TOCWOC – A Civil War Blog

Grant & The Red River Campaign, Part 7

Picking up where I left off a while back in Part 6

As the end of April approached, Grant became more focused on the main offensives in Virginia and Georgia. As a result his interest in the Red River campaign decreased and his frustration increased. Halleck, using his position as intermediary, pushed his own ideas. In the end little was accomplished.

Learning that the navy was trapped at Alexandria by the dropping water level, Grant wrote to Halleck on April 25 that the detachment from Sherman should stay until the navy was extricated, after which all troops should be returned to where they belong. In one message Grant expressed frustration with what he had heard about Banks and wanted him removed, though in the next message he said that Banks should go to New Orleans to “make preparations to carry out his previous instructions” (regarding Mobile).1  The aggressive deadlines Grant had previously given and the demands to return Sherman’s troops were set aside as rescuing the navy became the priority. Halleck forwarded instruction accordingly.2

But Halleck also wrote to Grant that he thought the new instructions might cause confusion and that withdrawing from the Red River would be bad for US control in Louisiana and Arkansas.3 A few days later Halleck wrote again, suggesting that operations on the Red River be continued.4 Prodded by Halleck, Grant relented and the idea of Mobile campaign was completely dropped. On April 30, after getting Grant’s approval, Halleck sent instructions to Banks and Steele that reflected what he wanted: “Grant directs that orders heretofore given be so modified that no troops be withdrawn from operations against Shreveport and on Red River, and that operations there be continued under the officer in command until further orders.”5 So, within a span of two weeks, Grant had gone from “the importance of commencing operations at the very earliest possible moment against Mobile” to “no troops be withdrawn from operations against Shreveport and on Red River”.  A dramatic turn around.

A few days later, as he was about to embark on his campaign in Virginia, Grant gave up. He wrote Halleck “I will have to leave affairs west entirely with you.”6 Halleck used this authority to have Gen. Canby assigned as regional commander with orders to continue operations toward Shreveport.7 With Grant otherwise preoccupied and Halleck getting his way, any idea of moving toward Mobile was completely abandoned. Instead, Canby tried to start a new campaign west  of the river, as discussed in Red River 2.0.



  1. Official Records Vol 34, Part 3,  page 279
  2. Ibid page  306
  3. Ibid page 293
  4. Ibid page  357
  5. Ibid page  358
  6. Ibid page  408
  7. Ibid page  491






One response to “Grant & The Red River Campaign, Part 7”

  1. Josh Liller Avatar
    Josh Liller

    I think this illustrates a drawback of Grant being in the field with the AotP: being too focused on Lee (and probably secondarily on reports from Sherman) to adequately manage other campaigns.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *