only point that the Confederates held on the Mississippi River other
than Vicksburg, on which Grant was closing, was Port Hudson to the
south. But 150 years ago this other bastion was surrounded. The Union
army under Nathaniel Banks had moved inland from the river, and now
cut off Port Hudson from the rear. He thought he could quickly subdue
the garrison under Maj. Gen. Franklin Gardner, and then more north to
help Grant capture Vicksburg. As the Yankees advanced they met
opposition from a small Confederate detachment under Colonel W. R.
Miles. In what was called the Battle of Plains Store, the outnumbered
reels gave a good account of themselves. They brought the Federals to
a halt, and engaged them for six hours. Finally outnumbered and
running out of ammunition, Miles fell back to the Confederate lines.
Many of their artillery horses had been killed, so they pulled the
guns off by hand, refusing to let them be captured. Port Hudson would
put up a better resistance than Banks expected.