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[531]

As a number of the body-guard put spurs to their horses, two or three hasty shots were fired from the party in the woods without, however, doing any injury. Generals Banks and Emory quietly walked their horses in a line further from the woods, and the conversation was resumed as if nothing had happened. I may here state that when our soldiers entered the woods the guerrillas had disappeared in the thick under-brush, and nothing more was seen or heard of them.

The remainder of General Emory's division was now drawn up in second line of battle, supporting General Weitzel, and in different directions, the reserves being in the rear.

The enemy at this time began to show themselves in considerable force, (half-past 10 A. M.) Two regiments were drawn up in line of battle directly ahead and in front of a large sugar-house, not more than a mile and a half distant. Other buildings were in the neighborhood, and it was impossible to form any idea of what was beyond them. The dark line of infantry, scarcely visible to the eye, was in admirable position, forming a half-square, with the point toward us. They appeared ready to receive us.

The rebel cavalry were quietly walking their horses over the whole country, some riding very leisurely toward our lines, approaching to within half or three quarters of a mile, for the purpose of reconnoitring. When satisfied, they rode in haste toward the column.

Our advance remained stationary until cavalry could be sent to feel the way ahead. Suddenly the two rebel regiments drawn up in line of battle disappeared. Their cavalry followed, and in a few moments after the dense cloud of rising dust marked their course. They were hastily retreating. For two hours, these clouds could be plainly seen, each moment becoming more indistinct and distant, until they finally disappeared. Captain Williamson's First Louisiana cavalry, of Major Robinson's command, now started in pursuit. They galloped at full speed along the road which skirts the Teche, under a galling fire from the rebels on the opposite bank of the river. Volley after volley was fired as our men rode rapidly past, and for a mile or a mile and a half the discharges continued, the fire and smoke being easily seen by our whole force, and the shots distinctly heard. It would have been very foolish for our cavalry to return the fire, as they were exposed, while the rebels were hid in the underbrush and behind trees. Of all the firing not a man was touched. Three or four horses were shot, however--one seriously in the body. In the mean time, Captain Mack's Eighteenth New-York battery was rapidly placed in position on this side of Teche, and a sharp fire was kept up for nearly an hour, the shells falling and bursting in every direction. Under this fire two regiments of Colonel Gooding's brigade and a section of Captain Bradbury's First Maine artillery, Lieutenant Morton, crossed the river over the pontoon-bridge, throwing out skirmishers and driving the enemy before them. Several shots were exchanged, but whether any of our men were killed or wounded I am unable to state. Whilst retreating, the rebels on the other side fired the buildings along the banks of the Teche to prevent, as is supposed, their affording a shelter to our sharp-shooters.

About one o'clock P. M. the whole force was ordered to advance. Skirmishers from the infantry and squads of cavalry from the different companies were detached and sent ahead to feel the way. Owing to the thickness of the cane-fields and the plantation houses and buildings, it was found necessary for them to keep up a pretty sharp fire. Occasionally a rebel, mounted or on foot, could be seen in the distance, but on observing our advance, hastily left. As our forces were moving along the road bordering the Teche, some two miles and a half from Pattersonville, fifty or sixty rebel cavalry suddenly sprang from out of a piece of woods on the opposite side, advanced a, few paces, and fired their carbines. Quick as thought a section of artillery (twenty-pound Parrotts) was turned upon them. The bursting shells forced them from their cover into the open ground, and they being now in full sight and easy range, the shells were sent amongst them in beautiful style, exploding, ploughing up the earth, and scattering the pieces of shell all around. Never men rode faster, and as each moment their backs became less distinct, our men, who had laughed and shouted at their disappearing, gave one long, loud, wild yell, which echoed back from the woods the rebels had so recently left, seeming as if they, too, mocked them in their hasty retreat. Half an hour after we again saw them, this time, however, at a very respectful distance, and out of range of our heaviest cannon. They could just be distinguished by the naked eye. These men were wiser than an hour ago, having learned sense by experience.

An aid now rode up to General Banks and reported that there were obstructions in the river. It proved to be a half-destroyed, half-sunken wooden bridge, with a passage cut where the current runs, to allow boats to pass up and down. It can soon be repaired and made very useful, as it is fifteen or twenty feet wide, one hundred to one hundred and fifty feet long, and reaches two thirds of the distance over the river.

A few moments later and a report arrived that the gunboat Diana was in sight. General Banks and staff rode from the road to the bank of the river, about a hundred yards distant, and from a rising ground the masts of our former staunch little gunboat Diana were seen, with a large rebel flag flying, nearly a mile distant. Every body wished to take a good look at her, and the consequence was that we remained long enough to hear from her, for a flash, a puff of smoke, a loud report, and a whirring, whizzing, whistling noise, the latter becoming each instant more distinct as it approached us, passing over our heads and plunging into the ground beyond with a thug, that no doubt sounded musically to every ear, for it was a shell from the thirty-pounder rifled Parrott on board the Diana.


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N. P. Banks (3)
Emory (2)
J. A. Williamson (1)
G. Weitzel (1)
Charles Robinson (1)
E. G. Parrott (1)
J. Frank Morton (1)
R. B. Mack (1)
O. P. Gooding (1)
Bradbury (1)
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