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[551] simultaneously with the departure of the fleet; striking for Simmsport, on the Atcha<*>alaya. That morning, a fire broke out in a building on the levee which had been occupied by soldiers or refugees; and, ill spite of the most determined efforts by our men, a high wind and the proximity of inflammable substances insured the destruction of a considerable portion of the buildings. Gen. Banks bad apprehended such a disaster, and had directed Gen. Grover, post commandant, to take precautions against it; but they proved unavailing. It is of course probable that some evil-disposed person or persons purposely started tire fire.

On the march to Simmsport, a Rebel cavalry force was encountered just at daybreak1 at Mansura, near Marksville, by our advance, and pushed steadily back across the open prairie to the woods beyond ; where a stand was made for three hours--the fighting being mainly by skirmishers and artillery — until our main body had come up, and Gen. Emory on our right and Gen. A. J. Smith on our left had flanked the foe's position, when, after a sharp but brief struggle, lie was driven, with considerable loss — we recapturing a part of the prisoners taken with our vessels on the river ten or twelve days before. No farther resistance being encountered, our advance reached Simmsport that evening.

The Atchafalaya is here 600 yards wide, quite deep, and no ordinary bridge material at hand. Under Col. Bailey's direction, a bridge was constructed of steamboats in two days and a half; the wagon-train passing over it during the afternoon of May 19th. As it did so, our rear at Yellow bayou was assailed by a Rebel force under Prince Polignac, whom A. J. Smith beat off, inflicting a heavy loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners. Our loss .was 150 killed and wounded. The passage of the Atchafalaya was completed next day; and--Gen. Canby, having appeared as commander of the trans-Mississippi department--Gen. Banks turned over the army to him and hastened to New Orleans. Gen. A. J. Smith returned hence to his own department with his somewhat depleted command. On his way up the Mississippi, he landed2 at Sunnyside, in the south eastern corner of Arkansas, and attacked, near Columbia, a Rebel force estimated at 3,000, said to be under command of Marmaduke, strongly posted across a bayou emptying into Lake Chicot, who were worsted and driven, retreating westward. Our loss here was 20 killed, 70 wounded; that of the enemy about the same.

Gen. Banks's movement on Simmsport having loosened the.Rebel hold on the river at Marksville, Admiral Porter encountered no farther resistance; but moved down the Red nearly parallel with the army, and resumed his patrol of the Mississippi.

Much odium was excited by the circumstance that sundry cotton speculators visited Alexandria during its occupation by our forces, armed with permits from the President or the Treasury department; so that the campaign wore the aspect of a gigantic cotton raid, prosecuted at the expense of the country for the benefit of individuals. Gen. Banks

1 May 16.

2 June 5.

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