Hamilton P. Bee in the Red River Campaign
TN THE PRIORITIES OF THE UNITED STATES FOR AREAS OF ACTION
against the enemy in the Civil War, the Trans-Mississippi ranked a poor
third to the eastern and western theaters. This was especially true after
Vicksburg fell and the Union gained control of the Mississippi River. Even
though General Nathaniel P. Banks's Brownsville expedition of November,
1863, had shown the flag to the French in Mexico and had gained a foot-
hold on the Rio Grande, expanded operations in Texas had not followed.
The administration in Washington seemed satisfied with what had been
done and did not give Banks any men to continue the campaign, even
though trade between Texas and Mexico had not been halted. Federal
activities in December, January, and February of 1863-1864 consisted of
patrols and occasional raids on the Texas coast, but little more. Action in
the Trans-Mississippi Department, however, did not come to an end. Gen-
eral-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck was determined to mount an offensive up
the Red River to take Shreveport. He thought this action would be the best
defense for Louisiana and Arkansas and would provide a base of operations
against Texas. Other considerations also offered reasons for a campaign. A
vast storehouse of southern supplies would be eliminated; Union strength
would be further demonstrated to the French; large quantities of cotton
would be made available for northern use. Preferring the more militarily
desirable object of Mobile, the commander of the Department of the Gulf,
General Banks, objected at first, but he yielded in February, 1864, to Hal-
It was an involved scheme calling for combined movements in Arkansas
*The author is a graduate student at Rice University.
'Fred Harvey Harrington, Fighting Politician: Major General N. P. Banks (Phila-
delphia, 1948), 128-130, I51-I53; Ludwell H. Johnson, Red River Campaign: Politics
and Cotton in the Civil War (Baltimore, 1958), 3-49; John D. Winters, The Civil War
in Louisiana ([Baton Rouge], 1963), 324-326; J. G. Randall and David Donald, The
Civil War and Reconstruction (2nd ed.; Boston, i96I), 452; H. L. Landers, "Wet Sand
and Cotton-Banks' Red River Campaign," Louisiana Historical Quarterly, XIX (Jan-
uary, 1936), 153; Richard Hobson Williams, "General Banks' Red River Campaign,"
ibid., XXXII (January, 1949), 10o3-105.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117149/. Accessed May 28, 2015.