank of the infantry, both right and left, but they held their front manfully until they were compelled to fall back or be captured. They then fell back, slowly at first, dropping by hundreds on the wayside, bleeding and exhausted. But what at first was an orderly retreat soon became almost a rout. Nim's battery worked manfully — the veteran battery, the hero of seventeen engagements, always successful, but this time doomed to defeat — they double-charged their guns with canister, and adding a bag of bullets, mowed the enemy down, only to have their places filled again by the advancing hordes. But the battery support were forced back, and the enemy made a dash and took the guns. The cavalry by this time were in a panic, our infantry were driven out of the woods to the Chicago Mercantile battery, where they made a desperate effort to check the enemy. The battery, in connection with the First Indiana, did good work, but all to no purpose, as far as checking the enemy was concerned. The troops fell back to the woods on this side of the field, the enemy in close pursuit. Now all will ask: “Where was the Nineteenth army corps?” Let me tell you; back in the woods, some six miles distant, by order of General Franklin. They were sent for, as were the Ninety-sixth and Eighty-third Ohio, of the Fourth division, who were guarding a train. These two regiments soon came up and went at it desperately. They held the enemy in our front, but their flanks advanced and they were compelled to give way. Now comes the most painful part of this sad affair. General Ransom is wounded in the knee whilst trying to rally his men, and his assistant Adjutant-General killed, shot through the head. Our artillery retreated to the woods, and to the one road leading to the rear, and that was blocked full of wagons containing ammunition and supplies belonging to the cavalry, (all there by order of Generals Banks and Franklin,) so the batteries had to be abandoned. We lost here seventeen pieces of artillery, but the fight did not end yet, for the two regiments at the wood soon gave way, and on they came. Oh! may I never see the like again. Horses, men, wagons, all going to the rear — all saying: “Lost! Lost!” At about half an hour before sundown, and after the day was lost, and a large train captured, up came the Nineteenth army corps on the doublequick, having run the entire distance of some five miles. They soon formed in the woods and went at it. The roar of musketry was awful, but they soon checked the enemy, who had, by this time, been severely punished. Here the hard-fought battle of Mansfield ceased.

Now let me sum up our position: In a dense wood, in front of a victorious enemy, at least twenty-five thousand strong, we only six thousand troops to oppose them; many wounded, and over four hundred wagons to be moved, a distance of more than nineteen miles, to Pleasant Hill, by only one road, and that bad, and lined with heavy pine forests on each side. Do you wonder at our feeling dispirited, knowing that the enemy would attack us in the morning? But we fell back, building huge fires all along the road to dispel the darkness, and arrived at Pleasant Hill at about four o'clock A. M., on the ninth instant, where we found General A. J. Smith, with his column, ready to dispute with the enemy for the final mastery of the field. On the ninth, at twelve o'clock M., our wagon-train filed into the road for this place. I came at the same time. General Smith had formed his line of battle, and was skirmishing when I left. The Thirteenth army corps also came here, they being worn out and cut to pieces.

Now let me estimate our losses. First, in the Thirteenth army corps alone, I put it at one thousand, killed and wounded, and one thousand two hundred taken prisoners; and this out of four thousand men. We lost seventeen pieces of artillery, and about seventy-five wagons, loaded with ammunition, supplies, and forage; also sixteen ambulances, and nearly all our wounded. Poor boys! to be wounded and also prisoners — my heart bleeds for them.

On the afternoon of the ninth, General Smith had one of the severest engagements of the war; but he, being something of a general, succeeded [554] in giving the enemy what they had given us — that is, a whipping. He recaptured sixteen pieces of artillery, but was not able to take them off the field, but destroyed them. He also captured some five hundred prisoners and some of our wagons back, and as I write, fell back to this point, where we will prepare again to meet the enemy, if he should think of following, which I don't think he will; but while writing this, I hear cannonading, and who knows what may come? I will not predict, however. Now let me say I think — and we all think — we might just as well had a victory as a defeat, and, if I mistake not, some high official will get beheaded. I most sincerely hope so. I am opposed to incompetency in any place, more particularly here in the army. General Smith fought his own men and won a victory, and had General Ransom had the same privilege, we would not have been whipped. Of one thing I am certain, our few remaining boys will fight no more under such commanders. I, for one, do not blame them. I may be severe, but can you blame me when I see it is sacrifice after sacrifice? We were always victorious until we came here, and would be so here if we had a Grant to lead us, yes, or a McClernand, who is buried at Pass Cavallo because he ranks Franklin, and the noble, brave, and generous Ransom is sacrificed. May he ventilate this as he well knows how. I think he will, I hope he will report. I send you the inclosed list of killed, wounded, and missing of four companies of the Seventy-seventh Illinois, companies D, C, H, and B. I could fill sheets with incidents of this battle; some would cause mirth, some,tears, all would nerve the hearts of the brave to do battle for their brothers and their country. Many of those reported among the missing will certainly be numbered with the dead and wounded. May I never see the like again!


New-Orleans Era account.

New-Orleans, April 15.
We are enabled to lay before our readers this morning a full and connected history of the recent great battles and Union victory in Western Louisiana, and one which can be relied upon as truthful. The fighting was terrific, and the casualties very great, but there can be little doubt that the blow has terribly impaired, if not destroyed, the rebel power in this State. It is possible, and even probable, that another engagement will be fought, as we learn, on good authority, that General Banks expressed the intention of giving battle once more as soon as opportunity offered. We gain the subjoined account from eye-witnesses and participants.

Our army broke camp at Natchitoches on the morning of the sixth instant, and marched out on the Shreveport road; the cavalry advancing twenty-one miles and resting for the night at Crump's Hill, the infantry halting three or four miles to the rear, on the banks of a bayou. On the following morning, at daybreak, the cavalry again started, and came upon a body of mounted rebels before they had marched two miles. Fighting began at once, and the enemy were rapidly driven before our troops. This running style of fight was kept up for fourteen miles, until they had got two miles beyond Pleasant Hill.

Here a force of two thousand five hundred rebel cavalry, commanded by General Green, were found strongly posted on Wilson's plantation. The rebels were deployed along the edge of a dense strip of woods with an open field in front, over which we had to charge in order to reach them. The only Union soldiers that had advanced far enough to take part in the fight, which was inevitable, was the cavalry brigade of Lee's corps, commanded by Colonel Harai Robinson. As he had either to attack or be attacked, he decided to take the initiative, and he led his men in with such a dash and vigor, that at last the enemy was completely whipped and driven from the field. This engagement lasted two hours and a half, and our losses amounted to about forty killed and wounded, the enemy's being at least as many. Colonel Robinson pursued the retreating rebels as far as Bayou du Paul, where he found they had received heavy reinforcements, including four pieces of artillery, and were again in line of battle, waiting attack. As it was nearly dark, and the risk was too great in attacking again with his small force, he placed his men in the most advantageous position available, and awaited the progress of events. Nothing further was accomplished on the first day.

During the night, a brigade of infantry, commanded by Colonel Landrum, came up, and early in the morning of the following day, (Friday, the eighth,) the march was resumed. The rebels were found to be on the alert, and ready for the fray, and fighting opened almost at once.

The disposition of our forces at the beginning of this day's battle was: Colonel Landrum's infantry brigade on the right of the Shreveport road, and Colonel Lucas's cavalry brigade on the left. The skirmishing was fierce, and every foot of ground won from the enemy had to be taken by hard knocks, but at two o'clock in the afternoon, our forces had compelled the rebels to retreat seven miles. Our losses, as well as the enemy's, were very severe during this time. Lieutenant Colonel Webb, of the Seventy-seventh Illinois, shot through the head and instantly killed; and Captain Breese, commanding Sixth Missouri cavalry, severely wounded in the arm, being among the casualties on our side.

The enemy were now met in strong force, under command of General Kirby Smith. That Generals Dick Taylor, Mouton, Green, and Price were also there, was afterward ascertained from prisoners, who also stated that they had under them from eighteen thousand to twenty thousand men, while our force, comparatively, were a mere handful The rebels occupied a strong position in the vicinity of Sabine Cross-Roads, concealed in the edge of a dense wood, with an open field in front, the Shreveport road passing through their lines. General Ransom arriving on the field with his command, formed his line as well [555] as circumstances would permit, after reconnoitring and feeling the rebel position. Colonel Emerson's brigade, of the Thirteenth corps, was stationed on the left of the line, with Nim's Massachusetts battery; Colonel Landrum's forces, parts of two brigades, on the right and centre, with Rawles's battery G, Fifth regulars, and a battery of the First Indiana artillery in rear of his right and centre. Colonel Dudley's brigade of cavalry (of Lee's corps) supported the left, and held itself in readiness to repel any attempt to flank; while Lucas protected the right flank. Colonel Robinson, with his brigade, was in rear of the centre, protecting the wagontrain, which was on the Shreveport road.

