Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Battle of Pleasant Hill

Battle of Pleasant Hill
After the Battle of Mansfield on April 8th, the Federals fell back during the night to a place called Pleasant Hill. Both the Union and Confederate had new reinforcements that had not fought on the previous day. On the morning of April 9th, 150 years ago today, the Confederates advanced, and began skirmishing with the Federal troops around noon.

Map of the battlefield
At 5 pm the main Confederate attack finally came, with units attacking all along the Federal line. On the Union right the Confederate attack from Walker's and Mouton's divisions made little progress. The divisions of Churchill and Parson, attacking the Union center and left, had more success. They drove back the Federal lines, but there was no great panic like that of the previous day. The Federals pushed back and began regaining their ground. For two hours this hard fighting continued. As one soldier wrote,
The mingled roar of artillery and musketry; the shouts of the exultant, as volley after volley was fired with fearful effect; the groans of the wounded; the sulphurous smoke, and the day fading into darkness, all tended to heighten the effect of the thrilling scene.
Finally the charging Federals were able to drive back the tired Southerners and capture five of their guns, several of which the Union had lost the previous day.
The losses from the battle were heavy from both sides. 1,600 Confederates were killed, wounded or captured. The Federals lost 152 killed, 859 wounded and 495 captured. Richard Taylor had hoped that he could follow up on his success of the previous day, but his plan had fallen apart. He had planned to flank the enemy, but Churchill, the general entrusted with the attack, had not moved far enough to reach the Union flank. Although this battle was a tactical victory for Nathaniel Banks, it was a strategic defeat. He ordered his army to fall back, and abandoned the rest of his plans for the campaign.


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