of Maj. Gen. Andrew J. Smith, U. S. Army,
Commanding detachments of Sixteenth and Seventeenth Army Corps
RED RIVER CAMPAIGN
SAINT Louis, Mo.,
September 26, 1865.
Maj. Gen. W. T. SHERMAN.
GENERAL: In compliance with your request, I have the honor to report in full, as follows, the operations of the detachments of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Army Corps, under my command, forming a part of the Red River expedition in 1864. Partial reports were made and forwarded to Maj. Gen. N. P. Banks from time to time, including lists of casualties and captures. The troops under my command, consisting of five regiments of infantry of the First Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, under the immediate command of Brig. Gen. Joseph A. Mower, ten regiments of infantry and two batteries of light artillery of the Third Division, Sixteenth Army Corps (my own division), and six regiments of infantry and one battery of light artillery from the Seventeenth Army Corps, under the command of Brig. Gen. Thomas Kilby Smith, left Vicksburg at 6 p.m. on the 10th day of March, 1864, on transports, pursuant to orders from you, which were in effect as follows:
To proceed with the command to the mouth of the Red River, where I would find Admiral Porter with a portion of the Mississippi Squadron to convoy my fleet up Red River, and after conference with him to proceed to Alexandria, La., and report to Maj. Gen. N. P. Banks, commanding Department of the Gulf, reaching Alexandria, if possible, on the 17th of March, from which point Major-General Banks would assume the command and direction of the expedition in person.
On arriving at the mouth of the Red River, at about 12 m., March 11, 1864, a dispatch was received from Major-General Banks, stating that the heavy rains had so delayed his column that he would not be able to reach Alexandria before March 21, 1864. On conferring with Admiral Porter, I learned that Fort De Russy, a strong fort on the right bank of Red River, equidistant from the mouth of Red River and Alexandria, and mounting ten guns, had been garrisoned by the enemy and which it would be necessary to take before we could proceed to Alexandria. It was therefore deemed best to act against it in conjunction, the army in the rear by land and the navy by river. Leaving the mouth of Red River at about 12 m., March 12, 1864, we proceeded up Red River to the mouth of the Atchafalaya Bayou; thence with the transports down the Atchafalaya Bayou to Simsport, a point on its right bank near the mouth of Bayou De Glaize and 30 miles by land from Fort De Russy, reaching Simsport at about 5 p.m. of the same day.
On the morning of the 13th, I sent out the two divisions of the Sixteenth Army Corps, under command of Brig. Gen. J. A. Mower, with directions to move out about 5 miles on the Fort De Russy road, capture or disperse any parties of the enemy in that vicinity, and gain all the information possible of the state of the roads and position of the enemy. The division of the Seventeenth Army Corps was ordered under arms to be in readiness to support him if necessary. About 3 miles from the landing, in the fork of the Yellow Bayou and Bayou De Glaize, General Mower came upon a brigade of the enemy, under command of General William R. Scurry, occupying a fort, then in process of construction, but who abandoned their work and fled at his approach. He pursued them about 2 miles, capturing 6 of their wagons and about 20 prisoners, when, having gained the necessary information and having no cavalry with which to make an effectual pursuit, I ordered him to return with his command to the landing. I immediately disembarked my land transportation, and, directing the transports to join the Mississippi Squadron under command of Admiral Porter and proceed with it to Fort De Russy, moved forward my whole command on the road to Fort De Russy. Leaving the landing at about 9 p.m., we bivouacked for the night 4 miles from Simsport. At 3 o'clock on the morning of the 14th, I again moved forward toward Fort De Russy. Two bridges which we had to cross were set on fire by the retreating brigade of the enemy, but were extinguished by our advance before they were seriously damaged. On reaching Mansura I learned that the bridges across the Bayou De Glaize had been destroyed, and that the rebel General Walker, commanding a division, had marched out from Fort De Russy with his command to the point where he supposed we would cross the bayou, about 5 miles west from Mansura, had formed a junction with Scurry's brigade, and intended to oppose our crossing. I immediately ordered the bayou to be bridged at Mansura, taking the material from an old cotton-gin, and by crossing companies at the same time on a ferry-boat had my whole command across before General Walker was aware that the advance had halted. Directing General Thomas Kilby Smith, who was at the rear of my column, to keep well closed up and watch carefully the left flank and rear, I at once moved forward toward Fort De Russy, leaving General Walker and his command on the left.
