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EEPORT



JOINT COMMITTEE



ox



THE CONDUCT OF THE ¥AR,



SECOND SESSION THIRTY-EIGHTH CONGRESS.



RED RIVER EXPEDITION.
FORT FISHER EXPEDITION.
HEAVY ORDNANCE.






WASHINGTON:

GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
1 86,5 .



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In the Senate of the United States, Fcht^ary 20, 1865.

Resolved by the Senate of the United States, (tho House of RepreBentatives concurring,) That in order to
enable tlie Joint Committee on the Conduct of tlie War to complete their investigations of certain important
matteri? now before them, and which they have not been able to complete, by reason of inability to obtaiu
important witnesses, they bo authorized to continue their sessions for thirty days after the close of the present
Congress, and to place their testimony and reports in the hands of the Secretary of the Senate.

Resolved further, That the Secretary of the Senate is hereby directed to cause to be printed of the reports

and accompanying testimony of the Committee on the Conduct of the War five thousand copies for the use of

the Senate and ten thousand copies for the use of the House of Representatives.

Attest •

J. W. FORNEY, Secretary.



House of Representatives of the United States, March 1, 1865.
Resolved, That this House do concur in the foregoing resolution with the following amendment:
Strike out the words "thirty days" and insert the words ninety days in liea thereof.
Attest :

EDWARD MoPHERSON, Clerh.

By CLINTON LLOYD, Chief Clerk.



Senate of the United S'tates, March 2, 1865.
Resolved, That the Senate agree to the foregoing amendment of the Bouse of Representatives.
Attest '

J. W. FORNEY, Secretary.



1 certify the foregoing to be a true copy of the original resolution and the smendment of the Honse thereto
and the concurrence of the Senate therein,

J. W. FORNEY,
t Secretary of the Senate of the United States.



RED RIVER EXPEDITION.



THIRTY-EIGHTH CONGRESS, SECOND SESSION.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES.

In the House of Representatives, Deceynbcr 6, 1864.

On motion of Mr. Spalding,

Resolved, That the Committee on the Conduct of the War be requested to inquire into the
causes of the disastrous issue to the Red River campaign, under Major General Banks, and
to report thereon at their earliest convenience.

Attest: EDWARD McPHERSON, Clerk.

The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War submit the fol-
lowing report :

At the time General Banks was appointed to the command of the
department of the Gulf, the following instructions were given him:

' Headquarters of the Army,

" Washington, D. C, November 9, 1862.

" General : The President of the United States having assigned you to the
command of the department of the Gulf, you will immediately proceed, with the
troops assembling in transports at Fort Monroe, to New Orleans, and relieve
General Batler. An additional force of some ten thousand men will he sent to
you from Boston and New York as soon as possible.

" The first military operations which will engage your attention on your arri-
val at New Orleans will be the opening of the Mississippi and the reduction of
Fort Morgan or Mobile city, in order to control that bay and harbor. In these
expeditions you will have the co-operation of the rear-admiral commanding the
naval forces in the Gulf and the Mississippi river. . A military and naval ex-
pedition is organizing at Memphis and Cairo to move down the Mississippi and
co-operate with you against Vicksburg and any other point which the enemy
may occupy on that river. As the ranking general in the southwest, you are
authorized to assume control of any military forces from the Upper Mississippi
which may come within your command. The line of division between your
department and that of Major General Grant is therefore left undecided for the
present, and you will exercise superior authority as far north as you may ascend
the river.

" The President regards the opening of the Mississippi river as the first and
most important of all our military and naval operations, and it is hoped that you
will not lose a moment in accomplishing it.

" This river being opened, the question arises how the troops and naval forces
there can be employed to the best advantage. Two objects are suggested as
worthy of your attention :



IV RED RIVER EXPEDITION.

" First, on the capture of Vicksburg, to send a military forcf directly east to
destroy the railroads at Jackson and Jfarion, and tlins cut off all connexion by
rail between northern i\rississippi and Mobile and Atlanta. The latter place is
noAV the chief military depot of the rebel armies in the west.

