Mountains, in Arkansas. I cannot give the details of these engagements, as no official reports have been received. The Indian tribes in the North-West, and more particularly in Minnesota, incited, it is said, by rebel emissaries, committed numerous murders and other outrages on the frontiers during the latter part of the summer. These savages were vigorously attacked by a volunteer force under Brig.-Gen. Sibley, and defeated in several well-fought battles on the upper waters of the Minnesota River. These vigorous proceedings struck terror among the Indians and put an end to hostilities in that quarter for the present season. It is quite possible that these hostilities will be renewed in the coming spring, and preparations will be made accordingly. In the department of the Gulf, the withdrawal of our flotilla from Vicksburgh enabled the enemy to concentrate a considerable force on Baton Rouge, which was then held by Brig.-Gen. Williams. The attack was made on the fifth of August with greatly superior forces, under the rebel Gen. Breckinridge. Gen. Williams gained a most signal victory, but fell in the fight. Our loss was ninety killed, and two hundred and fifty wounded. We buried three hundred of the enemy's dead, left upon the field. On the sixteenth of August, the garrison of Baton Rouge was withdrawn to New-Orleans. On the twenty-fourth of October, Gen. Butler sent a force, under Brig.-Gen. Weitzel, to operate on the west bank of the Mississippi, in the La Fourche district. He engaged a considerable body of the enemy on the twenty-fifth, about nine miles from Donaldsonville, and defeated them, with the loss of their commander, a large number killed and wounded, and two hundred and sixty-eight prisoners. Our loss was eighteen killed and sixty-eight wounded. This victory opened the whole of that part of the country. General Butler's reports of the military operations in his department are submitted herewith, marked Exhibit No. 7. (See Donaldsonville.) In the department of the South the only military operations which have been undertaken were the reconnoissances of the Pocotaligo and Coosahatchie Rivers. These expeditions under Brig.-Gen. Brannan and Col. Barton, encountered a considerable force of the enemy on the twenty-second of October, and engagements ensued, in which we lost thirty-two killed and one hundred and eighty wounded. The official reports of these engagements are submitted herewith, marked Exhibit No. 8 (See Pocotaligo, S. C.) In the department of North-Carolina our force has also been too small to attempt any important offensive operations. On time sixth of September a party of the enemy surprised the garrison of Washington, but were soon driven out. Our loss was eight killed and thirty-six wounded, and that of the enemy thirty-three killed and about one hundred wounded. Several successful reconnoissances have been made into the interior. The official reports of the affair at Washington are marked Exhibit No. 9. (See Washington, N. C.) It is seen from this brief summary of military operations during the last three or four months, that while our soldiers have generally fought with bravery, and gained many important battles, these victories have not produced the usual results. In many instances the defeated foe was not followed om the battle-field, and even where a pursuit was attempted, it almost invariably failed to effect the capture or destruction of any part of the retreating army. This is a matter which requires serious and careful consideration. A victorious army is supposed to be in a condition to pursue its defeated foe with advantage, and, during such pursuit, to do him serious, if not fatal injury. This result has usually been attained in other countries. Is there any reason why it should not be expected in this? It is easily understood that in a country like that between Yorktown and Richmond, or the thickly-wooded swamps of Mississippi and Louisiana, that a retreating force, by felling trees across the roads, and destroying bridges over deep and marshy streams, can effectually prevent any rapid pursuit. The one in a few minutes blocks up or destroys roads, which the other cannot clear or repair for hours, or even days. The pursuer has very little hope of overtaking his flying foe. But this reasoning is not applicable to Maryland, and the greater part of Virginia, Kentucky, and Middle Tennessee. It must be admitted that in these theatres of war the rebel armies have exhibited much more mobility and activity than our own. Not only do they out-march us, both in advance and retreat, but on two memorable occasions their cavalry have made with impunity the entire circuit of the army of the Potomac. If it be true that the success of an army depends upon its “arms and its legs,” ours has shown itself deficient in the latter of these essential requisites. This defect has been attributed to our enormous baggage and supply trains, and to a want of training in marches. There is no doubt that the baggage trains of our armies have been excessively large. Every possible effort has been made within the last few weeks to reduce them. But this is no easy task. Once accustomed to a certain amount of transportation, an army is unwilling to do without the luxuries which it supplies in the field. By the recent increase of the army ration, which was previously larger than in any other country, a considerable amount of transportation is employed in moving provisions and supplies which are not necessary for the subsistence of the soldiers. An examination of the returns of the Quartermaster-General, a few days since, developed the fact that the army of the Potomac, including the troops around Washington, most of which are without field-trains, had fifty-four thousand animals, and that nine thousand of these were employed in transporting ambulances and hospital stores. In addition to all this, the roads, streets, and wharves are incumbered with private vehicles used for the transportation of sutlers' stores. No matter how large the main body of an army may be, it can never move rapidly with such a mass
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Rebel reports and Narratives.
Doc . 91 .- General Sherman 's expedition.
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