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Our prisoners say that the slaughter of the ant advantage to either side. The cavalry enconfederates on the first day was enormous; that camped about seven miles in advance of the main they lost many times the killed and wounded arn.y. Next morning (Friday, the eighth) the that we did. They were pretty crazy with Lou- army started toward Mansfield, a distance of isiana rum and whisky, and while they rushed seventeen miles from Pleasant Hill. About noon, forward fearlessly, their aim was not so steady while the enemy was in line of march, aras our men's. Still, they had sharp-shooters, who rived at the front, at a small bayou, where a were cool enough. Our loss of officers was three bridge was being built. General Banks at once times as great as usual, according to the number assumed command of the army in the field. of men. Three out of the four brigade com- There was almost constant skirmishing all the manders were probably killed, and General Ran- way from Pleasant Hill to the place where the som, commanding detachment of corps, was se- battle afterward occurred. When General Banks verely wounded. We have but one general and arrived at the bayou, the Nineteenth army corps three colonels remaining in the corps—that part were several miles in the rear, the Thirteenth of it with us, either fifteen or sixteen regiments. army corps were crossing the newly constructed
The Eighty-third did finely. When it left the bridge, and General Lee's cavalry, about five right to move to the left, although the enemy thousand men, some three miles in advance, towere close to us, and one captain and several gether with Nim's celebrated battery, the Chicamen fell, still the regiment marched off coolly go Mercantile battery, First Indiana, and battery and in perfect order, at right shoulder shist arms, G, of the regular army. The Fourth division, Thirranks well closed up.
teenth army corps, under command of General The gunboats have had some flurries since the Ransom, were hurried forward as a support to transports got down here, and the pickets are the cavalry. About three o'clock p.M., when assailed occasionally ; but there is little danger within two miles of Mansfield, the advance army, of an attack here, although it has been expected, consisting of cavalry, artillery, and Fourth diand we have been ready for it all the time. vision, Thirteenth army corps, above mentioned,
Troops at arms at three o'clock, and occasional while marching through a dense pine forest, there orders that we shall be engaged in fifteen min- being thick undergrowth of fines on either side utes, or that they are closing in on the right or of the road, were attacked by the rebels in great left.
force, on both flanks and in the front. The enOur hospital teams and supplies are away to gagement soon became general; the rebels sudthe rear.
We are in line of battle in the woods, denly opening with artillery, and musketry, a slashing in front of us, (trees cut down,) and a charging our suprised and panic-stricken columns part of the line extending from the river above with terrific yells, evincing a daring and deterto the river below has rifle-pits, breast-works, mination worthy of a better cause. General and batteries. We can whip forty thousand Banks and General Franklin hurried to the front, here, but they will not attack us, in a place of and were in the thickest of the fight. our own choosing.
tillery was speedily put in position at the exThe river is falling fast, and I expect every treme front, and for a while did excellent service. hour an order to get out of here. H. W.
Finding the front rather too dangerous for Major-
rear of the wagon-train, just in time to save themGRAND ECORE, April 13, 1864. selves from capture, as the rebels pressed upon The grand expedition up Red River, which both sides of our army with crushing effect. "A promised such beneficial results, has met with ball passed through General Banks's hat. Evean unexpected and disastrous check.