" Second, to ascend with a naval and military force the lied river as far as it
is navigable, and thns open an outlet for the sugar and cotton of northern Louis-
iana. Possibly both of these objects may be accomplished if the circumstances
should be favorable.

" It is also suggested that having Red river in our possession, it would form
the best base for operations in Texas.

" It is believed that the operations of General Rosecrans in East Tennessee,
of General Grant in northern Mississippi, and of General Steele in Arkansas,
wnll give full employment to the enemy's troops in the west, and thus prevent
them from concentrating in force against you; should they do so, you will be
re-enforced by detachments from one or more of these commands.

" These instructions are not intended to tie your hands or to hamper your
operations in the slightest degree. So far away from headquarters, you must
necessarily exercise your own judgment and discretion in regard to your move-
ments against the enemy, keeping in view that the opening of the Mississippi
river is now the great and primary object of your expedition ; and I need not
assure you, general, that the government has unlimited confidence not only in
your judgment and discretion, but also in your energy and military promptness.
" Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

"H. W. HALLECK,

" General- in- Ch lef.

"Major General N. P. Ba.\ks, Commander."

After the capture of Vicksburg and Port Hudson the attention of
the government was again turned to operations west of the Mis.'^issippi.
On the 6th of August, 1863, General Halleck telegraphed to General
Banks:

" There are important- reasons why our flag should be hoisted in some point
of Texas with the least possible delay. Do this by land, at Galveston, at In-
dianola, or at any other point you may deem preferable. If by sea. Commodore
Farragut will co-operate. There are reasons why the movement should be as
prompt as possible."

At that time General Banks favored a movement by sea into Texas.
General Halleck favored a movement by way of the Red river, but
left General Banks free to adopt such route as he deemed best, as
will appear from the following:

"Headquarters of the Army,

" Washington, D. C, August 10, 1863.

" General : In my despatch to you of the 6th instant, sent by the direction
of the Secretary of War, it was left entirely to your own discretion to select
any point for occupation in Texas, either on the seaboard or in the interior, the
only condition imposed being that the flag of the United States should be again
raised and sustained somewhere within the limits of that State.

" That order, as I understood it at the time, was of a diplomatic rather than
of a military character, and resulted from some European complications, or, more
properly speaking, was intended to prevent such complications.

" The effect and force of that order are left precisely as they were on its
issue. The authority conferred on you by it is not in the slightest degree
changed.



RED RIVER EXPEDITION. V

"You will, therefore, consider tlie following remarks as suggestions only, and
not as instructions :

" In my opinion neither Indianola nor Galveston is the proper point of attack.
If it is necessary, as urged by Mr. Seward, that the flag be restored to some one
point in Texas, that can be best and most; safely effected by a combined mili-
tary and naval movement up the Red river to Alexandria, Natchitoches, or
Shreveport, and the military occupation of northern Texas. This would be
merely carrying out the plan proposed by you at the beginning of the campaign,
and, in my opinion, far superior in its military character to the occupation of
Galveston or Indianola. Nevertheless, your choice is left unrestricted.

" In the first place, by adopting the line of the Red river you retain your
conn<,'xioa with your own base, and separate still more the two points of the
rebel confederacy. Moreover, you cut northern Louisiana and southern Arkan-
sas entirely off from supplies and re-enforcements from Texas. They are already
cut off from the rebel States east of the Mississippi.

" If you occupy Galveston or ludianola you divide your oavu txoops and en-
able the enemy to concentrate all of his forces upon either of these points, or on
New Orleans.

" I write this simply as a suggestion, and not as a military instruction.
" Very respectfully, your obedieut servant,

"H. W. H ALLEGE,

''Gencral-in- Cli icj".

" Major General N. P. Banks,

"Commanding Department of the Guf'

Much correspondence ensued between General Halleck and Gen-
eral Banks, which is given at length in the testimony herewith sub-
mitted. General Banks proceeded to carry out his idea of a movement
upon Texas by sea, which, however, failed of accomplishing any sub-
stantial results.

Attention was again directed towards the Red river line of opera-
tions. The correspondence between General Halleck, General Banks,
General Grant, General Sherman, and General Steele, in relation
thereto, is submitted herewith.