General Banks and staff rode upon the field by the time this disposition of our forces was effected, and word was sent back to General Franklin to make all speed for the scene of the momentarily expected battle. It was the design of General Banks to remain quiet until the balance of his army came up, and then open the battle himself; but Kirby Smith, knowing his own superiority in numbers, began the conflict before they could arrive.

About five o'clock the firing between the skirmishers became very hot, and in a short time our skirmish-line was driven back upon the main body by an overwhelming force. The whole strength of the enemy was then advanced, and heavy and repeated volleys were discharged and replied to on our right and centre. Soon this portion of our line became heavily engaged, and all our available strength was required to prevent its being crushed by the masses of the enemy. Our left, which was now also hotly fighting, was necessarily much weakened, and it was observed that a strong body of the enemy was massing in a dense piece of woods, preparatory to dashing down and flanking this end of the line. The danger was plain and imminent, but there was no remedy. General Stone ordered General Lee to have Nim's battery withdrawn, although it was doing great execution, in order that it might not become a prize to the enemy, and General Lee sent his aid-de-camp, Colonel J. S. Brisbin, to withdraw the battery. On reaching the point, its removal was found impossible, nearly every one of the horses having been killed. In a few moments more a solid mass of the rebels swept down upon the spot, and four of the guns were taken, the other two being dragged from the field by hand. The havoc made in the ranks of the enemy at this point of the action is represented as appalling, the whole six guns belching forth double charges of grape and canister; and some five or six rounds were fired between the time the rebels left the woods until the artillerymen were forced from their pieces. As the rebels were in mass, the execution such a shower of missiles caused can be easily imagined. The two senior officers of the battery were wounded, Lieutenant Snow mortally, he having since died.

The forces that made this charge were commanded by the rebel General Mouton, who fell shot through the body with four balls.

The fighting on all parts of our line was now at short-range, and to use the expression of one of the participants: “We were holding on by the skin of our teeth only.” It was known that Franklin's troops had been sent for, and anxious and wistful were the glances cast to the rear. General Cameron with his brigade came up, and going at once into action on the right, where the battle again waxed hottest, created the impression that the veterans of the Nineteenth had arrived, and a glad and exultant shout went up from our wearied and desperately situated little band. This belief was strengthened by the arrival of General Franklin, who dashed boldly into the thickest of the fray, cap in hand and cheering on the men. General Banks, too, seemed ubiquitous, riding wherever the men wavered, and by personal example inciting them to renewed deeds of daring and reckless valor. Colonels Clark and Wilson, with other members of the staff, sabre in hand, mixed with the soldiers on foot and horseback, and cheered and encouraged them to continue the unequal fight.

But human beings could not longer withstand such fierce and overpowering onslaughts as our men were bearing up against, and our line finally gave way at all points and the men fell back, fiercely contesting the ground they yielded. Unfortunately a sad mishap befell them at this time.

The large and cumbersome wagon-train blocked up the way; the frightened horses dashed through the infantry lines, entangled themselves with the artillery, and created a momentary but unfortunate confusion. This gave the rebels, who were rapidly pressing us, possession of several pieces of artillery.

General Franklin was conspicuous during this part of the day, rallying the men, and two horses were killed under him; Captain Chapman, of his staff, had both feet taken off by a round shot, and the horse of Captain Franklin was killed at the same time.

The enemy followed our men step by step for three and a half miles, but he was advancing to meet a fearful retribution. The Nineteenth army corps had been ordered to stop and form its line of battle — the retreating Union troops passed through this line and formed in the rear. The rebels, thinking they had repulsed our whole army, dashed impetuously on, and through the line, but half visible through the woods before them, was another feeble but desperate stand of a few men.

General Emory commanded this force, consisting of two full brigades, and he ordered the fire to be reserved until the rebels were within shortrange, when from both infantry and the artillery posted thickly along his line, a storm of iron and lead was hurled upon the foe that literally mowed them down. The rebels halted in amazement, but still they fought, and bravely. Volley after volley was discharged from each side full into the ranks of their opponents, but neither gave [556] signs of yielding, and night charitably threw her mantle over the ghastly scene, and enforced a cessation of hostilities.

The two divisions under command of General A. J. Smith, belonging to the Sixteenth and Seventeenth army corps, had reached Pleasant Hill, and were there halted, General Banks determining to withdraw his army to that point, for the sake of the advantageous position which he could there occupy, knowing that the enemy would follow what they supposed to be a demoralized army. In accordance with this plan of operations, all our men were quietly withdrawn from the enemy's front, and the line of march taken up for Pleasant Hill. This conjunction of his forces was satisfactorily effected, and the result confidently awaited. So well was the movement conducted that although the first body started at ten o'clock, and the remainder were not all under way until nearly day, the rebels had not the slightest suspicion of what was going on.

At seven o'clock on Saturday morning, our forces were all at Pleasant Hill, and the rebels were advancing, cavalry in front, endeavoring to discover our position. Colonel O. P. Gooding, with his brigade of Lee's cavalry corps, was sent out on the Shreveport road, to meet the enemy and draw him on. He had gone about a mile when he came upon the rebel advance. Skirmishing immediately ensued, and according to the plan he slowly fell back. The fight was very sharp between these cavalry bodies, and Gooding lost nearly forty men killed and wounded, inflicting, however, as much damage as he received. Among his casualties are Captain Becker and Lieutenant Hall, of the Second New-York veteran cavalry. Lieutenant Hall has since died of his wounds. Colonel Gooding made a narrow escape, a ball passing through and tearing the crown out of his hat, and grazing the skin. The brigade behaved very gallantly, covering General Emory's front until his line was formed.

The battle-field of Pleasant Hill is a large, open field, which had once been cultivated, but is now overgrown with weeds and bushes. The slightly elevated centre of the field, from which the name Pleasant Hill is taken, is nothing more than a long mound, hardly worthy the name of hill. A semicircular belt of timber runs around the field on the Shreveport side. General Emory formed his line of battle on the side facing these woods, General McMillan's brigade being posted on the right, General Dwight's on the centre, and Colonel Benedict's on the left. Taylor's battery L, First regulars, had four guns in rear of the left wing, on the left of the Shreveport road, and two on the road in rear of General Dwight's line. Hibberd's Vermont battery was on the right.

In the rear of Emory, and concealed by the rising ground, were General Smith's tried troops formed in two lines of battle fifty yards apart. All his artillery was in the front line, a piece, section or battery being on the flank of each regiment, the infantry lying between them. The Thirteenth corps was in reserve in the rear under General Cameron-General Ransom having been wounded the day before. General Smith was Commander-in-Chief of the two lines back of the crest, while General Mower was the immediate commander of the men. The commander of the right brigade in General Smith's first line was Colonel Lynch; the left brigade was Colonel Shaw's. The second line also consisted of two brigades, the right under control of Colonel----, and the left commanded by Colonel Hill. Crawford's Third Indiana battery was posted on the right of the Eighty-ninth Indiana infantry, and the Ninth Indiana battery on the right of the line of battle. The Missouri Iron Sun battery, and others whose names and numbers we could not ascertain, were also in this section of the battle.

The skirmishing was kept up with considerable vigor until about five o'clock in the afternoon, when the rebels had completed their arrangements for the attack. At about this hour General Emory's skirmish-line was driven in on the right by the rebels, who appeared in large force, coming through the timber above mentioned. They soon reached the open ground, and moved on to the attack in three lines of battle. Our batteries and infantry opened with terrible effect, doing great slaughter with grape and canister, while the enemy's artillery, being in the woods and in bad position, did scarcely any damage.

Colonel Benedict's brigade on the left was first engaged, soon followed by Dwight's and McMillan's. This fighting was terrific — old soldiers say it never was surpassed for desperation. Notwithstanding the terrible havoc in their ranks, the enemy pressed fiercely on, slowly pushing the men of the Nineteenth corps back, up the hill, but not breaking their line of battle. A sudden and bold dash of the rebels on the right gave them possession of Taylor's battery, and forced our line still further back.

Now came the grand coup de main. The Nineteenth, on arriving at the top of the hill, suddenly filed off over the hill and passed through the lines of General Smith. We must here mention that the rebels were now in but two lines of battle, the first having been almost annihilated by General Emory, what remained being forced back into the second line. But these two lines came on exultant and sure of victory.

