Red River Campaign Facts

March 10–May 22, 1864

Key facts about the Red River Campaign of 1864.

Portrait of Nathaniel P. Banks

On March 12, Major General Nathaniel P. Banks launched his Red River Campaign designed to capture Shreveport, Louisiana and drive all Rebel forces out of the state. [Wikimedia Commons]

Date and Location

  • March 10–May 22, 1864
  • In or near the Red River Valley in northwest Louisiana

Timeline of the Red River Campaign

These are the main battles and events of the Red River Campaign in order.

Principal Union Commanders

Principal Confederate Commanders

Union Forces Engaged

  • Army of the Gulf (13th and 19th Army Corps), Army of the Tennessee (16th and 17th Army Corps), Department of Arkansas, Mississippi flotilla of the US Navy

Confederate Forces Engaged

  • District of West Louisiana, District of Arkansas, District of Indian Territory, District of Texas, Confederate Navy based in Shreveport, Louisiana

Number of Union Soldiers Engaged

  • Roughly 30,000

Number of Confederate Soldiers Engaged

  • Roughly 6,000 – 15,000

Estimated Union Casualties

  • 8,700 (killed, wounded, captured/missing)

Estimated Confederate Casualties

  • 6,500 (killed, wounded, captured/missing)


  • Confederate victory

Impact of the Red River Campaign

  • The Red River Campaign, which included the largest combined army-navy operation of the war, was the last decisive Confederate victory of the war.
  • The target of the Red River Campaign was Shreveport, the capital of Confederate Louisiana and the headquarters for the Army of the Trans-Mississippi.
  • The Red River Campaign was primarily the plan of Union General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck,
  • During the Red River Campaign, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Bailey enabled the Union fleet to escape over the falls at Alexandria, Louisiana by constructing a temporary dam on the Red River.
  • The failure of the Red River Campaign ruined Major General Nathaniel Banks’s military career and his presidential aspirations.
  • William T. Sherman described the Red River campaign as “one damn blunder from beginning to end.”