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[328] Plaquemine, connecting with the Atchafalaya near Butte à la Rose, having failed — the bayou being found so choked by three years accumulation of snags and drift as to be impassable by boats--Gen. Weitzel's force on Berwick's Bay was increased to 4,500 men, with a view to an advance to and operations in the Teche region. Starting1 from Thibodeaux, Gen. Weitzel embarked his infantry next day at Brashear, on the gunboats Calhoun, Diana, Kinsman, and Estrella, Com. McKean Buchanan, who moved slowly up the bayou to Pattersonville; the artillery and cavalry going by land. Encountering formidable obstructions at a place known as Carney's Bridge, a few miles above, Com. Buchanan, after reconnoitering, dropped down a short distance for the night; returning next morning2 to attack; while the 8th Vermont was sent around to flank the defenses on the north.

The obstructions were found vexatious rather than formidable: consisting of a steamboat filled with brick and sunk across the channel, with the great iron-clad gunboat Cotton behind it; a battery on either flank, and some torpedoes in the bayou below. One of these was exploded under the Kinsman; lifting her stern into the air, but not crippling her; when she fell back to avoid another just ahead, whereof a negro fugitive from the Cotton gave timely warning. Com. Buchanan, on the Calhoun, either not hearing or despising the caution, at once took the advance, standing on the bow of his vessel, spy-glass in hand, in the midst of a furious cannonade from the Cotton and Rebel batteries, and the more deadly fire of sharp-shooters from rifle-pits; when, at 10 A. M., a bullet through his head struck him dead on the instant.

By this time, the 8th Vermont had gained the Rebel rear, and was making a rapid clearance of their rifle-pits; while the batteries of the 1st Maine, the 4th and 6th Massachusetts, supported by sharp-shooters from the 75th and 160th New York, had flanked the defenses on the other side, and were sweeping the decks of the Cotton, whose crew beat a retreat, as did most of the Rebels on land, whereof but 40 were taken prisoners. The Cotton was fired during the ensuing night, and utterly destroyed. The force here beaten consisted of the 28th Louisiana, with Simms's and the Pelican battery, under Col. Gray--in all, but 1,100 men, beside the crew of the Cotton. Our loss was 7 killed and 27 wounded.

Gen. Banks being still intent on opening the Atchafalaya by the meditated advance through the Bayou Plaquemine to the capture of Butte á la Rose, the next month was wasted on this enterprise; and the success at Carney's Bridge was not otherwise improved. Meantime, some 200 Western boys defeated3 a like number of the 3d Louisiana cavalry at Old River; losing 12 men, killing 4, wounding 7, and taking 26 prisoners.

Admiral Farragut, having heard of our loss of the Queen of the West and De Soto4 below Vicksburg, decided that it was his duty to run the Rebel batteries at Port Hudson, in order to recover the command of the river above; so he called on Gen. Banks for cooperation. Hereupon,

1 Jan. 11, 1863.

2 Jan. 14.

3 Feb. 10.

4 See page 298.

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