|Battle of Mansfield|
|Part of the American Civil War|
Map of Mansfield battle
|United States (Union)||CSA (Confederacy)|
|Nathaniel P. Banks||Richard Taylor|
|Casualties and losses|
|1,000 (estm) killed, wounded, and missing|
The Battle of Mansfield, also known as the Battle of Sabine Crossroads or Pleasant Grove, on April 8, 1864, in De Soto Parish, Louisiana, was the first major clash of the Union Army's Red River Campaign during the American Civil War. The battle was a decisive Confederate victory which eventually led to the defeat of General Nathaniel P. Banks' Red River campaign and the Federal evacuation at Grand Ecore, north of Natchitoches.
Maj. Gen. Banks' Union contingent ascended the Red River to within 25 miles of the Texas border, but lost contact with the accompanying gunboat fleet, due to low water conditions and the army following an established road that turned inland away from the river. Maj. Gen. Richard Taylor, in command of the Confederate forces, along with his subordinates Brigadier General Thomas Green, Brigadier General Alfred Mouton, and Major General Camille de Polignac, determined to make a stand near Mansfield against the direct orders of his more cautious superior, Maj. Gen. E. Kirby Smith, the commander of all Confederate forces west of the Mississippi River.
Green's cavalry harassed the Union vanguard as they advanced. Confederate forces attacked the disorganized Federals and decisively routed them. Both pursuit and reinforcement were hampered by the Union wagon train's blockage of the narrow road, which fell into Confederate hands. Banks, despite displaying great personal bravery in attempting to rally his troops, was revealed once again to be a military incompetent. During the battle's initial stages, General Mouton, who is commemorated with a large grave marker at the battle site, was killed while leading his troops in a cavalry charge.
When darkness and stiffening Union resistance ended pursuit, the Union had suffered the loss of twenty cannon, two hundred wagons, and a thousand horses killed or captured, and the Federal force was demoralized. One hundred fifteen Union were killed, 648 were wounded, and 1,423 were captured. The Confederates were consumed with hope that the entire Union expedition could be destroyed. A large number of the 1,423 captured Union soldiers were sent to Camp Ford, a POW camp in Texas. Taylor claimed that he lost a thousand men at Mansfield, killed, wounded, or captured, but Confederate losses were usually "hazy and unreliable," according to the historian John D. Winters in The Civil War in Louisiana (1963)." Confirmed among the dead at the Battle of Mansfield was Isaac Bonsall, great grandfather of abstract painter James Belton Bonsall.
Winters analyzes the outcome of the battle, accordingly:
"Banks' advance on Shreveport had been brought to a jarring halt. Taylor had fought on ground of his own choice against a divided army sent forward in detachment against him. Franklin had erred when he had refused to allow Lee to leave behind his huge baggage train. Not expecting an attack short of Shreveport, Banks had allowed his forces to be strung out along the narrow, wooded road for some twenty miles; he had then been unable to close up in order to bring a sufficient force against Taylor at any one time. The combined units met by Taylor in the three stages of the battle more than equaled his strength, but he was able to defeat each ... before reinforcements appeared."
- Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. "Battle of Mansfield Historical Marker". http://www.stoppingpoints.com/louisiana/DeSoto/Battle+of+Mansfield.html.
- John D. Winters, The Civil War in Louisiana, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1963, ISBN: 0-8071-0834-0, p. 347
- Winters, pp. 346-347
- Ayres, Thomas (2001). Dark and bloody ground: the Battle of Mansfield and the forgotten Civil War in Louisiana. Lanham, Md: Taylor Trade Pub. ISBN 0-87833-180-8.
- Friends of the Mansfield Battlefield
- Mansfield Battlefield Page: Battle maps, photos, history articles, and battlefield news (CWPT)
- Battle of Sabine Crossroads or Mansfield, 8 April 1864