Franklin, a distance of twenty miles, encountering small bodies of the enemy during the march. On the thirteenth, we had advanced within four hundred yards of his works, on both sides of the Bayou Teche, driving him to his fortifications, and destroying the gunboat “Diana,” which he had captured from us a short time before. This battle lasted the whole day. We captured many prisoners. Our troops were ready for an assault upon the works in the evening; but it not being certain that Grover had reached the position assigned him for the purpose of intercepting the retreat of the enemy, it was deferred until the morning of the fourteenth. During the night, the enemy, learning of Grover's successful landing, sent a large part of his force to attack him at Irish Bend. The fight was very severe. The enemy was defeated, but Grover was unable to get into such position as to cut off his retreat. Early on the following morning the balance of the enemy's forces evacuated Fort Bisland, which was immediately occupied by our troops, and we pursued the enemy with great vigor, capturing many prisoners. The enemy's forces in this affair were commanded by Generals Taylor, Sibley, and Mouton. They retreated toward Opelousas, making a strong resistance at Vermilion Bayou, from which position they were quickly driven. The gunboats, in the mean time, had encountered the steamer “Queen of the west” on Grand Lake, destroying her and capturing her officers and crew. We reached Opelousas on the twentieth of April, the enemy retreating toward Alexandria in disorder, and destroying the bridges in his flight. The same day the gunboats, under command of Lieutenant-Commander A. P. Cooke, assisted by four companies of infantry, captured the works at Butte á la Rose, which contained two heavy guns and a large quantity of ammunition, and was garrisoned by a force of sixty men, all of whom were captured. These works constituted the key of the Atchafalaya, and being in our possession, opened the way to Red River. On the second of May we established communication with Admiral Farragut at the mouth of Red River, through the Atchafalaya, by the gunboat “Arizona,” Captain Upton commanding, accompanied by Captain R. T. Dunham, of my staff. The fifth of May, our headquarters at Opelousas were broken up, and the troops moved for Alexandria, a distance of from ninety to one hundred miles, making this march in three days and four hours. Moving rapidly to the rear of Fort De Russey, a strong work on Red River, we compelled the immediate evacuation of that post by the enemy, and enabled the fleet of gun-boats, under Admiral Porter, to pass up to Alexandria without firing a gun. The army reached Alexandria the ninth of May, in the evening, the navy having reached there the morning of the same day. The enemy continued his retreat in the direction of Shreveport. In order to completely disperse the forces of the enemy, a force under Generals Weitzel and Dwight pursued him nearly to Grand Ecore, so thoroughly dispersing him that he was unable to reorganize a respectable force until July, more than five weeks after we had completed the investment of Port Hudson. During these operations on the Teche, we captured over two thousand prisoners and twenty-two guns; destroyed three gunboats and eight steamers; captured large quantities of small arms, ammunition, mails, and other public property, and the steamers “Ellen” and “Cornie,” which were of great service to us in the campaign. A letter from General Taylor, commanding at Fort Bisland, was captured with an officer of the “Queen of the west,” which informed us that the enemy had contemplated an attack upon our forces at Brashear City on the twelfth of April, the day before the assault was made by us upon Fort Bisland; and a subsequent despatch from Governor Moore to General Taylor was intercepted by General Dwight, in which Taylor was directed, in case he was pursued beyond Alexandria, to fall back into Texas with such of his forces as he could keep together. The purpose of the enemy in retreating,up the Teche was to draw off toward Texas, on our left flank, for the purpose of cutting off our supplies by the Teche. But the capture of Butte á la Rose, enabled us to open a new line of communication, through the Atchafalaya and Courtableu, direct to Washington and Barre's Landing, within six miles of Opelousas; and upon reaching Alexandria, we were enabled to establish a third line of communication by the Atchafalaya and Red Rivers. These were interior waters, wholly inaccessible to the enemy, and made perfectly safe lines of communication during our occupation of that country. While at Brashear City, I had received a despatch from Admiral Farragut, by Mr. Gabaudau, his secretary, informing me that General Grant would send twenty thousand men by the first of May, through the Tensas, Black, and Red Rivers, for the purpose of uniting with us in the reduction of Port Hudson. It was felt that this reenforcement was necessary, and would secure the speedy reduction of that position. On reaching Alexandria, I received two despatches from General Grant, one dated the twenty-third of April, stating that he could spare us a reinforcement of twenty thousand men if we could supply them; and the other, dated the fifth of May, proposing to send one army corps to Bayou Sara by the twenty-fifth of May, and asking that I should then send all the troops I could spare to Vicksburg, after the reduction of Port Hudson. To both of these plans I consented, and answered, that we could supply them from New Orleans, and that this force would insure the capture of Port Hudson. But I was afterward informed by a despatch, dated Auburn, May tenth, which I received May twelfth, that he had crossed the Mississippi, landing his forces at Grand Gulf, and was then in close pursuit of the enemy, under such circumstances that he could not retrace his steps, nor send me the forces he had contemplated, and requesting me to join his command at
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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