On arriving near the fort I found that it was occupied by a garrison of about 350 men. I therefore halted my column 1 miles from the fort, and, after covering my left flank and rear from any attack that Walker could possibly make, directed General Mower to advance with the First and Second Brigades of the Third Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, in line of battle, with skirmishers thrown well to the front, followed by the Third Brigade within supporting distance. As soon as the line came within sight of the fort the enemy opened upon it with five pieces of artillery from the fort, doing, however, but little execution. Their guns on the land side all being en barbette, the skirmishers of the Second Brigade soon silenced them. At about 6.30 p.m. the order to charge was given, and the First and Second Brigades advanced under a scattering fire from the enemy, whose infantry were kept down by my skirmishers, and scaled the parapet within twenty minutes from the time the order to charge was given. The enemy then surrendered. Our loss was 3 killed and 35 wounded; total, 38. Full lists of casualties and captures accompany this report. We captured 319 prisoners, 10 pieces of artillery, and a large quantity of ordnance and ordnance stores, marching during the day 26 miles, bridging a bayou, and capturing the fort before sunset. Among the pieces of artillery taken were two 9-inch Dahlgren guns, which were captured by the enemy, one from the steamer Indianola and one from the Harriet Lane. Owing to obstructions in the river the gun-boat fleet did not arrive until after the fort was captured. Of the artillery captured, four pieces were in the fort and six in a water battery on the bank of the river, about 400 yards from the fort, connected with it by a covered way. Two of the guns in the water battery were casemated, and the casemate plated with a double thickness of railroad iron. The fleet arrived during the night, and the gun-boats passed up the river. The artillery captured, with the exception of two 6-pounder iron guns, was taken on board the several boats of the fleet. All ordnance and ordnance stores captured have been taken up and accounted for by Lieut. J. B. Pannes, Seventeenth New York Infantry, acting ordnance officer.
On the evening of the 15th instant I sent Brigadier-General Mower, with the First and Third Divisions, Sixteenth Army Corps, on transports to occupy Alexandria, retaining at Fort De Russy General Thomas Kilby Smith's command, of the Seventeenth Army Corps, for the purpose of dismantling the fort and destroying effectually the magazines and casemates. This was accomplished on the 15th, 16th, and 17th, by tearing down the revetments on the inside of the parapet and digging ditches across the parapet, so that, from the nature of the soil of which it was constructed, the first rain-storm would nearly level it. The magazines, which were bomb-proof and four in number, were totally destroyed by blowing them up with a portion of the powder captured. The casemates were destroyed by piling wood under them and burning them down, the iron bending with the heat. Before they were burned the gun-boat Essex tested their strength with a 100-pounder Parrott at a distance of about 300 yards, firing three shots. The projectile in each case cut through the iron plating, but was stopped by the oak backing. The two 6-pounder iron guns were also destroyed by bursting. On the morning of the 18th, I left with the remainder of my command for Alexandria, at which place we arrived about 5 p.m. same day.
