by Gen. A. L. Lee
, and to this division Nims
' Battery, equipped as horse artillery, had been assigned.
The troops were supposed to start from Franklin
on the 7th of March and arrive at Alexandria
the 13th, but owing to some delay they were unable to leave until the 13th.
On that day General Lee
moved with his command in advance of the regular army.
His force consisted of the 1st, 3d, 4th and 5th brigades of the cavalry division, Nims
' Battery of 6 guns—Rawles
' Battery of 4 guns—and a battery of mountain howitzers manned by a company of 6th Missouri Cavalry, all equipped as horse artillery, a total of about 3300.
There was a halt the next morning at five for an hour's rest and then on again.
Long trying marches followed, 23 miles one day, 30 the next, 20 the next, 30 the next until the 19th of March, when 33 miles were made in 12 hours. Although one section of the battery reached Alexandria
the 19th and another the 21st, the whole column did not arrive before the 25th.
Here General Banks
again assumed command and three days were spent in resting, refitting, and issuing supplies.
It had been intended to carry supplies the whole distance in the attack on Shreveport
by water, but the river was so low that not many of the transports could pass and it was found necessary to establish a supply station at Alexandria
, and a wagon train to take supplies from the vessels below to vessels above the rapids.
To protect this, called for a force of about 3000 men. General Grover
was placed in charge of this post and his division left for its defense.
The troops on the transport were also unable to pass the rapids and were accordingly recalled to the Mississippi
Consequently, General Banks
found himself ready to move out from Alexandria
with a force of only about 20,000 men, while he could not expect any cooperation from General Steele
Even at the beginning of April experts foretold the failure of the expedition.
The march into the enemy's country began