Near the end of the Red River Expedition, Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks’s army evacuated Grand
|Brig. Gen. Hamilton Bee|
[Excerpted from Destruction and Reconstruction by Richard Taylor, Pages 182-183]
As anticipated, the enemy left Grand Ecore during the night of the 21st and marched without halting to Cloutierville, thirty-two miles. With Steele's brigade, [Maj. Gen. John A.] Wharton drove his
guard from Natchitoches on the morning of the 22d, capturing some prisoners,
and continued the pursuit to the twenty-four-mile ferry. On the 23d, after a
sharp action, he pushed the enemy's rear below Cloutierville, taking some score
of prisoners. Polignac's infantry joined that evening, and covered a road
leading through the hills from Cloutierville to Beaseley's. If Bee stood firm
at Monette's, we were in position to make Banks unhappy on the morrow, separated
as he was from the fleet, on which he relied to aid his demoralized forces. But
Bee gave way on the afternoon of the 23d, permitting his strong position to be
forced at the small cost to the enemy of less than four hundred men, and
suffering no loss himself. Then, instead of attacking the great trains, during
their fourteen miles' march through the forest, and occupying with artillery
McNutt's Hill, a high bluff twenty miles from Alexandria and commanding the
road thither in the valley, he fell back at once to Beaseley's, thirty miles.
Before this mistake could be rectified, the enemy crossed at Monette's, burning
many wagons at the ford, and passed below McNutt's Hill. General Bee had
exhibited much personal gallantry in the charge at Pleasant Hill, but he was
without experience in war, and had neglected to study the ground or strengthen
his position at Monette's. Leaving Mansfield for Shreveport on the 15th, under
orders from General Kirby Smith, I only got back to the front on the night of
the 21st, too late to reach Monette's or send Wharton there.
|Maj. Gen.John A. Wharton|
It was very disheartening, but, persuaded that the enemy could not pass the falls at Alexandria with his fleet, I determined to stick to him with my little force of less than forty-five hundred of all arms. It was impossible to believe that General Kirby Smith would continue to persist in his inexplicable policy, and fail to come, ere long, to my assistance.
On the 26th Bee's horse, from Beaseley's, joined Steele's at McNutt's Hill; and together, under Wharton, they attacked the enemy in the valley and drove him, with loss of killed and prisoners, to the immediate vicinity of Alexandria.