Battle of Pleasant Hill.
in the field, Pleasant Hill, La., Saturday, April 9, 1864.General Andrew Jackson Smith, commanding detatchments Sixteenth and Seventeenth army corps, after being delayed five hours by a brigade cavalry wagon-train long enough for transporting the troops of a good-sized army, reached Pleasant Hill at sundown yesterday, according to his promise with General Banks several days previous. It was only through the greatest personal exertions of General Smith that his troops were hurried through the thick pine country, while the narrow road was completely blocked up with this long train, half of the wagons filled with trunks, chairs, valises, and other cumbersome baggage, such as greatly embarrass, and oftentimes, as in the disaster of yesterday, imperil the lives of thousands of men. Finding the officers in charge were not competent men, General Smith at once ordered Colonel Shaw, commanding Third brigade, to place the Fourteenth Iowa infantry in front with fixed bayonets, and, if necessary, fight their way through the road. Finding it useless to dally longer, the sleepy, indigent crowd got waked up, and, rather than submit to a bayonet-charge, they concluded to “get up and git,” as the soldiers say. Late in the afternoon quite heavy cannonading was heard about fourteen miles distant, and shortly after, one of General Banks's staff-officers reported to General Smith with despatches. From this officer we learned that General Lee's cavalry forces and a portion of the Thirteenth army corps were indulging in some pretty heavy skirmishing with the enemy about four miles beyond Pleasant Hill. General Smith sent back word that notwithstanding the needless delay of five hours, he would have his command at Pleasant Hill at the promised time, Friday night. At sunset on Friday, the sound of fifes and drums innumerable, whistling and beating their lively martial music, told of the arrival of “Whitey Smith,” as the boys call him, and “Smith's guerrillas,” as they delight to be called. In an hour's time the troops were snugly encamped on the old Methodist camp-meeting grounds, not, however, before a vigorous assault was made on the buildings, which disappeared as if by magic. There is a peculiar style of legerdemain practised by our soldiers in relation to the procurement of fire-wood, which must be seen to be appreciated. We had retired to our sumptuous couches, with the broad canopy of a clear starlight sky above us, stretched our exhausted forms upon the consecrated soil where, in days of yore, the Gospel of Christ was preached to listening and repentant sinners, when a solitary horseman dashed up to headquarters with the doleful tidings of the great calamity that had befallen our forces. So extensive a disaster was supposed to be impossible, and the cavalryman who brought the startling intelligence came near being placed under arrest for making false statements. An hour later, Colonel Clark, of General Banks's staff, arrived at General Smith's headquarters and imparted the gloomy information. An order was at once issued by General Smith for his troops to be in readiness before daylight for a march. Nothing beyond some slight skirmishing along our front, at Pleasant Hill, disturbed the monotony of Saturday forenoon. At noon, two or three buildings were set on fire and burnt to the ground, in order to give our artillery full range on the low belt of woods that skirted the open hollow in front of the rebel lines. The nature of the ground on which our lines of defence were formed, rendered it necessay for an open-field fight, if the enemy should venture to attack us. Pleasant Hill is a small village of about two hundred inhabitants, situated on a slight eminence, thirty-five miles from Grand Ecore. The town boasts of a miserable one-story hut, which was dignified with the name of hotel, three stores, and an academy. At a quarter past four o'clock Saturday afternoon, while the wagon-trains of the Nineteenth army corps were moving rapidly to the rear, the enemy suddenly opened on our right and centre with four pieces of artillery, which was promptly responded to by the Twenty-fifth New-York battery, and the First Vermont battery. The disposition of our troops was as follows: On the left, Colonel Lynch, Second brigade, Third division, Sixteenth army corps, consisting of the Fifty-eighth and One Hundred and Nineteenth Illinois regiments, and Eighty-ninth Indiana, with the First Vermont battery, of the Nineteenth army corps. Centre--Colonel Moore's First brigade, comprising the Forty-ninth and One Hundred and Seventeenth Illinois regiments, with the One Hundred and Seventy eighth New-York, while immediately in their rear, for support, the Third Indiana battery was masked, with the Forty-seventh Illinois regiment of infantry and the Ninth Indiana battery. General Franklin, with the Nineteenth army corps, was strongly posted on the left, where his men gallantly withstood the galling fire of the enemy. Colonel Shaw, commanding Third brigade, Third division, Sixteenth army corps, consisting of the Fourteenth, Twenty-seventh, and Thirty-second Iowa regiments, with the Twenty-fourth Missouri, were holding an exposed position on our extreme right, assisted by the Twenty-fifth New-York battery. General Dwight was ordered to support Colonel Shaw's right flank, but neglected to do so, and, in consequence of this lack of proper support, the rebels nearly flanked Colonel Shaw's brigade, inflicting a heavy loss in killed, wounded, and missing. General Joseph A. Mower commanded the First division, Sixteenth army corps, and he handled his men in a scientific manner during the entire engagement. The statement of the New Orleans Era, that Colonel Gooding was sent out with his cavalry brigade to bring on an engagement. with the enemy is not true. Colonel Gooding received orders to proceed on a short distance, as far as prudent, from Pleasant Hill, for the purpose of bringing in as many of our