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[463] Muddy Bayou, which runs across from the Mississippi into Steele's. At this point the troops came over on floating bridges and embarked. Hence they were transported up Steele's and Black Bayou about twenty miles, to Hill's plantation, and marched thence twenty-one miles on a levee north along Deer Creek, nearly to Rolling Fork. It was proposed at that point to embark the troops again on transports and proceed on that creek a distance of seven miles, until we reached the Sunflower. Once upon the Sunflower, a stream of considerable width, we could reach the Yazoo, between Haines's Bluff and Yazoo City, and would be in a position to operate against the enemy at various points with great effect. So much for the object of the expedition and the route through which it was to pass.

General Grant and Admiral Porter, with the, Mosquito Rattler and a tug, made a reconnoissauce far enough to establish the fact that gunboats could pass from the Yazoo into Steele's Bayou. Admiral Porter immediately started with his gunboats up the bayou. General Grant ordered General Sherman, with a division of his army corps, to form the land force. Gen. Sherman started at once with a regiment — the Eighth Missouri--and the pioneer corps, to clear the bayou of obstructions — there was no delay. The reconnoissance was made on the fifteenth, Gen. Grant's tug returning the morning of the six-teenth. Before night, the advance of the land force and gunboats were at Muddy Bayou. Despatches were received by Gen. Grant that evening of the progress of the expedition, and Gen. Stuart was ordered to follow with the rest of the division in the morning. Arriving at Eagle Bend on the seventeenth, a reconnoissance in small boats, made by Gen. Stuart and his brigade commanders, and another made twenty miles above, at Tullahola, by Colonel Giles A. Smith, demonstrated that the troops could not be marched across, a crevasse having swollen the Muddy Bayou to a rapid, deep stream. The construction of two long flooded bridges occupied the eighteenth and the forenoon of the nineteenth. The division marched to Steele's Bayou at once. Arriving there we found only one transport, the Silver Wave. Embarking the Sixth Missouri and One Hundred and Sixteenth Illinois, Stuart started up at once. During the three succeeding days the boats which we had were used with all the despatch possible, in transporting the troops to the rendezvous. At the mouth of Black Bayou they were transported from the steamers to a coal-barge, which was towed by a tug up Black Bayou. In the mean time the gunboats had gone through Black Bayou into Deer Creek. The great might and strength of the iron-clads enabled them to ride over almost any ordinary growth of willow and cypress in the creek; the water was deep, and they moved slowly and surely along up Deer Creek some fifteen miles, without much labor and without any obstruction from the enemy. On the twentieth, the rebels commenced annoying them with sharp-shooters, and by felling trees in the creeks. The boats were obliged to lay by at night, and on the morning of the twenty-first, the Admiral found considerable obstructions in the river, and an enemy, some six hundred strong, with a field-battery of rifles, disputing his passage. This was near some old Indian mounds, and for the greater part of the day they were kept quite busy, making but a half-mile progress.

Large bodies were kept a good distance from the fleet, but sharp-shooters would come up behind trees and fire, taking deliberate aim at our men. The Admiral sent a despatch back to Gen. Sherman, stating the condition of affairs, and the Sixth and Eighth Missouri, and One Hundred and Sixteenth Illinois, of the First brigade, under Col. Giles A. Smith, were at once sent to the relief of the gunboats, and to assist in getting them through. They inmate a forced march, skirmishing a part of the way, and reaching the gunboats before night of the twenty-second, a distance of twenty-one miles, over a terrible road. During the day the enemy had been largely reinforced from the Yazoo, and now unmasked some five thousand men — infantry, cavalry, and artillery. The boats were surrounded with rebels, who had fallen trees before and behind them, and were moving up artillery, and making every exertion to cut off retreat and capture our boats. Col. Smith at once established a patrol for a distance of seven miles along Deer Creek, behind the boats, with a chain of sentinels outside of them, to prevent the felling of trees. Further progress was impossible. For a mile and a half, to Rolling Fork, the creek was full of obstructions. Heavy batteries were on its bank, supported by a large force. To advance was impossible; to retreat seemed almost hopeless. The gunboats had their ports all closed, and preparations all made to resist boarders. The mortar-boats were all ready for fire and explosion. Our lines were so close to each other that rebel officers wandered into our lines in the dark, and were captured. It was the second night without sleep aboard ship, and the infantry had marched twenty-one miles without rest. But the faithful force, with their energetic leader, kept successful watch and ward over the boats and their valuable artillery. At seven o'clock that morning, (the twenty-second,) Gen. Sherman received a despatch from the Admiral, by the hands of a faithful contraband, (who came along through the rebel lines in the night,) stating his perilous condition. Leaving a despatch for Gen. Stuart, who was bringing up Ewing's brigade, and orders to Stuart to follow him with the remainder of the division, General Sherman at once marched with the Second brigade, Lieut.-Colonel Rice commanding — and the Thirteenth regulars and One hundred and Thirteenth Illinois, of the First brigade. Our gunboats at that time were in a bend of the creek; the three regiments of the First brigade had been brought in and placed in position near the boats, by Col. Giles A. Smith. A rebel battery of fifteen guns was in front, at Rolling Fork. The creek was barely the width of a gunboat — the boats were so close up that only one bow-gun

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