the draught of the imprisoned vessels by lightening them of cargo, armament, or plating. Before the second series of dams was completed, a portion of the armament and the plating, materially lessening their draught and the depth of water required to float them, was removed. Lieutenant William S. Beebe, of the ordnance department, U. S. A., superintended the removal of the heavy naval guns from above the rapids to a point below the dam by land, assisted by officers and soldiers of the army. The army immediately commenced the reconstruction of the dam. Finding it impossible entirely to resist the current of the river, the opening made by the flood was only partially closed, and eight or ten wing dams were constructed on the right and left bank of the river, in accordance with the original plan, turning the current of water directly upon the channel, and raising it at the different points sufficiently to allow the vessels to pass. This new work was completed on the twelfth of May, and on the afternoon of that day all the bats passed below the rapids to the dam. At six o'clock in the evening the “Mound City” and “Carondelet” passed the dam. The other boats remained above until the morning of the thirteenth. The water upon the dam was steadily falling, but at nine o'clock on the thirteenth all the boats had safely passed. Preparations had been made for the movement of the army the evening after the passage of the boats below the dam on the twelfth, and after all were below on the thirteenth, orders were given for the march. The construction of the dam was exclusively the work of the army. But little aid or encouragement was rendered by officers of the navy, except by Lieutenant A. R. Lanthorne, commanding the “Mound City,” who assisted in setting the cribs and was always ready to answer the call of the officers charged with the construction of the work. The soldiers labored zealously and sedulously, night and day, in and out of the water, from the first to the thirteenth of May inclusive, when the passage of the boats was completed. Upon my arrival at Alexandria, on the twenty-fifth of April, I found Major-General Hunter with despatches from the Lieutenant-General commanding the armies, reaffirming instructions which I had received at Grand Ecore, relating to the operations of the army elsewhere, and to the necessity of bringing the Shreveport campaign to an end without delay. The only possible means of executing the peremptory orders had already been taken. General Hunter left on the thirtieth April, with despatches to the Lieutenant-General giving a report of the condition of affairs; that the fleet could not pass the rapids, that there was no course for the army but to remain for its protection; that the enemy would concentrate all his forces at that point for the destruction of the army and the fleet; and that it was necessary to concentrate our troops west of the Mississippi, and the same point by which the army and navy could be relieved, and the forces of the enemy destroyed. Major-General McClernand, with the largest part of the forces recently at Matagorda Bay, which had been evacuated by order of Lieutenant-General Grant, dated March thirty-first, arrived at Alexandria oh the evening of the twenty-ninth of April. Brigadier-General Fitz Henry Warren, left in command at Matagorda Bay, followed with the rest of the forces in Texas, except those on the Rio Grande, when the batteries of the enemy on the river near Marksville obstructed his passage. Not having sufficient force to dislodge the enemy, he seized Fort De Russy, below the batteries, which he held until the passage of the fleet and army. While engaged in the construction of the dam, a despatch was received from Major-General Halleck, dated April thirtieth, as follows: “Lieutenant-General Grant directs that orders heretofore given be so modified that no troops be withdrawn from operations against Shreveport and on Red River, and that operations there be continued under the officer in command until further orders.” This despatch was not received until it was impossible to move either up or down the river from Alexandria. It was of course impracticable to execute these instructions. Until the fourth of May communication with the Mississippi by the river was unobstructed. Lieutenant William Simpson, of my staff, left by the gunboat “Signal,” with despatches for Lieutenant-General Grant, Admiral Farragut, General Sherman, and General Rosecrans. The gunboat “Covington,” having in convoy the transport “Warner,” accompanied the Signal. We received news, on the morning of the sixth, of the destruction of the gunboats and the transport. The enemy had established a battery near Marksville, supported by a large infantry force. Communication with the Mississippi was closed from this date. About four hundred men, of the Fifty-sixth Ohio volunteers, were on board the “Warner.” A part of them joined our troops below, and a portion of them pierced the lines of the enemy, and returned to Alexandria. About one hundred and fifty were captured. Lieutenant Simpson was captured, but destroyed his despatches. The “City Belle,” on her way to Alexandria, with four hundred and twenty-five men of the One Hundred and Twentieth Ohio volunteers, was captured by the enemy. Two hundred of the troops escaped. The fleet passed below Alexandria on the thirteenth of May. The army, on its march from Alexandria, did not encounter the enemy in force until near the town of Mansura. He was driven through the town on the evening of the fourteenth of May. At daybreak the next morning, our advance encountered his cavalry on the prairie east of the town. He fell back, with steady and sharp skirmishing, across the prairie, to a belt of woods, which he occupied. The enemy's position covered three roads, diverging from Mansura to the Atchafalaya. He manifested a determination here to obstinately resist our passage. The engagement, which lasted several hours, was confined chiefly to the artillery, until our troops got possession of
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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