ry thing was soon in the wildest confusion ; the On the sixth of April the Union army, under wagon-train being in the rear, and in the narrow command of Major-General Franklin, moved road, attempted to turn round to fall back, and from Natchitoches (pronounced Nackitosh) to completely blocked up the way, cutting off the ward Shreveport. Natchitoches is four miles advance both from a way of retreat, and from from Red River, the nearest point on the river reënforcements. The rebels had formed in the being Grand Ecore, the place from which this shape of an isosceles triangle, leaving the base letter is dated. The road from Natchitoches is open, and at the apex planting their artillery. through a dense forest of pine woods, the surface Our advance marched directly into the triangle, of the country being broken and hilly. There having the two wings of the rebel forces on are but few plantations opened, and nothing either side of them. These wings were speediupon which to subsist an army. On Thursday ly connected, compelling our forces to retreat or night, the seventh, the army camped at Pleasant surrender. The batteries above mentioned, conHill, a small town in the pine woods, about sisting of twenty pieces in all, were now capthirty miles north-east of Natchitoches, on the tured, together with nearly all the officers and road to Shreveport. The wagon-road leaves the men. The Chicago Mercantile battery was capriver to the right some fifteen or twenty miles, tured entire, and I am informed that all her offirendering the cooperation of the gunboats im- cers and men fell into the hands of the enemy. possible. Before encamping at Pleasant Hill, The Fourth division, Thirteenth army corps, there was a sharp cavalry skirmish about two two thousand eight hundred men, under General miles beyond that place, resulting in no import- Ransom, and General Lee's cavalry, about three
thousand strong, and the batteries above mention- their precipitate retreat from the battle-field to ed, were the forces in advance of the wagon-train. Pleasant Hill. These forces fought desperately for a while, but Saturday morning General Banks ordered a gave way under superior numbers of the rebels, retreat of the whole army to Grand Ecore. The and retreated in great precipitation. The scene wagon-trains and the heavy artillery, guarded by of this retreat beggars all description. General the negro regiments, took the advance, leaving Franklin said of it, that “Bull Run was not a Pleasant Hill early in the morning. It required circumstance in comparison.” General Ransom nearly all day to get the immense train in mowas wounded in the knee, but rode off the field tion, the advance being at least fifteen miles disbefore he was compelled, by loss of blood, to dis- tant before the rear got fairly started. mount. Captain Dickey, of General Ransom's About five o'clock P.m., just as the wagonstaff, was shot through the head and killed in- train of General Banks's army had all got in mostantly. His body was left on the field. The tion, the rebels attacked our army in great force. position of the wagon-train in the narrow road, Our forces were posted so as to effectually cover was the great blunder of the affair. The rear our retreat; the right resting about half a mile was completely blocked up, rendering the retreat north-west of the town of Pleasant Hill, the very difficult, and in fact
, almost impossible. centre about a half-mile to the west, and the left Cavalry horses were dashing at full speed through still further west, about a half-mile in the woods. the roads, endangering infantry and other pe- The Sixteenth army corps, commanded by Gendestrians more than rebel musketry, the retreat eral A. J. Smith, occupied the right up to the having become so precipitate that all attempts to centre, and the Nineteenth army corps, under make a stand, for a while seemed impossible. General Franklin, the left up to the centre. The
The immense baggage and supply train of Gen- reserves were posted about a half-mile in the eral Lee's cavalry, consisting of two hundred and rear. The forces supporting the Sixteenth army sixty-nine wagons, nearly all fell into the hands corps were the Forty-ninth Illinois, commanded of the enemy, together with the mules attached by Major Thomas W. Morgan; One Hundred and thereto.
Seventy-eighth New-York, commanded by ColThe Third division, Thirteenth army corps, onel Waler; Eighty-ninth Indiana, commanded by mustering about eighteen thousand men, under Colonel Murray, and the Fifty-c.ighth Illinois. I command of General Cameron, were sent for- have no list of the regiments supporting the Nineward, and endeavored to make a stand. But the teenth army corps. The rebels under Kirby Smith effort was futile. The rebels pressed so hard attacked our whole front in great force, and after a upon General Cameron that he could not resist half-hour of terrible fighting, with musketry and them. After suffering terribly, he fell in with field artillery, our forces fell back on the reserve the retreating column. The Thirteenth army line, a distance of about a half-mile. The enecorps, numbering, in all, four thousand six hun-my pursued with great rapidity, fighting all the dred men when the fight hegan, sustained a loss way, and doing considerable damage. For a in proportion to the number engaged, which is time all seemed lost, but the presence of the perhaps without a parallel in the history of this Western troops inspired confidence in the whole terrible war. The One Hundred and Thirtieth army. When the rebels approached the line of Illinois, commanded by Major Reed, attached to the reserve forces, our armiy was brought into the Fourth division, could only find fifty-eight excellent position, and the fighting again became men after the battle. So precipitate was the re- terrific. The Western boys threw their hats in treat of the Fourth division of this corps, that the air, and raised a yell which was heard above the men only brought off six hundred and forty the roar of artillery and the rattle of musketry. stand of small-arms, hundreds of them throw- That tremendous yell was more terrible to the ing away their guns to facilitate their move- rebels than the thundering peals of cannon. ments. At least one half of the Thirteenth One of the prisoners afterward remarked, that corps were killed, wounded, or captured. Gen- when they heard that shout, the word passed eral Lee's cavalry lost heavily, but some time round: “There are the Western boys—we will must elapse before correct estimates can be ob- catch h-1 now.” In a short time their column tained.
