The Battle of Mansfield - April 8, 1864

NedBaldwin

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Feb 19, 2011
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California
Today is the 150th of the battle of Mansfield, also know as Sabine Crossroads, the high tide moment of the Red River campaign.

Last year a wrote some blog posts with my thoughts on the battle:
http://www.brettschulte.net/CWBlog/2013/07/15/counting-confederates-at-the-battle-of-mansfield/
http://www.brettschulte.net/CWBlog/2013/07/22/counting-us-forces-at-mansfield/
http://www.brettschulte.net/CWBlog/2013/08/30/what-went-wrong-at-the-battle-of-mansfield/
http://www.brettschulte.net/CWBlog/2013/09/06/the-road-not-taken/

The battle is a classic example of the meeting of two forces within a constraint geography.
Timing was everything. Taylor selected the spot, which him an advantage, and he was better able to concentrate his command promptly.
 

Drew

Major
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Oct 22, 2012
Vicki Betts' Civilian Reaction to the Red River Campaign, 1864, From Natchitoches to Mansfield, Louisiana is an interesting read. From the account of the aftermath of the Mansfield Battle, April 10th:

"Surgeons cared for wounded Federal soldiers at the Campbellite [Christian or Disciples of Christ] Church and most of the storehouses. The most severe cases of both sides were taken to the Baptist Church. John E. Hewett recalled that

"At dark on the eve of the tenth, one of the nurses lighted a candle and holding it
in one hand attended the patient with the other, but the delirious patient struck down the
candle and the light, catching the loose cotton used as bedding, set it on fire, and in a
moment the flames filled the building. To save the wounded from death by burning, the men
who were in Mansfield rushed in and carrying the patients through the fire or casting them
out of the windows saved about 200 soldiers from a horrible death. As the rescuers were
about to abandon the work, a young Creole Confederate soldier suffering from slight wounds
and a young Union soldier arrived upon the scene and answered the wild calls for help from
within. The fatigued rescuers joined them and another dozen of the men were saved from the
flames." The Baptist Church burned to the ground.25
 

Drew

Major
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Elizabeth DuBois.jpg


Elizabeth Greening DuBois, wife of Capt. S.P. DuBois, Consolidated Crescent Rgmt., one of many Mansfield residents whose home was opened to wounded soldiers on the night of April 8, 1864.
 

Drew

Major
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Oct 22, 2012
Many accounts of the battle claim Taylor was outnumbered at Mansfield....and true enough the Union numbers were larger in the total amount on the march toward Shreveport. But Taylor outnumbered Banks at the "tip of the spear" on Honyecutt Hill where the battle took place.

It's not a "claim," it's a fact. Taylor outnumbered Banks at the "tip of the spear" because Banks allowed his force to advance through terrain that would make it vulnerable to Confederate attack. Taylor had retreated before the latter's force for weeks, probably giving Banks a sense of complacency, one he should never allowed himself. It was no secret Taylor was in front of the Union advance.

Taylor chose his time and place to attack, with an inferior force. He routed the Union force because Banks had exposed it to being routed, period. Any happy horse manure about Confederates outnumbering the Union at Mansfield is just that. Bury it in your vegetable garden - it'll do more good there than here.
 

Drew

Major
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Oct 22, 2012
I have no idea what has you so worked up.

I get worked up at the suggestion I see in many battle threads, that Confederates outnumbered their adversaries. They did not. They exercised judgement on when, how and where to attack with inferior forces. That's exactly what happened at Mansfield, with Banks' force trapped in formation on a narrow road in a fairly dense forest. He was unable to effectively advance and meet the attack and was routed as a result. That was his fault. Spinning up numbers trying to demonstrate he was outnumbered isn't accurate - he had the numbers but managed them poorly and it cost him the battle.
 

Drew

Major
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Well i agree with you....however that doesn't change the fact that Taylor had a superior force for the actual battle. To me it makes Taylor's victory even more impressive........but maybe i'm missing something.:confused:

I'd have to go back and look at the specifics - but Banks' force was trapped on the road leading to the battle - it might be more fare to say Taylor had superior force at the point of attack, but not in the battle, per se. That's the whole point. Gotta go to bed - cheers.
 

rhp6033

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Aug 4, 2011
Location
Everett, Washington
This battle showed Taylor's superb understanding of both tactics and strategy. He knew this was the only place to stop Banks short of Shreveport, and managed to use the Texas troops which had just arrived that night to make the attack. Banks was hemmed in by a narrow road through the "Pine Barons", and further compounded his vulnerability by having the cavalry baggage train following directly behind them at the point position, making it almost impossible for the cavalry to be supported by infantry trying to get around those trains. Taking the Union troops under attack just after exiting the forest allowed the Confederates to limit the number of Union troops engaged. The wagon train turned retreat into a rout as wagoneers tried to turn their rigs around and got stuck or overturned, and many just cut the trains and rode for their life, leaving their wagons behind and panicked Union troops trying to climb over the wagons as Confederate minnie balls buzzed all around them. From there, they had to retreat to the nearest source of water, and were pushed back from that by Confederates, and ended up at Pleasant Hill.
 

