April 6, 1864: Selecting the shallow-draft boats for Shreveport

Charles P. Stone (and daughter Hettie)
Gen. Charles P. Stone and daughter Hettie


The Red River campaign continues. The Union forces have captured Natchitoches, and are preparing for the next 75 miles up to Shreveport. The river is low, however, and many of their transports and gunboats won’t make it further upriver. Gen. Stone advises A.J. Smith to determine which boats can make it and send the others back down.

Official Records:

Grand Ecore, April 6, 1864.
Brigadier General A. J. SMITH,
Commanding Detach. Sixteenth and Seventeenth Army Corps:

GENERAL: The major-general commanding desires that you select from your fleet of transports those of lightest draught of water and most suitable for the navigation of the upper Red River, and make use of them for the transportation of the division intended to accompany the light gun-boats to Shreveport. If in your judgment all your transports can navigate those waters, your will direct them all to accompany the river division. If, on the other hand, there should be any which in your opinion cannot safely navigate the upper portion of the river, you will please order them to repair to Alexandria, below the rapids, while there is yet sufficient water on them for their safe passage, ordering them to remain at Alexandria until further orders from you or (in case of a rise in the river) of the commander of the division sent by the river. You will please instruct the commander of the river division to order those boats up to him from Alexandria, in case there should be a safe rise in the river after your departure.

Very respectfully, I am, general, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General and Chief of Staff.

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