General Mower, upon his arrival on the 16th, found the place had been evacuated but a few hours before, the enemy retreating toward Natchitoches. He took possession of three pieces of artillery and some ordnance stores, which the enemy had not time to remove. My instructions being to report to Major-General Banks at this place I disembarked my command and went into camp, he not having arrived. On the morning of the 19th 100 cavalry, sent forward with dispatches from the advance of the land column of General Banks' command, arrived. On the 20th, the Cavalry Division of his command, under command of Brig. Gen. A. L. Lee, arrived and went into camp, and the same day Brigadier-General Stone, chief of staff, with a portion of the staff of Major-General Banks, came by river. Learning that a portion of General Dick Taylor's command were in the vicinity of Henderson's Hill, on Bayou Rapides, about 22 miles from Alexandria, on the direct road to Natchitoches, I directed Brigadier-General Mower to take the First Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, one regiment of infantry and one battery of light artillery from the Third Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, and the First Brigade, Cavalry Division, of General Lee's command, and proceed to Henderson's Hill, dislodge the enemy from that position, and send forward his cavalry to Red River, clearing all the country between Bayou Rapides and Red River. Leaving Alexandria on the morning of the 21st, General Mower reached the vicinity of Henderson's Hill the same night and found it occupied by the enemy with both cavalry and artillery. Leaving three regiments of infantry, one section of the battery, and the cavalry to occupy the attention of the enemy in front, he took two regiments of infantry, one section of the battery, and the Sixteenth Indiana Mounted Infantry and made a detour to the left under cover of the darkness and came in on their rear. Here, capturing a courier who had been sent from the hill with dispatches for General Dick Taylor, he succeeded in obtaining the countersign, and learning from the dispatches that there was only one regiment of cavalry and one battery of artillery on the hill he moved forward and completely surprised the whole force, capturing them in detail at their camp-fires without a shot being fired. The regiment was the Second Louisiana (rebel) Cavalry, with horses and equipments, and Edgar's battery of light artillery, of four pieces, all complete, the prisoners numbering 262. The detachment making the capture had marched that day over 30 miles through rain and mud. On the morning of the 22d, General Mower returned with his command to Alexandria.
On the 26th, General Banks having arrived, I was directed by him to march my command to Cotile Landing and await the arrival of our transports, it being considered dangerous to attempt to take them over the falls with the troops on them. I arrived with the command at Cotile Landing on the 28th; embarked the troops as the transports arrived, and on the 2d of April proceeded up the river, with orders to report to Major-General Banks at Grand Ecore. Arrived at Grand Ecore on the 3d, and was ordered by Major-General Banks to be in readiness to leave for Shreveport by land on the 7th instant, and to send the transports with all surplus subsistence stores, baggage, &c., with sufficient guard, by water to the mouth of Loggy Bayou; at that point to await further orders. I accordingly detached Brig. Gen. Thomas Kilby Smith with his Seventeenth Corps for duty with the boats, and directed him to consult with Admiral Porter as to the time and manner of starting. I left with the two divisions of the Sixteenth Corps on the 7th instant, bringing up the rear of the land column. General T. Kilby Smith also left on the same day with the transports, and his report of this part of the expedition is herewith submitted. Moving toward Pleasant Hill in the rear of the land column, the trains of the cavalry, Thirteenth, and Sixteenth Corps, all being in front of me, and the roads very bad, my progress was consequently slow. We kept well closed up, however, on the train, and encamped on the night of the 7th about 8 miles from Grand Ecore. Moving forward at daylight on the morning of the 8th, we encamped at night about 2 miles from Pleasant Hill, having marched about 21 miles. Heard heavy cannonading in front during the afternoon, and sent forward word to General Banks my exact position, and also stated that if he desired I could pass the train with a portion or all of my command. Soon after I learned that the cause of the cannonading was an attack by the enemy upon the cavalry and the Thirteenth Army Corps, which were in the advance about 8 miles beyond Pleasant Hill, and whom the enemy had repulsed and totally routed, capturing their artillery and wagons, and with a loss of nearly one-half the Thirteenth Corps, and that the enemy were only checked by night and the Nineteenth Corps. Ordering my men to bivouac upon their arms, and throwing out pickets to their flanks and rear, we rested until morning, when, by permission of General Banks, I moved forward to, Pleasant Hill and formed line of battle across the Mansfield road. During the night and morning the remaining and disorganized parties of the cavalry and Thirteenth Army Corps arriving, passed through the lines and halted. Early in the morning they, with the trains, were ordered to proceed immediately to Grand Ecore, leaving on the field part of the Nineteenth and two divisions of the Sixteenth Army Corps. Line of battle was formed as follows: First Brigade of General Emory's command of the Nineteenth Corps on the extreme right and right flank, the Third and First Divisions, Sixteenth Army Corps, on the right and left center, and the remaining troops of the Thirteenth Corps on the extreme left and left flank, my right lapping a brigade on Emory's left and about 400 yards in its rear. The Second Brigade, Third Division, Col. William T. Shaw commanding, was ordered early in the morning to report to Brigadier-General Emory, and was stationed in front of the center of his command.
