Thunder Across the Swamp: The Fight for the Lower Mississippi, February 1863 - May 1863

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2011-09-28
  • Publisher: Texas A & M Univ Pr
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Echoes from the Battle of Galveston had barely faded before a new Federal offensive began rolling down the banks of the Mississippi River. General Ulysses S. Grant, intent on reducing the Confederate citadel at Vicksburg, began looking for ways to reduce the fortress and returning control of the mightiest of American rivers to northern control. Downstream in New Orleans, General Nathaniel P. Banks received orders to cooperate however he could in this effort, but faced challenges of his own, blocked by the Confederate bastion at Port Hudson. The problem facing Union war planners seemed nearly intractable. Both of these Confederate positions had key vulnerabilities. Both garrisons defended heavy on supplies thrown across the Mississippi from sources in Louisiana and Texas, and the task fell to the United States Navy to cut off this stream of cattle and corn. The ensuing campaign to interdict these rations turned into one of the most massive raids in Civil War history, involving tens of thousands of Union foot soldiers and cavalry, scores of warships and transports, and plunging Louisiana into the pit of destructive war that wrecked everything in its path. When General Banks launched his campaign up Bayou Teche and the Atchafalaya River in Louisiana, Confederates in the region faced the greatest challenge yet to their claims of independence and experienced for the first time the true devastation of war and the consequences of rebellion.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
The Keyp. 1
Reconnaissancep. 21
USS Indianolap. 51
Passing Port Hudsonp. 65
Taylor's Offensivep. 93
USS Dianap. 117
The Back Alleyp. 141
The Advancep. 157
Counting Cannonp. 173
The Long Nightp. 195
Bislandp. 215
The Landingp. 245
Escapep. 259
King of the Swampp. 269
Irish Bendp. 275
The Retreatp. 313
The Pursuitp. 327
Vermilion Bayoup. 349
Limping to Victoryp. 363
Opelousasp. 381
The Battle of Washingtonp. 407
Corps d'Afriquep. 421
Niblett's Bluff, Fort DeRussyp. 435
Alexandriap. 449
Indecisionp. 471
The Battle of Cheney villep. 485
The Harvestp. 501
The Wake of Warp. 519
Notesp. 545
Bibliographyp. 579
Indexp. 591
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


Just ahead . . . lay the 28th Louisiana, also shaken by the bombardment. “The troops . . . were raw,” wrote Taylor. “As shot and shell tore over the breastwork behind which they were lying, much consternation was exhibited, and it was manifest that an assault, however feeble, would break a part of the line.” Taylor decided to make a grand—yet perilous—gesture to encourage his men. He mounted atop the works, coolly rolled a cigarette, put it to his lips, lit it, and calmly puffed away as he strode down the length of the regiment. One of the Louisiana officers, inspired by his war chief’s actions, offered to climb a nearby tree and get a better look at the enemy. “I gave him my field glass, and this plucky youngster sat in his tree as quietly as in a chimney corner,” Taylor continued, “though the branches were shot away.” Taking heart, the men of the 28th Louisiana stood to their task.

At the far right of the line, even the normally unflappable Tom Green sent word that “his corner was uncomfortably hot.” Taylor left the 28th Louisiana and headed toward the Texans and surveyed the situation, quickly agreeing with the Colonel. The Val Verde Battery had been hit hard and its commander, Captain Joseph Draper Sayers, severely wounded. Major Brent ordered the guns withdrawn.   Satisfied that he had done all he could, Taylor assured Green that “there were no places on our line particularly cool, and that there was nothing to be done but submit to the pounding.”

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