began to waver. General A. J. Smith ordered a The retreating column fell back some four or charge along the whole line. The order was five miles, when the Nineteenth army corps, quickly obeyed. Another shout was raised from under General Ewing, came up and succeeded in our boys. General Mower advanced to the front, making a stand. The rebels charged upon Gen- and led the charge in person, riding through the eral Ewing's forces, but were checked and re- thickest of the fight, cheering his men on. The pulsed with considerable loss. Night came on, rebels could stand no longer. They broke and and thus ended the battle of Mansfield.
ran in great confusion, throwing away their guns, The stand was made by the Nineteenth army and giving up the day. They were hotly purcorps, which remained on the field until mid- sued by our forces, who pressed them closely, night, when it fell back to Pleasant Hill, a dis- and inflicted terrible blows upon them. The retance of about twelve miles, arriving there about pulse of the rebels was crushing, and attended daylight Saturday morning. General Lee's cav- with immense loss. Whole columns were mowalry and the Thirteenth arıny corps continued led down, under the galling fire from the Western army. They were driven about two miles into vention were composed of the army of the Gulf, the woods, losing about one thousand men, who his chances would be hopeless. He would not were captured, besides a large number of killed get enough votes to save him from that unimand wounded.
portant list put down as “scattering.” Personally, During the battle, the Forty-ninth Illinois, General Banks is a perfect gentleman. I have (Colonel W. R. Morrison's old regiment,) under no prejudice against him, for he has invariably command of Major Morgan, charged upon a rebel treated me with kindness and consideration. battery with determined bravery, and captured But the truth must be told. As a military man, two pieces of artillery and a large number of he is, as the vernacular has it, “played out." prisoners. Adjutant Deneen, of the One Hun- General A. J. Smith protested against the redred and Seventeenth Illinois, reported this fact treat from Pleasant Hill. He wanted to pursue to General Banks. The General replied: “Pre- the rebels on Sunday on his own hook instead of sent my compliments to Major Morgan and his falling back, but General Banks was firm, and regiment, and tell him that I will ever remember ordered all the forces to return, General Smith them for their gallantry.”
is very popular with the army, and every time The rebel prisoners claim to have had twenty: he makes his appearance he is cheered with great five thousand men engaged on Saturday, but I enthusiasm, and considered one of the ablest doubt whether half that number were present. generals of the army. The rebel Generals Parsons and Mouton are re- It is difficult to determine at this time what ported killed.
will be the result of this expedition. It will take Our army remained on the field until daylight some time to reorganize before an advance can Sunday morning, when the retreat to Grand be resumed. If the river continues to fall, navi. Ecore was commenced.
gation above Alexandria will be difficult, if not The rebel killed and wounded were left on the impossible. In that event, Alexandria will field. Our wounded were taken to houses in necessarily become the base of operations inPleasant Hill, and there were placed in ambu- stead of Grand Ecore, or some point above. The lances and wagons and brought on to Grand transports and gunboats are all above Grand Ecore, except about twenty-five, who were badly | Ecore, but are expected down here to-morrow. wounded, and left at Pleasant Hill in care of The rebels are very troublesome on the river two surgeons.
