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[221] in the defence of an outpost forces intended to occupy and defend the stronghold and the works around Mobile.

It was always a difficult and delicate task to decide, but I thought the moment had at length arrived contemplated by my instructions, when, however painful to the devoted defenders, the position had to be given up.

The guns were ordered to be spiked, and time was allowed for this purpose; the few remaining stores were issued; the sick and wounded were carefully removed — the infirmary corps and several hundred negroes who arrived that evening to be employed in the defence; and finally, in good order, the whole garrison was withdrawn. The retreat was along a narrow treadway, about eighteen inches wide, which ran from a small peninsula from the left flank across the river, and over a broad marsh to a deep channel opposite Battery Huger. It was about twelve hundred yards long and was commanded throughout by the enemy's heavy batteries in front of our left flank.

It was concealed by the high grass and covered with moss, and the troops pulled off their shoes, and thus, in a noiseless manner, succeeded in retiring without attracting the attention of the enemy. The night was rather dark and the movement could not be hurried. From the end of the treadway they were conveyed in light boats to Battery Huger, and thence to Blakely in steamers, except a few under Colonel Bush. Jones, who was directed to go up the marsh to Blakely. My scouts had already moved along this route with a view of ascertaining whether it was practicable. This was necessary in order to enable all the troops to get beyond range of the enemy's batteries before daylight. From Blakely they were ordered to Mobile by the Major-General commanding District of the Gulf. I regret to report that some of the skirmishers, in spite of the precautions taken and the ample time given, and the pointed inquiries made on the occasion, and the vigilance of brigade commanders and staff officers, which I did not fail to observe, were left upon the lines. The officers in command reported all their men called in and safe. It is to be hoped and presumed that these accidents will be satisfactorily explained. I deeply deplore the capture of even a part of these brave men.

I desire to express in the strongest terms my admiration of the steady valor and cheerful endurance of the officers and members

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