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 on the fourth fled across Bayou Vidal, and returned to their camp at Perkins's plantation, on the Mississippi, six miles below Carthage. On the same day, embarking in a skiff at Smith's plantation, and accompanied by General Osterhaus and a few members of our respective staffs, I made a reconnoissance, terminating only a half-mile from Carthage and the river, and in full view of both. We discovered the country to be deluged from Smith's plantation, where Bayous Vidal and Roundaway unite, and whence they communicate by a common channel with the Mississippi to Carthage. Also, that the levee extending from Bayou Vidal to Carthage and the Mississippi was broken and crossed by rapid currents at three different places. Upon our approach to the last crevasse, a half-mile from Carthage, we were fired upon by the enemy, and our skiff stopped, but not until we had ascertained that steamers could pass from the Mississippi to Smith's plantation, and that by such means our forces could be transferred from Smith's to the Mississippi shore. Having thus determined this important point, on the fifth a flat-boat was wrested from the enemy on Bayou Vidal, eight miles below Smith's, and brought to the latter place. On the sixth, after the boat had been hastily prepared to receive them, a party with two mountain howitzers were embarked and moved forward to dislodge the enemy at Carthage. Upon the approach of the boat the enemy hastily evacuated Carthage and took refuge a mile and a half below, among a number of buildings on James's plantation. Rapidly disembarking, the party pursued and again dislodged him, killing a rebel lieutenant and taking possession of the buildings. On the seventh, Gen. Osterhaus pressed his advantages by sending forward artillery and shelling the woods beyond Bayou Vidal, in the neighborhood of Dunbar's plantation, and dislodging the enemy's sharp-shooter's. In turn, on the eighth, the enemy took the offensive and sought to dislodge the detachment at James's. For this purpose he opened two twelve-pound howitzers upon it, but after an hour had been spent in fruitless endeavors again fell back to Perkins's. On the eighth, Lieut. Stickel, with a company of the Second Illinois cavalry, while scouring the country westward toward the Tensas, fell in with a recruiting party of the enemy, and succeeded in capturing three officers and one private. Having been considerably strengthened by reenforcements supposed to have been sent from Grand Gulf, on the east bank of the Mississippi, the enemy on the fifteenth sought to reinstate his line between Perkins's and Dunbar's — the latter place being eight miles from Perkins's, and the same distance from Smith's. For this purpose he divided his force, directing one portion across Mill Bayou against our rear in the neighborhood of Dunbar's and the remainder against the detachment at James's. Our pickets near Dunbar's upon the approach of the enemy fell back upon their reserves, who being rapidly reinforced promptly attacked and forced the enemy to recross Mill Bayou, taking two prisoners; our own loss being one man killed and one wounded, of the Second Illinois cavalry. Thus failing at this point, that portion of the enemy operating in front of James's retreated. Up to this time I had been restrained from throwing any considerable portion of my forces upon the river, for want of any other means than a few skiffs and small boats; and because, in the absence of gunboats to protect them, while limited by the flood to the occupancy of the Mississippi levee, they would have been exposed to destruction by the gunboats of the enemy, then supposed to be cruising near New-Carthage. To supply the means of moving my forces from Smith's to Carthage and across the Mississippi to some point from which operations could be directed against Vicksburgh, and also to afford them needed protection against river attack, I ventured earnestly to urge the pressing and transcendent importance of forwarding steam transports and gunboats from their moorings above Vicksburgh below to Carthage. Happily, on the seventeenth, my recommendation was responded to by the appearance of five transports and seven gunboats, and on the twenty-second by three more transports, all of which had run the blockade. A number of barges having started in tow of the transports and been cut loose on the way, were caught and brought to by parties from Gen. Osterhaus's division, who went out in skiffs for that purpose. Nor should I omit to add that during the advance of my forces from Milliken's Bend, they subsisted in large part upon the country through which they passed, and seized and sent back as a forfeiture to the United States a large quantity of cotton owned by the rebel government. The increased facilities afforded by the transports and barges alluded to, hastened the removal of the Ninth division from Smith's to Carthage. The Fourteenth division followed from Milliken's Bend to the same place; also, the Tenth division to Smith's, and a part of it to Carthage. The rest of the Tenth division rested near Smith's until a land route had been opened ten miles from there to Perkins's. The Twelfth division, which only arrived at Milliken's Bend on the fourteenth, followed to Smith's, and was followed from there to Perkins's by the rest of the Tenth, a large part of the trains of the whole corps, and afterward by the Seventeenth and Fifteenth army corps. The last five miles of the route from Smith's to Perkins's, was obstructed by numerous bayous. To accelerate the general movement, Gen. Hovey undertook the experiment of overcoming these obstacles. In order to do so, he constructed near two thousand feet of bridging out of material created for the most part on the occasion. This he did within the short space of three days and nights, thus extending and completing the
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