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16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Where was the regiment on
Friday, May 13, 1864

On this day, Pvt. Peter Perrine tells us the 16th Ohio, and all of Gen. Nathaniel Banks' troops at Alexandria, Louisiana, and along the Red River, evacuated Alexandria. Perrine goes on to say the left wing of the 16th Ohio began their evacuation at 2:00 pm and mentions the town was burned. The right wing of the regiment re-joined the left wing in the evening. They marched 13 miles and camped at 11:00 pm.

Almost two months ago, Banks lead his larger Union army up the Red River with the intention of taking Shreveport, Louisiana, a vital Confederate manufacturing and supply town. Banks' plans were halted when Rebel Gen. Richard Taylor, with a smaller but more aggressive force, attacked Banks and forced him to retreat back down the Red River, all the way to Alexandria.Along with Banks was Adm. David Porter and a fleet of Federal gunboats.As the Union army retreated back down the river, these valuable boats became trapped above two sets of falls or rapids, up river from Alexandria.The 16th Ohio, along with other troops, were sent to assist Banks in defending Alexandria and the trapped gunboats. A plan was developed by Col. Joseph Bailey, an engineer from the 4th Wisconsin Infantry (or cavalry?) to build a dam across the river to raise the water level enough to allow the gunboats to descend past the rapids and into the deeper waters in front of and below Alexandria. Today, this effort was accomplished and all the Federal gunboats and transport ships were able to move down river to safety.This allowed Gen. Banks to resume the withdrawal of all Federal forces out of the Red River region of Louisiana and toward the Mississippi River and the strong Union defenses there.

Cpl. Theodore Wolbach provides additional details of this day:

When the gunboats were all below the rapids the troops on the north shore passed over and rejoined their comrades. Sick, wounded and non-combatants were put on boats as were also the knapsacks of many of the soldiers, leaving the army in light marching order and good fighting trim. The morale of this army had improved since the Texas re-enforcements joined it. Gen. Lawler had much to do with bringing about this good result and no soldier can disprove it.


Gen. Banks' army commenced its retreat from Alexandria on the morning of May 13th. The movement was orderly and entirely devoid of confusion. The fleet of boats started first; then of the land forces the 19th army corps move out, the 13th corps and A.J. Smith's troops following about 3 o'clock p.m. Our cavalry held the town and tried to prevent incendiarism. In spite of every possible precaution the Jayhawkers fired some buildings--reports came to us that the cavalry guards shot several of these vandals. A mile away from town the road enters the heavy timber. Our rear had scarcely entered this when the rebels in heavy force made a charge. Our cavalry used their carbines lively for awhile and repulsed the attack. It wasn't long before some wounded troopers were taken past us to the ambulance train ahead. At 11 o'clock that night we bivouaced seven miles below the city. Musquitoes abounded, but the boys were too tired and sleepy to be much annoyed by them.

See more detailed and complete descriptions of Bailey's Dam in the Red River Campaign section.

This period military map shows the approximate route taken by the 16th Ohio and other troops under Gen. Nathaniel Banks as they evacuated Alexandria, Louisiana, on May 13, 1864, camping about 13 miles southeast of the city. Note that original military attributions on the map reflect the earlier routes of Gen. Banks when he first marched up the Red River in an attempt to capture Shreveport, Louisiana.

Modern day map showing the estimated route and location of the 16th Ohio on its march from Alexandria, Louisiana, southeast along the Red River toward the Mississippi River, retreating from the attacks of Confederate General Richard Taylor.

A - Alexandria, Louisiana, where the 16th Ohio fought and labored since April 26, 1864, leaving about 2:00pm on May 13, 1864.
B - Estimated location of the 16th Ohio when it camped for the night of May 13, 1864.
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