Port Hudson was the site of the longest siege in American
history, lasting 48 days, when 7,500 Confederates resisted
some 40,000 Union soldiers for almost two months during 1863.
Realizing that control of the Mississippi River was a key
military objective of the Union, the Confederacy in August
1862, had its forces erect earthworks at Port Hudson.
Union Major General Nathaniel P. Banks moved against Port
Hudson. Three Union divisions came down the Red River to assail
Port Hudson from the north, while two others advanced from
Baton Rouge and New Orleans to strike from the east and south.
By May 22, 1863, 30,000 Union soldiers had isolated 7,500
Confederates behind 4 ½ miles of earthen fortifications.
On May 26 Banks issued orders for a simultaneous attack all
along the Confederate perimeter the following morning.
The first Union assault fell on the Confederate left wing,
which guarded the northern approaches to Port Hudson. Timely
reinforcements from the center allowed the Confederates to
repulse several assaults.
The fighting ended on the left wing
before the remaining two Union divisions advanced against
the Confederate center. Here the Confederates repulsed the
Federal advance across Slaughter's Field, killing approximately
2,000 Union soldiers.
Union casualties included 600 African-Americans
of the First and Third Louisiana Native Guards. Free blacks
from New Orleans composed a majority of the First Louisiana
Native Guards, including the line officers.
commanded by white officers composed the Third Louisiana Native
Guards. Led by Captain Andre Cailloux, a black officer, the
two regiments made their advance on the extreme right of the
Union line. Captain Cailloux was shot down as he shouted orders
in both French and English.
Another attempt to take Port Hudson failed on June 13, when
the Confederates inflicted 1,805 casualties on the Union troops
while losing fewer than 200. The Confederates held out until
they learned of the surrender of Vicksburg. Without its upriver
counterpart, Port Hudson, the last Confederate bastion on
the Mississippi River, lacked strategic significance and the
garrison surrendered on July 9, 1863.
Today, the Port Hudson
State Commemorative Area encompasses 889 acres of the northern
portion of the battlefield, and has three observation towers,
six miles of trails, a museum, a picnic area and restrooms.
Four thousand Civil War veterans are buried at the Port Hudson
National Cemetery, which stands just outside the old Confederate
The Port Hudson State Commemorative Area is located off US
Hwy 61 at 756 West Plains-Port Hudson Road, in Zachary.
park is open 9:00am to 5:00pm daily, there is a fee for admission.
Groups are requested to call 1-888-677-3400 in advance.