The first passed over the knoll, and, all heedless of the long line of cannons and crouching forms of as brave men as ever trod mother earth, pressed on. The second line appeared on the crest, and the death-signal was sounded. Words cannot describe the awful effect of this discharge. Seven thousand rifles, and several batteries of artillery, each gun loaded to the muzzle with grape and canister, were fired simultaneously, and the whole centre of the rebel line was crushed down as a field of ripe wheat through which a tornado had passed. It is estimated that one thousand men were hurried into eternity or frightfully mangled by this one discharge. [557]

No time was given them to recover their good order, but General Smith ordered a charge, and his men dashed rapidly forward, the boys of the Nineteenth joining in. The rebels fought boldly and desperately back to the timber, on reaching which, a large portion broke and fled, fully two thousand throwing aside their arms. In this charge, Taylor's battery was retaken, as were also two of the guns of Nim's battery, the Parrott gun taken from us at Carrion Crow last fall, and one or two others belonging to the rebels, one of which was considerably shattered, beside seven hundred prisoners. A pursuit and desultory fight was kept up for three miles, when our men returned to the field of battle.

And thus ended this fearful and bloody struggle for the control of Western Louisiana.

The accounts from all quarters agree in stating that General Banks, during the entire contest, showed the greatest possible daring and valor, as did General Franklin, and the staffs of each. They will reap their reward in the grateful hearts and prayers of the American people, and in the increased devotion and love of their soldiers.

General Ransom, when wounded, was directing the firing of the Chicago battery, standing among the men, and he had scarcely been removed when the rebels were in possession of the spot on which he fell.

Among the rebels taken were three lieutenant-colonels and six majors.

Colonel Brisbin, of General Lee's staff, had his horse's head blown off while riding across the field by a shell, and would have been taken had not some of the men pulled him out. He succeeded in capturing a rebel horse and leaving the field on its back. Colonel Brisbin lost his trunk, in the baggage train, the sash taken from General Barksdale on the field at Gettysburgh, which had been made a present to him, and General Villipigue's sabre, taken from him in Virginia.

Colonel Robinson, while defending the wagontrain on the first day, was shot in the hip, but refused to leave the field for two hours after. It was supposed he would lose his leg in consequence, but the surgeons now think it can be saved.



Chicago Tribune account.

Grand Ecore, La., April 11, 1864.
The army under General Banks left here on the sixth, via Pleasant Hill and Mansfield for Shreveport, with the exception of Smith's forces, consisting of detachments of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth army corps, which did not leave until the seventh. On the evening of the eighth, we camped at Pleasant Hill, thirty-five miles from Grand Ecore. General Lee's cavalry division was advanced to Robinson's Mill, eight miles beyond Pleasant Hill, where it camped for the night. After a short skirmish with the enemy, in which we lost thirty-seven men in killed and wounded, General Lee now sent back requesting a brigade of infantry to be sent forward in the morning to his support, and at three o'clock A. M. on the morning of the eighth, General Ransom, commanding detachment Thirteenth army corps, by order of General Banks, sent the First brigade, Fourth division, Thirteenth army corps, under command of Colonel Landrum, of the Nineteenth Kentucky, to report to General Lee at daylight, at Robinson's Mill. The balance of General Ransom's command marched forward on the Mansfield road at half-past 5 o'clock A. M., and was followed at eight o'clock A. M., by the last division, Nineteenth army corps, commanded by General Emory. General Smith, who was bringing up the rear of the army, was to move up to Pleasant Hill on the same day.

The forces under General Lee, moving in our advance, met the enemy early in the morning and skirmished in line of battle for some seven miles, when the resistance to their march became so obstinate as to hold them in complete check, and General Lee, who was now within five miles of Mansfield, sent back word to General Franklin, advising him of his situation, and General Ransom, who had just reached a small bayou ten miles from Pleasant Hill, was immediately ordered forward by General Franklin with the First brigade, Fourth division, Thirteenth army corps, which came up with General Lee at half-past 2 o'clock. About three o'clock, General Banks and staff reached the extreme front, and found our advance force deployed upon the right and left of the road, skirmishing very heavily with the enemy on the right.

The position of our army at this hour was as follows: In front, and on the ground where a most terrible battle was soon to be fought, was General Lee with Colonels Dudley's and Lucas's cavalry brigades, with Nim's battery of six guns and one section (two guns) of battery G, Fifth United States regulars. United to this force there was now the Fourth division, Thirteenth army corps, with the Chicago Mercantile battery, (six guns.) Next, in the rear and completely blocking up the road, was General Lee's train of some two hundred and fifty wagons, to the presence of which the subsequent disaster of the day is largely attributable. Back of these was the Third division, Thirteenth army corps, under General Cameron, moving up to the front as rapidly as possible. Next to the Third division was General Emory with the First division, Nineteenth army corps, seven miles from the extreme front, while General Smith was back of Pleasant Hill, one day's march in our rear. The battle-ground was a large, open, irregular-shaped field, through about one half of which on the right of the road a narrow belt of timber ran, encircling inward as it extended to the right until its base rested around upon the woods in the rear. The road passed through the centre of the field in a north-westerly direction toward Mansfield.

Meandering diagonally through the field and across the road was a small creek or bayou, from the banks of which the ground rose gradually along the line of the road, terminating in a considerable ridge on each side. The ridge at the [558] entrance to the field on the side of our advance was close up to the woods, and commanded the whole battle-field, while the ridge on the opposite side ran through the open field on the left to the belt of timber dividing the field on the right, along which it sloped gradually until it reached the level of the hollow on the bayou. The outer line of the field beyond the belt of timber on the right was an irregular semicircle, the extremities drawing inward, so as to correspond somewhat to the outline of the dividing wood. The outer line of the field on the left was very nearly at a right angle with the road. The rebel forces, occupying a front of about one mile, were stationed under cover of the woods along the further line of these fields. Their front, therefore, extended from their right flank (our left) in a straight line to the road, and then, following the shape of the field, circled inward until their left flank reached a point that would be intersected by a line drawn across the road at a right angle near the middle of the first field on the right. The main body of the rebels was evidently on the right of the roads. A battery was seen in position near the road, but it was not brought into action.

The Union forces were stationed as follows: On the right and in the belt of timber which separated the first from the second field was Lucas's cavalry brigade, mostly dismounted and deployed as skirmishers, while beyond and supporting this brigade was the Fourth division, Thirteenth army corps, under the command of Colonel Landrum. The Twenty-third Wisconsin, however, which occupied the left flank of this division, was on the left of the road acting as a support to Nim's battery. The Fourth division was composed of the following regiments stationed in line of battle in the following order, commencing at the right, namely: Eighty-second Ohio, Ninety-sixth Ohio, Nineteenth Kentucky, One Hundred and Thirtieth Illinois, Forty-eighth Ohio, Sixty-seventh Indiana, Seventy-fifth Indiana, and Twenty-third Wisconsin. Between the Eighty-second and Ninety-sixth Ohio, on the right, two small howitsers were placed.

The field on the left side of the road beyond the Twenty-third Wisconsin, was occupied by Colonel Dudley's brigade of cavalry, the main body being deployed in line with a small force in reserve near the centre of the field. Nim's battery, six pieces, was stationed on our extreme front, just at the point of the belts of timber on the right. One section was on the right of the road and trained so as to fire through the woods into the field beyond. One piece was in the road and three on the left. To the left of this battery there were two small howitzers. The Chicago Mercantile battery was stationed not far from the centre of the first field, on the right and near a cluster of loghouses, where General Banks had made his headquarters. The section of battery G was further to the left and rear, and trained so as to fire to the right. I have given the position of our forces precisely, as I noted it down in my memorandum-book in passing over the entire ground during the skirmishing before the main attack on our line. About four o'clock, P. M., the Fourth division was moved forward through the belt of timber, and took position in line of battle behind the fence that inclosed the field beyond.

At half-past 4, General Ransom and staff passed on foot along the outer infantry line; our boys were firing very briskly across the field into the woods where the enemy was posted, but as the fire was of little or no effect, and only wasting the ammunition, the General directed it to be withheld until the rebels came out into the field. For half or three-quarters of an hour, every thing remained quiet along the lines. When all at once we were startled by a heavy and continuous discharge of musketry on the right, and on riding rapidly to that side we beheld the rebel forces marching steadily in close ranks across the open field to the attack; while at the same moment a heavy column was moving across the road upon our left, where our only protection was in the cavalry brigade under Colonel Dudley, aided by Nim's battery, the two howitzers, and one small regiment of infantry (the Twenty-third Wisconsin.) Most gallantly now did the old Fourth division sustain its well-earned reputation, and the sad roll of the killed and wounded will fully attest the firmness and obstinacy with which our brave boys resisted the rebel advance, stimulated and encouraged by the conduct of their officers, and wakened to a perfect enthusiasm by the presence of their corps commander, General Ransom, who, utterly regardless of all danger, rushed into the thickest of the fight, rallying the line where it showed any signs of wavering, and disposing his forces so as to protect the weakest points. Every regiment coolly but rapidly poured its destructive fire upon the advancing foe, opening at every discharge great gaps in the rebel ranks, and strewing the field with an almost continuous line of killed and wounded. Under this terrific and well-directed fire, the rebel line was checked, broken, and driven back, the only considerable body remaining together being a mass of some three hundred or four hundred directly opposite the Thirteenth Illinois, which was badly cut up, but held its position without breaking.

