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spirit. Volunteers sprung up from every side and in an incredibly short
while the regiment was recruited to double its number. Canton was the
rallying point for the men and from that place on the 10th of December,
1862, tents were folded, good-byes to loved ones said, and the gallant
old 21st once more started for the bloody theatre of war. The objective
point was Holly Springs, Miss., where the old 6th Division of the Army
of West Tennessee was encamped.

At St. Louis the regiment boarded the steamer known in history as the
Di Vernon, and got as far as Columbus, Ky., on December the 20th,
where the command was stopped. Instead of proceeding to Holly Springs,
the regiment was ordered by Gen. Asboth, commander of the Columbus
Post, to Union City, Tenn., twenty miles from Columbus, to do outpost
duty guarding Gen. Grant’s line of communication between Columbus and
Corinth, which had been interrupted by raids of Confederate cavalry
under Gen. Forrest.

Here barracks of logs and stockades were built and the men camped for
the winter, doing guard duty and everything else incident to a military
camp, facing a vigilant enemy. In this time Gen. Grant had gotten as
far as Milliken’s Bend, on his way to Vicksburg, and on the first of
March, 1863, the regiment pulled up stakes to join him. But again the
fortunes of war decreed otherwise. Gen. Forrest, of the Confederacy,
had made another raid in the rear of Gen. Grant, and at Columbus the
regiment was switched off to Clinton, Ky., where for two months it was
engaged again in the same kind of service as at Union City. On May
11th orders again came to move on towards Vicksburg. At Columbus the
regiment boarded the steamer J. J. Rowe and started south to join the
old 6th Division operating under Gen. Grant. On May 15th Memphis was
reached and orders were found waiting us to report to Gen. Hurlburt,
Post Commander there. Here the regiment was kept at garrison duty
until about January 25th, 1864. While in garrison at Memphis the 21st
was attached to the 1st Brigade, 3d Division, of the 16th Army Corps,
commanded by Gen. A. J. Smith. The 1st Brigade was composed of, besides
the 21st, the 89th Indiana, 119th Illinois, 58th Illinois, and the 9th
Indiana Battery, commanded by Col. David Moore. On January the 28th
the command boarded a steamer en route for Vicksburg. On the way down
the river, opposite Islands Nos. 70 and 71, the vessel was fired on
from the shore by Confederates under Gen. Marmaduke, and three men were
killed and four wounded. With no other incident the regiment reached
Vicksburg on the 1st of February.

On the next day, with the army under Gen. Sherman, the march to
Meridian, Miss., began. They met and skirmished with the enemy at
Champion Hills, on February 5th, Brandon on February 12th, and
Meridian on February 14th.

[Illustration: MAJ. ABEL C. ROBERTS.
Surgeon 21st Regiment Missouri Inf. Vet. Vols.
President 21st Missouri Inf. Vet. Vols. Association.]

From Meridian, Miss., the regiment was sent back to Vicksburg,
returning by the way of Canton, reaching there on March 4th, where most
of the regiment re-enlisted for three years more, or till the war was
ended. At Meridian and on the trip back our army destroyed some forty
miles of railroad and inflicted other damages on the enemy.

Returning to Vicksburg the veterans re-enlisting were granted a thirty
days’ furlough. There was a happy home-coming for these scarred
warriors of the 21st, who had, by their gallant services, well earned
their holiday. But there was quite a number of the 21st, about two
hundred and fifty, who failed to enlist as veterans under the holiday
offer. These were assigned to Gen. Banks’ army and took part in what is
known to history as the Red River Campaign.


Seventy Days of Almost Uninterrupted Fighting, When the Singing
of the Bullets was the Only Music Heard from Morning till
Night. - General Banks Criticised. - How General Smith’s Division
Became Known as Smith’s Guerrillas. - Fighting A. J. Smith. - General
Banks Anxious to Get Back to New Orleans.


About the 5th of March, the regiment having returned to Vicksburg
from the Meridian Campaign, the veterans were sent home on a thirty
days’ furlough. Those of the regiment who did not re-enlist, about one
hundred, and about one hundred and forty recruits, were assigned to
the 24th Missouri for duty. The 24th Missouri belonged to Col. Shaw’s
brigade and was designated the 2d Brigade, 3d Division, 16th Corps, and
was composed of the following named regiments: The 14th, 27th and 32d
Iowa, and 24th Missouri, with the detachment of the 21st Missouri. The
21st Missouri men were consolidated and made three companies, about
eighty men to the company. There being no commissioned officers with
us, Lieuts. Denny, Yarbrough and Shadel, officers of the 24th, were
assigned to command the three companies of the 21st.

