Monday, March 14, 2011
Opening Up The Red River
As part of the Red River Campaign, Union Brigadier Generals AJ Smith and Joseph Mower sailed with their troops toward Shreveport, Louisiana. Coming in through Berwick Bay and Bayou Teche they found their passage blocked by obstructions in the river and the Confederate Fort DeRussy. Fort DeRussy was under the command of Confederate Lieutenant Colonel William Byrd. It was an earthen fort with a gun battery and iron armor to defend from Union ironclads and was garrisoned by 350 Confederate soldiers.
Smith left from Vicksburg, arriving at Simmesport on March 12th 1864, about 30 miles from Fort DeRussy. He sent out some troops on March 13th 1864 to feel out the enemy in his front. This small force drove in some Confederate troops. Early on the morning of March 14th 1864 Smith found there was a Confederate division in his front. He split his force leaving some to intercept the Confederates if they attacked. Smith’s arrival at the fort saw the garrison open fire on the Union soldiers. Smith ordered a charge of Mower’s men on the fort at about 6:30 pm. It took about twenty minute before the Confederates surrendered the fort opening up the Red River to the Union advance.