The enemy's skirmishers appeared on Colonel Shaw's front about noon, and there was desultory skirmishing at different parts of the line until about 4.30 p.m., when the enemy made his attack on the right center, driving in the outposts and the brigade of the Nineteenth Corps in my front through my line, they reforming in my rear. Advancing my line slightly to be able to close with and support Shaw's brigade, the battle immediately became general. The enemy had been re-enforced during the afternoon with two divisions of infantry from Price's command, and their troops, flushed with their success of the previous day, seemed determined to break through our line, charging it with desperate energy. Fearing that Shaw's brigade might be totally enveloped, I directed him to fall back and connect with my right. In the mean time the enemy's right had advanced beyond my extreme left and were taken in flank and rolled up by the First Brigade, Third Division, Col. William F. Lynch commanding. Seizing the opportunity I ordered a charge by the whole line, and we drove them back, desperately fighting, step by step across the field, through the wood, and into the open field beyond, fully a mile from the battle-field, when they took advantage of the darkness and fell back toward Mansfield thoroughly whipped and demoralized. In the charge we captured nearly 1,000 prisoners, five pieces of artillery, and six caissons. The artillery was brought off, but the caissons were left until morning. The casualties in my command were as follows: Killed, 98; wounded, 529; missing, 124; total, 751. A large proportion of the missing were of the Thirty-second Iowa, which was on the left of Shaw's brigade, and were nearly surrounded in the early part of the battle during the enemy's first charge. The loss of the enemy in killed was unusually severe.
A brigade of cavalry which charged Shaw's brigade in the early part of the action were almost annihilated, he allowing them to approach within 50 yards before opening fire. The prisoners captured were many of them from Missouri regiments, belonging to the divisions that had re-enforced the enemy during the engagement. The darkness compelled us to cease pursuit.
Anticipating the order to follow up our success by a vigorous pursuit, the next morning I sent the Third Brigade, Third Division, Col. R. M. Moore commanding, about 2 miles out on the road taken by the retreating enemy, with orders to watch their movements and gain all the information possible, and fell back with the remainder of my command and bivouacked in line on the field of battle. The opinion of Major-General Banks as to the action of the command and its results may be gathered from his own words to me on the field just after the final charge, when, riding up to me, he remarked, shaking me by the hand, "God bless you, general; you have saved the army."
About 12 o'clock on the night of the 9th, I received orders from General Banks to have my command in readiness to move at 2 o'clock in the morning, and at that hour to withdraw them silently from the field and follow the Nineteenth Army Corps back to Grand Ecore, making such disposition of my troops and trains as would enable me to repel an attack on the rear of the column. I represented to him that the dead of my command were not buried, and that I had not the means of transporting my wounded; that many of the wounded had not yet been gathered in from the field, and asked of him permission to remain until noon the next day to give me an opportunity to bury my dead and leave the wounded as well provided for as the circumstances would permit. I also urged the fact that General Thomas Kilby Smith's command, then 30 miles above us on transports in the river, would undoubtedly be captured and the transports lost if left to themselves. The permission to remain was, however, refused and the order to move made peremptory. I therefore provided as well as possible for the wounded, left medical officers to attend to them, and moved at the designated hour, following the Nineteenth Corps. We reached Grand Ecore on the evening of the 11th, no attack on the rear having been made by the enemy, and went into camp. On the evening of the 13th, nothing having been heard from a portion of our transports save that they had been attacked with infantry and artillery upon both sides of the river, I marched up with two brigades of my command on the north bank of the river to help them through, if possible, crossing the river at Grand Ecore at about 4 p.m. We reached Campti, 12 miles above, the same night and met a portion of the fleet there, they having by energy, good judgment, and rare good fortune succeeded in running the batteries and land forces of the enemy without the loss of a boat, though some were completely riddled with shot. The report of Brig. Gen. T. Kilby Smith accompanies this, and you are also respectfully referred to the report of Rear-Admiral D.D. Porter, already on file. On the 14th, I returned to Grand Ecore with the rear of the fleet.
