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[48] the blacks have come within our lines. They are a great source of annoyance to our army, but, under the act of Congress, and instructions from the powers that be, in Washington, they cannot be turned away. They are good foragers. Nearly every man in the expedition has a servant, even the privates. Some of the officers have two or three.

The private soldiers are strictly forbidden to leave the ranks to snatch up unconsidered trifles, like fowls, pigs, sheep, and the like; but the negro, for the first time in his life, finds himself “better than the whites,” and levies his contributions at will. Negroes from all along the route, come flocking to the lines with such credentials in their hands. If the black has not attached himself to any man in the brigade, he will answer your demand to sell by saying, “I does not want to sell 'em — I want to go along — and I give 'em.” They are generally received under such circumstances, for two reasons--one is, no man has a right to say them nay, and the other that their game is quite palatable. Many are used for relieving the soldiers of severe and heavy duties, such as assisting to care for the sick, helping trains to cross the bayou, “toting” knapsacks, etc.

Headquartes reserve brigade, in camp near Thibodeauxville, November 1, 1862.
In my last communication, I informed you that this brigade had marched on this place, after the spirited and decisive action at Labadieville. This engagement took place at a point three miles below Napoleonville. These is a steamboat landing here called Georgia Landing---a post-office near, which goes by the name of Albemarle, and it was near Mills's plantation. I think the affair should more properly take the name of Napoleonville.

The battle commenced at about eleven o'clock, and the order was given to our troops to stop firing at ten minutes past one. The remainder of the day was occupied in burying the dead and caring for the wounded, of which there was a considerable number on both sides. The Eighth New-Hampshire regiment, with a cavalry company and a section of artillery, were also sent out on the right to a considerable distance, in consequence of a report that the confederate cavalry, which was believed to be some two or three hundred strong, contemplated a movement to our rear in that direction. If such were their intention, however, it was abandoned, as nothing was seen of them by the force sent out, which soon returned. The gallant Eighth New-Hampshire had the honor that night of encamping in the open air on this their first battle-field, on the very spot where they had sustained their heaviest losses. I walked over the field with some of the officers, who described the exact position in which they had disputed this well-contested field.

I have not been able to learn the numbers of the confederates, but know that there were portions of two regiments immediately engaged — the Crescent and the Eighteenth Louisiana. In point of numbers, the latter was much the stronger. They were supported by Withers's battery, which, I believe, had only three pieces in the fight — a howitzer for throwing shells, and two small rifled guns for solid shot. This little battery was well managed. There must have been some five or six hundred of them, besides their cavalry and artillery.

The forces actively engaged on our side were the Eighth New-Hampshire, under command of Col. Hawkes Fearing, Jr., Lieut.-Col. O. W. Lull, and Major Smith. The latter officer was in very bad health, but could not be kept from his post on that account, while his brave regiment was winning laurels for all time to come. This regiment was designed to form on the right, but the order of battle being changed by certain circumstances, they wheeled into position on the left, by what is known among military men as inversion. The Twelfth Connecticut was the only other infintry force that really participated in the fight. This splendidly disciplined regiment of brave New-Englanders marched on to that battlefield as they would to a holiday parade-ground, and attracted the attention of their General by the steadiness with which they conducted themselves from first to last. The Thirteenth Connecticut were the last to cross over, and had time only to fire one volley, before the enemy was either in retreat beyond the range of their guns or lying in supplicating attitudes in the ditches and behind the trees, showing evidence signs of a desire to be taken prisoners. There was but one section of artillery on this side of the bayou — a portion of Thompson's battery, I believe. Lieut. Perkins's cavalry was there doing good service, but not assisting in the thickest of the fight.

Thus you will see that the fight was not so very unequal in point of numbers as some would try to make out. In fact, it was quite a fair little stand — up fight, and the superior position of the confederates might have given them a decided temporary advantage at the onset if their commander had only taken the proper advantage of it.

Early next morning we were again in motion, apparently driving small squads of the rear-guard of the confederates before us. Occasionally a prisoner would be brought in by some of the ever-moving, untiring cavalry. Now and then Thompson's or some of the other batteries would unlimber a piece and send a shot at some retreating squad of horsemen, but no enemy appeared in force. We were constantly told, both by prioners and negroes, that it was the intention of the confederates to make a final stand at Thibodeauxville. But as we approached that place, the commander, General (late Lieutenant-Governor) Mouton, thought it advisable to retreat. His scouts had brought intelligence that the United States forces were coming in two columns, of ten miles each in length, on each side of the bayou. So he ordered the splendid bridge across the Lafourche to be burned, advised every body to leave his home, as he told them all he was going to defend the town to the last — die in the last ditch, of course — and then skedaddled. He is said to have been sick, and unable to sit on horseback.

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John Thompson (2)
J. M. Withers (1)
A. J. Smith (1)
H. W. Perkins (1)
Mouton (1)
Mills (1)
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Hawkes Fearing (1)
Albemarle (1)
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November 1st, 1862 AD (1)
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