Sunday, April 13, 2014

150-years-ago RED RIVER CAMPAIGN - Battle of Blair's Landing, La.

[National Park Service summary]

After the battle of Pleasant Hill on April 9, Brig. Gen. Tom Green led his men to Pleasant Hill Landing on the Red River, where, about 4:00 pm on April 12, they discovered grounded and damaged Union transports and gunboats, the XVI and XVII army corps river transportation, and U.S. Navy gunboats, with supplies and armament aboard. Union Brig. Gen. Thomas Kilby Smith’s Provisional Division, XVII Corps, troops, and the Navy gunboats furnished protection for the army transports. Green and his men charged the boats. When Green attacked, Smith’s men used great ingenuity in defending the boats and dispersing the enemy. Hiding behind bales of cotton, sacks of oats, and other ersatz obstructions, the men on the vessels, along with the Navy gunboats, repelled the attack, killed Green, and savaged the Confederate ranks. The Confederates withdrew and most of the Union transports continued downriver. On the 13th, at Campti, other boats ran aground and came under enemy fire from Brig. Gen. St. John R. Liddell’s Sub-District of North Louisiana troops, which harassed the convoy throughout the 12th and 13th. The convoy rendezvoused with Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks’s army at Grand Ecore, providing the army with badly needed supplies.

[Destruction and Reconstruction by Richard Taylor; pages 177-178]

Brig. Gen. Tom Green, Texas cavalry
division commander, killed in action
April 12, 1864. (Photo. History of the C.W.)
          General [Tom] Green, from Pleasant Hill, had been directing the movements of our advanced horse, a part of which, under Bee, was in front of Grand Ecore and Natchitoches. Advised of the movements of the enemy's fleet, he, with seven hundred and fifty horse and two batteries, left Pleasant Hill for Blair's Landing at 6 o'clock P.M. on the 11th. As in the case of Bagby, he was delayed at Bayou Pierre, and, after hard work, only succeeded in crossing three guns and a part of his horse before the fleet came down on the 12th. Green attacked at once, and leading his men in his accustomed fearless way, was killed by a discharge of grape from one of the gunboats. Deprived of their leader, the men soon fell back, and the fleet reached Grand Ecore without further molestation from the west bank. The enemy's loss, supposed by our people to have been immense, was officially reported at seven on the gunboats and fifty on the transports. Per contra, the enemy believed that our loss was stupendous; whereas we had scarcely a casualty except the death of General Green, an irreparable one. No Confederate went aboard the fleet and no Federal came ashore; so there was a fine field of slaughter in which the imagination of both sides could disport itself.
          With facilities for crossing the Pierre at hand, the fleet, during the 11th and 12th, would have been under the fire of two thousand riflemen and eighteen guns and suffered heavily, especially the transports, crowded with troops. As it was, we accomplished but little and lost General Green.
          Like Mouton, this officer had joined me at an early period of my service in western Louisiana. Coming to me with the rank of colonel, his conspicuous services made it my pleasant duty to recommend him for promotion to brigadier and major-general. Upright, modest, and with the simplicity of a child, danger seemed to be his element, and he rejoiced in combat. His men adored him, and would follow wherever he led; but they did not fear him, for, though he scolded at them in action, he was too kind-hearted to punish breaches of discipline. In truth, he had no conception of the value of discipline in war, believing that all must be actuated by his own devotion to duty. His death was a public calamity, and mourned as such by the people of Texas and Louisiana. To me he was a tried and devoted friend, and our friendship was cemented by the fact that, through his Virginia mother, we were related by blood. The great Commonwealth, whose soil contains his remains, will never send forth a bolder warrior, a better citizen, nor a more upright man than Thomas Green.

        The brigade of horse brought by General Green to Louisiana, and with which he was so long associated, had some peculiar characteristics. The officers such as Colonels Hardiman, Baylor, Lane, Herbert, McNeill, and others, were bold and enterprising. The men, hardy frontiersmen, excellent riders, and skilled riflemen, were fearless and self-reliant, but discharged their duty as they liked and when they liked. On a march they wandered about at will, as they did about camp, and could be kept together only when a fight was impending. When their arms were injured by service or neglect, they threw them away, expecting to be supplied with others. Yet, with these faults, they were admirable fighters, and in the end I became so much attached to them as to be incapable of punishing them.

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