Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant George G. Smith: April 13, 1864

We found Bank's whole army here having been badly defeated at Pleasant Hill, forty miles above on the nineth and tenth instant and had retreated back to this place with his whole army. The story of the battle so far as I could learn from those who participated in it, was as follows: The objective point was Shrievesport on this river about sixty miles above. General Curtis from Arkansas and General Banks from New Orleans were both marching upon it intending to form a junction there. But Banks did not take the wiley rebel General Green into the account. With a strong force of Texas troops he stepped between the approaching armies first attacking Curtis and driving him back towards Arkansas and then turning upon Banks. South of Shrievsport is a dense forest through which the road passes. In this forest Green placed his troops disposing them in the form of the letter A with the apex towards the city where he planted a battery in the road. The Union cavalry was in the advance followed by the baggage train. As soon as the head of the column reached the battery they opened fire. The wings closed upon the baggage train, shot the mules and drivers, piling up the wagons in terrible confusion making the road utterly impassable, while the forest was so dense a rabbit could hardly crawl through; the enemy had it pretty much all his own way. The long baggage train was all captured with its valuable stores besides most of the cavalry was either killed or captured. The remaining few that escaped fell back on the infantry support which was a day's march in the rear. Of course the enemy pursued them until they met the infantry and then it was their turn to retreat; which they did without stopping to fight long. The infantry pursued them about eight miles, but it was a useless chase as their commissary stores were all gone and they were compelled to retreat. They fell back to Grand Ecore and threw up entrenchments and this is where we found them.

SOURCE: Abstracted from George G. Smith, Leaves from a Soldier's Diary, p. 95-7

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