An attempt to blow up a church in the path of the fire only succeeded in helping to spread the flames. Many of the helpless lived in the forest without food, shelter, or clothing, subsisting on blackberries.
All clothing was homespun, and shoes were mostly made of cloth.
Porter seized three hundred bales of Confederate cotton from various warehouses in Alexandria and stamped it "U. Since he had no authority to stop Porter's speculative activities, Banks could only try to beat him to the remaining cotton. Alexandria [was enclosed] with a zigzag line of fortifications." While Banks remained in Alexandria in the spring of 1864, Porter was temporarily trapped north of the city because of the low level of the Red River, four feet instead of the needed seven feet to accommodate gunboats. 'Some cried, some cursed, some whined; and some overcome with fear, hid themselves in the woods, leaving everything to the tender mercies of the army.' Negroes were responsible for much of the plunder and pillage. Winters reports that "burning and plundering" by two Union corps, who set fire to a store on Front Street.
In 1805, Fulton and business partner Thomas Harris Maddox laid out the town plan and named the town in Fulton's honor.
It lies on the south bank of the Red River in almost the exact geographic center of the state.
It is the principal city of the Alexandria metropolitan area (population 153,922) which encompasses all of Rapides and Grant parishes. In 2010, the population was 47,723, an increase of 3 percent from the 2000 census.
The earliest deed that survives for an Alexandria resident is from June 24, 1805 when a William Cochren, who identifies himself as a "of the Town of Alexandria", sold a tract of land across the Red River to a William Murrey. Later in the day Banks reached Alexandria with his cavalry, whose members had marched twenty-five miles that day to reach the city. Winters of Louisiana Tech University, Porter disliked Banks but nevertheless turned over Alexandria to him and then departed to rejoin General U. Grant at the ongoing siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Porter left behind the gunboat USS Lafayette in Alexandria and posted the USS Pittsburg on the Black River to the northeast. Porter sent his sailors into the country to search for unginned cotton.
In the spring of 1863, Alexandria was occupied by Union forces under the command of Admiral David Dixon Porter and General Nathaniel P. In 1864, Admiral Porter returned to the area and quarreled with General Banks over possession of cotton supplies. After the crop was located, it was brought to Alexandria to be ginned and baled. Winters writes that Porter "took all cotton wherever he found it, cotton belonging to the Confederate government, cotton belonging to the 'rebels,' and cotton belonging to 'loyal' citizens." Winters continues: "Banks was furious with Porter when he learned that the admiral was scouring the interior for cotton. " On May 13, 1864, when the Union decided to abandon Alexandria, the city was set afire despite General Banks' order to the contrary.The area receives plentiful rainfall year-round, with thunderstorms possible throughout the year.