Louisiana Civil War sites
Sites throughout Louisiana commemorate key Civil War events and honor sacrifices in the worst conflict the nation ever faced on its own soil.
Many Louisiana sites mark events and sacrifices of the Civil War. The landmarks range from cemeteries to battlefields to museums. In some communities, annual re-enactments keep this amazing period in U.S. history alive.
NEW ORLEANS AREA
Louisiana’s Civil War Museum at Confederate Memorial Hall
As the state’s oldest museum, and with collection of war memorabilia unmatched in the Deep South, this institution is a must-see for all Civil War enthusiasts. Tucked right in the heart of New Orleans’ museum district, it is easily accessible, and its rotating and permanent exhibits offer the visitor a truly personal experience of the war and its costs.
929 Camp St.
Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tues.-Sat.
Robert E. Lee Monument
Dedicated in 1884, the sixty foot tall monument was erected as a memorial to the cherished general of the Confederate armies. It is placed prominently along St. Charles Avenue, and dominates the surrounding area.
Location: Lee Circle, Howard Avenue at St. Charles Avenue
Downriver from the French Quarter, Jackson Barracks was built in 1834-35 for troops who were stationed at the forts protecting New Orleans. It served as one of the first Confederate posts at the time of secession, but was later re-occupied by Union forces once the city had fallen to them in April 1862. Now home to the Louisiana National Guard, the post is currently under renovation, with the military museum expected to open by 2010.
Location: 6400 St. Claude Ave.
Old U.S. Mint
A major federal facility at the time of Louisiana’s secession from the Union, the mint provided the state government with a needed influx of cash. Later, when New Orleans had been captured by the Union, an enraged citizen, William Mumford, tore down a U.S. flag from the mint, for which act he was later hung. Today, the mint is a home for displays operated by the Louisiana State Museum and features rotating exhibits on various topics.
400 Esplanade Ave.
504-568-6968 or 800-568-6968
Open Tues.-Sun., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thurs. until 8 p.m.; closed Mondays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
Old U.S. Custom House
An Egyptian-Revival style structure begun in 1849 and not completed until after the Civil War, the Custom House served as a headquarters for Gen. Benjamin Butler during the Union occupation of New Orleans and as a prison for captured Confederate officers. During the Reconstruction years, it served as the center of federal authority in New Orleans. Today, it houses various federal offices. The interior of the great hall illustrates quite dramatically the importance of commerce to New Orleans, and the importance during the Civil War of controlling the Mississippi River. The ground floor now houses the Audubon Insectarium, a unique collection of displays, exhibits and educational programs.
423 Canal St.
Audubon Insectarium is open Tues.-Fri., 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; closed Mondays.
Christ Church Cathedral
The remains of Leonidas Polk, Confederate general and former Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana, were removed to this place in 1945.
2919 St. Charles Ave.
(This is a functioning church and congregation; please call for access information.)
Trinity Episcopal Church
A Gothic Revival-style church built of handmade brick designed with a separate seating gallery for slaves. Consecrated by Bishop Leonidas Polk in 1861. Best known for a memorial altar window of stained glass dedicated to the Right Rev. Polk by the Bishop Polk Society in honor of his service as the first Episcopal bishop of Louisiana.
1329 Jackson Ave.
(This is a functioning church and congregation; please call for access information.)
One of New Orleans’ most famous above-ground cemeteries, it holds the remains of Confederate Generals Richard Taylor, P.G.T. Beauregard and John Bell Hood. It includes monuments dedicated to Louisiana soldiers who served in the Army of Tennessee and the Army of Northern Virginia, as well as a separate monument to the famed Washington Artillery.
5100 Pontchartrain Blvd.
Open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily
Washington Artillery Monument
Location: Jackson Square, French Quarter
Fort Pike State Historic Site/Fort Macomb
Built in the decades after the War of 1812 as part of an expansion of the United States’ sea defenses, including a major commitment to protect New Orleans, these two brick forts guarded the eastern invasion routes to this important city. They had an intriguing history up to the Civil War, but did not see any actual combat during the war itself. They are still of interest, however, especially as they housed primarily African-American garrisons both during the conflict and after.
27100 Chef Menteur Highway
504-255-9171 or 888-662-5703
Hours: Fort Pike is a State Historic Site operated by the Office of State Parks. Normal hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., seven days a week, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Macomb, also maintained by State Parks, is a “non-operational” site, although tours can be arranged through the management of nearby Fort Pike.