Gen. Banks having called on Gen. Sherman for ten thousand men to assist
him in the Red River Campaign, the 1st Division, 17th Corps, Gen. Joe
Mower commanding, and the 3d Division, 16th Corps, Col. R. C. Moore, of
the 117th Illinois, commanding, under Gen. A. J. Smith, were assigned
to this duty, and ordered to report to Gen. Banks. The expedition left
Vicksburg about the 8th of March, reached the mouth of Red river on
the 12th, and was there met by Admiral Porter with a gun boat fleet.
Under convoy of the same the expedition started up Red river, reaching
Simm’s Landing, on the Atchafalaya river, about 5 p. m. Col. Shaw was
ordered to disembark his brigade and picket the road towards Fort De
Russy. March 13th Col. Shaw was ordered to move out on the Fort De
Russy road. He advanced with his brigade along Bayou Rapides about four
miles to Yellow Bayou. Here he found some earth works and a regiment
of Confederate troops, with two pieces of artillery. On our approach
they at once fell back towards Fort De Russy. We then returned to the
landing. During our absence the balance of our troops disembarked and
went into camp.

On the 14th we had orders to move with two days’ rations and forty
rounds of ammunition, and 7 a. m. found us on the road with Col.
Shaw’s brigade in the advance, the 24th and 21st Missouri in front.
It was about eighteen miles across the bend of Red river, where rumor
reported heavy earthworks and forts, and some six thousand Confederate
troops under command of Gen. Walker. The roads were good and our
column moved rapidly, reaching Fort De Russy about 3 p. m. Col. Shaw’s
brigade went into line some four hundred yards from the upland fort,
with the 3d Indiana battery in the center. We met a warm reception
from fourteen guns in the upland fort and from heavy guns in the water
battery. We advanced sharpshooters and our Indiana battery of four
guns and commenced pounding away on the upland fort. By 5 p. m. our
sharpshooters had the guns in the forts silenced, or at least made it
such hazardous work to load and fire that the guns were only served
occasionally. This was the signal for the assault. About 6 p. m. Gen.
Mower ordered Col. Shaw to charge. His brigade fixed bayonets and with
a yell made a dash for the enemy’s works. The ground over which we
had to pass was open, the timber having been used in the construction
of the forts and bomb proofs. In our charge we were supported by the
balance of our division. While charging we received a fringe of musket
fire from the thin line of men inside the fort. In three minutes we
were at the ditches and the garrison, seeing that further resistance
was useless, ran up a white flag. The 24th and 21st Missouri were the
first regiments to plant their flags on the fort, and in recognition
of that fact and as a reward, we were detailed the guard of honor and
remained in the fort during the night, with our regimental colors
flying on the ramparts.

The fruits of the victory were: in the upland fort, fourteen guns;
in the water battery, three guns, two of them 120 pounders, and one
rifle 42, a large amount of ammunition and quartermaster’s stores,
with three hundred and fifty prisoners. Commodore Porter, who was on
his way up the river with his gun boat fleet, did not get up in time
to participate in the capture. About ten miles below the forts the
enemy had driven piling and anchored a large raft of timber across the
channel of the river, preventing his arrival.

During the night our transports arrived, and at 10 a. m. on the 15th we
hauled down our colors, marched out of the fort and embarked with the
balance of the troops, and again, under convoy of the gun boats, moved
up the river to Alexandria, arriving there about 4 p. m. on the 16th.
The enemy fell back, burning some of his quartermaster’s stores and
forage. We disembarked and went into camp east and south of town, to
await the coming of Maj. Gen. Banks with the 13th and 19th Army Corps.

Alexandria was a small town of some eight hundred inhabitants, situated
at the foot of the rapids of the river. The country around Alexandria
was very rich and the inhabitants very disloyal and bitter. We now
had to wait until about March 25th for the coming of Gen. Banks to
form a junction with Gen. Smith at this place. Gen. Banks’ troops
were leisurely marching across the country from the south, and upon
his arrival with the 13th and 19th corps, our combined forces of all
arms consisted of about 35,000 men. Gen. Banks’ men having been doing
garrison duty at New Orleans, were well clothed, and with their new
uniforms and paper collars made a very fine appearance compared with
the men of the 16th Corps, who had been fighting and marching for the
past three months and were ragged and dirty, which condition no doubt
had much to do with influencing Gen. Banks to remark when he saw us,
“Why! I asked Gen. Sherman to send me 10,000 soldiers and he has sent
me a band of ragamuffins and guerrillas.” This is where, and how it
came to pass that we received the name which stuck to us until the
close of the war. Intended in derision by Gen. Banks, no doubt, it soon
became a pseudonym by which one of the best divisions in the western
army was ever afterwards known, “Smith’s Guerrillas.”