Arrangements were finally made by which General Banks was to
furnish for the expedition such troops as could be obtained within
his department ; General Sherman was to furnish 10,000 men from
his command, under General A. J. Smith ; General Steele, with a
column of 10,000, was to join the expedition at some point on the
Red river ; and Admiral Porter was to accompany the expedition with
a sufficient naval force. The 17th of March, 1864, was fixed upon
as the time when the naval force and the infantry under General
Banks and General A. J. Smith should meet at Alexandria, on the
Red river.

Admiral Porter and General A. J. Smith arrived at Alexandria at
the time appointed ; General Smith capturing Fort De Russy on his
way up, and Admiral Porter clearing out the obstructions in the
river. The forces under General Banks did not all reach Alexandria
until about the 26th of March. General Banks says he was detained
in New Orleans, by order of the President, to arrange for a civil
organization of the State, and that General Franklin, to whom he
intrusted the movement of the troops by land to Alexandria, did not
start at the proper time, in consequence of rains and other reasons.



VI RED RIVER EXPEDITION.

General Franklin says tliat he was not informed until the lOtli of
March of the time appointed for tlie rendezvous at Alexandria, and
that on the 10th only 3,000 of the troops to form the column were at
Franklin, from which place the column was to move. The troops
commenced their march on the 13th or 14th of March, but being 175
miles from Alexandria the advance did not reach there until the 25th
of March.

This delay in arriving at Alexandria, however, does not seem to
have retarded the progress of the expedition, for the water in the
Red river was exceedingly low for the season of the year. The ves-
sels of the naval portion of the expedition were unable to get above
the falls until near the 1st of April.

The force assembled at Alexandria was composed as follows : un-
der General Banks, the 19th corps, commanded by General Franklin,
a portion of the 13th corps, commanded by General Ransom, and
about 5,000 cavalry under General A. L. Lee, making in all from
17,000 to 18,000 men ; General A. J. Smith, with 10,000 men, was
there from General Sherman's command; and Admiral Porter was
there with a large fleet of iron-clads.

The expedition reached Grand Ecore and Natchitoches, about 120
miles above Alexandria, on the 2d and 3d of April, where it remained
until the 6th of April. On that day and the succeeding day the
troops under General Banks, with a portion of the troops under Gen-
eral A. J. Smith, started for Shreveport, by way of Pleasant Hill and
Mansfield. On the 7th of April General T. Kilby Smith, of General
A. J. Smith's command, started up the river with transports and
supplies, with instructions to proceed to the mouth of Loggy bayou,
opposite Springfield.

The column moving by land marched in the following order: first,
the cavalry under General A. L. Lee, with a large supply train; then
the detachment of the 13th corps, under General Ransom ; the 19th
corps, under General Franklin ; and the force under General A. J.
Smith. The whole was placed under command of General Franklin.

On the 8th the cavalry, with a brigade of infantry, constituting
the advance of the column, reached a point about five miles from
Mansfield. The column had been moving upon a single, narrow road,
through a wooded country, and by that time was extended from 20
to 30 miles, the different portions being separated so as not to be
within supporting distance of each other.

The enemy were found in force, estimated at from 12,000 to 18,000,
General Lee, in command of the advance, sent word back to General
Franklin of the condition of affairs. But before receiving any orders
from him, General Banks came to the front and assumed the control.
General Lee represented to him the necessity of immediately falling
back, or of being heavily re-enforced. General Banks determined to
make a stand there, and sent back orders for the infantry to hurry
forward ; but before re-enforcements arrived the enemy attacked,
between four and five o'clock in the afternoon, and in a short time
our forces were routed and driven from the field in great disorder,
with the loss of the cavalry train and many pieces of artillery. The



EED EIVEE EXPEDITION. VII

enemy continued the pursuit for some miles, and until checked by
the 19th corps, under General Emory. The enemy were then re-
pulsed with heavy loss, and forced to retire. That night General
Banks directed the army to fall back to Pleasant Hill.