Before we had time to rejoice over the repulse of the rebels on this line, the evidences of a much stronger and infinitely more dangerous attack were observed on our left, where the enemy in great force was charging rapidly over the field to the left of the road. At the very first indication of this movement on our left flank, an effort was made to withdraw the Eighty-third Ohio from our extreme right for the purpose of supporting the left, and the entire division endeavored to fall back, and form a new line under the protection of the woods on the ridge to our rear. It was about this time that General Ransom, while engaged in a successful effort to get the Mercantile battery back upon the ridge, where it would have been saved but for the complete blockade of the road by the baggage-train, [559] fell from his horse, shot through the left knee, and was carried to the rear just in time to prevent his capture. This is the fourth time that General Ransom has been wounded while fighting bravely for his country. With a courage that shrinks at no danger, he unites a clear and cool judgment on the battle-field that is rarely found in men of the largest experience, and though he could not have saved us from the disaster of this day, had he remained unhurt, still we all felt how seriously we had been weakened by his fall, and both officers and men unite in awarding to him the highest praise for his conduct as a man and a general on the field.

The effort to retire the Fourth division and form a new line in the rear was defeated by the rapid movements of the enemy, who rushed in overwhelming force across the road, captured Nim's battery, drove Dudley's cavalry in utter confusion from the field, and turning the left flank of the infantry, broke the entire line and precipitated the fragments into the woods in every possible direction of escape. The scene that followed baffles all description. Over the field and into the dense and tangled thicket the routed troops fled in disordered masses, followed by the exultant foe, yelling like demons and pouring volley after volley into the fugitive ranks. The effort to arrest or drive back the panic-stricken crowd was like flinging straws back at a hurricane. Appeals, commands, threats, curses or prayers, were alike of no avail. Literally oblivious to any thing but the danger behind, men on foot and men on horseback, promiscuously intermingled with negroes on foot and negroes on mules, charged into the forest and through the thicket in a manner that would have utterly routed the foe if the tide had only set the other way. Amidst this rushing storm the Commanding General remained cool and collected.

About a half a mile from the field, the Third division, Thirteenth army corps, under General Cameron, came up and formed in line of battle, and here two guns of the Mercantile battery were put in position and opened with good effect upon the enemy. For a short time it seemed as if a successful rally would be made at this point, but the effort was in vain. The entire strength of the Third division on the field was only one thousand six hundred men, and after a short and courageous resistance, the line gave way. A check, however, had been given to the panic, and many of the troops formed into squads and continued the retreat in better order. Efficient aid was also rendered by Colonel Robinson, commanding a cavalry brigade detailed to guard the trains, who, hearing the rapidly approaching firing, hastened with a large portion of his command to the front, and wheeling into line in perfect order, delivered a most destructive volley into the rebels who were swarming in the road, and then fell back in good order. For full a mile from the place where Cameron's division had met us, the retreat was continued, the rebels following closely upon our heels, and keeping up a continuous fire, when all at once, as we emerged into a more open piece of woods, we came upon Emory's division, of the Nineteenth army corps, forming in magnificent order in line of battle across the road.

Opening their ranks to permit the retreating forces to pass through, each regiment of this fine division closed up on the double-quick, quietly awaited the approach of the rebels, and within less than five minutes on they came, screaming and firing as they advanced, but still in good order and with closed ranks. All at once, from that firm line of gallant soldiers that now stood so bravely between us and our pursuing foes, there came forth a course of reverberating thunders that rolled from flank to flank in one continuous peal, sending a storm of leaden hail into the rebel ranks that swept them back in dismay, and left the ground covered with their killed and wounded. In vain the rebels strove to rally against this terrific fire. At every effort they were repulsed, and after a short contest they fell back, evidently most terribly punished. It was now quite dark, and each party bivouacked on the field. A sad and fearful day it had been to us. The Third and Fourth divisions, Fourteenth army corps, were completely broken to pieces. Out of two thousand six hundred men in action, the Fourth division had lost one thousand one hundred and twenty-five men killed, wounded, and missing; and the Third division, out of one thousand six hundred men, had lost three hundred and fifty. Every brigade commander of these two divisions was either killed or wounded and a prisoner. Dudley's and Duncan's brigades of Lee's cavalry were scattered in every direction, and seventy of the cavalry baggage-wagons, with all of General Cameron's ambulances filled with our wounded, were captured.

The Chicago Mercantile battery was gone, Captain White wounded and a prisoner, with twenty-two men of the battery missing. Nim's battery, the First Indiana, and two guns from battery G, Fifth United States regulars, had fallen into the hands of the enemy, with the four howitzers stationed on the right and left of our infantry line, in all, eighteen field-guns and four howitzers, with caissons and equipments complete. Colonel Webb, of the Seventeenth Illinois, fell early in the day while skirmishing with the advance. Major Reed, commanding the One Hundred and Twentieth Illinois, was killed on the right, and Captain Dickey, (a son of Colonel T. L. Dickey,) on General Ransom's staff, was shot while carrying an order to the Nineteenth Kentucky, in the woods on the right. As you will doubtless receive a list of killed and wounded as soon, if not sooner, than this letter, I will not name any others here. The loss on the side of the rebels must have been very severe. They suffered severely while crossing the field on our right, and still more from the fire of Emory's division. So much will of course be said and written in regard to the causes that led to the disaster of this day, that I feel justified in making a few suggestions upon this point.

First, the forces under General Lee were decoyed [560] into an advance too far beyond the main body of the army, considering the resistance which he was encountering, which very clearly indicated an enemy in heavy force; and, second, the placing of a long baggage-train between the advance and the column, in a country where the nature of the woods rendered it almost impossible to pass it without delay, was a very dangerous experiment. But for the presence of this train, Cameron's division might have reached the front in time to have taken position on our left, and then, if we had not been strong enough in the first encounter to repulse the enemy, we could have protected our line from that fatal flank movement, saved our batteries by forming a new line on the ridge in the rear, holding the rebels in check until Emory arrived, when we would have been strong enough to assume the offensive with a fair prospect of success.

Although this letter was only intended to cover a description of the battle on the eighth at the Sabine Cross-Roads, still the history of this day is so intimately connected with the events that immediately followed that I will, as briefly as possible, narrate them. During the night of the eighth our entire force fell back in safety to Pleasant Hill, fifteen miles from the battle-field. General Cameron and Colonel Landrum collected together the main body of their scattered troops, and the cavalry brigades were also got into camp. General Smith had reached Pleasant Hill on the night of the battle, and on the morning of the ninth all the baggage-trains were placed in the rear, and Smith's and Emory's forces united were placed in fine position ready to receive the enemy.

About half-past 2 o'clock the rebels made their appearance, and commenced skirmishing and shelling our lines, and at half-past 5 they attacked us in position in full force in the open field, and after a severe contest were repulsed with great loss. Our men, charging over the field, driving the enemy into the woods and taking six hundred or seven hundred prisoners, besides recapturing two of the guns (belonging to Nim's battery) lost on the previous day. This was on Saturday. On Sunday and Monday the entire Union army retreated in good order to Grand Ecore, thirty-five miles, without any molestation, the rebels being evidently unable to follow us after their defeat at Pleasant Hill. The retrograde movement was doubtless the best that could be made under the circumstances, the loss of the cavalry train, and the necessity for obtaining additional supplies rendering a forward movement very difficult and hazardous. The Union army is still strong enough to fight its way through to Shreveport, unless weakened by the withdrawal of Smith's force, in which event the Red River expedition must be abandoned for the present.

A. W. M.


New-York Herald narrative.

Grand Ecore, La., April 11, 1864.
Early on the morning of Wednesday, April sixth, General Banks's column, having rested for two days at Natchitoches, marched on the Shreveport road, General Lee with his cavalry leading the column. At night the head of the column rested at Bayou du Paul, seventeen miles from Natchitoches, and the cavalry rested at Crump's Hill, twenty-one miles from Natchitoches. During the day, the cavalry skirmished with the enemy, who fell back slowly before our advance firing continually.