Our dead were left on the field, above Grand Ecore. They succeeded in planting but it is reported that they were afterward a battery between our fleet and this place. The buried by the cavalry.
gunboats shelled the woods all day yesterday, Our killed and wounded during the second and perhaps dislodged them. The transports are day's battle, will, perhaps, amount to one thou- almost constantly fired on from both sides of the sand five hundred. That of the rebels is at least river. Seventeen miles below here, the rebels double that amount. The Sixteenth and Nine- have appeared on the east side of the river. teenth army corps were the only forces engaged Yesterday, the Ohio Belle, loaded with soldiers in this fight on our side.
and quartermaster's stores, in charge of Chief In our retreat to Grand Ecore, a distance of Clerk, Mr. O'Neil, of St. Louis, was fired into at thirty-five miles from Pleasant Hill, we were not that point, and two soldiers were badly wounded. molested in the least. By Monday evening, (the To-day, the fine passenger steamer, Mittie Steeleventh.) the whole army was at Grand Ecore, phens, loaded with troops, was fired into at the on Red River.
same place, sixty shots taking effect. Six perThere is great dissatisfaction expressed on all sons were wounded and one killed. sides, at the generalship displayed by General To-day General Banks's army began crossing Banks. He has lost the confidence of the entire over to the east side of Red River, opposite army. The privates are ridiculing him. Officers Grand Ecore. Whether the whole army will are not loudly but deeply cursing him, and civil cross over or not, I am unable to say. It is ians are unanimous in condemnation of the Com- rumored that only Smith's army (Sixteenth army manding General. The Friday's battle was brought corps) is crossing, and that he is going overland on contrary to General Franklin's plans. And to Natchez or Vicksburgh. But this wants conboth General Franklin and General Ransom pro- firmation, although it is generally understood tested against having the cavalry so far in advance that General Grant has sent an order for Smith's of the main army. General Banks hurried on, return to Vicksburgh. I do not see how General supposing that there was no danger, but the sad Banks can spare the Sixteenth army corps at this defeat at Mansfield is the result. After General time. All the forces have been ordered here Banks left Grand Ecore, he wrote back to Gen- from Alexandria, except one regiment, and a few eral Grover, at Alexandria, saying: “We hope companies of home-guards. General Grover, to meet the enemy this side of Shreveport.” commanding the post at Alexandria, has been Ilis hope has been more than realized. The troops ordered here, and is now expected. Fears are are calling for General Sherman. They say if entertained that the rebels may attack Alexandria Sherman had been in command, he would now for the purpose of destroying the large amoun de in Shreveport, instead of at Grand Ecore. of army supplies at that place. General Banks has been engineering his depart- Admiral Porter has arrived here from above ment more to further his presidential aspirations with two or three of his iron-clads. The fleet of than any thing else. But if the Baltimore Con-l transports above here are in great danger at this
time, and the most serious apprehensions are marched to Natchitoches, an old Indian and entertained for its safety. The transports had French settlement on the banks of what is called, gone as high up as Springfield Landing, expect- by a strange perversion of words, the "old Reid ing to meet the land forces at that place. The River." Natchitoches is as old as Philadelphia, rebels are swarming along the river, and will and so queer and quaint, that I would be tempted sink every boat if they can.
to write you a letter about it, if the events of
this busy time were not so urgent. About four “PHILADELPHIA PRESS" NARRATIVE.