Chalmette National Cemetery
The old battlefield at Chalmette, site of Andrew Jackson’s victory over the British in 1815, became a cemetery for Union soldiers in May 1864. Some 12,000 of these soldiers would find a final resting place here over the next several decades, with many relocated from other burial sites in south Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region. The Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veterans organization, later erected a fitting monument to these honored dead.
Details: 8606 West St. Bernard Highway, Chalmette
504-589-2636, ext. 1
The cemetery is accessible by vehicle from the Chalmette Battlefield tour road (open Mon.-Thurs., 7 a.m.-3 p.m.; Fri.-Sun., 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip
Louisiana figured prominently in early Union plans to defeat the Confederacy, primarily because of its control over the mouth of the Mississippi River. Consequently, in early 1862 Adm. David Farragut led a Union fleet up the great river toward two major obstacles: Forts Jackson and St. Philip, located about 70 miles below New Orleans. On April 16 he began the bombardment of these forts but failed to silence their guns. Without any other option, he decided simply to run his ships past the forts, and early on April 24, led the daring charge upriver past their blazing cannons. He continued on to New Orleans, where he subsequently accepted the city’s surrender. Cut off and surrounded, the garrisons of the two forts also surrendered.
Highway 23, Boothville, Plaquemines Parish
Fort Jackson is under re-development and is currently shuttered. Specialty tours of Jackson, and St. Philip across the Mississippi River, can be arranged however through the parish Department of Economic Development, 504-394-0088.
BATON ROUGE AND THE FLORIDA PARISHES
Pentagon Barracks/Old Arsenal
After the fall of New Orleans and Baton Rouge in the spring of 1862, Confederates attempted to recapture the capital at Baton Rouge. On Aug. 5, Gen. John C. Breckinridge led his troops in an attack across most of present-day downtown Baton Rouge, from Magnolia Cemetery to the Mississippi River. His anticipated naval support, the ironclad ram Arkansas, however, had broken down, and the combined guns of the Union navy and the soldiers on shore, turned back the assault. The Pentagon Barracks, which today serves as apartments for state lawmakers, and the nearby Old Arsenal both survived as witnesses to this intense battle. The grounds of the barracks are open to the public and the Capitol Park Visitor Center next door includes a small interpretive exhibit. The Old Arsenal, however, houses a more complete set of exhibits on the battle and preserves actual graffiti left by Union soldiers. Its hours are listed below.
Capitol Park, Baton Rouge
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tues.-Sat.
Louisiana’s Old State Capitol/Henry W. Allen and Confederate Monuments
This building served as Louisiana’s capitol in the decade before the Civil War and again from 1882 to 1932. It was the site of the state’s secession convention in 1861, although the Confederate state government abandoned it with the approach of the Union fleet in the spring of 1862. The building was gutted by fire in December 1862 while occupied by Union troops, and was not remodeled until the movement of the state government from New Orleans to Baton Rouge after the end of Reconstruction. Today, it houses the Museum of Political History, with numerous exhibits on Louisiana’s colorful history. On its grounds, stands the monument to Confederate general and wartime governor of Louisiana, Henry Watkins Allen, while in the neutral ground of North Boulevard, the city’s Confederate monument is prominently featured.
100 North Blvd., Baton Rouge
225-342-0500 or 800-488-2968
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tues.-Sat.; noon to 4 p.m., Sun.
Magnolia Cemetery/Baton Rouge National Cemetery
Located across the street from each other, these are two of Baton Rouge’s older cemeteries. Magnolia was created officially as a city cemetery in 1852; much of the Battle of Baton Rouge raged over its grounds, and a number of the Confederate dead are buried here, in addition to many citizens of old Baton Rouge. The Union dead from the battle were buried across the way, and the site was designated a National Cemetery in 1867.
Magnolia Cemetery, 422 N. 19th St., Baton Rouge, 225-272-9200
National Cemetery, 220 N. 19th St., Baton Rouge, 225-654-3767
Magnolia Cemetery is operated by the Baton Rouge Parks and Recreation Department, and is open dawn to dusk, daily. The National Cemetery is open Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and is closed all federal holidays except Memorial Day, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Louisiana State Museum
Located in the Capitol Park area of Baton Rouge, the museum includes a nice set of exhibits on the Civil War in Louisiana among its many other displays and kiosks that interpret Louisiana’s history and culture.
