On to Battle
Major General Nathaniel P. Banks, of the Union army, led the Red River Campaign, which started in March of 1864. Rear Admiral David D. Porter led the campaign's navy. The official purpose of the mission was to gain control of Shreveport. This move would cut a link between Texas and the rest of the Confederacy and prevent the movement of men and supplies between them. It would also put valuable cotton that was stored in barns along the river in Union hands.
Admiral Porter was worried about the mission from the start. First, he was very critical of Banks' ability to lead. Banks had lost key battles in Virginia, which harmed his reputation. Second, Porter had noted that the Red River was too low, and he feared the mission was in danger. Despite his concerns, Porter's warning was dismissed. Banks received his orders, and the campaign began.
In 1863, Major General Banks had captured Port Hudson. This gave the Union access to the Mississippi and Red rivers. The first official act of the Red River Campaign was at Fort DeRussy, in Avoyelles Parish, on March 14, 1864. Union forces attacked the fort and quickly captured it. The next goal was to seize the city of Alexandria.
(Top) Union Major General Nathaniel P. Banks. Courtesy of the National Archives 111-BA-1528.
(Middle) Confederate Major General Richard Taylor. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-B813-2113 B [P&P].
(Bottom) Union Rear Admiral David D. Porter. Courtesy of the National Archives NWDNS-111-B-1889.
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