Tricounty News

Civil War Digest April 6-12, 1864

Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday, April 6, 1864

As states which had seceded and become part of the Confederacy were militarily defeated, there followed a time of political reorganization in each. Those who held office were required to take an oath of loyalty to the Union or they were to be replaced. Louisiana passed their new state constitution on this date, little changed, but it abolished slavery.

After the Federal troops captured Natchitoches, La., during the Red River Campaign, military leaders were putting the plans together for the next 75 miles of river to Shreveport. However, with a low river, many of the transports and gunboats couldn’t make it further upriver. Brigadier General Charles P. Stone, acting as chief of staff for Major General Nathaniel P. Banks, advised Brigadier General A.J. Smith to select shallow draft boats for troop movements.

Thursday, April 7, 1864

Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet, who was detached from the Army of Northern Virginia and spent the last few months in Kentucky and North Georgia, was recalled to Virginia.

Confederate cavalry continued to harass Major General Nathaniel Bank’s Federals as they approached Mansfield, Louisiana as part of the Red River Campaign.

Friday, April 8, 1864

BATTLE OF SABINE CROSSROADS

By a vote of 38 to 6, the U. S. Senate approved the 13th Amendment and sent it to the states for ratification.

Confederate Major General Richard Taylor’s 14,000 troops from the District of West Louisiana and the Trans-Mississippi Department clashed with 12,000 Federals of the XIII and XIX Corps of Major General Nathaniel Banks’s Army of the Gulf at Mansfield, La., at Sabine Crossroads. Even though the Confederates had the numerical advantage and launched several charged on the Union lines, they were repulsed by Brigadier General William H. Emory’s Federals just prior to nightfall. Confederates sustained an estimated 1,000-man loss, while the Federals had 113 killed, 581 wounded and 1,541 captured or missing, along with losses of 20 artillery pieces, 156 wagons and a thousand horses and mules that were killed or captured. More than half of the Federal casualties came from four regiments in the XIII Corps.

Saturday, April 9, 1864

BATTLE OF PLEASANT HILL

Federal forces regrouped 16 miles away at the village of Pleasant Hill during the night, following the previous day’s battle at Sabine Crossroads. Both Confederate Major General Richard Taylor and Federal Major General Nathaniel P. Banks received reinforcements during the overnight period, each side having around 12,000 troops. Skirmishing began in the early afternoon, but the main Confederate attack didn’t begin until 5 p.m. The Federal defenders withstood several attacks over a two-hour period and slowly regained the advantage. Even though the battle was a tactical victory for the Federals, Banks withdrew his forces to Grand Ecore, La., effectively ending the campaign. The Federals lost 150 killed, 844 wounded and 375 missing for a total of 1,369. Confederate losses are estimated at 1,200 killed or wounded and 426 prisoners for a total of 1,626. The 32nd Iowa Volunteer Infantry, cut off from the rest of the Federals, suffered severe losses.

Sunday, April 10, 1864

Federal Major General Nathaniel P. Banks began withdrawing his troops from Pleasant Hill back to Grand Ecore, La., ending the Red River Campaign. Major General Frederick Steele’s troops departed Louisiana for Little Rock, Ark.

Confederate Lieutenant General Kirby Smith took command of the Confederate forces around Pleasant Hill and ordered Lieutenant General Richard Taylor to withdraw his forces back to Mansfield, La.

Admiral David Dixon Porter and his 17 ironclads and other supply ships steamed back up the Red River to rejoin Banks. The trip was halted a mile above Loggy Bayou, La., where local Confederates took the vessel New Falls City, and wedged it sideways across the stream. The perpetrators of the deed left a poster on the vessel’s mast inviting the Federals to attend a fancy ball in Shreveport. Porter admitted that he appreciated the humor.

Monday, April 11, 1864

On the water, Admiral David Dixon Porter’s gunboats were subjected to small-arms and artillery fire from the banks of the Red River. This was hard to avoid as the water was getting very low, making maneuvering difficult.

Tuesday, April 12, 1864

FORT PILLOW MASSACRE

One of the bleakest and most tragic moments in American military history occurred on the Mississippi River near Henning, Tenn. Confederate Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest led an assault on the 600-man Federal garrison at Fort Pillow. Forrest had three horses shot from under him as the garrison was overrun in a series of assaults. As the Federal troops, most of them from two African-American regiments, surrendered, Forrest’s men massacred them in cold blood. The Confederates lost 14 killed and 86 wounded out of 2,500 engaged, while the Federal’s sustained losses of approximately 350 killed and mortally wounded, 60 wounded, 164 captured and missing for an aggregate total of 574 of the 600 engaged.

A brief engagement occurred near Blair’s Landing in Red River Parish, Lousiana. Confederate Brigadier General Tom Green led his cavalry division on a raid at the landing where he discovered grounded and damaged Federal transports and gunboats. Green’s troops were met by Federal Brigadier General Thomas Kilby Smith’s XVII Corps provisional division and sailors from Admiral David Dixon Porter’s Mississippi River Squadron. Even though the Federals repulsed the attack, they sustained seven killed or wounded to the Confederates 200 aggregate losses. Green was among the killed when he was decapitated by a naval artillery shell.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of April 6-12, 1864

Active units

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Fort Snelling prior to mustering out of Federal service on April 29, 1864.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Ringgold, Ga., until April 29, 1864.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in Little Rock, Ark., until April 28, 1864.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Huntsville, Ala., until June 22, 1864.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Nathaniel Bank’s Red River Campaign and fought in the battle of Pleasant Hill.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at various Minnesota outposts for garrison duty until June 9, 1864.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in St. Louis, Mo., until April 20, 1864.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On frontier duty at various points in Minnesota: Anoka, Princeton, Monticello, Kingston, Manannah, Paynesville, Fort Ripley, Sauk Center, Pomme de Terre, Alexandria and Fort Abercrombie until May 1864.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Stationed at Rolla, Jefferson City, LaMine Bridge, Warrensburg, Independence, Knob Noster, Kansas City, Waynesville and Franklin with headquarters in Jefferson City until April 14, 1864.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison and provost duty at Benton Barracks, Mo., until April 21, 1864.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry – On duty at Fort Snelling and at frontier posts throughout Minnesota until May 24, 1864.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – On duty at Fort Snelling until May 1, 1864.

Hatch’s Independent Battalion of Cavalry – Companies A, B, C and D on frontier duty in Pembina until May 5, 1864.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – Veterans were on furlough. Non-veteran members of the battery were en route from Vicksburg, Miss., to Cairo, Ill., where they were rejoined by furloughed members on April 17, 1864.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Veterans were on furlough through June 5, 1864. Non-veterans attached to Battery I, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery and moved to Nashville, Tenn., where they escorted cattle and horses to the army in the field until July 14, 1864.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery - Various sections of the battery were stationed at Fort Snelling, Fort Ridgely, Fort Ripley and Pembina until June 5, 1864.

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – On duty around the Rapidan River, Va., until May 4, 1864.

Inactive units

1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Formally mustered out of service on Dec. 7, 1863. Inactive.