Mansfield, Louisiana
The Confederate victory at the
Battle of Mansfield, Louisiana
was the turning point of the
Red River Campaign.
Saline River
The flooded Saline River in
Arkansas proved a barrier to
both armies during the Battle
of Jenkins' Ferry, Arkansas.
Red River - Union Disaster in Louisiana and Arkansas - The Red River Campaign - The Red River Campaign
Jenkins' Ferry State Park
The bloody Battle of Jenkins' Ferry was the
final engagement of the Arkansas phase of
the Red River Campaign.
During the spring of 1864, two Union armies
invaded the heart of the Trans-Mississippi
South. The plan was for these forces to
combine at Shreveport, Louisiana, which
would serve as a base for future operations
against Texas. Because the Red River
flowed through the region, the expedition
became known as the Red River Campaign.

The combined Union armies expected to
either crush the outnumbered Confederate
forces arrayed against them or force them to
withdraw ahead of the two pronged advance.

To carry out this plan, General Nathaniel
Banks led an army up the Red River to
Alexandria, Louisiana, while General
Frederick Steele started southwest with a
smaller force from Little Rock, Arkansas.

Making his final push for Shreveport,
however, Banks was handed a stunning
defeat at Mansfield, Louisiana, by the much
smaller Confederate army of General
Richard Taylor. A second battle followed at
Pleasant Hill and within days, Banks and his
army were reeling back for the Mississippi.

The Union navy faced almost total disaster
when the water level in the Red River
suddenly dropped, leaving a number of
warships trapped above Alexandria. A dam
was constructed, however, to raise the river
enough to float the gunboats over the rapids.

In Arkansas, troops from Little Rock and Fort
Smith marched for Shreveport, planning to
join on the way. The combination of forces
took place as planned, but supply shortages
and stronger than expected resistance by
General Sterling Price and other Southern
leaders forced Steele to lead his army into
Camden. Disastrous defeats of Union forces
followed at
Poison Spring and Marks' Mills.
Poison Spring Battlefield
The bloody engagement at
Poison Spring was a major
defeat for Union forces in
Running short on supplies and with no hope
of continuing his advance to Shreveport, the
Union general retreated.

The last significant engagement of the
campaign took place at
Jenkins' Ferry on
April 30, 1864. Union forces held off the
Confederate attacks and managed to escape
across the Saline River, bringing the
disastrous Red River Campaign to an end.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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