Pursuant to orders from Major-General Banks, after placing a proper guard on each of my transports, with directions for them to proceed down the river to Alexandria, I moved with the remainder of my command on the 20th to Natchitoches. Occupying this place as a point de resistance with my troops, the remainder of General Banks' forces passed between us and the river, continuing the retreat to Alexandria.
On the morning of the 21st, I left Natchitoches and fell in the rear of the land column, which position I occupied with my command, alternating the divisions day by day until we reached Alexandria. From the day of our leaving Natchitoches, the enemy pushed the pursuit vigorously; the rear was skirmishing every day and nearly all day. Twice during the march we were obliged to form line and teach them a lesson. At Cloutierville, on the 23d, they charged the rear division, General T. Kilby Smith's, but he repulsed them neatly and thoroughly after about an hour's fighting. During this engagement in the rear, the advance, having reached Cane River, found the bluffs on the other side occupied by a small force of the enemy, who disputed the crossing. Although the cavalry, Thirteenth, and Nineteenth Corps, were in advance of me, and notwithstanding the engagement with the enemy's cavalry in the rear, General Banks sent back an order for me to send General Mower with a strong brigade to force the passage of Cane River. Fearing to weaken my line during the engagement, I answered him in substance that it would be impracticable for me to comply with the order. Later in the day the passage was easily forced by detachments of the Thirteenth and Nineteenth Corps. On the afternoon of the 26th, we reached Alexandria and went into camp in line of battle, the Nineteenth Corps on the right, the Thirteenth Corps in advance of the center, and my command on the left. We remained in the vicinity of Alexandria in the same relative position until the 13th of May, the interim being occupied in getting the gun-boats over the falls and daily skirmishing with the enemy.
On the 28th of April, the enemy having driven in the skirmishers of the Thirteenth Corps, the corps fell back reluctantly, in compliance, it was said, with orders from Major-General Banks, three times repeated, abandoning and setting on fire their camp and garrison equipage, stores, and forage. Not knowing that it was done by order, I took the Second Brigade, Third Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, Col. William T. Shaw commanding, and put out the fire, rescued the stores, and saved much of the camp and garrison equipage. This brigade remained on the ground until the next morning, when it returned to its camp.
On the 13th of May, the boats having passed the falls, the retreat was again resumed, my command falling into its old place in the rear. Continuing down the river as far as Fort De Russy, in order to be at hand to protect the boats if necessary, we reached the fort on the night of the 14th. From this point the guards on the boats were considered sufficient to protect them, and they were therefore ordered around to Simsport, on the Atchafalaya Bayou, toward which the land column was turned. On the 15th instant, while crossing Avoyelles Prairie, a brigade of the enemy's cavalry, with about twelve pieces of artillery, appeared in front and attempted to delay and annoy the column. My command was ordered forward into line on the right of the Nineteenth Corps, the Thirteenth Corps being on the extreme left. Line being formed, I sent Capt. William S. Burns, acting assistant inspector-general of my staff, to report the fact and ask for instructions, which were given him by Brig. Gen. William Dwight, chief of staff of Major-General Banks, in the following words: "Say to General Smith that the Thirteenth Corps will press their (the enemy's) right. He with his command will attack their left, while with the Nineteenth Corps we pierce their center."
As the several commands moved forward in line to execute these instructions, the brigade of cavalry galloped away, taking their artillery with them. We reached the vicinity of Simsport on the 16th, skirmishing with the pursuing cavalry. Our boats being there, a bridge was made of them across the Atchafalaya, and on the 17th, 18th, and 19th, the Thirteenth and Nineteenth Corps and the cavalry crossed the bayou.
