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The Battle of Pleasant Hill was an afternoon skirmish of the Red River Campaign on April 9, 1864, and was definitely not as pleasant as the name of the nearby town. This served as a continuation of the Battle of Mansfield, fought nearby the previous day but ended due to the arriving darkness. This battle resulted in the total loss of 3,100 soldiers (1,100 from the Banks-led Union and 2,000 from the Taylor-led Confederacy) and became known as the largest Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi River. Although declared a Union victory, arguments still last to this day as to which side truly won. However, the battle did prevent Union forces from capturing Louisiana's Confederate capital in Shreveport.


  • A reenactor participating in the reenactment of the Battle of Pleasant Hill.
(Photo from louisianatravel.com)
  • Entrance to the Pleasant Hill Battle Park located near where the actual battle occurred.
(Photo from worldslongestroadtrip.com)
  • Monument erected for the Battle of Pleasant Hill honors the lives lost during this bloody fight.
(Photo by Mark Hilton on the Historical Markers Database website)
  • Confederate Major General Richard Taylor (right) and Union Major General Nathanial P. Banks (left) exchanged victories and defeats at both Mansfield and Pleasant Hill.
(Photo obtained from Historical Markers Database website)

Union Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks and his forces managed to travel about 150 miles up the Red River before Confederate Maj. Gen. Richard Taylor decided to intervene and stop the Union from further advancement. The two armies met in Mansfield on April 8, with Taylor and the Rebels getting the upper hand. The ensuing nighttime was used to rest and prepare for the next day, as both men knew hostilities would resume at some point on April 9. Although being outnumbered, Taylor hoped to crush Banks and the Federals believing they would be tired and timid from the previous day to defend themselves. He would soon be proven undoubtfully wrong. 

The following morning, now having been reinforced from casualties suffered at the Battle of Mansfield, Taylor began marching towards Pleasant Hill to take care of their unfinished business. The Rebels would actually begin their attack around 5:00pm after resting for a few hours. Taylor would send his men up the Union's middle while he focused on the right side (he figured this would be the Union escape route), sending Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Churchill to the left flank. When the attack on the left flank being successful, Churchill sent his men ahead in hopes of attacking from behind. This proved unsuccessful as the Union troops were rested and recognized the threat before it hit them. Banks then withdrew his men from the area before any further escalation of conflict occurred, taking a strategic victory rather than a bloody draw.

As a result of both the Battle of Mansfield and the Battle of Pleasant Hill, Banks decided against continuing his goal of taking Shreveport. Taylor requested reinforcements in the hopes of catching up to Banks, but was denied by his superior, Maj. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, in the hopes of countering Union Maj. Gen. Frederick Steele from a nearby encounter. The Red River Campaign concluded shortly after the end of Pleasant Hill as it was seen as ill-advised endeavor. 

The Civil War itself dragged on another year, leaving the South in destruction and disarray. Taylor did manage to provide somewhat of a victory to his men and their families at Mansfield before the "defeat" at Pleasant Hill. Those around the town of Pleasant Hill still feel a sense of honor for their ancestors for continuing the fight when it seemed like there was none at all for the Rebels of U.S. history.

1. Gauthreaux, Alan G. “Louisiana Has Drawn First Blood Today” – The Battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, 1864. War History Online. June 23, 2017. Accessed April 14, 2019. https://www.warhistoryonline.com/guest-bloggers/louisiana-drawn-first-blood-today-battles-mansfield-pleasant-hill-1864.html.
2. Joiner, Gary. The Red River Campaign. American Battlefield Trust. . Accessed April 14, 2019. https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/red-river-campaign.
3. CWSAC Battle Summaries. Heritage Preservation Services. . Accessed April 14, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20080506184217/http://www.nps.gov/history/hps/abpp/battles/la019.htm.
4. History of the Battle of Pleasant Hill. Battle of Pleasant Hill Reenactment and Festival. . Accessed April 14, 2019. https://battleofpleasanthill.com/history/.
5. Hilton, Mark. The Battle of Pleasant Hill: Red River Campaign. The Historical Marker Database. July 16, 2017. Accessed April 14, 2019. https://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=105670.