At daylight on the morning of the seventh the army was in motion. The cavalry found the enemy in considerable force, but drove him before them with some loss until two miles beyond Pleasant Hill, where the rebels were drawn up in line, and strongly posted in the edge of a wood with open fields in front. The force consisted of some two thousand five hundred cavalry, under the rebel General Green, and occupied the crest of a hill on the farm of Dr. Wilson.

General A. L. Lee ordered Colonel Robinson, commanding the Third brigade of Union cavalry, to advance and feel the enemy severely. The Eighty-seventh Illinois mounted infantry was accordingly sent forward on foot, and soon became heavily engaged with the enemy. Seeing them hard pressed, Colonel Robinson ordered forward the First Louisiana cavalry to support the Eighty-seventh, and the action now became general. The Sixth Missouri howitzer-battery was put into position, and opened on the enemy with shot and shell; but despite the storm of bullets hurled against them the rebels pushed steadily forward at all points, and our left flank was in great danger of being turned.

General Lee, at this stage of the action, arrived on the ground, and at once ordered Colonel Lucas, commanding First cavalry brigade, up to the support of Colonel Robinson. Colonel Lucas deployed his line and moved forward in fine style, the men going into action with a shout. The contest now raged with renewed fury, and the pluck displayed on both sides was remarkable. Our troops slowly gained ground despite the stubborn resistance they met at every step, and drove the enemy into the timber. The rebels attempted a charge, but were repulsed with great gallantry by our troops.

It was now discovered that our ammunition was giving out, and that the enemy was massing on the right of our line, which he soon after attacked with great vigor, compelling our force to slowly retire some hundred yards. The action now became lively, and the loss of the day was seriously apprehended; but Colonel Robinson, sabre in hand, cheered on the men, and the gallant fellows, many of them without a shot in their guns, rushed forward and drove the enemy into the woods and off the field. The day was won, but with severe loss in both officers and men. Captain Moss, of the First Louisiana cavalry, and Lieutenants Graham and Meader, of the Eighty-seventh Illinois mounted infantry, together with several privates, were wounded, and six or seven privates were killed.

Colonel Lucas, with his First cavalry brigade, closely followed by Colonel Robinson, with his [561] Third cavalry brigade, pursued the enemy several miles, as far as Carroll's saw-mill, where he found them drawn up on a wooded hill, with four guns in position. Heavy infantry and artillery firing continued until nightfall, when, in the dusk of the evening, a heavy rebel force charged on the Eighty-seventh, coming up to within ten feet of their line and firing rapidly. The gallant Eighty-seventh held their position, and, when the enemy were close upon them, delivered a volley and charged upon their assailants, driving them back in confusion. This ended the fighting for the day.

On the morning of the eighth, at an early hour, the cavalry, supported by Colonel Emerson's brigade of infantry, from Landrum's division of the Thirteenth corps, moved forward, and almost immediately discovered masses of the enemy in front. Colonel Lucas deployed his cavalry brigade on the left of the road, and Colonel Emerson's brigade was deployed on the right. Rawles's battery, (G,) Fifth United States artillery, was put into position in the road, and opened on the rebels, who were posted in a thick pine woods, with open fields in front. The day was beautiful, and the sun shone warm and bright from an unclouded sky as our lines moved forward to the music of the booming cannon and the brisk rattle of musketry. Fighting continued throughout the forenoon, during which time the enemy had been pushed back through dense piny woods a distance of six miles.

From almost every hill-top the rebels hurled their shot at our advancing columns, but doing little harm. In one of these many skirmishes Lieutenant-Colonel Webb, commanding the Seventy-seventh Illinois volunteers, was shot through the head and almost instantly killed. Lieutenant Jones, Sixteenth Indiana mounted infantry, was also killed, and Captain Merklein, Fourteenth New-York cavalry, slightly, and Captain Breese, commanding Sixth Missouri cavalry, severely wounded.

At midday the enemy was found in position in strong force at Sabine Cross-Roads, and heavy skirmishing began, which was kept up until two o'clock, when the calm that usually precedes the storm occurred. About this time General Ransom came up with another brigade of Landrum's division. General Banks in the mean time had arrived on the field, and at once sent couriers for General Franklin, who was some miles in the rear, to hasten forward with all possible despatch. Generals Stone, Lee, and Ransom rode to the front and carefully reconnoitred the enemy. He was in his favorite position, on high ground in a thick wood, with open fields in the form of a semicircle running around his front.

At half-past 2 o'clock all was quiet, and except an occasional shot from pickets here and there along the line there was no indication of the dreadful scene to be enacted. To look up at the clear blue sky and down at the green earth smiling in the sunlight, one would have thought it impossible that before the sun in the heavens went down, the turf beneath our feet would be made slippery with human gore, and strewn with the dead and dying. The day was fine. The infantry lay stretched on the ground, the troopers lounged lazily in their saddles, and the cannoneers sat upon their guns, enjoying the warm sunshine, while groups of officers gathered around their leaders and discussed the campaign, passing many a careless joke.

At three o'clock masses of the enemy were reported to be moving toward our right, and skirmishing became lively. At half-past 3 o'clock the enemy were restless along the whole front, and seemed meditating mischief. Anxiety now began to be felt for the arrival of General Franklin, and the right of our line was reenforced by taking troops from the left and centre. One brigade of Landrum's held the left, another the right and centre. Rawles's United States battery, with the First Indiana. and the Chicago Mercantile battery, was posted on the right and centre, and Nim's celebrated battery on the left, supported by the Twenty-third Wisconsin infantry. The cavalry brigade of Colonel Lucas was ordered to act upon the right flank, the cavalry brigade of Colonel Dudley was ordered to act upon the left flank of our line, and the cavalry brigade of Colonel Robinson to remain opposite the centre, in rear, on the road, and to guard wagon-trains.

At four o'clock, or a little before, the enemy was reported to be advancing, and Colonel Wilson, of General Banks's staff; Colonel Brisbin, of General Lee's staff; Major Cowan and other staff-officers, were sent to ascertain the truth of the report. These officers soon returned, and reported the whole rebel line to be in motion and rapidly advancing. Our troops in silence awaited the attack; and soon it came, the right being brought into action first. High and dreadful swelled the conflict. The enemy, pressing forward at all points, met a terrible resistance. Volley after volley was poured into their ranks, sweeping down hundreds, only to give place to new hundreds, who pressed forward to supply the places of the fallen.

Our troops stood firm; but the rebels, who outnumbered us more than two to one, began after an hour's hard fighting slowly to gain ground, and our thinned and bleeding ranks were pressed back by overwhelming numbers into the woods. The rebels now began to show a heavy force on our left, which was the real point of attack, their movement toward our right having been a ruse to induce us to weaken our left by sending troops to the right, in which they had succeeded.

It was plain to all that no human bravery or skill could long withstand the odds against which our troops were fighting, and that unless Franklin speedily arrived we would be forced to retire. General Franklin, with his staff, did come up, but his division, under command of General Emory, was yet in the rear. Our thinned and wearied ranks stood up nobly against the masses [562] and murderous fire of the rebels, and cheer after cheer went up, mingled with the almost incessant roll of musketry and roar of cannon.

The forces of the brave General Ransom had been cut up dreadfully, and he himself borne wounded and bleeding from the field; but still they held their position, fighting gallantly. General Cameron's division of the Thirteenth army corps arrived, and hastened to the support of Colonel Landrum's division; but, like bees from a hive, the rebels swarmed upon it, and it was fast melting away under the storm of bullets that was continually rained upon it. Blucher at Waterloo was not more anxiously looked for than was Emory (of Franklin's corps) upon that field. But he came not. We had now engaged less than eight thousand men fighting a force of over twenty thousand men in their chosen position.

Emory was reported to be within two miles with his division and rapidly coming up. The officers encouraged their men to hold the field until his arrival, and bravely indeed did they struggle against the masses that constantly pressed them upon both flanks and in front; but, borne down by numbers, their shattered ranks were pushed over the field and into the woods beyond. The enemy had now driven back our left, and were within sixty yards of Nim's battery, which was firing double charges of grape and canister, sweeping down the rebels in piles at every discharge. General Lee, seeing that Nim's battery, if it were not speedily removed, would be captured, by direction of General Stone ordered Colonel Brisbin to have it taken from the field. The order came too late. Not horses enough were left alive to haul the pieces from the field. The cannoneers lay thick about the guns, and dead and wounded rebels in windrows before them. Two of the guns were dragged off by hand, and Lieutenant Snow was shot down while spiking a third. Four of the guns of this battery could not be got off, and fell into the hands of the enemy.

