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[458] report of Admiral Porter, dated Grand Ecore, April 14, 1864, says:
The army here has met with a great defeat, no matter what the generals try to make of it. . . .

On April 21st General Banks retreated from Grand Ecore to Alexandria, harassed by a small cavalry force. A large part of our forces had been taken by General E. K. Smith to follow General Steele. On April 28th Porter's fleet was lying above the falls, then impassable, and Bank's army was in and around Alexandria behind earthworks. On May 13th both escaped from Alexandria, and on May 19th Banks crossed the Atchafalaya, and the campaign closed at the place where it began. Porter was able to extricate his eight ironclads and two wooden gunboats by building a dam with transports. General Banks boasted that the army obtained ten thousand bales of cotton, to which Admiral Porter added five thousand more as collected by the navy. This was the compensation reported for the loss of many lives, much public property, and a total defeat. Even for the booty as well as for the escape of their fleet, they were probably indebted to the unfortunate withdrawal of a large part of Taylor's force, as mentioned above.1

On April 12, 1864, an attack was made by two brigades of General N. B. Forrest's force, under Brigadier General J. R. Chalmers, upon Fort Pillow. This was an earthwork on a bluff on the east side of the Mississippi, at the mouth of Coal Creek. It was garrisoned by four hundred men and six pieces of artillery. General Chalmers promptly gained possession of the outer works and drove the garrison to their main fortifications. The fort was cresent-shaped, the parapet eight feet in height and four feet across the top, surrounded by a ditch six feet deep and twelve feet in width. About this time General Forrest arrived and soon ordered his forces to move up. The brigade of Bell, on the northeast, advanced until it gained a position in which the men were sheltered by the conformation of the ground, which was intersected by a ravine. The other brigade, under McCulloch, carried the entrenchments on the highest part of the ridge, immediately in front of the southeastern face of the fort, and occupied a cluster of cabins on its southern face and about sixty yards from it. The line of investment was now short and complete, within an average distance of one hundred yards. It extended from Coal Creek on the north, which was impassable, to the river bank south of the fort. In the rear were numerous sharpshooters, well posted on commanding ridges, to pick off the garrison whenever they exposed themselves. At the same time, our forces

1 Destruction and Reconstruction, Taylor, p. 162 et seq.

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