660 N. 4th St., Baton Rouge, 225-342-5428
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Tues.-Sat.; noon-5 p.m., Sun., closed major public holidays
In the rolling countryside of Tangipahoa Parish, Camp Moore served as the primary training ground for Louisiana troops entering the Confederate army in 1861 and 1862. Despite its location in the healthy uplands north of Lake Pontchartrain, it nonetheless proved deadly for many of the young men thrown together in large numbers for the first time. Infectious diseases raged, and the lack of modern medical and sanitary facilities contributed to a high death rate well, long before any of the men saw the battlefield. Today a small museum interprets the site, which includes a large cemetery for those soldiers who died at the camp hospital.
70640 Camp Moore Rd., Tangipahoa, 985-229-2438
The museum is open at 10 a.m. and the last tour takes place at 3 p.m., Tues.-Sat.
Port Hudson State Historic Site
In conjunction with Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s offensive against Vicksburg beginning in April 1863, Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks moved his army up from New Orleans to reduce the Confederate stronghold at Port Hudson, about 20 miles above Baton Rouge on the Mississippi River. Since it guarded the entrance to the Red River, and provided a safe transportation route across the Mississippi, Port Hudson had to be captured to ensure Union control of the “Father of Waters.” Banks launched major attacks on May 27 and June 14, including deploying African-American troops in these assaults, but they were not successful. He finally settled down into regular siege operations, and the starving garrison surrendered on July 9, after learning of the fall of Vicksburg a few days earlier.
Details: 236 Highway 61, Jackson; 225-654-3775 or 888-677-3400
Normal hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., seven days a week, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
Grace Episcopal Church
In the quaint river town of St. Francisville, a half-hour above Baton Rouge, the graveyard of Grace Episcopal Church was the scene of a unique incident during the war years. Under a flag of truce, a deceased Union naval officer was buried by fellow members of the Masonic fraternity in the cemetery, an event commemorated annually in the program “The Day the War Stopped.” The church was well-established even before then, and played a prominent role in the society life of the area’s wealthy plantation families.
11621 Ferdinand St., St. Francisville, 225-635-4065
This is a functioning church and congregation; please call for access information.
Rosedown State Historic Site
Right off Highway 61, just outside St. Francisville, is Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site, one of the area’s most illustrious plantation homes. Its mistress, Martha Turnbull, waged an unsuccessful campaign after the war to gain compensation for thousands of dollars worth of property confiscated by Union troops during the conflict. Operated by the Office of State Parks, the site interprets the antebellum and Civil War years.
12501 Highway 10, St. Francisville, 225-635-3332 or 888-376-1867
Normal hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., seven days a week, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Centenary State Historic Site
Heading east on Highway 10, you will enter the quaint little town of Jackson, site of a skirmish associated with the Port Hudson campaign. In addition, Centenary State Historic Site, the original home of Centenary College (now in Shreveport), housed many wounded and sick Confederate soldiers in 1862. Those who passed on were laid to rest in a small cemetery located on the property. The site is operated by the Office of State Parks, and includes exhibits, interpretive markers, and walking trails.
3522 College St., Jackson, 225-634-7925 or 888-677-2364
Normal hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., seven days a week, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
In the fall of 1862, Union Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, commanding Union forces in the Department of the Gulf, launched an expedition into the Bayou Lafourche region to eliminate Confederates in the area and to confiscate as much sugar and cotton as possible. This expedition was under the command of General Godfrey Weitzel, and his men arrived at Donaldsonville, where the Lafourche meets the Mississippi River on Oct. 25th. The Union force moved south, or “up the bayou,” and encountered the command of Confederate Gen. Alfred Mouton just above Labadieville at a place called Georgia Landing. Here, on the 27th, Mouton and his men fought a fierce battle, but outnumbered and outgunned, they were forced to retreat, and thereby gave up the Lafourche region to the Union.
Location: This site is accessible, but is on private property.
On June 28, 1863, Confederate Gen. Tom Green led an assault on the Union occupied town of Donaldsonville. The chief defense of this important river port was Fort Butler, garrisoned primarily by African-American troops. The attack started shortly after midnight, but the Black troops fought fiercely and they gained support from Union ships in the Mississippi River. Green and the Confederates were forced to withdraw.
Details: On the levee front, downtown Donaldsonville
For tours, contact either the Historic Donaldsonville Museum, 225-746-0004, or the River Road African American Museum, 225-474-5553
Hours: Public location
Fort Bisland/Irish Bend
In April 1863, Union General Nathaniel Banks launched an expedition up the Bayou Teche in western Louisiana, aiming for Alexandria. Moving up from Brashear City (now Morgan City), on April 12 and 13 the Union forces encountered Confederates at Fort Bisland, and engaged them at that point. Fearing encirclement, though, Confederate Gen. Richard Taylor withdrew his troops, and fought a battle the next day at Nerson’s Woods, or Irish Bend, a mile and a half north of Franklin. This delayed the Union advance, and allowed time for his men to escape. Hopelessly outnumbered, Taylor could only fight small rear guard skirmishes, and was forced to give up the region.
