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    Two Red River Battle Reports by Brigadier General Thomas Kilby Smith. Both reports (totaling five pages) are dated March and April of 1864 and published in the Official Records. After raising a brigade of Union troops, Thomas Smith (1820-1887) was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 54th Ohio Infantry in General Sherman's division. Following his later promotion to brigadier general, Smith served as General Grant's chief-of-staff. When Grant finally occupied Vicksburg in July 1863, Smith was given command of a division of the Army of the Tennessee and ordered to assist General Banks during the Red River campaign, which lasted throughout the spring of 1864. These reports are regarding incidents during that campaign.

    Both are written from "Head Quarters Div. 17th" Army Corps Red River Expedition. The March 16 report reads in part, "Agreeably to your request I have the honor to transmit unofficially this statement of progress of the naval forces & Gen. A. J. Smiths command in the Red River Expedition. . . . The fleet of transports sailed from Vicksburg . . . on Thursday 10th inst. the detachment I have the honor to command embarked on steamers Hastings (flag ship) Autocrat, John Raine & Diana arrived at the mouth of Red River and reported to Admiral Porter." The report continues with news of road conditions ("most part bad and swampy"), bridge repairs, and enemy sightings. Beyond Marksville, Louisiana, Smith "formed line of battle . . .brisk musketry firing commenced at the fort. . . . I was ordered by the general commanding to look well to my rear and left wing, that I might anticipate attack from Walker with 6,000 Texans. At 6.30 news was brought me that the fort had surrendered."

    General Smith's April 5 report concerns the little known April 4 skirmish at Campti, Louisiana, a small town on the eastern bank of the Red River. According to the report, the Union effort began at 5:00 a.m., but was hampered by faulty steamboat machinery. "Through scouts, negroes & the people of the country I learned that the enemy was two thousand strong & were eight miles in advance & rapidly retreating in the direction of Shreveport." When Smith's forces finally arrived at Campti, they found it "mostly destroyed". Both documents, unsigned by Smith, are toned with some minor staining.

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    June, 2010
    26th Saturday
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