March 26th we broke camp and marched up the river. It was now generally
known that Shrevesport was our objective point - a strongly fortified
position. March 29th we reached and camped at a point on Red River
known as the Burr Patch. We here again embarked on transports and
under convoy of gunboats moved up the river to a landing called Grand
Ecore. At this point we disembarked and lay in camp till the 7th of
April, when we moved out in the rear of Gen. Banks’ army, which had
passed this point some two days. It seemed that we had made such an
unfavorable impression on Gen. Banks that he wished us as much out of
sight as possible and hence kept us about a day’s march in the rear.

Battle of Sabine Cross Roads.

The 13th Corps encountered in force at Sabine Cross Roads, on the 8th
of April, Generals Kirby Smith and Taylor, commanding the enemy, who
were apprised of the fact that Gen. Banks’ troops were scattered along
the road for twenty miles. Upon this knowledge they determined to give
battle outside the defenses at Shrevesport, and chose this point, about
forty-five miles southeast. The result of the battle was a complete
defeat and route of Gen. Banks’ army in detail. The night of the 8th
of April closed in with the 13th and 19th Corps in full retreat,
falling back on Pleasant Hill. The 16th Corps, under Gen. A. J. Smith,
had marched hard all day the 8th, reaching Pleasant Hill at dark, and
went into camp in close column by regiments. We had heard Gen. Banks’
artillery all the afternoon of the 8th, and knew he was being driven
back. This meant that the men whom Gen. Banks had called guerrillas
would be in demand on the morrow.

Battle of Pleasant Hill.

On the morning of the 9th of April Gen. Smith’s guerrillas had no
revielle. About 3 a. m. our company officers came around nudging the
sleeping men in the sides, in commands given in whispers ordered them
to fall in line, and we were held in readiness to move. At daylight
Col. Shaw’s brigade moved out on the Mansfield road about one mile,
relieving our cavalry, who were already skirmishing. We were posted in
a strong position along the east side of a cotton field, facing west,
with a section of the 25th N. Y. Battery. We lay in this position all
the forenoon with nothing to relieve the monotony except an occasional
shell from our artillery feeling for the enemy in the woods beyond and
frequent shots from the enemy’s sharpshooters. About 2 p. m. the enemy
opened on our line with artillery. Our two pieces of artillery at once
limbered up and went to the rear under whip. The enemy, thinking this
was a continuation of the rout of the day before, charged our lines
with a regiment of Texas cavalry. They, little dreaming that in the
timber on the other side of the field lay a line of grim veterans
who had seen service at Fort Donelson, Corinth, the Hornet’s Nest at
Shiloh, and in the trenches around Vicksburg, made a magnificent charge
to defeat and death. The enemy’s infantry then charged and our small
brigade was soon fighting in front and flank. We held our position
until the enemy had nearly cut us off from our main line, when we were
compelled to fall back. We took a position two hundred and fifty yards
from our first stand, which we held for over an hour and a half. Here
occurred the most desperate fighting of the day, being almost a face to
face combat. Overwhelming numbers at last forced us back to our reserve
line, after losing quite a number taken prisoners. About sundown the
final crash came when the enemy dashed against our massed line of
artillery and infantry held in reserve. Night closed in with Smith’s
guerrillas victorious and the enemy in full retreat towards Mansfield.
The heaviest loss in the battle fell on Shaw’s brigade, being estimated
at two thirds of the whole loss sustained in the engagement, amounting
to some five hundred men killed, wounded and taken prisoners. The
enemy’s loss was estimated at one thousand killed and wounded, eight
hundred prisoners and eleven pieces of artillery.

