Doc. 53.-the destruction of Simmsport, La.
Headquarters M. M. Brigade, flag-ship Autocrat, Lake's Landing, Yazoo River, June 11, 1863.In accordance with instructions from Captain Henry Walke, commanding detachment of Mississippi squadron, Lieutenant-Colonel John A. Ellet, commanding the ram fleet of the Mississippi Marine Brigade, left the mouth of Red River June third, on the United States steam-ram Switzerland, on a reconnoissance as far as Simmsport, on the Atchafalaya River. The approach to the town was made slowly and cautiously, in order to insure a timely detection of any earth defences the enemy might have with which to dispute the passage of the river. It was ordered, however, that no gun should be fired until the fact of the existence of a hostile force in the place should be definitely ascertained. When within half a mile of the town the enemy opened with a battery of field-pieces and a regiment of infantry. The men on the ram replied with great vigor. Behind the levee and some heavy embankments thrown up for the purpose, within less than one hundred yards of the river channel, the enemy's infantry was safely protected, and all the time pouring rapid volleys of musketry into the boat. The fire also of the artillery was very severe and accurate. The ram was struck seven times by shells, two of which set fire to the cotton and other combustible material on the boat for the protection of her machinery; two entered the hull just above the water-line, and another cut the escape-pipe, filling the engine-room with steam, without injuring any of the crew, nor were the engineers driven from their post. Fearing a conflagration, the ram was now obliged to desist from the engagement, and dropped down, repassing the enemy's works, and anchored out of range. During the entire engagement the ram's battery replied to the enemy's shots, but with what effect is not known, except that the fire slackened considerably before the termination of the action. The national loss in the engagement was three men seriously wounded. The conduct of the men was very commendable throughout the entire action. On the following day, June fourth, having the day before returned to the rest of the fleet at the mouth of the river, the Colonel set out, in company with the iron-clads Lafayette and Pittsburgh, for the same place he visited the day before. Immediately upon arriving at the town the iron-clads opened with their one hundred pounder rifled guns at long-range, when the enemy fled without firing a gun. Our men then landed and fired the town. The flight of the enemy was so hasty that a large number of arms and accoutrements were left in the houses and were destroyed. A file of regimental papers was secured, from which an estimate of the enemy's force was made. The papers were headed “Third regiment Arizona brigade,” (Texans.) By these papers their numbers were given as eight hundred and seventy-nine. They had also a battery of six pieces. During the action two guns were dismounted. The nationals suffered no loss in the action.