miles from Natchitoches, on the river, there is GRAND ECORE., LA., April 10, 1861. another settlement of dingy houses called Grand The object of General Banks's spring campaign Ecore. The river here, in one of its angry, is political as well as military. The importance whimsical moments, seems to have abandoned of the South-West may be properly estimated one bank and left it a low, wide, shelving plain, when we consider our relations with Mexico, and and so violently intruded upon the other bank the embarrassments occasioned by the French that it is now a high, ragged bluff, with the sides interference with that republic. The occupation in a condition of decay, as every rain-storm of Brownsville, on the Rio Grande, by General slices off layer after_layer of earth. This is Banks, last year, did much toward checking the what is called Grand Ecore, and when our army designs of the French Emperor. An American occupied Natchitoches, General Banks came army was placed on the frontier of the new- hither and made it his headquarters. Admiral made dependency, and any diplomacy between Porter, with his gunboats, accompanied him, and Davis and Napoleon was thus shattered and it is now the headquarters of the army and navy. silenced. That occupation was merely a check. The rebels seem to have contemplated holding To make it a checkmate, the capture of Shreve- Grand Ecore, for on the bluffs around the settle. port was necessary. This town occupies a point ment the remains of works intended for large in the extreme north-western part of Louisiana, guns and as rifle-pits, may be seen. These were near the boundary line of Arkansas and Texas. built last summer when General Banks made a At the head of steamboat navigation on the Red feint upon Shreveport by way of diverting the River, in the midst of the largest and richest cot- attention of the enemy from his attack upon Port ton district in the trans-Mississippi department, Hudson. No attempt was made to fortify it the rebel capital of Louisiana, the headquarters when the present movement began on Sunday, of Kirby Smith, and the dépôt of supplies for April third. General Banks arrived here, and the rebel army, Shreveport is as important to went into camp in a beautiful meadow ground, this department as Chattanooga or Richmond. skirted by pine woods, about two hundred yards If purely military considerations had controlled, from shore, and near a small shallow stream, it is probable that the armies of this department with pine trees growing in it, which the inhabitwould have been devoted to an expedition against ants call a lake. The headquarters of General Mobile, or & coöperating movement with the Franklin were at Natchitoches. army of General Sherman. But the Government That army consisted of about twenty thousand desired Shreveport and the undisturbed posses- men, and was thus commanded : The cavalry sion of the Mississippi, and General Banks was by General Lee, formerly of Grant's ariny-said charged with the duty of taking it. His army to be a favorite of the Lieutenant-General, anıl consisted of a part of the Nineteenth army corps, with the reputation of being an efficient and actwhich he formerly commanded in person; a ive officer. The artillery was under Brigadierportion of the Thirteenth army corps, under General Richard Arnold, a captain of the Second General Ransom; and a portion of the Sixteenth artillery, in the regular army, and chief of the army corps, under the command of General service in this department. General Franklin Smith. The Nineteenth corps is composed was second in command of the forces. He hall mainly of Eastern troops, and came with General one division of his army corps with him, that Banks when he assumed command of this de commanded by General Emory. The division of partment. It is now under the command of Gen- General Green was left at Alexandria to hold the eral William B. Faulkner, formerly of the army post. General Smith's force consisted of two of the Potomac, who is next in authority to Gen- divisions. General Ransom's force also consisteral Banks. The divisions commanded by Gen- ed of two divisions. On this calculation I make eral Smith were recently in Grant's army, and the estimate that the army around Grand Ecore, in the corps commanded by General Hurlbut. under General Banks, on the morning of the SunThey were sent to aid in the movement upon day he assumed command, numbered altogether Shreveport, and began their operations by cap- twenty thousand men. With this army he beturing Fort De Russy, and thus opening the gan his march. The country through which he Red River. General Smith occupied Alexandria, was to move was most disadvantageous for an the parish-town of Rapides, situated on the Red invading army. The topography of Virginia has River, and one of the most beautiful towns in been assigned as a reason for every defeat of the the State. Alexandria was thus made the base army of the Potomac; but Virginia is a garden of operations against Shreveport, and General and a meadow, when compared with the low, Banks, proceeding thence in person, assumed flat pine countries that extend from Opelousas, command of the army.
far in the South, to Fort Smith in the North, After concentrating at Alexandria, the army and cover hundreds of thousands of square Vol. VIII.-Doc. 35
miles. There are few plaatations and fewer set. began to fall. It continued to fall, and for the tlements. These are merely built in clearings, remainder of the day we had a storm of unusual of pine logs, thatched and plastered with mud. fury. This delayed the march so much that it was I have ridden for fisty miles into the heart of this dark before the General reached the encampment pine country, and from the beginning to the end of General Franklin, on Pleasant Hill. The rain of the journey there was nothing but a dense, was then pouring in torrents, and the shelter of impenetrable, interminable forest, traversed by a tent and a cup of coffee became luxuries that a feir narrow roads, with no sign of life or civil- even a Sybarite would have craved. Early in ization beyond occasional log houses and half- the day, on Thursday, our cavalry had passed cleared plantations—the bark being stripped from beyond Pleasant Hill, and about two miles above, the trees, that they might rot and die in a few near a ravine, they had met the rear-guard of the months, and thus save their lazy owners the enemy. A sharp skirmish ensued.
