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[37]

When night came, Steele's division marched noiselessly down the bayou, and embarked on the transports as quietly as possible. The men were instructed to be as quiet as possible on the boats. From the orders given out, they gathered that something perilous was on hand, and seemed to be impressed with the danger they had soon to encounter. So Steele's division lay down to sleep at nine o'clock that night expecting to awake to the performance of a sanguinary duty.

During the night the fleet made a reconnoissance up the river; they attempted to work at the torpedoes, but the fog was so heavy that they could not accomplish any thing. It was also discovered that several pilots had deserted to the enemy, who would probably inform the enemy of the plan in time for him to thwart it.

These and other reasons thus delayed the execution of this perilous undertaking — a plan which, if successful, would have been one of the most brilliant and daring exploits of the present war.

General Thayer, while leading his column up the hill where the enemy had dug rifle-pits and thrown up earth-works, lost his sword. There was a fence half-way up the hill, and near the second line of works, which it was necessary for his troops to climb over. The General sheathed his sword for the purpose, and in climbing over the fence, the lower part of it was caught, which reversed the scabbard, and the sword noiselessly slipped out. He started back after other regiments in his brigade, and not having occasion to use it, he did not miss it until after the enemy had possession of the field. He regretted it very much, as it was presented to him for distinguished services in the Indian war which occurred some years ago on the frontier. Whilst our dead were being taken off the field under the flag of truce, a soldier of the Fourth Iowa discovered it, and slipped it on the platter which was being used to convey a wounded man off the field. It was restored to the General. The casualties are not as great as at first supposed. The number will not reach one thousand killed, wounded, and missing. The Fourth Iowa, in Thayer's brigade, and Thirteenth Illinois, in Blair's brigade, suffered most. In these two regiments the killed and wounded amount to near three hundred. The Fifty-eighth Ohio is said to have suffered considerably. Colonel Dresler, one of the best officers in the service, is numbered among the killed. Colonel Wyman, Thirteenth Illinois, was mortally wounded in the action of the twenty-eighth, and has since died. General Morgan L. Smith was wounded on the same day, but not seriously. He is recovering, and will be able to return to his command in a few days.

We are not in Vicksburgh yet. A change has been made in the programme. Instead of storming this formidable citadel of rebeldom, we go North. General McClernand has arrived and supersedes Sherman. Such are the mutations of military operations, that correspondents can't help but be mistaken.

The army is in excellent spirits. “Push forward the columns.”

Aksarben.

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