On the 18th of May, while lying in line protecting the crossing of the other corps, the enemy made a severe attack on the lines, driving in the skirmishers. I was at the time at the landing, but had left orders with General Mower, in case the enemy attacked, to use whatever force was necessary to drive them back. He therefore ordered the line forward, driving them easily for about 2 miles across an open field and through a briar thicket, thickly interspersed with dead trees on the other side, beyond which he found them drawn up in force far outnumbering his, with about twenty pieces of artillery posted to support them. Withdrawing to the edge of the first field General Mower formed line, concealed by the thicket, and bringing his artillery up to close range awaited their advance. They soon came, when, after giving them a few rounds of canister and case-shot, he ordered a charge with the bayonet, repulsing them with terrible slaughter and driving them again through the thicket into the field beyond under protection of their artillery.
Withdrawing to his old position near the thicket they charged him again, and were a second time driven back with severe loss. The firing during the second charge set the thicket on fire, so that it formed a barrier impassable for either party. Withdrawing his troops to the open field, General Mower sent those that had been the heaviest engaged to their camps and formed a new line with the remainder, who bivouacked in line during the night. We captured 156 prisoners in the charge. Our loss was: Killed, 38; wounded, 226; missing, 3; total, 267. Lists of casualties and captures are herewith inclosed, with reports of brigade and division commanders. No further attack was made, and pursuit by the enemy stopped from this day.
I crossed the bridge on the 20th, bringing up the rear, and marched to Red River Landing, on the Mississippi River, whither our boats had been sent, and reported, by order of Major-General Banks, to Maj. Gen. E. R. S. Canby for further orders, and was by him directed to proceed to Vicksburg with my command, which I did, reaching that place on the 23d of May, having been gone seventy-four days.
The results of the expedition may be summed up as follows: I captured with my command 22 pieces of artillery, 1,757 prisoners, and Fort De Russy, with a strong casemated battery, which the gunboats would not have been able to pass. My loss was 153 killed, 849 wounded, and 133 missing; total, 1,135; also 1 6-mule wagon. My entire command numbered originally 9,200.
Of the general officers attached to my command I cannot speak too highly. Brig. Gen. (now Maj. Gen.) J. A. Mower, by his perception and prompt action at Fort De Russy, Henderson's Hill, and Pleasant Hill, and by his gallantry and skill at Yellow Bayou, near Simsport, May 18, has won the right to a high estimate and position in the annals of the war. Quick perception, ready courage, an abundant vitality, added to skill and education, give him the power to sway men as if by magnetism. Brig. Gen. Thomas Kilby Smith, with excellent judgment and skill, brought the boats safely through the intricacies and shoals of Red River back to Grand Ecore, although continually under fire. His repulse of the cavalry charge upon his division at Cloutierville was well and neatly done. I commend him as a gallant officer and gentleman. I had hearty and energetic co-operation on the part of my brigade commanders, two of whom, Col. S. G. Hill, Thirty-fifth Iowa, and Col. William F. Lynch, Fifty-eighth Illinois, were severely wounded. Col. William T. Shaw, Fourteenth Iowa, commanding brigade, proved himself an excellent officer and rendered invaluable service at Fort De Russy, Pleasant Hill, and Yellow Bayou. He is a brave, energetic, and intelligent officer.
To all the officers and men of the command praise is due for their cheerful, enduring, and ready obedience. Each and all the officers of my staff were untiring and active in their respective duties. I am much indebted to their intelligent action and ready appreciation of the situation. Arms, eyes, and heads seemed their main attributes during the whole campaign. I add their names as a matter of record, as their well-deserved promotion has overtaken all who are now in service: Capt. John Hough, assistant adjutant-general; Capt. William S. Burns, Fourth Missouri Cavalry, acting assistant inspector-general; Capt. J. J. Lyon, Twenty-fourth Missouri Infantry, judge-advocate; Surg. N. R. Derby, medical director, wounded May 18; Maj. E. A. Warner, Fourteenth Iowa Infantry, provost-marshal; Capt. Ross Wilkinson, aide-de-camp; Capt. Samuel Caldwell, Eighth Illinois Infantry, acting aide-de-camp; Lieut. George W. Fetterman, Fifteenth U. S. Infantry, assistant commissary of musters; Lieut. John B. Pannes, Seventeenth New York Infantry, ordnance officer.
I have the honor to be, with much respect, your obedient servant,
A. J. SMITH,
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