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[154] his troops from the gate.1 The enemy, seeing the door Wide open, did not hesitate to march through. This did not escape Taylor's eye. Noticing that the scrambling retreat of the Federals continued, Taylor, from the rear, knew that his cul-de-sac had been irretrievably spoiled. Banks, always looking for Steele, still belated, and never having studied military traps, had unconsciously slipped through Taylor's fingers.

It is always a defeated army which signalizes its departure by ravages upon the abandoned country. The Federals in fleeing, in 1864, emphasized this military truth beyond cavil. They destroyed the Red river valley, which they could only spoil, but could not hold. During May, the Confederates continued forcing a considerable part of Banks' army to confront it, meeting the part pluckily, sometimes inflicting loss upon it, at times suffering loss themselves, yet always steadily and irresistibly expediting the exodus of the invading columns. From May 14th to 18th, skirmishes were the rule around Avoyelles prairie. At Mansura and Moreauville, sharp encounters took place between the rear guard in force, and pursuers light in numbers, yet ardent in spirit. Our gunners handled their pieces with coolness and precision. By this time the rear guard was getting hurried.

Alexandria, in the retreat from Mansfield, had been burned. The burning of the town was stoutly ascribed by the Federals to accident. After doing this mischief the enemy attempted to leave the city by the Bayou Boeuf road. Here stood Polignac to check them. Foiled

1 General Bee, who reported that his 2,000 men were in line under seven hours continuous fire before giving up the ferry, said in his defense: ‘That I was not successful was because success was impossible. ... I claim for my troops (Gould's, Wood's, Terrell's, Liken's, Yager's, Myer's and Vincent's cavalry) the highest praise for their gallantry, patient endurance of fatigue, and never-failing enthusiasm.’ Gen. John A. Wharton wrote to Bee, June 30th, ‘From an examination of the ground, and from a full knowledge of your force and that of the enemy, I am satisfied that you could not have maintained yourself at Monett's ferry.’

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