On the morning of the 9tli of April General Banks directed Gen-
eral Lee to take the most of the cavalry, what was left of the 13th
corps, the trains, and several batteries of artillery, and proceed at
once back to Grand Ecore. The residue of the army remained in
position at Pleasant Hill during the day. About five o'clock in the
afternoon the enemy attacked with great vigor, but were completely
repulsed, and retired some distance from the field of battle. During
the night General Banks gave the order to retire immediately to Grand
Ecore, the supplies for the army having been already sent back there
under General Lee. The movement was made in such haste that
many of our wounded were left on the field, and were captured by
the enemy upon their return.

The expedition seems to have been abandoned at this point, if not
at the time General Banks sent General Ijee with the cavalry and
trains to Grand Ecore from Pleasant Hill, on the morning of the 9th.
It is true that in a despatch to General Halleck, of the I7th of April,
General Banks urges at length the importance of the E-ed river ex-
pedition, and asks that General Steele's forces be ordered to join him;
but no movement seems to have been made towards renewing an
advance beyond Grand Ecore.

The witnesses are divided in opinion as to the immediate cause of
the disaster of the 8th at Sabine Crossroads, General Banks, with
nearly all the members of his staff who were examined by your com-
mittee, holds that it was owing to the order of march, for which they
claim that General Franklin was responsible, he having been placed
in charge of the column when it left Natchitoches on the 6th of April.
Much stress is laid by many witnesses upon the fact that the cavalry
train, which was a very large one, was between the cavalry advance
and the infantry, presenting a serious obstacle to the retirement of
our troops after their defeat. But your committee cannot perceive
any reason for exonerating the commanding general of the expedition
from the responsibility of those details which it was his duty to be
cognizant of. Even had the order of march been unknown to him at
the time he left Grand Ecore on the 7th, he certainly was informed
of it on the 8th before the affair at Sabine Crossroads. He had
ridden from Grand Ecore to Pleasant Hill on the 7th, and from Pleasant
Hill to the extreme front on the morning of the 8th. General Lee
testifies that as soon as General Banks arrived, he informed him of
the condition of affairs, and recommended that the troops in advance
should immediately retire or be at once heavily re-enforced. General
Banks determined to remain where he was, and sent for troops to
re-enforce him. He thus assumed the responsibility of the position,
for no witness has testified that the cavalry was unable to fall back
at that time.

General Franklin, and the witnesses who take the other view, hold
that the order of march was a very proper one, and that there would



Vin RED RIVER EXPEDITION.

have been no disaster (at least at that time and phice) had no infantry
been sent forward to General Lee, tluis tempting him, or whoever
was in command there, to persist in pressing forward until it "was too
late to retire in safety. General Franklin had refused the applica-
tion of General Lee for infantry to be sent to him ; but General
Banks, upon his arrival at Pleasant Hill on the night of the 7th, had
ordered tirst one brigade and then another of the 13th corps to move
forward and report to General Lee. General Franklin had ordered
a short day's march for the advance of his infantry on the 8th of
April, for the purpose, he testifies, of closing up his column and
getting it in a better condition to meet the enemy.

The further prosecution of the expedition having been abandoned,
nothing remained to be done but to take measures for relieving the
navy from the critical position in which it was placed by reason of
the low water in the Red river. There was reasonable ground for
apprehending that all the vessels taken up there by Admiral Porter,
comprising the most effective vessels in the Mississippi squadron,
would have to be destroyed to prevent their falling into the hands of
the enemy. It is evident, from the testimony, that the naval officers
apprehended that General Banks would abandon the fleet in his de-
sire to return with his army to New Orleans, after it Avas determined
to abandon the expedition. But it does not appear that General
Banks and the officers under him failed in any respect to do all in
their power for the safety of the naval squadron; and it was due to
the efforts of the army that the navy was finally enabled to get away.

After the gunboats had been got down over the bar just below-
Grand Ecore, the army moved from there for Alexandria, having
many skirmishes with the enemy on the way down, but no affair of.
much importance. The navy were attacked by the enemy while
passing down the river. The army had moved with such rapidity
that the rebels ventured to approach the banks of the river with
artillery, and endeavored to inflict some injury on the fleet. The
navy suffered some loss in killed and wounded, but no vessels were
destroyed or captured by the enemy. The Eastport, the most for-
midable iron-clad in the fleet, having got aground, was destroyed by
order of Admiral Porter to prevent its falling into the hands of the
enemy.

