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[753] fell rapidly back to the vicinity of Natchitoches. After remaining ten or twelve days in Alexandria, Banks moved slowly up in pursuit. He met with no serious resistance till the battle of Mansfield.

In Arkansas, General Price had his infantry near Spring Hill, fifteen miles from Washington, and sixty from Camden, while the cavalry under General Marmaduke held the line of the Ouachita, scouring the country in front to within twenty-five miles of Little Rock, where Steele had for some time been preparing for an advance. A brigade of cavalry, under General Cabell, was posted between Washington and Parachifta, in observation of the enemy, about five thousand strong, at Fort Smith, and guarding the approaches east of the Arkansas line, while General Maxcy with two brigades of cavalry, watched those leading through the Indian Territory to North Texas. On the twenty-third March, Steele moved out from Little Rock with about eight thousand men. On the twenty-first, Thayer left Fort Smith with about three thousand. They effected a junction at Archidelphia about the thirty-first. General Cabell was ordered to join Marmaduke. The cavalry was in two divisions, one under Marmaduke, and one under Fagan. General Maxcy was ordered with all his force, except such as was needed to prevent small raids, to hold himself at Logansport, in the extreme south-east corner of Indian Territory, so as to support General Rice, and operate on his left should he be forced back by Steele. Steele's plan was, to move by Washington to Red River, cross near Fulton, and destroy the stores and shops at Jefferson and Marshall, taking us in rear, while we operated against Banks, or giving the latter an opportunity of cutting our communications should we move against Steele. Steele moved very slowly and cautiously, harassed by our cavalry, who impeded his march at every step. He was about sixteen days moving from Camden to Prairie d'ane, a distance of about one hundred miles. Our object was, to delay a general engagement until the two columns of the enemy, or one of them, should approach sufficiently near Shreveport, our point of concentration, to enable us to strike, with as much as possible of our force, one of the two, without abandoning our depots or communications to them. Our important points were Shreveport, Jefferson, and Marshall, the last a vital point. Accordingly, Price's old division, now divided into Parsons's (Missouri) and Churchill's (Arkansas) division, was ordered to Shreveport, where it arrived on the twenty-fourth. At this time Banks was at Natchitoches, and Steele near Little Rock, both advancing, but Steele making slow progress, our cavalry disputing his advance stubbornly. Besides, he was obliged to haul all his forage from Little Rock, and to guard his trains closely. Thus Banks was ninety-eight, and Steele two hundred miles from Shreveport, Banks continued to advance, General Taylor falling back before him. On the sixth April, his advance was at Pleasant Hill. General Taylor was at Mansfield, where the roads fork to Marshall and Shreveport. Churchill's and Parsons's divisions were sent to him. They reached Mansfield the night of the eighth. Green's cavalry had also arrived, having been obliged to make a long detour to get in front of the enemy. At four o'clock on the evening of the eighth, General Mouton, without the order or knowledge of General Taylor, attacked and repulsed the Thirteenth army corps and cavalry division, the advance of the enemy, from eight to ten thousand strong, three miles south of Mansfield. The first news brought to General Taylor of the fight was, (as I am informed,) that General Mouton had attacked the enemy and been killed. Walker's and Green's divisions were then put into action, when the engagement became a running fight for four or five miles, our men double-quicking a considerable portion of the way. The enemy got into a stampede, and our men rushed after them pell-mell through the woods till dark. Four or five of their light batteries, and the train of the cavalry division, were in front. As soon as the fight commenced, these vehicles blocked up the road, which was very narrow, and ran through thick pine woods. Most of the horses were carried off, and the guns and wagons were left in our hands. Only one of their batteries was brought into action. About night the Thirteenth corps and the cavalry having been driven back about four miles, the Nineteenth army corps General Franklin commanding, came up, and for a while checked our advance; but it gave way also, after a little, and was driven back some half a mile, when it became too dark for us to pursue further. The enemy continued his retreat during the night. Our loss was about one thousand killed and wounded; that of the enemy greater. he also lost one hundred and fifty wagons, twenty-two pieces of artillery, and one thousand eight hundred prisoners. At this time General A. J. Smith, with one division of the Sixteenth and one of the Seventeenth corps, was at Natchitoches. From Shreveport it is forty-two miles to Mansfield, sixty-five miles to Pleasant Hill, and ninety-eight to Natchitoches.

On the night of the eighth, Churchill and Parsons came up. The pursuit was resumed at daylight on the ninth. In the evening the enemy was found in line of battle at Pleasant Hill--A. J. Smith, who had come up from Natchitoches, on the left, Franklin (Nineteenth corps) on the right — the whole about twenty-four thousand. The Thirteenth corps had gone on to Natchitoches. The enemy's right was in the woods, his left in open fields. Walker and Polignac (commanding Mouton's division) attacked on our left; Parsons and Churchill our right. The charge of the Arkansas and Missouri troops was dashing. On their left, the enemy had five brigades and several batteries. Part of their infantry was in advance of the artillery, and part in rear for a support. The Missouri division was to have been supported on the left by Scurry's brigade, Walker's extreme right; but instead of cooperating, the two went into action separately,

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