The fighttrouble of cutting them down. Into this country ing became so earnest at last, that General Lee General Banks was compelled to march. He began to doubt the ability of his cavalry to force fouvd, in the beginning, that two arms of his a passage, and sent to General Franklin for a service would be almost worthless. So long as brigade of infantry, as a reenforcernent. The he marched, his cavalry might picket the woods enemy were driven, however, before the infantry and skirmish along the advance; but in action arrived, with severe loss, the cavalry being comthey would be as helpless as so many wagon- pelled to dismount, and fight through the woods. trains. His artillery would be of no use unless In this skirmish we lost about fifty men, killed, he should manage to get the enemy into an open wounded, and missing. clearing, which was as improbable as it would be This skirmish convinced us that the enemy in to get troops with works to fight in front of them. front were in more than usual force. We learned The country was little more than a great masked from prisoners that Lieutenant-General E. Kirby battery. It was an unproductive, barren conn. Smith, of the rebel army, was in command, that try, and it became necessary for permanent mili- his trains had fallen back on the road to Manstary operations to carry along every thing that an field, and that his army was retreating with more army could use. Such a thing as subsisting an than usual disorder. It, of course, suggested army in a country like this could only be achieved itself that our pursuit should be rapid, and, if when men and horses can be induced to live on we showed proper enterprise, we might capture pine trees and resin. General Banks had very Mansfield and the whole train of the rebel army. much the same difficulties to meet that Lord Rag- An order was given that the army should march lan found in the Crimea. In one respect they were early in the morning, and shortly after dawn the greater. For, while our commander was com- whole force was on the advance, General Banks pelled to march his army as a movable column, and staff following. The advance was pushed he was also compelled to keep open a long and with energy. Our army skirmished all the way, dangerous line of communication. I make these and once or twice the enemy made a demonstraexplanations now in order that you may more tion of force. Our troops quietly drove them, particularly understand the nature of our recent and we moved on. The roads began to be in a operations, and give General Banks the credit horrible condition, and frequently we were comthat I feel to be due to him and to the army un. pelled to halt and repair thein, building bridges, der his command.
removing stumps, and widening the paths. At About thirty-four miles from Grand Ecore there about eleven in the morning General Banks is a clearing of more than usual size, and upon it reached General Franklin, at a point about ten there are built more than the ordinary number of iniles from Pleasant Hill. The cavalry had houses, and showing more than the common de passed on, the train following. One division of gree of enterprise and taste. This clearing forms his infantry had crossed, the Fourth division of a plateau, and as it rises as high perhaps as fifty the Thirteenth army corps, under the immediate feet, the people have taken advantage of the fact, command of Brigadier-General Ransom. His and called it Pleasant Hill.” Against this point men were engaged in building a bridge over a it was determined to march. We knew that the bayou that embarrassed the march, and his rebel army was in that direction, and it was not trains were about to cross. He reported to at all unlikely that they would make a stand and General Banks that every thing was going on show us battle. The army marched accordingly-tinely; that his force was pressing the enemy, Lee leading the advance, moving slowly with his who was slowly falling back, and that as he cavalry, and followed as rapidly as possible by could not hope to march much further, he had the infantry divisions of General Ransom. By thought it best to make his headquarters at a Thursday, April seventh, the whole army was in neighboring loy hut, and had accordingly halted motion, and the advance was nearing Pleasant his trains. General Banks directed bis own Hill. Genera. Banks broke camp, and with his trains to be halted there, and, aster resting a while staff and a small escort rode to the front. Be and holding a conference with General Franklin, fore him were two thirds of his army; behind remounted and rode to the front. him, the remainder, under General Smith, and This was shortly after noon. A brief ride composed of many of the bravest veterans in brought the General to the advance. Ile found Grant's army, was marching rapidly. We had the cavalry slowly pushing on, anil the enemy not ridden more than ten miles when the rain | disputing their march. It was a tedious process