Battle of Fort De Russy

Battle of Fort De Russy
Part of American Civil War
DateMarch 14, 1864 (1864-03-14)
Location
31°11′02″N 92°03′16″W / 31°11′02″N 92°03′16″W / 31.18380; -92.05436
ResultUnion victory
Belligerents
United States United StatesConfederate States of America Confederate States
Commanders and leaders
A.J. Smith
Joseph Mower
William Byrd[1]
Strength
10,000 men350 men
Casualties and losses
48 killed and wounded
2 missing
2 killed
5 wounded
317 captured,
Battle of Fort De Russy is located in Louisiana
Battle of Fort De Russy
Location within Louisiana

The Battle of Fort De Russy, Louisiana, was the first engagement in the Red River Campaign of March–May 1864 in the American Civil War.

The Union Army of the Gulf under General Banks aimed to capture Shreveport, state capital and headquarters of the Confederate command, west of the Mississippi. The operation was spearheaded by General A.J. Smith and Brigadier General Joseph Mower, who surprised and captured Fort de Russy on March 14, taking over 300 prisoners and the enemy’s only heavy guns. The Confederates, under General Richard Taylor, were forced to retreat, leaving south and central Louisiana to the Union forces.

Background

The Union launched a multi-purpose expedition into Confederate 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 Simmesport, 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.