New-Orleans Era account.
Brashear City, Monday, March 30.last Saturday morning, while sitting at a table in the cabin of the gunboat Diana, writing out my notes to send by the morning train, the engine-whistle sounded. Gathering up my papers, I asked Captain Peterson, who stood beside me, if he was going to make a trip that day? He replied he was only going to ship some coal, and not do picket-duty as usual, and that he would be quiet for two or three days at least. It appears that Capt. Peterson received orders on Saturday morning to take on board two companies of infantry and make a reconnoissance to find whether the enemy had received reenforcements of infantry. He was to go no further than a point where a bayou from Grand Lake unites with the Atchafalaya, west of Pattersonville. But he was not contented with simply fulfilling the letter of his commands; and hence, with a zeal which unfortunately proved fatal to him, he determined to carry his observations into the very midst of the enemy's stronghold. Proceeding cautiously along the bayou until within half a mile of Pattersonville, on the upper side, four of the rebel cavalry suddenly came within range, and galloped along the levee road. A shell was fired at them from the Diana without effect. They continued retreating until they reached the main body of cavalry, consisting of several companies, which had remained concealed by a sugar-house. Upon discovering this force, instantly every gun of the Diana was brought to bear upon the enemy, shot and shell being poured into their ranks with perceptible effect. Several companies of rebel infantry now joined the cavalry, and they formed in line of battle, and kept up a sharp firing upon our men. While all attention from the gunboat was directed to this force of infantry and cavalry, a battery of four brass field-pieces was suddenly hurried into a neighboring corn-field, at no greater distance than twenty yards from the boat, whence a most active cannonading was at once commenced. It was at this moment that Captain Peterson, while standing on the deck on the starboard side of the pilot-house, giving orders to his men, received a ball in his breast, which prostrated him to the deck. His only words were: “I am a dead man.” He never spoke again. Hardly had Capt. Peterson fallen, when a ball struck Master's Mate Mr. Dolliver, who was standing at his post working one of the Dahlgren cannon. He was killed almost instantly. By this time it became evident that the object of the enemy was to pick off our men from the large guns. Mr. Mumford, having charge of the Parrott gun in the bow, had been killed, and a perfect hailstorm of bullets was showered upon those who were stationed forward. Accordingly these pieces were abandoned, and from that time all firing ceased on board the Diana. The men could only he flat on the decks and receive the shots of the enemy, whose firing completely riddled the upper decks of the boat. The wooden bulwarks were knocked to splinters, which flew in every direction, proving more destructive than the balls of the enemy. The third shot fired by the rebels cut the tiller-ropes of the Diana, and left her helpless in the current. This damage was not repaired for some time, the boat meanwhile floating down, stern foremost, toward the enemy, who, from the short distance of sixty feet, raked her with round shot from stem to stern. All the deck officers in command were either killed or wounded. The boiler-deck was torn in pieces by the shot, shell, and grape, poured into it by the enemy. When the boat changed position, the enemy's cannon were moved so that they might be worked with the greatest effect. Mr. Hall, officer of the deck, was shot in the forehead, and went below, saying to the men: “Boys, fight it out till the last.” All the ship's officers armed themselves with muskets during the action, and used them constantly. The gunboat Calhoun went up from Brashear City to Pattersonville yesterday noon, under a flag of truce, to secure the bodies of the killed, carry provisions to the wounded, and, if possible, secure the parole of the prisoners. The Calhoun returned during the evening, bringing the bodies of Captain Peterson, Master's Mate Dolliver, and all the privates of the two companies of infantry, and the sailors of the Diana. All the officers were retained, and, with the exception of Lieutenant Allen, sent to New-Iberia. Lieutenant Allen is at the house of Dr. Grant, at Pattersonville. The paroled men report that they were very kindly treated during their short imprisonment. They were kept in a guard-house thatched with palmetto leaves, and fed on corn bread and salt meat. Every attention was paid to the wounded by the women of Pattersonville. Every thing in their power to bestow was freely given, although they said that there was not a barred of flour in the place to make a dish of gruel from. They promised to cook the articles sent up to the wounded, and see that they were provided for. Colonel Gray was in command of the post. Ninety-nine of our men were paroled. Their names have not yet been sent in to the Adjutant-General's office. There are several companies of Arizonian and Camanche Indians at the rebel camp. They are filthy and ragged, armed with every kind of weapon, and nearly all drunk when the Calhoun was at Pattersonville. The Diana has been sent to Franklin.