Waul as it was intended, but moved to the right of our line, and did no more fighting. In about an hour from the time Waul's brigade went into action, the enemy withdrew along their whole line. Our troops did not follow immediately; they were in great disorder. Churchill's men had been again collected, and skirmishers were thrown forward. An hour and a half afterward, when our advance reached the river, about two miles from the battle-ground, the enemy had crossed. They did not take up their pontoon bridge, but punched holes in the boats, and left the wagons on this side of the river. I cannot say to which side the victory, as far as fighting goes, belongs. The forces engaged were about equal. Their severely wounded were left on the field, and just on the other side of the river. They compared, to our severely wounded, as three to two. We lost about eight hundred in killed and wounded. I suppose that of the enemy to be about one thousand two hundred. We did not cross the Sabine for two reasons, viz., Our men had nothing to eat. The rations issued to the men were out the night of the battle, and our wagons had not come up, being delayed at Camden by the non-arrival of the pontoon train. Second. The incessant rains had so swelled the Sabine, that it was four or five days before we could cross. To campaign permanently beyond the Sabine, without the establishment of depots of supplies, was utterly impossible. When our cavalry got across, they found a great many wagons stuck in the mud on the other side. General Fagan, hearing the true state of things when at Archidelphia, the evening before the fight, hurried up to join us. He reached Jenkins's Ford just after the fight, which closed between twelve and two o'clock. He failed to accomplish his mission, through circumstances, perhaps, over which he had no control. The destruction of his stores at Little Rock and Pine Bluff, would have ruined the enemy. During this time General Taylor had followed the enemy very vigorously, capturing and destroying three gunboats, and six or eight transports. He insisted that with Walker's, Parsons's, and Churchill's divisions, he could overwhelm Banks, who was now at Alexandria, assisting Porter, who was trying to get his gunboats over the falls. The infantry in Arkansas was immediately put in motion to him, as it seemed possible the enemy might be compelled to abandon or destroy his fleet. Unfortunately for us, he built a dam across Red River, by the aid of which, together with a slight rise, he succeeded in getting all his boats off before our troops arrived in force. General Taylor had thrown his forces all around the place, and had entirely cut off communication with the river below. There was some severe skirmishing between the enemy and our cavalry, but the latter were always compelled to retire when the enemy came out in heavy force. It was in the river near Fort De Russy that our cavalry captured the two gunboats above referred to. The “Eastport,” one of the finest iron-clads in the western waters, was sunk by the enemy about fifty miles above Alexandria, where she had gotten fast aground. While they were at Alexandria our boats went constantly down as far as Cotile, carrying subsistence and forage. The enemy showed less enterprise than I have ever known them to evince. Banks is clearly no commander. Once or twice, while he was at Alexandria, the posture of our forces was such that by a sure and comparatively safe movement of ten thousand men, he might have insured, beyond peradventure, the capture of Polignac's division. He must have been, in the main, aware of the position and strength of our forces. Along with the hope of accomplishimg his main purpose, he seems to have given up all desire to acquit himself with any credit. The Yankees left Alexandria about the----of May, after burning about two thirds of the town. Whether it was their intention to burn the whole place, or only some of the public buildings, warehouses, &c., does not clearly appear. My opinion is, that they did not intend total destruction. The wind was very high, and the fire could not be managed. A considerable quantity of stores was destroyed. The gunboats took off some of their armor to lighten them, and ten or twelve heavy guns were bursted on the river bank. General Taylor fought them at Moreausville three or four hours, and then drew off his force, which was between them and Simmsport. Following up their retreat, he received a severe repulse at Yellow Bayou, six miles from Simmsport, from some new troops brought from the Texas coast. This fight occurred on the----, and virtually closed the campaign. Before being relieved from command, had given up his idea of a campaign against New Orleans, and had ordered all his infantry back to the vicinity of Alexandria, there to rest and prepare for future operations. I have given you, as clearly as I am able, the details of this campaign. I doubt if they will be interesting to you in view of the great events now transpiring in Virginia and Georgia. But, as I have said, they are data from which you may judge the merits of a case which I am sure will not long fail to be discussed at Richmond. General Taylor has warm supporters there — men who will not be deterred from carrying their points by any scruples of honor or veracity. General Smith's policy and motives, as well as many facts connected with his operations, will be misrepresented. It will doubtless be asserted in the east, as it has already been here, that the movement of troops from Louisiana to Arkansas after the battle of Pleasant Hill was against General Taylor's views and protests. On this point, I need only say, that General Smith told me immediately after our return from Mansfield, where the decision was made, that General Taylor approved of his plan of moving immediately against Steele. He even selected the troops he wished to go. The plan at first was, that he should accompany them. Certainly I never heard a word of his disapproval of the movement, until he arrived at Shreveport, on his way to Arkansas, and it was determined that he remain in Louisiana. I have
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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