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[275] pilot in the service of the rebels, and several deserters and refugees,

John G. Walker, Lieutenant Commanding United States Navy. To Acting Rear-Admiral D. D. Porter, Commanding Mississippi Squadron.


Cincinnati Commercial account.

United States gunboat Baron De Kalb, mouth of the Yazoo River, May 31, 1863.
We have just returned from our expedition in pursuit of the enemy's transports, and have been highly successful.

Having received orders from Admiral Porter to ascend the Yazoo to the highest possible point, and destroy every rebel transport found, we left the mouth of this river on the evening of the twenty-fourth, and proceeded rapidly up-stream. Captain J. G. Walker, of our boat, having been made Flag-Officer, proceeded on board the mosquito boat Forest Rose, in order to push ahead Ass rapidly as possible and press the enemy hard.

We advanced rapidly into the enemy's country, stopping at every plantation and delivering to the planters Admiral Porter's orders, in reference to our being fired upon by guerrillas from their property, which was to burn and destroy every house around on the plantations from which we received the fire. We passed many thousand bales of cotton, and were anxious that some transports might be captured and preserved, so that, on our return, we might be enabled to carry away the valuable article as a prize.

At night, when we came to, a vigilant watch was kept aboard, and the vessel anchored as far away as possible from the shore. The object of this was to prevent being boarded, should the enemy be about. During the daytime, while under way, every man was kept under cover of the casemates, to escape any fire from the banks.

Arriving at the head of Honey Island, in Choula Lake, the De Kalb came to anchor to await further orders and the return of the boats which had preceded us.

We remained here for two days, receiving no news whatever of the expedition which had gone ahead until the evening of the second day, when the three boats rejoined us. We learned that they had ascended the river to within eighteen miles of Fort Pemberton, and were prevented from going further up on account of the enemy having sunk across the river some seven steamers and innumerable torpedoes. Finding it dangerous to attempt the removal of the latter, they burned the former (as much as remained out of water) and began to return. The fine cotton steamers Magnolia and Magenta had retreated up the river and found safety under the guns of the fort. Descending the river, after burning the boats, the vessels were considerably annoyed, being fired upon by sharp-shooters from the bank. A number of the men on board were wounded, but fortunately none of the wounds were serious. The cotton which we had passed on going up was found in flames on returning. Acting upon orders, the Flag-Officer directed the destruction of the property which lay around, consisting of cotton-gins, saw-mills, etc. Arriving at Yazoo City we were handed an official document from the rebel medical department, asking for medicines for their sick and wounded, which, of course, was refused.

We descended the Yazoo to the mouth of Big Sunflower, which river we proceeded up for the purpose of destroying what transports we could find. A rebel prisoner, who had been captured some days previous, being acquainted with the stream, volunteered his services as a guide. The De Kalb, as usual, brought up the rear, while the other vessels proceeded rapidly on. Finding the river receding, we came to at the mouth of Lake George to await the return of the expedition.

After remaining three days above, the boats returned, having penetrated the Rolling Fork of Deer Creek, and ascending the Sunflower as far up as Dunbar's Ferry, a distance of one hundred and eighty miles from the mouth of the river, some five more transports were destroyed, with a large amount of rebel provisions. The boats experienced considerable difficulty in navigating the streams, owing to their narrowness.

Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Brown, of the Forest Rose, rendered efficient service during the expedition, as did Acting Masters Kendrick of the De Kalb, and Smith of the Petrel.

I cannot here give you the names of the steamers destroyed, not having been furnished with a list. They were all of a good class, and their destruction will be keenly felt by the rebels.

The whole country through which we passed presented the appearance of desolation; no sign of cultivation could be seen, and it appeared as if the people had deserted agricultural pursuits altogether.

The river above Yazoo City is bordered by many beautiful plantations, which, previous to the war, presented a thriving appearance, but now seem desolate. At every one which we passed, the negroes, who now remained possessors, (the planters having fled,) gathered upon the banks, and seemed anxious for us to take them on board and make them free, and when we refused, on account of not having transportation, they seemed very much depressed in spirits.

The country, which has been overflowed ever since the levee was cut on the Mississippi to enter the Yazoo Pass, now, as the river recedes, begins to “dry up,” making it extremely sickly around. What few inhabitants we saw and conversed with seemed to be badly in need of the necessaries of life, and hope soon to be relieved by our becoming permanent possessors of the land. They are poorly clad, and informed us that the only channel through which they received clothing was Memphis, and that the prices were enormous.


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John G. Walker (2)
D. D. Porter (2)
Giles Smith (1)
Forest Rose (1)
David D. Porter (1)
Kendrick (1)
Eugene H. Brown (1)
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