As spring weather returned to central and northern Louisiana 150 years ago, the Union Army launched its last major offensive in the West.
The goal was to take Shreveport and cut off supplies from Texas for the Confederate forces. The Mississippi River was already in Union hands, but the Red River remained, and a large army under Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks fumbled the chance to seize it.
The set of battles at Pleasant Hill and Mansfield marked the last large engagements in Louisiana during the war.
The aggressive attacks of forces under Gen. Richard Taylor, a son of a U.S. president, broke the morale of the federal forces, winning a hard-fought strategic victory for the Confederates. The South would live on in the Red River valley until the end of the Confederacy the next year.
The sesquicentennial of the Civil War is nearing its end next year, but it is important to remember not only the lessons of the conflict but the extraordinary sacrifices of both sides.