(Below) Repulse of the Rebels at Pleasant Hill, Louisiana. From Harper's Weekly, May 7, 1864. Courtesy of Edwin Adams Davis.

     The next day, Banks regrouped his army and repulsed Taylor's advance at Pleasant Hill, allowing Union forces to withdraw to Grand Ecore and rejoin the navy. Taylor's men withdrew, and Banks ordered a retreat to Grand Ecore. Then, both the Union army and navy headed to Alexandria. Along the way, Taylor's men fired on Banks' army and ambushed Porter's gunboats. The low waters of the Red River made it hard for the Union fleet to escape. The largest gunboat, the Eastport, hit a mine, and it sank. The Union was able to re-float it, but could not tow it to safety. The Union navy blew up the Eastport to keep the Confederates from capturing it.

     Back in Alexandria, Porter's worst fears came true. Ten of his gunboats became trapped above the rapids. Stuck in less than 4 feet of water, they could not move. The lightest boats in the fleet would need at least 7 feet of water to pass over the rapids. Things seemed hopeless. Supplies in Alexandria were low. The expedition was under attack by Confederates firing from nearby forests. Worse still, many of Banks' men were exhausted and had lost faith in his ability to lead them. Banks and Porter desperately needed a plan to get the boats moving again.


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