very little else. On arriving at this place, which is twenty-five miles above Port Hudson, and thirty miles below the mouth of the Red River, we landed on the west side, and sent out the Second brigade, (ours is the First,) to feel of the rebels. The brigade started in the morning, taking a road that ran directly back from the river, and soon came upon a small rebel force, which commenced skirmishing and falling back. About ten miles out they turned off on a road that leads to the Atchafalaya (Shafalar) River, and soon entered the timber, which is very dense and effectually conceals every thing twenty rods distant. Here they began to contest our advance more earnestly, and at about nine o'clock our troops found themselves in the midst of darkness, on the bank of the Atchafalaya, in front of a fort of considerable size, and mounting several pieces of artillery-how many they could not tell; so they fell back for the night, and sent back for reenforcements. The next day we went out, got in sight of the fort, staid over night, and marched back in the morning. It was understood that a rebel force, numbering from seven thousand to twelve thousand, were strongly intrenched on the other side of the Atchafalaya, which is about nine hundred feet wide at that point, with steep banks and very muddy near the water. We had no means of crossing, and they were too strong for us if we had; so General Herron contented himself with sending out a force of about six hundred men, under Lieutenant-Colonel Leake, to act as an army of observation. They were encamped about three miles distant, and were daily employed in skirmishing with rebs, who crossed the river on a small flat-boat. Colonel Leake has been out there about three weeks. Day before yesterday it began to rain a little, and the night following was dark and drizzly. Under the cover of darkness the rebels crossed over seven regiments of infantry and some cavalry, and marching in a large circle, surrounded our little force, which, after a sharp fight, was captured. Very little is known about the matter, for a certainty, at the present time. I hear that Lieutenant-Colonel Leake is slightly wounded by a ball which killed his horse; but there is no telling as yet, except that it is certain he is wounded and a prisoner, as also is Lieutenant-Colonel Rose, of the Twenty-sixth Indiana. There was only one man from any company in our regiment out on that duty, the force being mainly composed of the Nineteenth Iowa and Twenty-sixth Indiana, two pieces of artillery, and some cavalry. When the troops were ordered into line, the Thirty-seventh Illinois was ordered out to see what was going on, and the gunboats fairly swarmed here; but the rebels only came over to take Lieutenant-Colonel Leake's command, and having accomplished that, scampered back as fast as possible. As far as is now known, we sustained a loss of fourteen killed and about forty wounded. No blame can be attached to Lieutenant-Colonel Leake for having been thus surprised. The place is peculiarly favorable to the performance of such a feat. The camp was surrounded by cane-fields and weeds, which were so thick that a hundred thousand men might be concealed within a mile distance, and you not suspect the presence of a single man. Besides, the Colonel's force was entirely inadequate to guard against a surprise so easy of accomplishment. It is a result that every body here has foretold since he has been out there. General Herron was relieved by General Dana, and left us just in time to be able to say: “I was not in command at the time.”
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.