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[155] on that road they repeated the effort on the Red river road. On May 15th Wharton was at Marksville to fight them. At this point ensued a brilliant cannonade which resembled war. Polignac, still with Mouton's superb but now skeleton division, found it impossible to stop the retreat of four brigades supported by a detachment of the Thirteenth army corps. While he remained, however, he held his ground sturdily, withdrawing only when it suited him—true Frenchman that he was—with drums beating and fifes playing a fanfare of defiance.

From this on the Federals constantly retreated and constantly resisted, yet always fighting with numbers on their side. At Yellow bayou, May 18th, near the Atchafalaya, ‘the haven where they would be,’ Wharton, like a wolf-dog, was at them again, attacking them fiercely. All the enemy had crossed except A. J. Smith's Vicksburg veterans. Unfortunately, Wharton forgot that his right wing was that resting on the bayou. In order to check Smith's crossing, he had only to mass on his right wing. Instead of doing this, he massed on his left wing. This left rested upon the interior line, away from the bayou. Wondering at his good fortune, Smith crossed the Atchafalaya on May 19, 1864, with haste. Thus, there where Banks' campaign had opened two months before in pride, it now closed in disaster. Bee's blunder cost Taylor Banks' army. Wharton's blunder cost him Smith's division. With the Federals on the thither side of the Atchafalaya, Taylor's chase of them ended. It had been a drawn-out chase, with 200 miles between its close and Mansfield. With that end, which was deliverance, Peace now folded her wings and brooded in quiet from War's alarms over rural Louisiana. Of this quiet, Taylor, who was there, wrote twelve years after the surrender of Louisiana, as of his own knowledge: ‘From the action of Yellow Bayou to the close of the war not a gun was fired in the Trans-Mississippi department.’

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