By April 1864, US Major General Nathaniel P. Banks's Red River Expedition had advanced about 150 miles up Red River. Major General Richard Taylor, commander of the Confederate forces in the area, decided, without any instructions from his commander General E. Kirby Smith, that it was time to try and stem this Union drive.
Taylor gained a victory at Mansfield on April 8. Banks withdrew from that battlefield to Pleasant Hill, but he knew that fighting would resume the next day. Early on the 9th, Taylor's reinforced forces marched toward Pleasant Hill in the hopes of finishing the destruction of the Union force. Although outnumbered, Taylor felt that the Union army would be timid after Mansfield and that an audacious, well-coordinated attack would be successful.
The Confederates closed up, rested for a few hours, and then attacked at 5:00 pm. Taylor planned to send a force to assail the Union front while he rolled up the left flank and moved his cavalry around the right flank to cut the escape route. The attack on the Union left flank, under the command of Brigadier General Thomas J. Churchill, succeeded in sending those enemy troops fleeing for safety. Churchill ordered his men ahead, intending to attack the Union center from the rear. Union troops, however, discerned the danger and hit Churchill's right flank, forcing a retreat.
Pleasant Hill was the last major battle, in terms of numbers of men involved, of the Louisiana phase of the Red River Campaign. Although Banks won this battle, he retreated, wishing to get his army out of west Louisiana before any greater calamity occurred. The battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill jointly (although the former was much more decisive) influenced Banks to forget his objective of capturing Shreveport.
Result(s): Union victory
Location: DeSoto Parish and Sabine Parish
Campaign: Red River Campaign (1864)
Date(s): April 9, 1864
Principal Commanders: Major General Nathaniel P. Banks [US]; Major General Richard Taylor [CS]
Forces Engaged: Red River Expeditionary Force (Banks's Department of the Gulf) [US]; District of West Louisiana [CS]
Estimated Casualties: 3,100 total (US 1,100; CS 2,000)
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