On April 7, 1864 in the advance of General Bank’s forces up the Red river, the 3rd cavalry brigade 87th Illinois and the 1st Louisiana), Colonel Harai Robinson commanding, the brigade moved up the road towards Mansfield and at Wilson’s farm, 3 miles distant from Pleasant Hill, encounter a large force of Confederate cavalry (General Green’s Texans) and immediately attack. The Confederate forces were posted in the woods on a hill beyond a clearing with their left flank protected by a ravine. A small hill ¼ mile in front of the Confederate line was immediately occupied by the dismounted 87th. The 87th was deployed to the right with the 1st Louisiana (Union) dismounted and deployed to the left. The 2nd Louisiana (Union) was placed in reserve. The Confederates attacked, driving the 3rd brigade about 100 yards. The 1st brigade (Colonel Lucas commanding 14 New York, 6th Missouri, and 2nd Louisiana) dismounted, reinforced the 3rd brigade, and impetuously charge the enemy driving them and in turn breaking their lines and dislodging them from their original position. A pursuit was ordered and continued until near nightfall with the Confederate forces being driven to Carroll Mill (10 miles beyond Pleasant Hill) on Bayou de Paul. Confederate force opened up with 4 pieces of artillery and could not be dislodge. General A. L. Lee’s after battle action reports states “had not the ammunition of a large proportion of the 87th regiment been entirely exhausted the Confederates could not have even temporarily driven them from their ground.” That evening Col Landram, commanding the 4th division of the 13th corps, ordered Emerson’s brigade to the assistance of the cavalry. Emerson arrived at the bayou at daylight and the fight was commenced. Again the enemy was forced from his position, gradually falling back toward Sabine crossroads. The number of Confederates killed and wounded was not reported, but 23 were captured. Union losses were 11 killed, 42 wounded, and 9 missing, of which the 87th reported 4 killed (Private Draper, Private Samuel Smith, and Samuel F. Smith of G company, Private Robert Cary of A company) 15 wounded and 2 missing. Lt. John Graham was wounded. This battle is called either the battle of Wilson’s Plantation or the battle of Wilson’s Hill.
The next day the regiment took part in the battle of Sabine crossroads (also called the battle of Mansfield). On the morning of April 8, 1864 the infantry of General Bank’s Red River Expedition moved from its position at Pleasant Hill toward Mansfield and at Sabine crossroads the skirmishers became sharply engaged, the main body of the enemy being posted on a hill on both sides of the road, protected by a heavy growth of timber. The cavalry under General Albert L. Lee was thrown forward to hold the enemy in check until the 19th corps, under General Franklin could take position. For some hours the opposing forces were stationary but at 4:30 p.m. the enemy made a general attack, the heaviest assault being on the Federal right flank. General Banks’ battle report states that overwhelming numbers compelled the Union troops to fall back, several attempts to get to the rear being repulsed. At the edge of a strip of timber the 3rd division of the 13 corps formed the basis of a new line. This second line was attacked with great impetuosity and Federals again gave way, with 10 pieces of artillery falling into the enemy’s possession. The ground was badly obstructed by the supply train of the cavalry division, which rendered the movements of the infantry extremely difficult. Meanwhile General Emory’s division (1st of the 19th Corps) had been pushed forward through the confused and fleeing Union troops to Pleasant Grove, 3 miles from the crossroads. The 161st NewYork regiment was thrown out as skirmishers at the foot of the hill, on the crest of which the rest of the division was deployed, the 1st brigade to the rear, the 3rd brigade to the left and the 2nd brigade in reserve. The line had scarcely been formed when the skirmishers were driven in and the right of the position was seriously threatened. The 2nd brigade was hurried to its assistance and the enemy was repulsed. This action lasted 1-½ hours. During the night after the Union forces had been rallied on General Emory’s line, a desperate attempt was made to turn the left flank, but it was defeated. This engagement marked the turning point of the Red River campaign, with General Bank’s movement from this time on being backward instead of forward. The Union casualties in the affair were 74 killed, 331 wounded and 1,397 captured or missing. The 87th reported about 30 men killed and wounded. The Confederate losses were not definitely reported, but were probably not so heavy. During this battle Colonel H. Robinson, the brigade commander was wounded and Colonel John M. Crebs took command of the brigade. While in command, Colonel Crebs’ formed the 87TH regiment in a battle line, on which the retreating 19TH Corps formed their forces behind. The 87th was reported to be the only regiment in that disastrous defeat that left the field in regimental formations.
On the following day *April 9, 1863) the regiment was in the battle of Pleasant Hill and on the retreat to Alexandria it was either in the front, flank or rear of the retreating column, constantly engaged with the enemy’s skirmishers. The regiment returned to Grand Ecore Louisiana on April 10, 1864. John Alexander Duncan reports, in his diary, engagements with Confederate forces on April 22, 23, and 26 1864. In May 1864 it was in the advance and continually under fire in the movement from Alexandria to