Location: Both sites are accessible, but are on private property.
One of the few homes to survive the back and forth of the Confederate and Union armies in 1862 and 1863 was the well-known Shadows-on-the-Teche in New Iberia. It served as headquarters for Union officers, and suffered the usual depredations of hungry troops in search of food, drink, and souvenirs of Dixie. The site offers a nuanced interpretation of the antebellum, Civil War and post-bellum eras.
Details: 317 E. Main St., New Iberia, 337-369-6446
Hours: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Mon.-Sat.; noon to 4:30 p.m., Sun.; closed major holidays
Governor’s Mansion (Opelousas)
The Mouton home served as the Governor’s Mansion during the brief period in 1862-63 when the Confederate state government resided in Opelousas. It was home at that time to the sitting lieutenant governor, who offered it for use.
261 N. Liberty St., Opelousas (private residence)
Academy of the Sacred Heart
Founded in 1821 as a Catholic school and convent, the Academy survived the vicissitudes of war in the Bayou Country, perhaps because of God’s blessing, but in part because, as legend has it, Union Gen. Nathaniel Banks issued special orders for its protection because his daughter in the North was enrolled in an institution run by the same religious order.
Details: 1821 Academy Rd., Grand Coteau, 337-662-5275
Hours: This is a functioning school; tours by appointment only.
Chretien Point Plantation
Another survivor of the war in Bayou Country is Chretien Point Plantation, which witnessed one of the many small battles in the area fought across its front yard. The home is currently under renovation.
665 Chretien Point Rd., Sunset
Lake Providence/Grant’s Canal Overlook
During the winter of 1862-63, Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant put his troops to work hacking canals into the back bayous and rivers of northeast Louisiana in the vain hope that he could find a passage around the mighty Confederate fortress at Vicksburg. One of those is still visible here at Lake Providence; a nice boardwalk allows the visitor to look out over the placid waters of the lake while several interpretive signs provide context.
Details: overlook park on Lake Providence, across from the Byerly House; contact Byerly House Visitor Center and Museum, 318-559-2850
Hours: Public Location
Louisiana State Cotton Museum
Louisiana’s northeast Delta was, and still is, big plantation country, and in large part this means one crop: cotton. Now in recent years, soybeans and corn have been more in rotation, but this part of the state was built around planting and harvesting the fleecy white staple. The State Cotton Museum has a number of excellent exhibits on the history of cotton, along with many plantation structures like a chapel, gin, and tenant houses. In addition, it has a very good exhibit on recently freed African-Americans recruited from the region during the Civil War to fight for the Union army. These troops saw action in several sharp fights along the Mississippi River, such as Young’s Point and Milliken’s Bend.
Details: 7162 Highway 65 North, Lake Providence, 318-559-2041
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., daily, April through October; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., daily, November through March; closed major holidays
Hermione Museum/Grant’s March
The Hermione Museum, run by the Madison Historical Society, is located in Tallulah and highlights the rich history of this plantation parish. Its exhibits range from cotton growing and agricultural aviation (crop dusting) to the Civil War, the 1927 Flood, and Teddy Roosevelt’s famous 1907 bear hunt. For Civil War enthusiasts, it features several nice displays on the Battle of Milliken’s Bend, and Grant’s March, which took place in the area just east of town. It is a must stop for those wishing to retrace this opening move of the Vicksburg campaign. The museum staff can provide materials that can direct you to historic markers and sites, such as the Duckport Canal, Crescent Plantation and Milliken’s Bend.
Details: 315 Mulberry St., Tallulah, 318-574-0082
The museum is run by volunteer staff, but is open daily in the mornings and afternoons
In the early morning hours of June 7, 1863, the African Brigade of the Union army, composed of formerly enslaved African-Americans from nearby plantations, found itself facing an advancing Confederate force at the river landing of Milliken’s Bend, just northeast of present day Tallulah. The Union troops fired several volleys, but the Confederates came on, and intense hand-to-hand combat ensued. Ultimately, the Union gunboats Choctaw and Lexington appeared on the scene and drove the attacking Confederates away. But, the Black troops had proved themselves as willing fighters, and increasingly they would take on a larger role in the Union war effort.
