Explore Historic Civil War Sites in Louisiana

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 State Historic Sites, battlefields, museums and cemeteries. These sites offer a deeper look into the turbulent era of the Civil War through immersive exhibits, fascinating recovered artifacts and even reenactments.

Louisiana, with its ample farmland, thriving industries and arguably the most important port on the Mississippi River (in New Orleans), was the focus of numerous Civil War battles. Those are commemorated annually at State Historic Sites throughout the State.

Mansfield State Historic Site in Louisiana

Mansfield State Historic Site

Port Hudson State Historic Site Battlefield

Port Hudson State Historic Site

Boardwalk at Forts Randolph & Buhlow State Historic Site

Forts Randolph & Buhlow State Historic Site

Centenary State Historic Site

Centenary State Historic Site

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.” Port Hudson was the longest siege in American military history. The garrison withstood the hardships for 48 consecutive days without relief from the outside. The starving garrison surrendered on July 9, after learning of the fall of Vicksburg a few days earlier.

Today, Port Hudson State Historic Site features reenactments that include more than battles and soldiers. There are “sutlers” (civilian merchants who accompanied armies) selling reproduction items, ladies washing clothes and cooking as it would have been done in the 1860s and a Sunday morning church service. All of these activities show the daily life of the Civil War-era, beyond the fighting.

Mansfield State Historic Site

After the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson in July 1863, the Mississippi River was entirely controlled by the Union. So, President Lincoln ordered the capture of Texas and the Trans-Mississippi headquarters in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Union organized a successful Red River campaign in order to confiscate cotton and prevent French-Mexican forces from providing supplies and support to the Confederate troops.

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 the Confederates led by the charismatic Gen. Richard Taylor. 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 the Mansfield State Historic Site - featuring an impressive museum, interpretive trails and markers. Today, visitors can experience the Civil War through living history events, exhibits, battle reenactments and interpretive programs at the historic site. You can also see musket demonstrations, candlelight tours of the battlefield and more events throughout the year.

Forts Randolph and Buhlow State Historic Site

After the Battle of Mansfield in 1864 delayed the Union’s advance into western Louisiana, two earthwork forts were built on the banks of the Red River at Alexandria. These forts were expected by Confederates to stop future Union attacks in north Louisiana, but the Confederate States Army surrendered shortly after the forts’ completion, and the site never saw action. While the forts were under construction, Union forces were making their way down the Red River to meet up with additional forces near the Mississippi River. But the river was unusually low that spring, and the Union ships couldn’t get past Alexandria safely with Confederate snipers located along the river banks. Col. Joseph Bailey suggested building a dam that would raise the water high enough to float the fleet over the rapids of the Red River. With 3,000 soldiers, two dams were built in only eight days, allowing boats to safely continue down the river. Bailey’s Dam is considered one of the greatest engineering feats of the Civil War.

Today, the visitor Forts Randolph & Buhlow center features exhibits on the Civil War Red River Campaign and holds many interesting pieces found in the area including bits of uniforms, snuff cans and musket balls along with exhibits on how rations were stretched with local roots and native fruits and nuts. In addition to the usual encampment activities, the soldiers cultivated a vegetable garden – and the site still carries on this tradition. See how people produced vegetables for the dinner table before the arrival of supermarkets plus campfire cooking demonstrations using produce from the garden.

Centenary State Historic Site

The charming little town of Jackson is the site of a skirmish associated with the Port Hudson campaign. Centenary State Historic Site, located in Jackson, is the original home of Centenary College (now in Shreveport). Just prior to the Civil War, around 250 students and 11 faculty members occupied the campus. However, the war forced the school to close as its buildings were used by both Confederate and Union troops. The dormitories became hospital space and housed many wounded and sick Confederate soldiers in 1862 and during the siege of Port Hudson in 1863, and Union troops used the Main Academic Building as an area headquarters. Those who passed on were laid to rest in a small cemetery located on the property.


Learn more about the Civil War in North Louisiana, Central Louisiana and South Louisiana.