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[493] Louisiana in the Union as was covered by his pickets. But he hoped to signalize the year 1864 by a remarkable expedition, which was to proceed up Red River as far as Shreveport, thence across the country into the central region of Texas, thereby destroying the Confederate lines on Red River, and their supplies, which were then drawn principally from that portion of Texas.

He proposed to move on this expedition with a land force, and a squadron of gunboats and transports — the former numbering about forty thou sand men. Maj.-Gen.DickTaylor was at this time commanding the Confederate forces operating along the west bank of the Mississippi River. Gen. Kirby Smith was commanding the Trans-Mississippi Department, with headquarters at Shreveport. Gen. Price was temporarily commanding the district of Arkansas, with headquarters in the field, in the neighbourhood of Camden. The Confederate force in Arkansas numbered about eight thousand effective men. That of the Federals was conjectured to be about fifteen thousand men, the greater part of which, under Gen. Steele, held Little Rock. Gen. Taylor had about ten thousand men, Louisiana and Texas troops.

About the middle of March, Gen. Banks commenced his advance up Red River; and about two weeks later, Gen. Steele commenced advancing from Little Rock, in the direction of Shreveport, intending to unite with Banks at that point, and to assist in capturing the place. Gen. Taylor made some desultory attempts to oppose or check the advance of the enemy, but he was gradually forced back by overwhelming numbers, retreating as slowly as possible in order to give his reinforcements time to reach him before he fell back to Shreveport. Gen. Smith had ordered two brigades of Missouri infantry and two brigades of Arkansas infantry, which had been operating in Arkansas, to go to Taylor's relief; and he also hurried up some cavalry from Texas.

Battle of Mansfield.

Red River is a very narrow and tortuous stream, and at the time of the expedition was quite low. At Alexandria, one hundred and sixty miles below Shreveport, are the “( Falls,” which obstruct the channel and prevent navigation in low water. On the road from Shreveport to Alexandria, forty miles from the former place, is Mansfield, a little village of about five hundred inhabitants. Twenty miles from Mansfield, on the same road, is the village of Pleasant Hill. Twenty miles further on is Blair's Landing on Red River. Still further on, forty miles above Alexandria, on Old River, which in high water communicates with Red River, we come to Natchitoches, the oldest town on Red River, the scene of the last conference

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