In the mean time our right was fiercely engaged, and our centre was being pressed back, and finally the right also gave way. Six guns of the Mercantile battery, two guns of Rawles's G battery, Fifth United States artillery, two mountain howitzers of the Sixth Missouri howitzer-battery, four guns of the First Indiana battery, and six guns of Nim's battery were left on the field.

Our forces now retired upon Emory's division, of the Nineteenth army corps, which was rapidly coming up, with bands playing the most patriotic national airs. It immediately went into line of battle in the woods, on the crest of a hill, and received the enemy handsomely, driving him back with great slaughter. Here the conflict ended for the day, it being now quite dark. General Emory, his division and his brigade commanders, Generals Dwight and McMillan and Colonel Benedict, especially distinguished themselves in the closing action, and to that division of the Nineteenth army corps belongs the glory of saving the day.

General Franklin was in the thickest of the battle, and was loudly cheered as he rode, cap in hand, over the field.

General Ransom, while endeavoring to get the guns of the First Indiana battery off the field, received a ball in the knee, and was carried to the rear. He stood by these guns, sabre in hand, until shot down and borne from the field. He will recover, and after a few months be able to return to duty.

Colonel Webb, early in the day, while leading a line of skirmishers in the woods, was shot through the head by a rebel sharp-shooter and died almost instantly.

Colonel Robinson, of the Third cavalry brigade, while defending the train and leading his troops against the enemy, was severely wounded in the thigh. He did not leave the saddle until three hours after.

Colonel Brisbin, of General Lee's staff, was leading a line of rallied men against the enemy, when a shell from the rebel batteries blew off his horse's head, and the animal falling on his leg, held him to the earth. For a time he was in danger of being captured, but was finally extricated and made his escape on a rebel horse which was passing along riderless.

Generals Lee and Cameron displayed great gallantry throughout the action, riding wherever the shot fell thickest, and by their example cheering the men to deeds of heroism.

Among the bravest of the brave was General Banks, who rode through the storm of lead as coolly as if at a holiday review, encouraging the men to stand up to the work of death. The men are full of admiration for their gallant General, and anxious to fight under one who so nobly shares with them the danger as well as the glory.

Many instances of personal bravery might be recorded unsurpassed by any thing in the annals of history; but there is not time to enumerate them now. One sergeant of artillery, however, deserves especial mention. This brave fellow would not leave his gun, though the horses were shot down, the enemy close upon him and the piece hopelessly lost. Still he stood by his gun till pierced through the temple by a ball, and he fell dead across the limber.

General Emory and a portion of his staff were at one time cut off from his command and surrounded by the enemy; but a way was opened for their escape.

Our troops fought well, and only yielded the field when cut to pieces and overpowered by numbers. The generals and their staff-officers deserve much credit. General Banks's staff was in the thickest of the fray, and Colonels Clark and Wilson, sabre in hand, rallied the men and cheered them on.

General Cameron's Third division, of the Thirteenth army corps, lost fifty killed, one hundred and fifty wounded, and two hundred missing. Colonel Landrum's Fourth division, of the same corps, lost twenty-five killed, seventy-five wounded, [563] and one thousand missing. The Forty-sixth Indiana regiment lost one hundred and thirty of its three hundred men.

Four brigade commanders were killed and wounded in the battle of Sabine Cross-Roads.

The Nineteenth Kentucky repelled five distinct charges before the enemy was enabled to break through its lines.

A color-bearer in General Cameron's divison found himself surrounded by the enemy who quite peremptorily ordered him to halt. He did not halt, but rushed forward impetuously amid the shower of bullets and saved his colors.

Nim's battery, when the time was approaching that it could hold out but little longer, loaded each piece with a case of grape and canister, spherical case shell, and a sack of bullets containing about three hundred. This hurled death and destruction into the ranks of the enemy, who wavered and fell back at every discharge of these fated guns. The battery lost twenty-one officers and privates, sixty-four horses, and eighteen mules.

Captain Crosby, of General Banks's staff, had his hand injured by the jam between the trains and a hurrying cavalryman.

The capture of General Lee's headquarters train was attended with much inconvenience to the General and his staff, as well as to the correspondents who moved with him. Major Cowan's mess lost an elegant rosewood mess-chest, and other less valuable mess-chests were in the wagons. Not a solitary article of clothing was left except what the officers had on, and clean shirts and paper collars were in greater demand than the supply could furnish. Quartermaster Hoge lost all his funds and vouchers, and officers who had deposited their greenbacks in his safe for security, had the satisfaction of aiding in the contribution of six or seven thousand dollars to helping along the illy paid rebel soldiers. All the Adjutant-General's official papers fell into the hands of the enemy, who must possess pretty accurate knowledge respecting the cavalry division.

Rebel soldiers who have been taken prisoners, report that one of their number got two thousand dollars in greenbacks, and that the blankets and hard-tack were very acceptable. Mr. Bonwill, the artist of Leslie's Illustrated, lost, among his private papers, numerous sketches that had been accumulating for a long period, and which he prized very highly. The Herald correspondent lost a silver bugle, recently taken from a captured rebel bugler, which he intended to send to Mr. Bennett as a trophy. The Tribune correspondent, Mr. Wells, lost his good clothes and other “fixins.” Colonel Brisbin, of General Lee's staff, lost some five hundred dollars' worth of clothing and money, together with the sash worn by the rebel General Barksdale, which was captured at Gettysburgh, and a valuable sword also captured near Gettysburgh.

It is ascertained that our dead who were left on the field between Pleasant Hill and Sabine Cross-Roads, were buried by the enemy, and that the wounded were conveyed to Mansfield the night after the battle, where they were carefully attended.

Colonel Emerson commanding a brigade of Landrum's division, was wounded.

Lieutenant-Colonel Kreb, Eighty-seventh Illinois mounted infantry, when the confusion in our retiring lines was the greatest, reported to General Lee for duty with three men, whom he had rallied.

Rufus Pullitt, color-bearer of the Sixteenth Indiana mounted infantry, was killed.

Lieutenant Stone, Commissary of the First cavalry brigade, is missing and supposed to be a prisoner.

All the cavalry headquarters train was captured or destroyed by the rebels except two ambulances, and all the wagons of Colonel Dudley's Fourth brigade-train except one.

George G. Kendrick, color-bearer One Hundred and Seventy-third New-York, was wounded under his colors.

General Lee was hit with a spent ball, from which he suffered no inconvenience.

Four ammunition-wagons belonging to the cavalry command were captured. The train would all have been saved had not a heavily-loaded wagon broken down and obstructed the road.

Lieutenant Higby of the Signal corps, Acting-Aid-de-Camp to General Ransom, had his horse shot under him.

Captain Dicker, General Ransom's Assistant-Adjutant-General, was killed.

Captain Wasson, Inspector-General of Lucas's cavalry brigade, had his stirrup and boot struck by the same ball that killed Lieutenant-Colonel Webber, of the Seventy-seventh Illinois.

Lieutenant Miller, Aid to Colonel Lucas, was wounded in the arm, and taken prisoner, Captain Payman, Chief Signal Officer of General Franklin's command, was severely wounded while riding by the side of the General.

Captain A. M. Chapman, Judge-Advocate on General Franklin's staff, had both feet shot off.

Lieutenant David Lyon, of General Franklin's staff, was wounded slightly.

Dr. Wood, of the Sixth Missouri cavalry, lost one thousand dollars in money, and Captain Wasson, Inspector-General in Lucas's cavalry brigade, lost two hundred dollars by the capture of the trains.

A squadron of the Corning light cavalry, under Captain Davis, had a warm position on the right, and lost heavily there. The men displayed most creditable bravery and pluck.

Our defeat on the eighth instant is attributable to the cavalry division proceeding too far in advance of the main column; the panic and loss of guns, to the large cavalry-train, which completely blocked the only road by which the army could fall back.

The troops engaged, were the First, Third, and Fourth cavalry divisions, supported by Ransom's detachment of the Thirteenth army corps.

Estimated loss, one thousand five hundred killed, wounded, missing, and prisoners. [564]

After the close of the battle of Friday, a council of war was called by General Banks, and it was decided to withdraw the army to Pleasant Hill, that place affording a better position to give battle to the enemy, who, it was expected, would renew the attack early in the morning. It was also known that General A. J. Smith's command had reached Pleasant Hill, and General Banks was anxious to unite the forces of Smith with his own.

