previous next

[754] and were whipped in detail. The Missouri division drove back the enemy's lines into his front, and came up within fifty yards of their batteries, but having no support on their left, were flanked by the enemy from that direction, and meeting a heavy fire from the supporting force, retreated in confusion. About the time they had gotten away from the enemy, who showed no disposition to follow, Scurry's brigade came up, and was repulsed, after having driven back the enemy's lines in his front a quarter of a mile. The enemy followed him some distance, capturing several hundred prisoners. The night put a stop to the fight, Churchill's, Parsons's, and most of Walker's command being in great confusion. On our left, Walker and Polignac had rather the advantage with the enemy, without gaining any material results. Our troops were withdrawn. Polignac remained about two miles from the field. Walker, Churchill, and Parsons, with all the cavalry except one brigade, moved back six miles, the nearest point at which there was sufficient water. Neither our cavalry nor that of the enemy did anything in this fight. The next morning, after sunrise, very much to our surprise, we learned the enemy had retired during the night. Cavalry was immediately sent in pursuit, while the infantry was taken back to Mansfield for organization, rest, and supply. The enemy evidently considered himself whipped. He ought to know. Independently of the condition of the troops after the fight, the want of supplies below Mansfield rendered immediate pursuit with our whole force impossible. Below Mansfield, all was a howling wilderness. The only way in which a large body of troops there can be supplied, was by the river, which at this time was occupied by the gunboats of the enemy up to within thirty miles of Shreveport. Furthermore, the enemy's land force, even though it should be demoralized, had at all times the guns of the fleet, upwards of one hundred in number, for a protection. At best our chase, had we been able to advance, would have wound up at the Mississippi with that barrier to our further progress, and with nothing more accomplished than would have been done by the enemy himself if let alone. A campaign against New Orleans, had there been any enemy in the country besides Banks, would have been utter madness. On the other hand, Steele, with eleven thousand men, was moving on Camden, from the fortifications at which point he could, in perfect security from our cavalry, have watched our operations, and if an opportunity offered, struck at Jefferson, Marshall, or Shreveport. To leave him in this position, and transfer all our troops, except our cavalry, left in Arkansas, and also in Louisiana, would be to jeopardize our very salvation. Northward, great results would follow Steele's signal defeat. Regaining the Arkansas Valley, and breaking up the Yankee state government, as well as having the route to Missouri open, were considerations of great importance. For these reasons General Smith determined to move against Steele; and accordingly Walker's, Churchill's, and Parsons's divisions were put in motion. Here is the point. General Taylor and his friends assert, with the most confident assurance, that had he been allowed to follow up his victory, the utter destruction of Banks and Porter would have been the result. Perhaps the exact force of this argument can be appreciated only by persons who saw General Taylor's victorious army just after the attempt to destroy a part of General Banks's force without the fleet to support it. But still, the idea of our annihilating, in their intrenchments, a force three fourths of which we had failed to whip in open fighting, and transporting over a distance of two hundred and fifty miles supplies we had been unable to haul sixty-five miles! Such projects must appear in their true light to any sensible person who looks calmly and impartially into the matter. It was impossible for the enemy to retain permanently at Natchitoches a force sufficient to hold the place. The river must soon fall, and supplies would then have to be hauled from Simmsport. The country would supply scarcely anything. General Taylor was left in command of the cavalry, and Polignac's division to watch and pursue the enemy. Parsons, Churchill, and Walker arrived at Shreveport on the sixteenth April, en route for Camden. Walker moved on the right via Minden, Parsons in the centre via Benton, and Churchill on the left, following Red River thirty-five miles up, and then turning to the right, passing Magnolia. Walker's division was halted twenty miles beyond Minden on reception from General Taylor that the enemy was intrenching at Natchitoches, and had thrown two pontoon bridges across Red River at Grand Ecore, the steamboat landing at that place. In this position, forty-eight miles from Shreveport, one hundred and fifteen from Natchitoches, and sixty-six from Camden, General Walker was in good attitude to meet any movement of Banks's in the direction of Washita or Shreveport, or any movement of Steele in the direction of Red River. It was thought possible that Banks and Steele might endeavor to effect a junction east of Shreveport, which accomplished, we could have but little hope of resisting their united strength. Walker remained in this position till the enemy evacuated Grand Ecore, and retreated south with his land and naval forces. The bridge had been thrown across Red River, to enable the enemy's infantry to protect his transports and gunboats from General Liddell's force, which had moved up opposite to them, and inflicted considerable loss upon them, destroying one or two boats: five thousand or six thousand men more were thrown to the north side, but did not go far from the river. Parsons and Churchill had been held about twenty-five miles from Camden, ready to move up to that place, or in the direction of Minden, as occasion might. require. Steele had gone into our works at Camden, with his whole force, on the eighteenth. General Price had been instructed to throw his cavalry into them before Steele's arrival, if he felt sure of holding the position, but not to put a force there to be sacrificed. He was

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
R. L. Walker (8)
A. N. Steele (7)
Parsons (6)
Churchill (6)
N. P. Banks (5)
R. Taylor (4)
Polignac (3)
Duncan S. Walker (1)
A. J. Smith (1)
Scurry (1)
Napoleon D. Price (1)
D. D. Porter (1)
J. Foster Marshall (1)
P. F. Liddell (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
April 16th (1)
18th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: