Fort De Russy, LA

Date(s): March 14, 1864

Location: Please click on link below for map.

Fort de Russy, Avoyelles, Louisiana, United States

Campaign(s): Red River Campaign [1864]

Battles in Campaign:

Situation:

  • In early 1864 the Union launched a multi-purpose expedition into Confederate Gen. E. Kirby Smith’s Trans-Mississippi Department which was headquartered in Shreveport, Louisiana.

  • 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.

Commanders:

  • Union: Brig. Gen. A. J. Smith and Brig. Gen. Joseph Mower

  • Confederate: Lt. Col. William Byrd

Principal Forces:

  • Union: 3rd Division, XVI Army Corps

  • Confederate: Fort DeRussy Garrison (approx. 350 men)

Description:

  • After removing various obstructions that the Confederates had placed in the river, the major impediment to the Union expedition was the formidable Fort DeRussy.

  • Fort DeRussy was 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 left Vicksburg on transports and  disembarked at Simsport, about thirty miles from Fort DeRussy, on the 12th.

  • 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 Confederate forces if they attacked.

  • When Smith arrived 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.

Slide Presentation: None

Classification2: B

Casualties3:

  • Union: 48

  • Confederate: 269

Results: Union Victory

Battlefield Websites:

Lodging and Restaurants: Louisiana Tourism

Recommended Resources:


1 National Park Service summary.

2 Classification:

  • A - having a decisive influence on a campaign and a direct impact on the course of the war

  • B - having a direct and decisive influence on their campaign

  • C - having observable influence on the outcome of a campaign

  • D - having a limited influence on the outcome of their campaign or operation but achieving or affecting important local objectives

3 Casualties are someone killed, injured, wounded, captured or missing.

Revised 04/06/2013