Monday, May 27, 2013

Attack on Port Hudson

After surrounding the town five days before, the Union troops would assault Port Hudson on May 27, 150 years ago today. Heavy siege guns had been planed in position opposite the Confederate lines, and they opened at dawn on the day of the attack. The Confederate gunners responded, trying to disable the Union cannon. Sharpshooters joined in the fray on both sides.

As the day progressed, the infantry attack on the rebel left went forward, but the troops destined for the center and right failed to move. This assault was a disaster. The troops had to move through deep ravines and swamped, filled with thick underbrush. As the Union troops started to move up the bluff on which the Confederate rifle pits were dug, they were driven back by a heavy fire from the defenders. Some Federals ran to the rear, others found any shelter they could and clung to the ground they had won, thinking it was safer to stay than to try to make their way back to the Confederate lines.

Elsewhere on the line, Thomas Sherman finally began his assault began at 2 pm, hours late. He personally led his men forward across the open field that led to the Confederate positions. The well placed Confederate entrenchments and hidden guns opened on the Federals with a heavy fire. Sherman himself had his horse shot from under him, and then his leg was hit by a Confederate ball. The attacking regiments broke and ran, harried by canister from the concentrated southern artillery.

Well placed Confederate defenses, good use of reinforcements, and disorganization in the Union attacks had given them a clear victory. After this failed assault of Port Hudson the siege fell into trench warfare.


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