The Red River Campaign and Its Toll

69 Bloody Days in Louisiana, March–May 1864

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About the Book

The Red River Campaign in the spring of 1864 was one of the most destructive of the Civil War. The agricultural wealth of the Red River Valley tempted Union General Nathaniel P. Banks to invade with 30,000 troops in an attempt to seize control of the river and confiscate as much cotton as possible from local plantations. After three months of chaos, during which the countryside was destroyed and many slaves freed themselves, Banks was defeated by a smaller Confederate force under General Richard Taylor. This book takes a fresh look at the fierce battles at Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, the Union army’s escape from Monett’s Ferry and the burning of Alexandria, and explains the causes and consequences of the war in Central Louisiana.

About the Author(s)

Henry O. Robertson is associate professor of history at Louisiana College. He lives in Alexandria, Louisiana.

Bibliographic Details

Henry O. Robertson
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 220
Bibliographic Info: 31 photos, 6 maps, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6378-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2447-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments viii

Preface 1

Introduction 7

One—The Curtain Rises: The Red River Valley, 1803–1860 23

Two—The Secession Crisis: Unionists and Confederates, 1860–1861 37

Three—The Pain of Sacrifice: The Red River Home Front, 1862–1864 55

Four—Cotton, Cotton, Cotton: 1863–1864 67

Five—The Campaign Begins: January–March 1864 77

Six—The Most Terrible Charge: The Battle of Mansfield, April 8, 1864 95

Seven—The Union Hold at Pleasant Grove: April 8, 1864 108

Eight—The Tumult of Pleasant Hill: April 9, 1864 116

Nine—The Old South and Cane River Crossing: April 23, 1864 133

Ten—Gone with the Wind: The Burning of Alexandria and the End of the Campaign, May 13–18, 1864 149

Conclusion 168

Chapter Notes 179

Bibliography 196

Index 207

Book Reviews & Awards

Winner, Tom and Ada Myrick Award—North Louisiana Civil War Roundtable of Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana

“an accessible and fast-paced account…impressive…well-researched and well-written…Robertson, in researching and crafting his work, seems to have left few stones unturned…breathes fresh life into one of the more obscure campaigns of the American Civil War”—The Civil War Monitor; “Robertson does an admirable job relating campaign events to readers. Written after years of research, the work utilizes many primary sources in an effort to bring the voice of common soldiers to the reader”—Civil War News; “one of the best researched of the campaign’s many overview histories”—Civil War Books and Authors; “gives a detailed account of the Red River Campaign, fierce and deadly three month long battle through Central Louisiana’s cotton territory”—ProtoView.