When Banks and Porter left Alexandria and started toward Shreveport, Porter took only 12 gunboats and 30 transports. The river was still low in spots, which made travel slow. Banks led his troops along a narrow road far from the river. This meant that Banks and Porter could not support each other, which was a serious tactical error.
Banks' men were strung out for more than 20 miles along the road to Shreveport. Awaiting him near Mansfield on April 8 was Taylor’s smaller, but more concentrated, army. Taylor seized his chance and attacked. Banks’ soldiers, tired and panicked, fled back down the road chased by Taylor’s cavalry. This Confederate victory marked the end of the Union advance toward Shreveport.
(Below) Rebel attack on our gun-boats in the Red River. Harper's Weekly May 14, 1864. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. LC-USZ62-117668.
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