While Smith’s guerrillas were fighting the battle of Pleasant Hill,
Gen. Banks, with the 13th and 19th Corps, were improving the time in
retreating. After caring for our wounded by placing them in hospitals
and detailing surgeons and nurses from our ranks to care for them,
about noon of the 10th we commenced to fall back towards Grand
Ecore, following Gen. Banks’ army, which had preceded us, a shameful
retreat and one that would never have been made had Gen. A. J. Smith
been commander-in-chief. But Gen. Banks was whipped and thoroughly
incompetent to command, and seemed to only have one idea - that was
to get back to New Orleans as quickly as possible. His men under him
seemed to share fully his demoralized condition. The 16th Corps were
saucy and full of fight and had the utmost confidence in Gen. Smith, a
feeling that was mutual between the commander and the men under him. We
arrived at Grand Ecore on the 12th, and learning that our transports
and gunboats were cooped up at Blair’s Landing, some twenty miles
up the river, with some of the transports aground and a confederate
battery below them, Gen. A. J. Smith at once crossed the river and
hurried to their relief with the 16th Corps. After driving away the
battery below and seeing the fleet safely on their way down the river,
we returned to Grand Ecore and on the 22d of April took up our line
of retreat for Alexandria. During this time Generals Kirby Smith and
Taylor, commanding the Confederate forces, had not been idle, but were
moving troops down the river to harass our retreat as much as possible.
On the 23d we had a lively skirmish with them at Coulterville. Again
at Monett Bluff April 23d. Here we found the enemy posted in a strong
position on the bluff on the east side of the river. The 16th Corps was
guarding the rear; the 13th and 19th Corps failing to drive the enemy,
we were ordered up from the rear, forming on the right of the 19th
Corps, fixed bayonets and charged. The enemy fell back and gave us for
the time undisputed possession of the right of way. It was here that
Gen. A. J. Smith informed Gen. Banks, in language more forceful than
eloquent, that he would do the fighting at either end of the line of
retreat, front or rear, but would not do both. We resumed our march on
the 24th, the 16th Corps guarding the rear, without much trouble from
the Johnnies, but when they pushed us too closely we would form a line
of battle and they would very prudently keep at a safe distance. In
this manner we continued to retreat to Alexandria, reaching there about
April 30th.

[Illustration: N. D. STARR.
1st Lieut. Co. E, 21st Regiment Missouri Inf. Vet. Vols.
Vice-President 21st Missouri Inf. Vet. Vols. Association.]

The fleet had already arrived, but the water on the falls was so low
it began to look like we would have to lose our gunboats or stay there
and guard them. In the meantime, to complicate the situation, Gen.
Dick Taylor, commanding the Confederate forces, came up with about
18,000 men. On the 2d of May the 16th Corps was busily engaged at
Henderson’s Hill skirmishing with their advance lines. The situation
was now a gloomy one indeed, but at this critical moment Col. Bailey,
of the 28th Wisconsin, suggested that the water on the falls could be
raised by building wing dams, and as chief engineer he was detailed
to superintend this work, and the 13th and 19th Corps placed at his
disposal to do the work, while Gen. Smith, of the 16th, was drawn up in
line of battle, south and east of town, watching the enemy; skirmishing
with them May 3d at Jones’ Plantation, May 4th at Bayou LaMore, May
6th and 7th at Bayou Boeuf. Gen. Taylor then drew off, moving down the
river some twenty miles, planting his batteries on the river bank and
sinking two of our light gunboats and capturing our mail boat and mail.

About the 12th of May, the dam proving a success, the fleet passed
below the falls. On the 14th we resumed our line of march for the mouth
of Red River, Gen. Taylor falling back in front of us. On the 16th we
found him drawn up in line of battle on the Marksville Prairie. After
three hours’ fighting he fell back and took a position on Bayou De
Glaze. On the 17th, after a sharp skirmish with him, he drew off to one
side and let us pass. We then moved on down, the 13th and 19th Corps
going into camp at Simmsport, on the Atchafalaya river, while the 16th
Corps took up a position some three miles in the rear, on the east bank
of Yellow Bayou.

Battle of Yellow Bayou.

May the 18th, 1864, the long roll called us to arms about 12 m. Shaw’s
Brigade with Battery E, 2d Mo. Artillery, crossed the Yellow Bayou and
double-quicked about a half mile to the front and immediately became
engaged with the enemy’s advance. As fast as the several regiments of
the 16th and 17th Corps reached the field they formed on our left. All
the afternoon the tide of battle ebbed and flowed along the south
bank of Bayou Rapides. Night closed in with Gen. Taylor falling back
and Gen. Smith’s men in possession of the battle-field. Our loss was
about five hundred killed and wounded. The enemy’s must have been
much greater as they made several determined assaults on our lines.
We captured about three hundred and fifty prisoners and from them we
learned that Gen. Taylor had about fifteen thousand men engaged, about
twice the number under Gen. Smith. About dark on the evening of the
18th, the 13th Corps arrived on the field and took position in front of
Smith’s tired and bleeding troops.

