Sunday, April 13, 2014

150th of Battle of Mansfield, LA Remembered

The Battle of Mansfield

The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Mansfield was celebrated on Tuesday in Mansfield.    
Joiner made his remarks Tuesday just an hour shy of the time the first musket fired 150 years ago. He and a small but interested group of men and women who gathered at the Mansfield State Historic Site to mark the sesquicentennial anniversary stood on the very ground where blood was shed during that hard-fought campaign on April 8, 1864.

Almost 30,000 soldiers would have been amassing for battle at the very moment state historic site superintendent Scott Dearman was welcoming the guests. “The lines were clashing, men were dying, men were suffering in the epicenter of that battle right now,” he said, asking them to transport their minds 150 years earlier to what “you would have been hearing and listening to.”
The fighting was “tough,” said Joiner. More than 1,000 Confederate soldiers died. Union records do not reflect how hard it was for them.

The personal impact comes from the realization the Confederate soldiers were fighting for their families, their homes and land. The Union, he said, was “fighting for the Union.”
Sometimes forgotten is how involved the townsfolk of Mansfield were. Once the Union gathered its surviving troops and retreated — the end result saving Shreveport from destruction — it was the men and women of Mansfield who created a hospital to treat the wounded and a morgue to tend to the dead.

Almost every home in the town also took in an injured soldier, regardless of the color of the uniform he was wearing. “They saved hundreds of lives because of their caregiving,” Dearman noted.
Heads were bowed as Dearman asked for a moment of silence to honor the civilians who endured the aftermath of the bloody war.

Also taking part in the ceremony were the Kate Beard Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, represented by Leona Lucius Connell, who placed a wreath at the Confederate memorial as Margaret Williams Jones sang “Dixie,” and the Friends of the Mansfield Battlefield, represented by Marilyn Joiner, who placed a wreath at the Union monument as the instrumental “Rally ‘Round the Flag” was played.

Each wreath-laying was marked with a musket salute by an honor guard of re-enactors wearing Confederate and Union uniforms. Special greetings were given by Daniel J. Frankignoul, of Brussels, Belgium, who read a letter from the grandson of Prince Camille J. de Polignac, a major general in the Confederate Army who led the troops at the Battle of Mansfield. Frankignoul, a former deputy mayor and current City Council president of the city of Woluwe-Saint-Lambert in East Brussels, has performed extensive research of the de Polignac family. He shared some of that information later in a program inside the Mansfield State Historic Site museum.

It’s important to continue annual observations of the Battle of Mansfield for “our children, their children and the other grownups to realize it was something that happened that involved the South, the whole South,” said Shreveporter LaJuana Goldsby, whose husband’s great-grandfather served in the 2nd Troop Cavalry and fought in the Battle of Mansfield. He joined the Confederacy in May 1863 and his wife died a month later in childbirth, leaving their slaves to care for the couple’s children as the war raged around the family home. Goldsby’s family hails from south DeSoto Parish near where the Battle of Pleasant Hill was fought the day after Mansfield.“This is a day to remember those who sacrificed everything for the Confederacy and the men in the Union who sacrificed, too. The sacrifices they made for us allows us to have the freedom we have today,” Goldsby said.

Hundreds of re-enactors gathered over the weekend in and around Pleasant Hill to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the entire campaign. The Battle of Mansfield Re-enactment is set April 26-27 and also is expected to draw hundreds of period-dressed soldiers who will relive the historic clash on the original battlefield just south of Mansfield.