The original site of the battle is now in the Mississippi River, but several markers highlight the action. Contact the Hermione Museum for additional information.
Winter Quarters State Historic Site
During the opening moves of his Vicksburg campaign in the spring of 1863, Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant marched 30,000 troops south through Tensas Parish to Hard Times Landing, from which point they crossed the Mississippi River to attack the Confederate stronghold from the rear. Along the way, the Union soldiers enthusiastically carried the war to the enemy, pillaging homes and plantations, and burning buildings wherever they went. Along placid Lake St. Joseph, they left only one of the 16 stately plantation homes standing: Winter Quarters. This was the home of the Haller Nutt and his family. His wife, Julia, obtained letters of protection, which spared the home the fate of its neighbors. Today, Winter Quarters is a State Historic Site, operated by the Office of State Parks, and it interprets both antebellum life in the area as well as the trauma of the Civil War.
Details: 4929 Highway 608, Newellton, 318-467-9750 or 888-677-9468
Normal hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., seven days a week, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
RED RIVER VALLEY
In the early stages of the Red River campaign of 1864, the Union fleet approaching upriver from Simmesport found its passage blocked in the area of Marksville by the guns of Fort DeRussy, which had been built over the previous winter to protect the water route to Alexandria. The fort had to be captured before the advance could continue, and shortly thereafter, on the evening of March 14 Gen. A.J. Smith ordered his men forward. The small Confederate garrison was overwhelmed in 20 minutes. The way to Alexandria was open.
Details: Fort DeRussy Rd., Marksville
Fort DeRussy is owned by the State of Louisiana and managed under the Louisiana Office of State Parks. Although its status is “non-operational,” tours can be arranged through the management of nearby Marksville State Historic Site.
Details: 318-253-8954 or 888- 253-8954
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., seven days a week, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
After abandoning Alexandria, Union Gen. Nathaniel Banks continued his retreat back down the Red River and reached the relative safety of the Atchafalaya River crossing at Simmesport on May 17. The pursuing Confederate army was in hot pursuit, however, and while waiting for his engineers to finish the bridge over the Atchafalaya, Banks sent a force back to hold the Confederates at Yellow Bayou. It was a back and forth affair that lasted several hours but lacked any real conclusion. Banks was then able to move his army over the river, and to safety.
Details: Just west of Simmesport, on Highway 1, contact Avoyelles Commission of Tourism, 800-833-4195
Hours: daily, dawn to dusk
Alexandria National Cemetery
This cemetery was established in 1867 to offer a permanent place of rest for the many Union soldiers who died in Central Louisiana from wounds and disease during the Civil War. It later took in the remains of veterans from other conflicts, including many from the Indian Wars in Texas. It is located in Pineville, across the Red River from Alexandria.
Details: 209 East Shamrock St., Pineville, 318-449-1793
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., closed federal holidays except Memorial Day and Veterans Day
Fort Buhlow and Fort Randolph/Bailey’s Dam
Constructed from October 1864 to March 1865 by Confederate soldiers and enslaved African-American workers, these forts were intended to protect the upper reaches of the Red River Valley from another Union invasion. This invasion never came, and when the Confederacy began to fall apart in the spring of 1865, the poorly clothed and poorly fed soldiers mutinied, forcing the forts’ abandonment. The two forts overlook the site of Bailey’s Dam, constructed in April and May 1864 during Gen. Nathaniel Banks’ retreat back down the Red River Valley. The Union fleet under Adm. David Porter had become trapped by the dropping waters of the Red River and was in danger of being stranded and captured by the pursuing Confederate army. It was then that Col. Joseph Bailey, an engineer who had experience in building waterways in the timber belt of Wisconsin, suggested the construction of dams to raise the water level and thereby allow the ships to pass downriver. Stripping the town and countryside of stone, timber and other building materials, Union soldiers and local African-Americans pressed into service worked tirelessly to build the dams, which ultimately proved successful in freeing the Union fleet from its difficult situation.
Details: Highway 71, just across the O.K. Allen Bridge, Pineville
Contact: Red River Waterway Commission, 318-352-8156 or Alexandria-Pineville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, 318-442-9546 or 800-551-9546
The Fort Buhlow Recreation Area, formerly operated by the Red River Waterway Commission has been renovated as a State Historic Site, under the Office of State Parks, to showcase the history of Forts Buhlow and Randolph, as well as the story of Bailey’s Dam, just downstream from the O.K. Allen Bridge.
