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[312] destroyed. This was accordingly done, and a vast amount of property was burned. There were huge piles of pork, beef, bacon, flour, whisky, molasses, and sugar, quantities of clothing, at which our troops looked wistfully, all given to the flames. The encampments were those of the Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New-Hampshire, Michigan, and Indiana regiments. There was an air of comfort about all of the tents, and luxurious appointments in many of them. The sutler's stores were crowded with delicacies. But nothing escaped. Many letters, pictures, and documents were picked up, but the boys brought away no booty. Had our means of transportation been more extensive, we could have brought off a month's supply for our army.

Gen. Breckinridge intrusted the delicate and important duty of holding the field to Capt. John A. Buckner, his Adjutant-General. This officer, who had, during the morning, rendered himself a conspicuous target for the enemy, remained behind with a battery and seventy-five men. With this small force he maintained his position until near sundown, when the whole army was withdrawn to its present position. While thus posted, a flag of truce was sent from the enemy's lines, requesting permission to bury the dead, which was instantly granted. Later in the day, another flag approached, with a document addressed “To the commanding officer of the confederate forces outside of Baton Rouge.” This was from Col. Cahill, and disclaimed the right of the officer sending the first. It appears that after Gen. Williams (who was chief in command) was killed, and Colonels Keith and McMillan had fallen, there was a controversy among the Federals as to the ranking officer, but the succession finally devolved on Cahill.

One of the most hotly contested points of the field was a graveyard, from which the enemy had poured a galling fire, but which was finally wrested from them. Here the Sixth Kentucky found shelter, and suffered most of its loss. Truly it might have been remarked: “In the midst of life we are in death.”

As we drove the Yankees into the town, they sought the protection of houses, from the windows of which they discharged murderous volleys upon our troops. In one house where they had lodged themselves, they forced a man, holding an infant in his arms, to walk up and down a porch, while they fired from behind him. They knew that our men would not risk slaying the innocent man and child even to wreak vengeance on such dastards.

Both engines of the ram Arkansas having been badly broken, there was no recourse left Lieut. Stevens, her commanding officer, to prevent the notable little craft falling into the hands of the enemy but destroying her. She was accordingly fired, and at half-past 9 o'clock yesterday (Wednesday) morning exploded with a most terrible uproar. For some hours before the Essex and three sloops of war had been firing at her with their heaviest guns, but all their shot glanced harmlessly from the impenetrable sides of the invincible Arkansas. Her position was such that neither of her batteries could be brought to bear on the enemy. Only one gun was fired as a parting salvo, when her officers and crew escaped to the Louisiana shore. Although pressed by a body of Federal cavalry, most of them have reached our lines, bereft of every thing they possessed except the clothing upon their backs. As the burning fragments of the Arkansas floated down the river, the Yankee boats speedily fled to get out of harm's way, so that the ill-fated ram was a terror to the valiant sailors, even though a battered wreck.

Yesterday afternoon Major Haynes, of the Quartermaster's Department, proceeded to Baton Rouge, under a flag of truce, for the purpose of visiting General Clark. He was met outside of town, blindfolded, and the covering over his eyes not removed until he was taken into the arsenal building, the window-shutters of which were closed. He was not permitted to see General Clark, but learned that he was still living and well cared for. The enemy acknowledge the loss of Gen. Williams, Colonels Keith and McMillan, and about eight hundred killed and missing.

The expedition has not proved a complete success, owing entirely to the Arkansas not having cooperated. Had not that vessel met with an unfortunate accident, the victory would have been one of the most brilliant of the war. The land forces accomplished all that was possible. They drove a largely superior force of the enemy from strong and well-chosen positions two miles through the city, to the shelter of their gunboats. They captured a number of prisoners, more ammunition than we used in the battle, a quantity of horses, and destroyed more than half a million dollars' worth of Government property. In excellence of plan and brilliancy of execution — in the personal prowess of the men, and the heroic daring of the officers, the history of the war affords no better example. General Breckinridge fought the battle with small but trusty forces, and achieved what scarcely any other man could have done — a victory over double numbers, at small loss of life, in the face of four of the enemy's gunboats.

Our loss in killed and wounded will not reach three hundred. I send you the lists of the casualties in such regiments as I have been able to visit. We are now comfortably encamped on the Comite River, while the wounded have been removed to Greenwell Springs — most delightful locations.

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Thomas Williams (2)
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