Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"by far the most desperate [engagement] I ever witnessed"

Today is the 150th anniversary of the battle of Mansfield that is also known as Sabine Cross-Roads. This contest marked the first of a series of battles fought during the Red River campaign that resulted in Confederate troops forcing their Union opponents to retreat.

An earlier posting highlighted some of the better books about the campaign, but an interesting feature of works about the campaign is that they are often written from a Confederate perspective. In that regard, the historiography of the campaign reminds me of the 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign. I have contributed in a small way to this emphasis thanks to my history of the 28th Texas Cavalry (dismounted) that served in Walker’s Texas division during the Red River campaign. Mouton’s Louisiana soldiers, Polignac’s Texans, and Walker’s Texans have received most of the attention, but what about their Union opposition?

The Fourth Division of the 13th Army Corps bore the brunt of the Confederate assault at Mansfield and suffered most of the casualties. The Fourth Division regiments were not “green.” All of the units had seen service during the Vicksburg campaign, and the 48th Ohio first experienced combat at Shiloh. William J. Landram, the division commander, wrote the words that make up the title of this blog posting; he was a Mexican War veteran and, like his men, saw duty during the Vicksburg campaign. His division totaled 2,413 infantry at the start of the battle and had an effective strength of 1,474 the next day. Here are the losses of his regiments:

Col. Frank Emerson’s 1st Brigade:
77th Illinois: 6 killed, 29 wounded, 136 captured or missing: 171
67th Indiana: 4 killed, 20 wounded, 18 captured or missing: 42
19th Kentucky: 2 killed, 18 wounded, 231 captured or missing: 251
23rd Wisconsin: 7 killed, 16 wounded, 41 captured or missing: 64

Col. Joseph Vance’s 2nd Brigade:
130th Illinois: 2 killed, 23 wounded, 232 captured or missing: 257
48th Ohio: 5 wounded, 174 captured or missing: 179
83rd Ohio: 1 killed, 8 wounded, 22 captured or missing: 31
96th Ohio: 4 killed, 23 wounded, 30 captured or missing: 57

On April 12th, special field returns showed the severe impact of the battle on several of these regiments. The 19th Kentucky had 142 present for duty; the 48th Ohio totaled 98 present for duty; the 130th Illinois numbered only 68 men. Often I read of “shattered” regiments. The battle of Mansfield truly wrecked several regiments on each side.

NOTE: The Landram quote and the statistics are all from the Official Records, vol. 34, pt. 1, pages 259, 264, 266, 292, 295.

No comments:

Post a Comment