Old LSU Site: Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy
Opened in 1860, and closed with the outbreak of war in 1861, the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy later became Louisiana State University, now in Baton Rouge. The original superintendent was none other that William Tecumseh Sherman, later to earn a dubious reputation for his generalship on the Union side during the Civil War. Still, Sherman is acknowledged to this day as LSU’s first leader, and a painting of him hangs in Hill Memorial Library on the Baton Rouge campus. During the war years, the buildings were used as a hospital, but a fire wrecked the place afterwards. Today, a walking trail, “ghost” outlines of the buildings and markers interpret the site.
Location: Highway 71, just across from the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center, and next to the U.S. Forest Service’s Kisatchie National Forest headquarters.
Contact: Alexandria-Pineville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, 318-442-9546 or 800-551-9546
Hours: daily, dawn to dusk.
Louisiana History Museum
A fine little museum that features exhibits on the development and history of Alexandria, Rapides Parish, and central Louisiana. It has a particularly strong interpretation of Alexandria’s role in the Civil War, including Bailey’s Dam, and the burning of the town in May 1864.
Location: 503 Washington St., Alexandria, 318-487-8556
Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tues.-Sat.
J. Bennett Johnston Waterway Grand Ecore Visitor Center
Grand Ecore served as an important staging point and supply depot for the Union army and navy during the Red River campaign. Sitting high on a bluff overlooking the Red River, it held a strategic position, and was even utilized by Confederate forces, both before and after the spring 1864 invasion. Today, the Visitor Center offers excellent exhibits on the site’s history and importance, as well as spectacular views of the river.
Location: 106 Tauzin Island Rd., Natchitoches, 318-354-8770
Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, except for major holidays
Mansfield State Historic Site/Pleasant Hill
Approaching Shreveport from the south during the climactic period of the Red River campaign in spring 1864, Union Gen. Nathaniel Banks and his army met a much smaller force of Confederates led by the charismatic Gen. Richard Taylor. Rather than continuing a withdrawal, Taylor decided to attack, and he smashed the lead Union column at Mansfield on April 8, and then attacked the Union army again the next day a few miles away at Pleasant Hill. Although the latter battle was a draw, Banks had seen enough, and decided to retreat back to the Alexandria area to regroup. He would never have the chance to invade the area again. Today, the Mansfield battlefield is preserved as a State Historic Site, operated under the Office of State Parks. It features an excellent museum and interpretive trails and markers. Pleasant Hill, about nine miles away down Highway 175, is private property, although several accessible markers and memorials are located at the site. Moreover, every April, a major battle re-enactment is held in the area.
Location: 15149 Highway 175, Mansfield, 318-872-1474 or 888-677-6267
Normal hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Shreveport Confederate Monument
Erected on the site of the headquarters of the last organized Confederate army, the monument features beautiful, stylized sculptures that highlight the major themes of the “Lost Cause” movement in the decades after the end of the Civil War.
Location: lawn of Caddo Parish Courthouse, 501 Texas St., Shreveport,
Hours: public location
J. Bennett Johnston Waterway Shreveport Visitor Center
Located in downtown Shreveport, this center features exhibits on the history and navigation of the Red River, including its importance during the Civil War. Of great interest is the display on a Civil War era steamboat that sank in the Red, only to be uncovered on dry ground when the river shifted course. It yielded a treasure trove of artifacts from the time period.
Details: 600 Clyde Fant Parkway, Shreveport, 318-677-2673
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, except for major holidays
Spring Street Museum
An excellent museum in the downtown district that contains rotating exhibits on the history of Shreveport, including its antebellum and Civil War past.
Details: 525 Spring St., Shreveport, 318-424-0964
Hours: 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Tues.-Sat.
Shreveport’s original “City Cemetery,” it opened in 1847, and numerous mayors and over a thousand Confederate veterans lie buried within its gates. Of particular interest is the burial mound for victims of the yellow fever epidemic that struck the city in 1873.
Details: 1000 Milam St., Shreveport
Contact: Shreveport Public Assembly and Recreation, 318-673-7751
Hours: dawn to dusk, daily
Louisiana State Exhibition Museum
A product of 1930s Louisiana, replete with larger than life murals and delicate, superbly crafted dioramas showing various aspects of the state’s industrial and agricultural life at the time, the Exhibition Museum also features an impressive collection of Civil War memorabilia sure to intrigue the interested visitor.
Details: 3015 Greenwood Rd., Shreveport, 318-632-2020
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mon.-Fri.; weekends, noon to 4 p.m.