(Mansfield, La.) - During a ceremony held in conjunction with the Battle of Mansfield 150th anniversary reenactment this weekend, Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, joined by a representative of the Civil War Trust, announced a trio of exciting battlefield preservation achievements. First, the Trust launchd a national fundraising campaign to purchase 282 acres of battlefield land destined for eventual inclusion in the state historic site. The event also made public the Trust's intention to donate to two already-acquired battlefield properties to the State of Louisiana - a one-acre parcel with frontage on Route 175 contiguous to Mansfield State Historic Site, and a 4-acre parcel that includes the historic Allen House.
"Quite frankly, if you had told me ten years ago we would ever have a chance to save this much additional land at Mansfield, I would have been incredulous," said Trust president James Lighthizer. "But now, thanks to some forward-thinking, preservation-minded business leaders and landowners, we have an unprecedented opportunity to build significant momentum for preservation associated with this often-underappreciated campaign."
The 282-acre tract northeast of the current state park was the site of the advance of Confederate Brig. Gen. James P. Major's cavalry division (part of Maj. Gen. Thomas Green's cavalry corps) against the Union forces under Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks. During the morning, overall Confederate commander Maj. Gen. Richard Taylor positioned Confederate Brig. Gen. Jean Jacques Alexandre "Alfred" Mouton's division on the east side of the clearing. Maj. Gen. John G. Walker's division arrived in the afternoon and formed on Mouton's right. In the early afternoon, prior to the Confederate attack, Green's cavalry fell back from the advancing U.S. forces and Major's division took up position on Mouton's left flank, while a brigade of cavalry moved to Walker's right.
Thanks to a generous matching grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program, in order to complete the 282-acre acquisition, the Trust must raise $100,000 in private donations. After that funding is secured and the Trust closes on the property, the land will be donated to the State of Louisiana for inclusion in Mansfield State Historic Site. Once completed, the purchase will mark the largest-ever preservation effort at a Red River Campaign battlefield.
Although smaller, the two already acquired properties are no less historic. The one-acre parcel witnessed extensive troop movements by both Union and Confederate forces. The 2nd Illinois Cavalry formed near this area before launching a series of counterattacks on the Confederates to cover and protect the withdrawal of Union units atop Honeycutt Hill. Moreover, protection of this property allows access to a 30-acre portion of the park that was acquired by the Trust in 1993 and transferred to the state. The Trust's purchase was made possible through the assistance of a matching grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program, an arm of the National Park Service.
During the Battle of Mansfield, the ante-bellum Allen House served as a Federal field hospital. It is one of the few remaining Civil War-era structures in the vicinity. The Calhoun Family donated the Allen House and surrounding property to the Trust, which is performing stabilization and restoration work before conveying it to the State.
"Being able to more formally ensure the long-term protection of this historic building has long been a goal for us," said Carolyn Calhoun Huckabay. "We are so pleased to see the growing public interest in our wonderful community's dynamic past and are proud to have played a role in that process."
The Battle of Mansfield, fought April 8, 1864, was the decisive battle of the Red River Campaign. The 4,400 casualties inflicted there convinced Union Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks he could not wrest Louisiana and Texas from Confederate control.
Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation's endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. To date, it has preserved more than 38,500 acres of battlefield land in 20 states.