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[104] and from 200 to 300 others. We took about 100 prisoners, half of them wounded. Neither party had more cannon at the close than at the beginning of the battle; but the Rebels boasted that they had destroyed Federal munitions and camp equipage of very considerable value.

Next morning, Commander Porter, with the Essex, 7 guns and 40 men, accompanied by the Cayuga and Sumter, moved up in quest of the Arkansas, whose two consorts had already fled up the river. The ram at first made for the Essex, intending to run her down; but her remaining engine soon gave out, and she was headed toward the river bank, the Essex pursuing and shelling her; the Arkansas replying feebly from her stern. When the Essex had approached within 400 yards, Lt. Stevens, of the ram, set her on fire and abandoned her, escaping with his crew to the shore. The Essex continued to shell her for an hour; when her magazine was fired and she blew up.

Commander Porter, having remained at Baton Rouge until it was evacuated by our troops — who were concentrated to repel a threatened attack on New Orleans — returned up the river1 to reconnoiter Rebel batteries that were said to be in progress at Port Hudson. Ascending thence to coal at Bayou Sara, his boat's crew was there fired upon by guerrillas, whereupon some buildings were burned in retaliation; and, the firing being repeated a few days after-ward, the remaining structures were in like manner destroyed. A boat's crew from the Essex was sent ashore, some days later, at Natchez, to procure ice for our sick sailors, and was unexpectedly attacked by some 200 armed civilians, who killed or wounded 7 of her crew. Porter thereupon opened fire on the town, bombarding it for an hour, and setting a number of its houses on fire, when the Mayor surrendered. On her way down the river, the Essex had a smart engagement with the rising batteries at Port Hudson.2

Gen. Butler's preparations having rendered the retaking of New Orleans hopeless, the meditated attack on it was abandoned, and the forces collected for that purpose transferred to other service. An incursion into the rich district known as Lafourche, lying south-west of New Orleans, between that city and the Gulf, was thereupon projected, and General — late Lieut.--Weitzel, was sent with a brigade of infantry and the requisite artillery and cavalry, to reestablish there the authority of the Union. This was a section of great wealth: its industry being devoted mainly to the production of sugar from cane, its population more than half slaves; and its Whites, being entirely slaveholders and their dependents, had ere this been brought to at least a semblance of unanimity in support of the Rebel cause; but their military strength, always moderate, had in good part been drafted away for service elsewhere; so that Gen. Weitzel, with little difficulty and great expedition, made himself master of the entire region,3 after two or three collisions, in which he sustained little loss. But the wealthy Whites generally fled from their homes at his approach; while the negroes, joyfully hailing him as their liberator,

1 August 23.

2 Sept. 7.

3 Oct. 22-29.

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