NedBaldwin

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Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
I get worked up at the suggestion I see in many battle threads, that Confederates outnumbered their adversaries. They did not. They exercised judgement on when, how and where to attack with inferior forces. That's exactly what happened at Mansfield, with Banks' force trapped in formation on a narrow road in a fairly dense forest. He was unable to effectively advance and meet the attack and was routed as a result. That was his fault. Spinning up numbers trying to demonstrate he was outnumbered isn't accurate - he had the numbers but managed them poorly and it cost him the battle.

I reported the facts accurately. Banks did not have all his forces at Mansfield. As a result, the Confederates had more men at Mansfield then the Union did. That is a fact.
 

NedBaldwin

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Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
I'd have to go back and look at the specifics - but Banks' force was trapped on the road leading to the battle - it might be more fare to say Taylor had superior force at the point of attack, but not in the battle, per se. That's the whole point. Gotta go to bed - cheers.
So first you rant and rave in a way I found insulting and then you admit I was right all along (see bolded part). Though your distinction between "the point of attack" and "in the battle, per se" makes no sense. The attack was the battle.
 
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pfcjking

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Jan 15, 2014
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Memphis
IMO, Dick Taylor was sorely under-utilized. His last promotion to command the AoT should have happened much sooner. He did have health issues, but his actions in the Red River Campaign were straight out of Stonewall's playbook, and frankly, his father's playbook in Mexico. He learned from the best. Too bad the Kirby was there too put a damper on the mop up action.
 

Drew

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Oct 22, 2012
So first you rant and rave in a way I found insulting and then you admit I was right all along (see bolded part). Though your distinction between "the point of attack" and "in the battle, per se" makes no sense. The attack was the battle.

Where have I "raved?" I'm sorry you're insulted, but I don't think you need be and it's not my intention to insult anyone. Even if we accept the inflated Confederate force numbers in the blog posts, we don't get away from the fact that Banks' still much larger numbers were ill organized and put at risk in the face of Taylor's force. It was no secret they were there, retreating before the Union advance. Until, they attacked.

Poorly placed wagon trains, caissons and artillery impeded both the frantic Union retreat and the ability of reinforcements to move forward. Post #12, above, describes it. For Goodness' Sake it was a hundred and fifty years ago Tuesday. There's no need to keep fighting it.
 

NedBaldwin

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Location
California
Where have I "raved?"

"happy horse manure ...Bury it in your vegetable garden" -- a bit flowery perhaps?


Even if we accept the inflated Confederate force numbers in the blog posts....

I think my numbers more accurate than the intentional under reporting of Confederate numbers that seems the usual tale.


It was no secret they were there, retreating before the Union advance.

Did anyone say it was secret? Why make this point?

There's no need to keep fighting it.
We seem to constantly enjoy fighting about the civil war. I think there is a need for it.
 

Drew

Major
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
What's wrong with flowery language?

I think my numbers more accurate than the intentional under reporting of Confederate numbers that seems the usual tale.

The usual tale, to me, is trying to inflate Confederate forces. Sooner or later, the Union Army will have been outnumbered 3 to 1, everywhere, if no one speaks up against it.

Did anyone say it was secret? Why make this point?

No one said it was a secret. It wasn't secret at all. I make the point because Banks continued his advance, knowing what was in front of him, at great risk to his own, poorly configured force.

We seem to constantly enjoy fighting about the civil war. I think there is a need for it.

Ned, if you want to re-fight the Civil War, I'll take you up on a reenactment of the August, 1862 Roasting Ears Fight in Virginia, near Chickahominy Creek during the Seven Days' Battle. You can have all of General Sigel's attendant descendants, but I get all those of Hood's Texans, including my brother and all of our cousins and nephews.

Deal, or no deal?
 

NedBaldwin

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Location
California
Ned, if you want to re-fight the Civil War, I'll take you up on a reenactment of the August, 1862 Roasting Ears Fight in Virginia, near Chickahominy Creek during the Seven Days' Battle. You can have all of General Sigel's attendant descendants, but I get all those of Hood's Texans, including my brother and all of our cousins and nephews.

Deal, or no deal?

So you need to stack the numbers in your favor :bounce:
"Outnumbered, the Federals soon withdrew" [description of the Roasting Ears Fight from http://texas-brigade.org/1st_tex/1tex.htm ]
 

James N.

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Found this link about Pleasant Hill.

http://www.civilwaralbum.com/louisiana/pleasanthill.htm

Is there not much left to look at there? Those pictures are almost 20 years old. Got a day trip to Mansfield planned in a coupla weeks.

It's admittedly been a long time since I visited Pleasant Hill (I faithfully attended the annual reenactment there for many years in the 1970's and 1980's), but I don't think there's been much change from these pictures. The real problem is the lack/inadequacy of on-site interpretation. The battle site was for many years owned by local Dr. Pombeauf (sp?), now deceased; he and his wife are buried in a private plot at the entrance to his somewhat hokey 1960's idea of a Southern plantation house that stands immediately north of the site of the tiny village of Pleasant Hill. (Which should NOT be confused with the current post-war town of that name some two miles south.) IF you have some adequate maps of the battle and a great deal of imagination (like the ability to eradicate the pine forest that has reclaimed what had been open farmland), you *might* be able to "figure out" what it is you're looking at. I had help in that regard from one of the area's premier relic hunters who used to attend the reenactments there.
 

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