of Saturday, closing with the retreat of the rebels before nightfall. I gather the following in regard to the affair from an officer of the steamer Dunleith, just from the scene of action. It would appear that the Union forces at Milliken's Bend were under the command of a colonel of Iowa volunteers — supposed to be the Twenty-third--and his force consisted of two Iowa regiments and one or two colored regiments, new in the service, and short in point of numbers, and no heavy or even light artillery of any importance with which to repel an attack. But hearing early on Saturday that the rebels, under General Henry McCulloch, brother of Ben McCulloch, were concentrating near him, with a menacing front, toward Milliken's Bend, the commander sent out some cavalry with orders, to reconnoitre and report. The cavalry dashed out from the works early in the day, and soon returned with a full confirmation of the report previously brought in, in regard to the proximity of the rebels and their designs upon the little garrison at the Bend. The rebels were said to be about five thousand strong, and late from Alexandria, La., but more recently at Richmond upon the Shreveport Railroad. This force of from five to six thousand, it was supposed, General McCulloch had divided into three parts, sending one part to Young's Point, another to Lake Providence, and with the third was about to attack the Union forces holding Milliken's Bend. This third force was estimated at some three thousand. The approach of the rebels, momentarily expected — and prepared for as well as the limited supply of ammunition and arms would permit — at last became apparent. Pickets, thrown out for the purpose, came in saying an immense army was coming. The commander sent out detachments of white troops to repel their approach, detailing a regiment of negroes to act as reserves, the orders being, if the white troops could not stem the current, to fall back upon the support of the colored troops, and then unitedly oppose the advance until no longer able to withstand the men brought against them. This programme, in a measure, was most promptly carried out. The troops advanced, met the enemy, engaged him in force and with effect with musketry, and, as the colonel had anticipated, found that our strength was not adequate to the undertaking, being greatly outnumbered by the rebels. But both fought for an hour most stubbornly. The Iowa troops were loth to retreat at all and obtain the support of their colored reserves, and the loss on the rebel side, said to have been one hundred in this early affray, attests their valor and efficiency. But the rebels pressed our men gradually back, in good order, however, until the blacks were reached, when they came in with a will. The spirits of the retreating and outnumbered Iowans were raised; they rallied, they stood their ground; the negroes came up with volley after volley, delivered with good effect and rapidity; and after a short battle, in which the blacks lost a number — but the rebels more — the rebels fell back, finally broke, and retreated in disorder. The Union forces were in too small number to pursue, and had no cannon with which to cut up their then rear guard. Hence, the retrograde was made without great loss to the enemy. After the last of the rebels had disappeared, it being night, pickets were placed, scouts sent out, and every preparation made to be ready in the event of a return of the rebels. It was rightly supposed that, having felt their strength, and knowing that our men were without guns and in small force, the enemy would not long delay a second attempt to occupy Milliken's Bend. But this was the end of the attack for that day. A steamer from below chanced to come in sight just at dark, going to Helena. She was hailed, informed of the attack, and sent back for aid of some kind. Just at the break of day, the dark sides, huge wheel-houses, and yawning ports of the gunboat Choctaw were discerned by the guard. Here was help, indeed. With such support the garrison could never be taken without immense loss to the captors. The Choctaw took her position with reference to the point from which the rebels must necessarily attack, and remained until sunrise, awaiting in ominous silence the expected advance. Sunday morning had hardly been ushered in, and the sun had been out of his eastern bed but half an hour, when the scouts and pickets of the garrison came in in great haste to report that the enemy had again commenced an advance movement, headed toward the Bend. On this occasion, understanding well his strength, and conscious of the support his iron-clad helpmate would bring, the commander of the post gradually drew in all his pickets, not leaving a man outside of his hastily built earthworks. When the advance of the rebels made their appearance there was not a man to be seen — all that confronted them was silence and apparently deserted breastworks and rifle-pits. But, fearful of deception, the rebel commander had recourse to a ruse for the comparative protection of his advance upon the works. All the mules belonging to his command, and all he could steal from adjoining planters along the route, were brought to the front. Extending from the centre to each wing of the approaching host, covering the soldiers from the bullets of the Yankees — from the sight of their sharp-shooters — was a line of living, moving breastworks — the bodies of the devoted mules. As they drew nigh the Union defences the enemy opened heavily with musketry. Their first volley was the signal for the Iowans and the colored regiments to make their appearance. They rose as though by magic from behind their protection, took deliberate aim wherever a rebel could be seen, and dropped their bullets surely and certainly into the bodies of such as were foolish enough to disdain a shield of mule muscle and mule bone; and yet the living line kept up its snakelike advance. Taking the hint, perhaps, from the rebel commander at the siege of Lexington — when the gallant Colonel Mulligan and
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