To enable the fleet to pass down over the falls at Alexandria, Gen-
eral (then Lieutenant Colonel) Bailey devised and superintended the
construction of a series of dams to raise the water upon the falls, the
details of which are fully stated in the testimony. After the first
dam had been constructed, but before many vessels had passed over
the falls, a portion of it gave way. But work was promptly resumed,
and in a few days the efforts of the army were rewarded by the suc-
cessful operation of the plans adopted for the relief of the navy, and
the vessels were all enabled to pass down in safety.

While the army was at Alexandria, the rebels succeeded in getting
upon the banks of the river below, and destroyed one or two gun-
boats and some transports. Although they succeeded in almost en-
tirely blockading the river, it does not appear that any serious injury



RED RIVER EXPEDITION. IX

to the army or the navy was accomplished by them beyond the de-
struction of a few vessels.

After the fleet passed over the falls at Alexandria, General A. J.
Smith, with his command, returned to Mississippi, and General
Banks and his command returned to New Orleans and the lower por-
tion of the State of Louisiana.

It is difficult to determine what beneficial result could reasonably
be expected from such an expedition as this. None of the officers
engaged in it, so far as the committee can learn, .ever believed it was
advisable. They state that had the town of Shreveport been reached
there would have been nothing to be done but to return by the very
route they had travelled in going there. Even General Halleck,
while urging the Red river route from the time General Banks was
appointed to the command of the department of the Gulf, carefully
refrains from ordering such an expedition to be undertaken, but
leaves General Banks free to pursue such course as to him may
seem best. As late as the 11th of February, after General Banks
had begun his preparations for the expedition, General Halleck writes
to him as follows :

" General : Your despatches of January 29 and February 2 are received.
In the former you speak of awaiting ' orders' and ' instructions' in regard to
operations on Red river. If by this is meant that you are waiting for orders
from Washington, there must he some misapprehension. The substance of my
despatches to you on this subject was communicated to the Piesident and
Secretary of War, and it was understood that, while stating my own views in
regard to operations, I should leave you free to adopt such lines and plans of
campaign as you might, after a full consideration of the subject, deem best.
Such, I am confident, is the purport of my despatches, and it certainly was not
intended that any of your movements should be delayed to await instructions
from here. It was to avoid any delay of this kind that you were requested to
communicate directly with Generals Sherman and Steele, and concert with
them such plans of co-operation as you might deem best under all the circum-
stances of the case."

General Banks states most positively that he never considered a
movement upon that line practicable. Why, then, he should have
commenced it, with the discretion allowed him, or have continued it
beyond Alexandria after he had ascertained that the river was so
very low at so late a season, your committee cannot understand. It
certainly could not have been from any very great deference to the
opinion of the then general -in- chief, for he undertook movements
against which General Halleck expressed opinions so strong that they
almost partook of the nature of commands.

During the summer of 1863 General Halleck writes General Banks
concerning the importance of occupying some point of Texas in refer-
ence to foreign complications, most probably the movement to estab-
lish a monarchy in Mexico. But even then General Banks was
explicitly told that he was too far from Washington for positive orders
or instructions to be given him. It may be that in the movement to
establish a State government in Louisiana may be found the key to
the Red river expedition, for elections were held at Alexandria and
Grand Ecore for delegates to the State constitutional convention



X RED RIVER EXPEDITION.

which undertook to set in operation such a government. But the
testimony is meagre upon that point, and General Banks makes no
reference to it, except when he speaks of being detained in New
Orleans in "reference to assisting in the organization of civil govern-
ment in that State."

General Grant seems to have been opposed to the expedition at
that time, at least under the command of General Banks. And one
of his first instructions to General Banks, after becoming general-in-
chief, was to abandon the expedition at once if he found he could not
accomplish it by a certain time, stating that if General Banks failed



Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. Joint Committee on the CoReport of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 124)