Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Alabama - Arkansas Redoubt at Port Hudson, Louisiana

Alabama-Arkansas Redoubt at Port hudson
The beautifully preserved earthworks of the Alabama - Arkansas Redoubt are among the most impressive surviving features at the Port Hudson battlefield in Louisiana.

This position was one of the key Confederate defenses of Port Hudson, a major citadel on the Mississippi River that was established in 1862 to prevent Union warships from reaching the vital intersection of the Mississippi and Red Rivers. Having failed to retake Baton Rouge in August of that year, the Confederates positioned heavy artillery atop the high bluff at Port Hudson. The first attempt by the Union navy (in September 1862) to blast the position into submission failed and in the months that followed the Confederate army fortified Port Hudson with some of the strongest works in the Confederacy.

Ditch of the Redoubt
The Union Navy tried again in March of 1863 when Admiral David G. Farragut tried to lead a flotilla past Port Hudson. The Confederate fire was so accurate and so fierce that only two of his ships made it past. The U.S.S. Mississippi was destroyed and the other vessels had to turn back. Port Hudson had twice proved its value as a defensive point.

The Union finally moved against Port Hudson in force in May of 1863 when General Nathaniel P. Banks led an army of more than 30,000 men against Confederate General Franklin Gardner and his 7,500 men. Banks expected to be able to easily storm the position, but instead the Confederate rolled back two major attacks with devastating results. In the second, on June 14, 1863, the Union army suffered 1,792 casualties compared to only 47 for the Confederates.

View from Inside the Redoubt
Among the Southern regiments defending Port Hudson were the 18th Arkansas Infantry and the 23rd Arkansas Infantry. The two regiments were positioned at a key point on the northern defenses of Port Hudson, where a strong earthwork was built as the siege progressed. The fire from the Alabama - Arkansas Redoubt was so intense that the Union army never even reached its walls throughout the entire siege.

The redoubt today is one of the major preserved parts of the Port Hudson battlefield. Located along the main walking trail that leads through the ravines and ridges from the museum and visitor center, the earthworks and ditches of the redoubt provide an excellent place to stand where Arkansas soldiers once stood and learn about their role in the longest complete siege of the Civil War.

To learn more about Port Hudson, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/porthudson.

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