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[143] within a few hundred yards of each other. The land around, the Fort is low, and at the time of the attack was entirely overflowed. Owing to this fact, no movement could be made by the army to reduce it, but all depended upon the ability of the gunboats to silence the guns of the enemy, and enable the transports to run down, and land troops immediately on the Fort itself. After an engagement of several hours, the gun-boats drew off, being unable to silence the batteres. Brigadier-General J. F. Quimby, commanding a division of McPherson's corps, met the expedition under Ross, with his division on its retarn, near Fort Pemberton, on the twenty-first of March, and being the senior, assumed the command of the entire expedition, and returned to the position Ross had occupied.

On the twenty-third day of March, I sent orders for the withdrawal of all the forces operating in that direction, for the purpose of concentrating my army at Milliken's Bend.

On the fourteenth day of March, Admiral D. D. Porter, commanding Mississippi squadron, informed me that he had made a reconnoissance up Steele's Bayou, and partially through Black Bayou toward Deer Creek, and so far as explored, these water-courses were reported navigable for the smaller iron-clads. Information given mostly, I believe, by the negroes of the country, was to the effect that Deer Creek could be navigated to Rolling Fork, and that from, there through the Sunflower to the Yazoo River there was no question about the navigation. On the following morning I accompanied Admiral Porter in the ram Price, several iron-clads preceding us, up through Steele's Bayou, to near Black Bayou.

At this time our forces were at a dead-lock at Greenwood, and I looked upon the success of this enterprise as of vast importance. It would, if successful, leave Greenwood between two forces of ours, and would necessarily cause the immediate abandonment of that stronghold.

About thirty steamers of the enemy would been destroyed or fallen into our hands. Seeing that the great obstacle to navigation, so far as I had gone, was from overhanging trees, I left Admiral Porter near Black Bayou, and pushed back to Young's Point for the purpose of sending forward a pioneer corps to remove these difficulties. Soon after my return to Young's Point, Admiral Porter sent back to me for a cooperating military force. Sherman was promptly sent with one division of his corps. The number of steamers suitable for the navigation of these bayous being limited, most of the force was sent up the Mississippi River to Eagle's Bend, a point where the river runs within one mile of Steele's Bayou, thus saving an important part of this difficult navigation. The expedition failed, probably more from want of knowledge as to what would be required to open this route than from any impracticability in the navigation of the streams and bayous through which it was proposed to pass. Want of this knowledge led the expedition on until difficulties were encountered, and then it would become necessary to send back to Young's Point for the means of removing them. This gave the enemy time to move forces to effectually checkmate further progress, and the expedition was withdrawn when within a few hundred yards of free and open navigation to the Yazoo.

All this may have been providential in driving us ultimately to a line of operations which has proven eminently successful.

For further particulars of the Steele's Bayou expedition, see report of Major-General W. F. Sherman, forwarded on the twelfth of April.

As soon as I decided to open water communication from a point on the Mississippi near Milliken's Bend to New-Carthage, I determined to occupy the latter place, it being the first point below Vicksburgh that could be reached by land at the stage of water then existing, and the occupancy of which, while it secured to us a point on the Mississippi River, would also protect the main line of communication by water. Accordingly, the Thirteenth army corps, Major-General J. A. McClernand commanding, was directed to take up its line of march on the twenty-ninth day of March for New-Carthage, the Fifteenth and Seventeenth corps to follow, moving no faster than supplies and ammunition could be transported to them.

The roads, though level, were intolerably bad, and the movement was therefore necessarily slow. Arriving at Smith's plantation, two miles from New-Carthage, it was found that the levee of Bayou Vidal was broken in several places, thus leaving New-Carthage an island.

All the boats that could be were collected from the different bayous in the vicinity, and others were built, but the transportation of an army in this way was found exceedingly tedious. Another route had to be found. This was done by making a further march around Vidal to Perkins's plantation, a distance of twelve miles more, making the whole distance to be marched from Milliken's Bend to reach water communication on the opposite side of the point, thirty-five miles. Over this distance, with bad roads to contend against, supplies of ordnance stores and provisions had to be hauled by wagons with which to commence the campaign on the opposite side of the river.

At the same time that I ordered the occupation of New-Carthage, preparations were made for running transports by the Vicksburgh batteries with Admiral Porter's gunboat fleet.

On the night of the sixteenth of April, Admiral Porter's fleet, and the transports Silver Wave, Forest Queen, and Henry Clay, ran the Vicksburgh batteries. The boilers of the transports were protected as well as possible with hay and cotton. More or less commissary stores were put on each. All three of these boats were struck more or less frequently while passing the enemy's batteries, and the Henry Clay, by the explosion of a shell or by other means, was set on fire and entirely consumed. The other two boats were somewhat injured, but not seriously disabled. No one on board of either was hurt.

As these boats succeeded in getting by so well, I ordered six more to be prepared in like manner

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