Doc. 205.-fight on the Mississippi.
Surgeon read's report.
New-Orleans, up the Mississippi and on its right bank, in utterly routing and dispersing five hundred mounted Texan Rangers, driving them into the swamps and capturing most of their horses. The guerrillas had for some time been molesting our steamers by firing into them, as they passed up and down. News reached headquarters that a regiment of Texan Rangers had come to aid in these outrages, and our regiment, with two others, were ordered up to disperse them, part to land above and part to land below them, to preclude the possibility of their escape. On the night of the seventh a part of the Fourth Wisconsin embarked on a transport, and at daylight next morning landed at the supposed place of rebel rendezvous. It so happened that we landed on the plantation where the enemy's pickets were posted the night previous, but retired when they discovered the boat. The main body were posted back in the cane-fields to the west and in ambush. Two companies from our regiment proceeded through the fields to the west along a ditch, on the banks of which grew very tall weeds, affording a complete cover. After proceeding half a mile, to a cross-road, one of the men in advance discovered three of the enemy's cavalry. Seeing him alone, they advanced and ordered him to halt, when the whole command fired, killing one and mortally wounding the other two. The horses of these three rebels were killed. From this point the command, with two companies of the Fourth Wisconsin, marched cautiously half a mile south, and thence one mile and a half west, through cane and rice-fields and reeds and weeds immensely high. All directions offered complete protection for an ambushed enemy. Here we halted, formed in line, and placed in battery our artillery in command of Lieut. Brough of company C. We shelled in all directions to feel for the enemy, then proceeded cautiously a third of a mile south to a road running west one and a half miles to the swamp. In going through the tall weeds to this road our skirmishers began to pick up crouching prisoners, and before we finished had gathered twenty-five. A few minutes previously, and at the time our artillery commenced fire, the whole regiment was drawn up in this road and in the high weeds, but after a few rounds they dispersed in the utmost confusion down to the swamp, leaving two stand of colors, and every thing else which would impede rapid flight, such as blankets, coats, canteens, spurs, and arms. We pursued them to the swamp, where we found their horses had been ridden in until mired, and then abandoned by their riders who waded on as best they could to get out of our way. We captured in the swamp before we stopped two hundred and fifty horses, all saddled, bridled, and mired. Our men had to wade in mud and water to their arm-pits but they labored with brave hearts and without a murmur. At sundown we returned to our transport with the spoils of the day, wearied and worn out with the severest labor under the worst burning sun I have almost ever felt. We returned to our encampment in the fore part of the night, unloaded, and immediately started back to recover what horses might be left. At daylight we were at the same landing, and at ten o'clock A. M., in the swamps, where we secured forty more horses. We found killed six of the rebels, and took twenty-five prisoners, among them Capt. January  and Lieut. Coxe. These men were well equipped, had fine horses, and all armed with revolvers, carbines, many Sharpe's rifles, and double-barreled shot-guns, and such spurs! to be appreciated they must be seen. The regiment was commanded by Col. Edwin Waller, and was represented to be brave and daring. It was the most wonderful rout of the war — and not an instance of five hundred well-armed and well-mounted men so thoroughly dispersed. But little may be apprehended from them in future, as it will take them a long time to equip in so good a manner. Capt. January is an old friend of mine, and he told me that they confidently expected to surprise and capture or kill our entire command. Three days before this, the Twenty-first landed nine miles below this point to disperse a band of guerrillas, who fired from ambush on a company of the Ninth Vermont stationed at Algiers, going on platform-cars twenty miles to their outpost on the railroad. We landed on the right bank of the river, and proceeded a few miles west, through canebrakes, to the railroad depot. As we approached it we saw eight or ten of their mounted pickets, on whom we opened fire; but they abandoned their horses and fled into the woods and cane-brakes with so much haste that they escaped unhurt. We captured their horses and found in the depot nine of our soldiers badly wounded. This occurred the day previous, and we made them a speedy visit. The poor wounded fellows were so delighted to see us and be relieved they shed tears when they saw us. The rebels had carts ready to carry them off, no one knew where, but the prisoners were told, to hang them. We brought away the prisoners, and committed the house where they lay to the flames. Our regiment is in fine health and spirits, and would be glad to see some one from our State, just to let them know they are not forgotten. We are all proud of our State, and proud of the exhibition of its patriotic sons in sustaining the country in its present perilous crisis. The Twenty-first will perform its part nobly and well. It is for its country, first, last, and forever; and against every man and woman whose hands are against it, and against all men who will not sustain it in its terrible trials to sustain the best Government ever framed by human mind. Yours truly,
Ezra read, Surgeon Twenty-first Regiment Indiana Volunteers.