May the 19th, early in the morning, the 13th Corps marched back to
Simm’s Landing, leaving Gen. Smith with the 16th and 17th Corps, at the
front. Gen. Taylor showing no disposition to resume hostilities and
learning that the 13th and 19th Corps were safely across the pontoons
on the Atchafalaya river, about 1 p. m. we took up our pontoon bridge
across Yellow Bayou and the 16th Corps followed and crossed to the
east bank of the Atchafalaya and camped, just sixty-five days from the
time we first camped on the west bank on our way to Fort De Russy. On
the 20th of May we reached the mouth of Red River. We here met our
transports and the portion of the 21st Mo. that went home on veteran
furlough, and embarked for Vicksburg. The 13th Corps went south to New

Comments on the Seventy Days’ Campaign.

The Red River Campaign was at last, after seventy days, at an end. It
was a failure and as barren of results so far as having any visible
effects in hastening the close of the war, as it would have been if
made to the North Pole. History records it as one of the severest
campaigns of the war. The men suffered more from hardships and
privations than any other portion of the army. Especially was this
true of the 16th Corps, which, on account of the incompetency of Gen.
Banks and his apparent dislike of the Corps, was always placed in the
most exposed positions, either in the advanced front or in the rear.
It was also unprovided with clothing and shoes and at the close of the
campaign presented a most abject appearance. Indeed Gen. Banks might in
truth have called the men, from their appearance, “Smith’s Guerrillas.”


The following is the list of the battles and skirmishes engaged in
during the seventy days’ fighting by the detachment from the 21st

Fort De Russey, La. March 14th, 1864
Pleasant Hill, “ April 9th, “
Coulterville, “ “ 22d, “
Cane River, “ “ 23d, “
Henderson’s Hill, “ May 2d, “
Jones’ Plantation, “ “ 3d, “
Bayou La More, “ “ 4th, “
Bayou Boeuf, “ “ 6th-7th, “
Marksville, “ “ 16th, “
Bayou De Glaize, “ “ 17th, “
Yellow Bayou, “ “ 18th, “

Gen. Banks’ losses in the 13th and 19th Army Corps were about three
thousand men, killed, wounded and prisoners, twenty-two pieces of
artillery and one hundred and forty-five wagons loaded with commissary
stores and camp equipments. The losses of the parts of the 16th and
17th Army Corps present, commanded by Gen. A. J. Smith, were about one
thousand from all causes. In the several battles and skirmishes we were
engaged in we captured from the enemy two thousand prisoners and thirty
pieces of artillery. These captures were made in battles fought by Gen.
Smith’s command, in which Gen. Banks’ men had no part. Col. Shaw’s
Brigade sustained the greatest loss of any on the expedition and it was
equal to about one-half that sustained by the whole command under Gen.

The detachment of the 21st Missouri lost about fifty men, killed,
wounded and prisoners, including one officer of the 24th Missouri,
assigned. That we did our whole duty, I need only call attention to
the fact that after the battle of Pleasant Hill, La., Maj. Robt. Fyan,
commanding the 24th and detachment of the 21st Missouri, personally
thanked the members of the 21st for gallantry during the action. The
loss of the 24th and 21st combined during the campaign was three
officers killed, namely: Capt. Robinson, Lieuts. Shadel and Stone,
and one Color Sergeant killed and one wounded, Wm. O’Connor of the
21st, making a total loss of about one hundred men killed, wounded and

Parting Between the 21st and 24th.

We reached Vicksburg about the 21st of June and there took leave of the
24th Missouri, and returned to our own regiment, which had returned
from its veteran furlough north. While we were with the 24th Missouri
we became very much attached to the officers and men. The officers were
courteous and the men true comrades.

In writing the foregoing account of the part taken by our brigade
and regiment I have had nothing to aid me except my memory of the
events narrated, in all of which I was an active participant. And in
conclusion I now ask the charitable consideration of comrades and the
general reader for any imperfections it may contain.

Co. D, 21st Missouri Infantry.

[Illustration: T. W. HOLMAN.
Private, Co. D, 21st Regiment Missouri Inf. Vet. Vols.
Sec’y and Treas., 21st Missouri Inf. Vet. Vols. Association.]


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