Down here, remnants of the Civil War are never far away. Across the state, from the pine groves of central Louisiana to the eastern shore of Lake Pontchartrain, memories of the War Between the States linger. Louisiana is full of Civil War battlefields and museums. Here’s a little about the stories behind them.
Louisiana's Civil War battlefields and museums
In 2014, the sesquicentennial of the Civil War also marks the 150th anniversary of the Red River Campaign in Louisiana, a combined Army-Navy venture in the spring of 1864 that was the Union’s most powerful gathering of gunboats since the campaign against Vicksburg one year earlier. A group of 30,000 men attempted to gain ground and naval control of western Louisiana and Arkansas, only to be turned back south of Shreveport when low water and Confederate blockades resulted in a massive failure of the campaign.
The two-month disaster was assuaged only by Lt. Col. Joseph Bailey’s ingenious dam, which allowed the remaining U.S. naval fleet to escape being captured by Confederates. Today, history lovers can view strategic battle points such as Fort DeRussy and Yellow Bayou in Avoyelles Parish, Monett’s Ferry in Natchitoches Parish and Bailey’s Dam in Pineville, near Fort Randolph and Fort Buhlow, which were built in anticipation of a second Red River campaign that never materialized. For those seeking more visceral action, annual re-enactments of the Battle of Pleasant Hill take place in Pleasant Hill each April.
Take a sobering road trip through Civil War history by visiting these sites throughout the state. You’ll see forts, monuments, artifacts and exhibits, as well as the final resting places of soldiers from both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. The memory of soldiers is kept alive at such sites at the Confederate Memorial Hall Museum and Fort Pike State Historic Site, both in New Orleans; Chalmette National Cemetery, in Chalmette; the Old Arsenal Museum, in Baton Rouge; and Frogmore Cotton Plantation & Gins, which runs the guided Plantation Civil War Tour, in Frogmore.