RED RIVER, the name of two American rivers, one empty ing into the Mississippi near its mouth, and the other emptying into Lake Winnipeg.
I. The Red river, sometimes called the Red River of Louisiana, is the southernmost of the large tributaries of the Mississippi. It rises in northern Texas, in the northern part of the High Plains, or Llano Estacado, flows east by south in Texas, between Texas and Oklahoma, and to Fulton, in south-western Arkansas, there turns south-east and continues in a general south-easterly direction through Louisiana to the bank of the Mississippi, where it discharges partly into the Mississippi and partly into the Atchafalaya. Its length is estimated at 1,200 m. or more; its drainage basin has an area of at least 90,00o sq.m. ; and its dis charge ranges from 3,500 cu.ft. to 18o,000 cu.ft. per second. Its middle and lower course is laden with a reddish silt from which it takes its name. From an elevation on the High Plains of about 2,450 ft., the river plunges into a canyon which is about 6o m. long and has nearly perpendicular walls of sandstone and gypsum formation 500 to Boo ft. high. Immediately below the canyon the river spreads out over a broad and sandy bed and flows for about Soo m. through a semi-arid plain. It narrows on entering the alluvial bottom lands, through which it pursues a sluggish and meandering course for the last 600 m. A shifting channel, deposits of silt and fallen trees have always hindered navigation. In 1828 the trees which the river had felled formed the great "Red River raft" extending from Loggy Bayou, 65 m. below Shreveport, Louisiana, to Hurricane Bluffs, 27 m. above Shreve port. Congress began in that year to make appropriations for the removal of the raft, and by 1841 Henry M. Shreve had opened a channel. The river was neglected from 1857 to 1872 and an other raft, 32 m. in length, formed above Shreveport. A channel was opened through this in 1872-73, and the complete removal of the obstruction a few years later so improved the drainage that a large tract of waste land was reclaimed. In its course
through Louisiana the river has built up a flood-plain with silt deposits more rapidly than its tributaries, with the result that numerous lakes and bayous have been formed on either side, and Cypress has been so flooded that boats ply between Shreveport, Louisiana, and Jefferson, Texas, 66 m. apart. The main river is navigable for small draught boats from the mouth to Fulton, Ark., a distance of 508.6 m. ; however, there is little commerce above the mouth of the Black.
During the Civil War, in March and April 1864, Major-General Nathaniel P. Banks conducted a combined military and naval expedition up the Red river in an attempt to open a Federal highway to Texas, but on April 8, the vanguard of his army was repulsed with heavy loss at Sabine Cross-Roads by the Con federates under Lieut.-Gen. Richard Taylor and the expedition was abandoned ; the gunboats commanded by Rear Admiral D. D. Porter were held above Alexandria by the lowness of the river, but it was flooded by a hurriedly built dam, and they escaped.
See R. B. Marcy and G. B. McClellan, Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana (Washington, 1853), and the annual Reports of the Chief of Engineers of the U.S. Army.