The withdrawal of the force commenced at ten o'clock, and before daylight the rear of the army was well on the road. The enemy, in the night, had pressed his pickets down on our front, but he failed to discover the movement of our troops, the withdrawal being conducted with the greatest silence and expedition. It was not until morning that he was made aware that our army had left his immediate front, when he followed after with his main force, sending forward his cavalry in hot haste to find our whereabouts. But they failed to come up with our forces until they had reached Pleasant Hill. General Emory's division brought up the rear, and arrived at Pleasant Hill about seven o'clock in the morning.

Colonel Gooding, commanding the Fifth brigade of the cavalry division, as soon as General Emory had arrived at Pleasant Hill, was sent out on the Shreveport road to find the enemy.

He had not proceeded up the road more than a mile when he met the advance of the rebels coming down. Finding the enemy approaching in strong force, Colonel Gooding skirmished with him until General Emory had completed the formation of his line of battle, when the cavalry retired in good order, the enemy keeping up a hot fire on them as they fell back, killing and wounding some forty men belonging to the Second New-York veteran cavalry, Eighteenth New-York cavalry, and Third Rhode Island cavalry. Two officers were wounded, Captain G. W. Beecher and Lieutenant Hall, the latter of whom has since died.

The battle-field was a large common just on the outside of the town of Pleasant Hill, on the Shreveport road. The ground was open and rolling, and ascended both from the side of the town and from the side on which the enemy was expected, a belt of timber extending almost entirely around the field.

General Emory's division was drawn up in line of battle on the side of the bill, his right resting across the Shreveport road. General McMillen's brigade formed the extreme right of the line, and his right rested near the woods, which extended along the whole base of the hill, and through which it was expected the enemy would advance. General Dwight's brigade was formed on the left of General McMillen's on the right of the road, the left resting on the road. Colonel Benedict's brigade formed on the left of General Dwight, the right resting on the road a little in the rear of General Dwight, forming an echelon to his brigade. Two pieces of Taylor's battery were placed in the rear of Dwight's left, on the road, and the remaining four pieces were got into position on an eminence on the left of the road and in rear of Benedict's left. Hibbard's Vermont battery was in the rear of the division.

General A. J. Smith's division of the Sixteenth army corps, under command of General Mower, were massed in two lines of battle, with artillery, in rear of Emory's division. The right of the first line rested on the road, and was composed of two brigades, the First brigade on the right, commanded by Colonel Linch, the Second brigade on the left, commanded by Colonel Shaw. The Third Indiana battery (Crawford's) was posted in the first line of battle, on the right of the Eighty-ninth Indiana. The Ninth Indiana battery (Brown's) was in position on the right of the First brigade. The Missouri battery occupied ground on the right of the Eighty-ninth Indiana.

Other batteries were on the field, but neither the positions they occupied nor the names of their commanders were learned. All, however, did good service. General Smith's second line of battle was fifty yards in rear of the first, and was composed of two brigades, one on the right of the line, and that on the left commanded by Colonel Hill.

General Mower commanded the Second brigade, and was temporarily in command of the whole force, while General Smith commanded the corps as a separate command.

This disposition being made, our army waited the approach of the enemy, but as the day wore away, many began to believe that no attack would be made.

It was now five o'clock, and but two hours of daylight remained in which to fight the battle. The skirmishing, which had continued all day, at this hour became lively, and at ten minutes past five, General Emory sent word to General Franklin that the skirmishers were being driven in and the enemy marching down upon him in three lines of battle.

At twenty minutes past five, the enemy appeared on the plain at the edge of the woods, and the battle commenced, our batteries opening upon him with case shell as he marched at a double-quick across the field to the attack.

Our left, Colonel Benedict's brigade, came into action first, and soon after our right and centre were engaged. The battle now raged fiercely, the air was full of lead and iron, and the roar of musketry and artillery incessant. The carnage on both sides was fearful, the men fighting almost hand to hand, and with great desperation.

Nothing could exceed the determined bravery of our troops; but it was evident Emory's division was fighting the whole army. Pressed at all points by overwhelming numbers, our line fell back up the hill to the Sixteenth corps, which was concealed just behind the crest.

Taylor's battery for a time fell into the hands of the enemy.

General Smith made all preparations to receive the advancing foe, and as the human tide came rolling up the hill, he looked quietly on until the enemy were almost up to the muzzles of his guns, [565] <*>hen a sheet of flame flashed along his lines, and, with the crash of ten thousand thunders, musket-balls, mingled with grape and canister, swept the plain like a besom of destruction. Hundreds fell dead and dying before that awful fire.

Scarcely had the seething lead left the guns when the word “Charge!” was given, and seven thousand brave men precipitated themselves upon the shattered ranks of the enemy. Emory's division, which had only yielded to superior numbers, and remained unbroken, now rushed forward and joined the Sixteenth corps, driving the rebels rapidly down the hill to the woods, where they broke and fled in the greatest confusion and dismay.

Colonel Benedict, while gallantly leading his brigade in the charge, fell dead, pierced by five balls.

The battle was fought and the victory won. Our troops followed up the rebels until night put an end to the pursuit.

In the last charge we recaptured Taylor's battery, which had been lost in the earlier part of the action, and retook two guns of Nim's battery, which had been lost in the battle of the preceding day.

The ten-pound Parrott gun which the rebels captured last fall at Carrion Crow was also retaken.

Five hundred prisoners, all the dead and wounded, three battle-standards, and a large number of small-arms, fell into our hands.

Our victorious army slept upon the battle-field, which was one of the bloodiest of the war.

Early the next morning our line of march was taken up to Grand Ecore, to obtain rest and rations, the army being too much fatigued by the three days fighting and severe marching it had undergone to attempt pursuit of the enemy.

This battle was one of the best appointed and delivered of the war. It reflects much credit upon the head of the army of the Gulf, and is equally honorable to all who were engaged in it.

General Banks was present from the beginning to the close of the engagement, and rode over the field through showers of bullets, personally directing the movements of the troops. General Banks's staff ably assisted him, freely sharing the danger with their chief, and behaving throughout the action with the greatest gallantry.

General Franklin and staff were in the hottest of the fire. Of the soldiers who so bravely fought the battle and achieved a splendid victory, it need only be said, that the men of Maine, Missouri, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New-York, Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana, sustained their reputation, standing shoulder to shoulder with the loyal Louisiana troops; and well may their States be proud to claim them as sons of their soil. The heroes of Vicksburgh and Port Hudson may now add the name of Pleasant Hill to the list of their glorious victories.

The cavalry division, except a part of Colonel Lucas's brigade, was not in the action on Saturdry, the main body having been sent to convoy the wagon-trains to Grand Ecore.

No part of the Thirteenth army corps was in the battle.

In the battle of Friday, the rebel General Mouton was killed by the unerring rifles of the Nineteenth Kentucky. He received four balls in his body.

The rebel General Kirby Smith is reported to have commanded the troops in the battle at Pleasant Hill.

The entire losses of the campaign thus far may be summed up as follows: Twenty pieces of artillery. One thousand five hundred men in General Ransom's corps. Six hundred men in General Emory's division. Five hundred men in General Smith's Sixteenth army corps. Four hundred men in the cavalry division. One hundred and thirty cavalry, division, and brigade wagons. One thousand two hundred horses and mules, including the great number that died on the march across the Teche from disease.

Our gains thus far are the capture of Fort De Russy, Alexandria, Grand Ecore, and Natchitoches, the opening of Red River, the capture by the gunboats of three thousand bales of prizecotton, one half of which goes to the Government, and the bringing of other considerable quantities of cotton to our markets. Besides this, we have captured at Fort De Russy, Henderson's Hill, Pleasant Hill, Mansfield, and elsewhere, two thousand three hundred prisoners, including three lieutenant-colonels, six majors, and thirty line-officers at Pleasant Hill, twenty-five pieces of artillery, any quantity of smallarms there and at other points, four hundred bushels of meal, thirty barrels of beef, and a depot commissariat at Pleasant Hill.

Besides, under the administration of Provost-Marshal Neafie, of the One Hundred and Fifty-sixth New-York volunteers, Alexandria has returned to its allegiance; eight hundred citizens have taken the oath of fealty to the Government of the United States, and eight hundred have enlisted there into the military service of our Government.

The material for at least two full colored regiments has thus far been garnered in, and the rebels have been deprived of the service of five thousand able-bodied negroes, male and female, who have abandoned their happy homes and cast their fortunes with the Yankees.

Forage nearly enough to supply the immediate needs of the army, and beef, cattle, and horses have fallen into the hands of our advancing army.

When Shreveport is taken and occupied, and the rebel State government is driven therefrom to seek another temporary resting-place, the chief object of the present campaign will be accomplished.

