Map of Red River Campaign
Map of Red River Campaign
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Battle of Fort De Russy

Other Names: None

Location: Avoyelles Parish

Campaign: Red River Campaign (1864)

Date(s): March 14, 1864

Principal Commanders: Brig. Gen. A.J. Smith and Brig. Gen. Joseph Mower [US]; Lt. Col. William Byrd [CS]

Forces Engaged: 3rd Division, XVI Army Corps [US]; Fort DeRussy Garrison (approx. 350 men) [CS]

Estimated Casualties: 317 total (US 48; CS 269)

Description: The Union launched a multi-purpose expedition into Rebel Gen. E. Kirby Smith’s Trans-Mississippi Department, headquartered in Shreveport, Louisiana, in early 1864. Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks and Rear Adm. David D. Porter jointly commanded the combined force. Porter’s fleet and Brig. Gen. A.J. Smith's XVI and XVII Army Corps detachments of the Army of the Tennessee set out on March 12, 1864, up the Red River, the most direct route to Shreveport. Banks with the XIII and XIX Army Corps advanced by way of Berwick Bay and Bayou Teche. After removing various obstructions that the Rebels had placed in the river, the major impediment to the Union expedition was the formidable Fort DeRussy, an earthen fortification with a partly iron-plated battery designed to resist the fire of Union ironclads that might come up river. Union Brig. Gen. A.J. Smith’s command had embarked on transports at Vicksburg and then disembarked at Simsport, on the 12th, about thirty miles from Fort DeRussy. Smith sent out some troops on the morning of the 13th to determine if any enemy was in their path. This force dispersed and chased an enemy brigade, after which, Smith set his men in motion up the Fort DeRussy road. They did not proceed far before night. Early the next morning, the 14th, they continued the march, discovering that a Confederate division threatened their advance. Always mindful of this threat, Smith had to place part of his command in a position to intercept these Rebel forces if they attacked. Upon arriving at the fort, the enemy garrison of 350 men opened fire. Smith decided to use Mower’s division, XVI Army Corps, to take the fort and set about positioning it for the attack. Around 6:30 pm, Smith ordered a charge on the fort and about twenty minutes later, Mower’s men scaled the parapet, causing the enemy to surrender. Fort DeRussy, which some had said was impregnable, had fallen and the Red River to Alexandria was open.

Result(s): Union victory

CWSAC Reference #: LA017

Preservation Priority: II.2 (Class B)

The Battle of Fort De Russy was part of the Red River Campaign in the American Civil War and took place in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana. On March 12, 1864, Brigadier General A.J. Smith and Brigadier General Joseph Mower led their men towards Shreveport, Louisiana, which they wanted to capture. The Union troops sailed down Berwick Bay and Bayou Teche with some difficulty because of obstructions Confederate forces placed there. Fort De Russy, however, blocked the Union advance, and was garrisoned with 350 Confederate soldiers. The fort also had a gun battery defended with iron armor in case of Union ironclad ships attacking them.

Background

The Union launched a multi-purpose expedition into Rebel Gen. E. Kirby Smith’s Trans-Mississippi Department, headquartered in Shreveport, Louisiana, in early 1864. Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks and Rear Adm. David D. Porter jointly commanded the combined force. Porter’s fleet and Brig. Gen. A.J. Smith's XVI and XVII Army Corps detachments of the Army of the Tennessee set out on March 12, 1864, up the Red River, the most direct route to Shreveport. Banks with the XIII and XIX Army Corps advanced by way of Berwick Bay and Bayou Teche. After removing various obstructions that the Rebels had placed in the river, the major impediment to the Union expedition was the formidable Fort DeRussy, an earthen fortification with a partly iron-plated battery designed to resist the fire of Union ironclads that might come up river. Union Brig. Gen. A.J. Smith’s command had embarked on transports at Vicksburg and then disembarked at Simsport, on the 12th, about thirty miles from Fort DeRussy. Smith sent out some troops on the morning of the 13th to determine if any enemy was in their path. This force dispersed and chased an enemy brigade, after which, Smith set his men in motion up the Fort DeRussy road. They did not proceed far before night.

Battle

Early the next morning, March 14th, they continued the march, discovering that a Confederate division threatened their advance. Always mindful of this threat, Smith had to place part of his command in a position to intercept these Rebel forces if they attacked. Upon arriving at the fort, the enemy garrison of 350 men opened fire. Smith decided to use Mower’s division, XVI Army Corps, to take the fort and set about positioning it for the attack. Around 6:30 pm, Smith ordered a charge on the fort and about twenty minutes later, Mower’s men scaled the parapet, causing the enemy to surrender.

Aftermath

Fort DeRussy, which some had said was impregnable, had fallen and the Red River to Alexandria was open.