Friday, April 11, 2014

April 9, 1864

April 9, 1864

---Battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana:  Taylor’s Confederates pursue the retreating Federals south until reaching the village of Pleasant Hill.  Taylor has been reinforced by two small divisions under Gen. Thomas Churchill.  The division of Mouton (who was killed the previous day) is put under the command of Brig. Gen. Camille J. Polignac.  At this point, Gen. Banks arrives, with A.J. Smith’s divisions, and forms a line.  Neither army does much during the day.  Finally, at about 5:00 PM, Polignac moves against the Federal right; Churchill and Walker go forward, and strike the Federal line near the center, but the Federal left is hidden from their view due to the heavy woods.  The Rebels do not realize they have been flanked by virtue of their own advance until the right end of their line passes the 58th Illinois Regiment, lined up perpendicularly to the Rebel advance.  The Illinois men strike at the Rebel flank, and then the rest of Smith’s line surges forward, and drives the Yankees back, as the fighting goes on in the dark.  Smith sent a brigade in pursuit, but late at night Banks gives orders for the entire army to withdraw back to Grand Ecore.  Smith is incredulous.  The Rebels for their part, are demoralized and in full rout.  A Union tactical victory, but a Confederate strategic victory, since Banks chooses to retreat in the face of victory.  Banks offers reasons for his retreat: the supply train has been sent south at the beginning of the battle, and has gone too far to be brought back soon enough for the Yankees, who are out of food and out of water.

Losses:          Killed    Wounded    Captured/Missing        Total

U.S.                  150               844                             375                         1,369

C.S.                         1,200                                        426                         1,626

---The CSS Squib, a David-style torpedo boat, attempts an attack on the USS Minnesota, just off Newport News, Virginia.  It explodes a torpedo against the Minnesota’s hull, but the U.S. ship survives, and the Squib escapes.


---Charles Wright Wills, a young officer in Thomas’s Army of the Cumberland, writes in his journal about his regiment re-enlisting, and how disciplinarians are voted out of the officer ranks---and of a Rebel woman who lives off of Federal rations:

The day of jubilee has come at this post; that is, we have, once more, something fit to eat. This is the first day since we’ve been here that our commissary has furnished us with aught but regular rations. We can wish for nothing now, except “marching orders.” My men are in splendid condition. Everyone of them in A1 health and spirits. All the veterans of the division are back, except the three regiments of our brigade. The 55th Illinois has at last concluded to veteran. Two hundred of them will be at home shortly. They held a new election, left Malmsberg and Chandler out in the cold, and I understand, a goodly number of their best officers besides. Men who have not been under good disciplinarians, will almost invariably, if an election is allowed, choose good fellows for officers. That is, men who allow everything to go at loose ends, who have no business whatever with commissions. Captain Milt. Hainey and Captain Augustine, I understand, are to be colonel and lieutenant colonel of the 55th. They are said to be good men and officers, and exceptions to the above, but my experience is such exceptions are rare, and I’d rather time would prove them than man’s words. I believe my company would veteran, almost unanimously, to-day. I am still on court-martial duty, and having a very easy time. We seldom sit over two hours, and never more than four hours a day. . . . I met a woman to-day who prides herself on belonging to one of the first families of Virginia and boasts that her grandsire’s plantation and George Washington’s almost joined, and showed me a negro woman 110 years old, that formerly waited upon George Washington. She claims to be chivalry, par excellence. Her husband is in the Rebel Army. She lives off of the United States Commissary Department, and begs her chewing tobacco of United States soldiers. She’s a Rebel, and talks it with her mouth full of Uncle Sam’s bread and bacon.

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