Colonel Gooding, of the Fifth cavalry brigade, which went to the front to “entertain” the enemy on Saturday morning until General Emory's line could be formed, was shot at by a rebel rifleman, [566] who sent a ball into the Colonel's hat, perforating the crown and lifting it from his head. An orderly dismounted and handed the Colonel his hat, who was saluted by three rousing cheers from the men of his command who observed his coolness and gallantry.

Captain Becker, of the Second New-York veterans, was shot through the neck Saturday morning, but vaulted into his saddle after his wound was dressed, and remained with his command during the entire day.

The rebels made seven distinct charges on General Dwight's line, which held the extreme right; the One Hundred and Fourteenth, One Hundred and Sixteenth, and One Hundred and Fifty-third New-York volunteers maintained their ground manfully, and repulsed the enemy most gloriously.

The Eighty-ninth Indiana regiment recaptured two batteries.

The Thirty-fifth Iowa repelled three charges.

The Colonel of the Thirty-third Missouri was wounded.

The rebel General Scurry, commanding McCulloch's old Texas brigade, was slightly wounded; Major Muller, Seventeenth Texas rebel infantry, was killed.

Lieutenant-Colonel Gregg, one of the captured rebels, reports that Kirby Smith commanded the rebel forces in person, numbering twenty thousand the first day, and twenty-five thousand the second.

General Banks having fallen back to Grand Ecore, thirty-five miles from Pleasant Hill, fifty-five miles from Mansfield, and ninety-five miles from Shreveport, will advance again as soon as he is reinforced and adequate supplies are received. The loss of artillery is a trivial matter, as nearly the whole fighting, owing to the nature of the heavily wooded country, must be done by infantry.

Admiral Porter's fleet will cooperate as far as possible. The extent of its cooperation depends on the depth of water in Red River.

Other battles must soon follow, and glorious victories will be won over the trans-Mississippi rebels.

The enemy appears to have moved his whole forces near here to crush out the Union army. According to the reports of prisoners, Kirby Smith, Dick Taylor, Green, Magruder, and Price are all in the field against General Banks and his commanders.

The rebel loss in the battles of Sabine Cross-Roads and Pleasant Hill was three to our one. The lack of water between Pleasant Hill and Mansfield rendered it prudent to fall back to Grand Ecore, where new supplies will be issued sufficient for a long and uninterrupted forward march.


Grand Ecore, La., April 14, 1864.
A detachment of the Third cavalry brigade, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Kieb, of the Eighty-seventh Illinois mounted infantry, made a reconnaissance yesterday to the Double bridge, twenty miles on the road toward Pleasant Hill. Eight miles out, a small party of the enemy, fifteen or twenty in number, were seen, who fled precipitately. From the bridge, scouting-parties were sent out, who touched their pickets, but discovered no indications of the enemy in force. One of these scouting-parties, led by Lieutenant E. V. Hitch, Assistant Adjutant-General of the brigade, was fired at by the rebel pickets. Lieutenant Hitch received a slight wound in his arm, and leaves for New-Orleans to-day.

Our troops are in excellent spirits and anxious for another advance. They can whip the enemy in any stand — up fight, unless a much superior force is encountered, of which there is no fear whatever.

The repulse of our advance-guard at Sabine Cross-Roads, is freely discussed, as well as the victories which afterward followed. When Emory's division came up, the enemy was pressed hard, and his losses must have been terrible, as that division, though fighting almost alone, punished the rebels severely and forced them back with immense slaughter. Our losses in the early part of the action that day, must have been equalled by the enemy's loss at its close, though the capture of our artillery and trains was a point gained over us.

In the succeeding day's fight at Pleasant Hill, the enemy must have lost three to our one. The battle-field, which we occupied that night, was strewn with their dead and wounded, who also dotted the roads by which our victorious army pursued them, until night rendered longer pursuit impossible.

In the continued prosecution of the campaign there are difficulties to encounter which General Banks and his army hope to overcome. The Red River, navigable usually over the falls above Alexandria, is lower now than ever before at this season of the year, and it is possible that the safety of the gunboats and monitors above Alexandria will render the abandonment of military occupation impracticable. Light-draught transports can pass the falls for some weeks yet, and the army cannot be cut off from its supplies. Still the supplies will not come forward so rapidly as if the waters of the Red River Were of the ordinary depth at this time of the year. Should the river fail to be navigable, and an advance, therefore, be rendered impracticable, the certainty of holding and occupying Alexandria and Natchitoches remains, and so far the forward movement is a success.

Between Pleasant Hill and Mansfield, a distance of twenty miles, there is a deficiency of water, without which an army cannot be subsisted or marched. It is therefore quite desirable that the movement from one to the other of these points shall be rapid.

Rebel citizens and rebel prisoners have all agreed in the statement that the enemy were determined to dispute this road, and that they expected to fight against us there because it was remote from the river, and where we could not receive the cooperation of the gunboats.

The latest advices from General Steele were [567] that he was within either sixty miles or one day's march of Shreveport, with fifteen thousand men.

Admiral Porter, with two monitors and his flag-ship, went up the river from Grand Ecore a week since, it is presumed to operate against the rebel seat of government in Louisiana.



Rebel Addresses and orders.

The following is General Taylor's address to his army:

headquarters District Western Louisiana, Mansfield, La., April 11, 1864.
General orders, no.--.

Soldiers of the Army of Western Louisiana:

At last have your patience and devotion been rewarded. Condemned for many days to retreat before an overwhelming force, as soon as your reenforcements reached you, you turned upon the foe. No language but that of simple narrative should recount your deeds. On the eighth of April you fought the battle of Mansfield. Never in war was a more complete victory won. Attacking the enemy with the utmost alacrity when the order was given, the result was not for a moment doubtful.

The enemy was driven from every position, his artillery captured, his men routed. In vain were fresh troops brought up. Your magnificent line, like a resistless wave, swept every thing before it. Night alone stopped your advance. Twenty-one pieces of artillery, two thousand five hundred prisoners, many stands of colors, two hundred and fifty wagons, attest your success over the Thirteenth and Nineteenth army corps. On the ninth instant you took up the pursuit and pressed it with vigor. For twelve miles, prisoners, scattered arms, burning wagons, proved how well the previous day's work had been done by the soldiers of Texas and Louisiana.

The gallant divisions from Missouri and Arkansas, unfortunately absent on the eighth instant, marched forty-five miles in two days, to share the glories of Pleasant Hill. This was emphatically the soldier's victory. In spite of the strength of the enemy's position, held by fresh troops of the Sixteenth corps, your valor and devotion triumphed over all. Darkness closed one of the hottest fights of the war. The morning of the tenth instant dawned upon a flying foe, with our cavalry in pursuit, capturing prisoners at every step. These glorious victories were most dearly won. A list of the heroic dead would sadden the sternest heart. A visit to the hospitals would move the sympathy of the most unfeeling. The memory of our dead will live as long as noble deeds are cherished on earth. The consciousness of duty well performed will alleviate the sufferings of the wounded. Soldiers from a thousand homes, thanks will ascend to the God of battles for your victories. Tender wives and fond mothers will repose in safety behind the breastworks of your valor. No fears will be felt that the hated foe will desecrate their homes by his presence. This is your reward; but much remains to be done. Strict discipline, prompt obedience to orders, cheerful endurance of privations, will alone insure our independence.

R. Taylor, Major-General Commanding.

headquarters District Western Louisiana, Mansfield, La., April 13, 1864.
General orders, no.--

soldiers: A chief has fallen. A warrior of warriors has gone to his home. On the twelfth instant fell Thomas Green. After braving death a thousand times, the destroyer found him, where he was wont to be, in the front line of battle. His spirit has flown to the happy home of heroes, where the kindred spirit of Alfred Mouton awaited it. Throughout broad Texas, throughout desolated Louisiana, mourning will sadden every hearth. Great is the loss to family and friends; much greater is the loss to this army and to me. For many weary months these two have served me. Amidst the storm of battle, by the lonely camp-fire, at the solitary outpost, my heart has learned to love them. Their families shall be as mine; their friends my friends. To have been their beloved friend and trusted commander is the highest earthly honor I can ever attain.

Soldiers! the fall of these heroes shall not be in vain. Inspired by their examples, this army will achieve great things. Moistened by the blood of Mansfield, Pleasant Hill, and Blair's Landing, the tree of national independence will grow apace, and soon overshadow the land, so that all may repose in peace under its grateful shade. The memory of our glorious dead is a rich legacy to future generations, and their names will be remembered as the chosen heroes of the chivalric Southern race.

The colors of the cavalry corps of this army will be draped for thirty days in memory of their late heroic commander.

R. Taylor, Major-General Commanding.

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