previous next

[747] the edge of the woods,--first upon our left by General Emory, and subsequently on our right by General Smith, when he was driven from the field after a sharp and decisive fight, with considerable loss.

The sixteenth of May we reached Simmsport, on the Atchafalaya. Being entirely destitute of any ordinary bridge material for the passage of this river, about six hundred yards wide, a bridge was constructed of the steamers under direction of Lieutenant-Colonel Bailey.

This work was not of the same magnitude, but was as important to the army, as the dam at Alexandria was to the navy. It had the merit of being an entirely novel construction, no bridge of such magnitude having been constructed of similar materials. The bridge was completed at one o'clock on the nineteenth May. The wagon train passed in the afternoon, and the troops the next morning, in better spirit and condition, as able and eager to meet the enemy, as at any period of the campaign. The command of General A. J. Smith, which covered the rear of the army during the construction of the bridge and the passage of the army, had a severe engagement with the enemy under Polignac, on the afternoon of the nineteenth, at Yellow Bayou, which lasted several hours. Our loss was about one hundred and fifty in killed and wounded; that of the enemy much greater, besides many prisoners taken by our troops.

Major-General E. R. S. Canby arrived at Simmsport on the nineteenth of May, and the next day assumed command of the troops, as a portion of the forces of the military division of the West Mississippi, to the command of which he had been assigned.

Rumors were freely circulated throughout the camp at Alexandria, that upon the evacuation of the town it would be burned. To prevent this destruction of property,--part of which belonged to loyal citizens,--General Grover, commanding the post, was instructed to organize a thorough police, and to provide for its occupation by an armed force, until the army had marched for Simmsport. The measures taken were sufficient to prevent a conflagration in the manner in which it had been anticipated. But on the morning of the evacuation, while the army was in full possession of the town, a fire broke out in a building on the levee, which had been occupied by refugees or soldiers, in such a manner as to make it impossible to prevent a general conflagration.

I saw the fire when it was first discovered. The ammunition and ordnance transports, and the depot of ammunition on the levee, were within a few yards of the fire. The boats were floated into the river, and the ammunition moved from the levee with all possible despatch. The troops labored with alacrity and vigor to suppress the conflagration, but owing to a high wind, and the combustible material of the buildings, it was found impossible to limit its progress, and a considerable portion of the town was destroyed. On the first of April, two or three days before the army moved from Alexandria to Natchitoches, an election of delegates to the Constitutional Convention was held at Alexandria, by request of the citizens of the Parish of Rapides. No officer or soldier interfered with or had any part in this matter. It was left exclusively to the loyal citizens of the place.

Three hundred votes were given in this election, which was a large majority of all the voting population in the parish. Fifteen hundred votes were a full representation of the people before the war.

Nearly five hundred men from this and neighboring parishes enlisted in the army as mounted scouts, and rendered efficient and valuable services during the campaign.

Under the General Prize Law, the naval authorities, upon their arrival at Alexandria, commenced the capture of cotton on both sides of the river, extending their operations from six to ten miles into the interior. Wagon trains were organized, cotton gins put in operation, and the business followed up with great vigor while the fleet lay at Alexandria. Some difficulty occurred with the marines, who insisted upon their right to pass the lines of the army ; which was terminated by the advance of the army and navy to Grand Ecore.

I was informed by parties claiming property, which had been taken by the naval authorities, to whom I referred them, that, upon application for relief, their property had been released to them by the commander of the fleet. The army did not enter into competition with the navy in the capture of this property. In order to remove all the products of the country which might, under any circumstances, be used to aid the rebellion against the government, General Grover, in command of the post of Alexandria, and the Quartermaster of the post, upon the departure of the army from Alexandria, were directed to collect such property as should remain there after its departure, and transmit it to the Quartermaster at New Orleans, who was instructed to turn it over to the officers of the Treasury, to be disposed of according to the orders of the government and the laws of Congress.

Notice was also given to the supervising agent of the treasury at New Orleans, that no trade would be allowed with that portion of the State until it should be completely and permanently occupied by the army. No person was allowed to accompany the army upon this expedition as reporter, or for any other purpose, without a distinct and written declaration that no trade by private parties or for personal purposes would be permitted under any circumstances, and that no property on private account would be transported on public or private vessels to New Orleans; but that all property sent to New Orleans would be consigned to the Chief Quartermaster, and by him turned over to the Treasury agent, and held subject to such claims and orders as should be approved by the government at Washington.

Previous to my departure from New Orleans, the Chief Quartermaster, Colonel S. B. Holabird,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
C. Grover (2)
T. Kilby Smith (1)
A. J. Smith (1)
Polignac (1)
S. B. Holabird (1)
W. H. Emory (1)
E. R. S. Canby (1)
Joseph Bailey (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
May 19th (2)
May 16th (1)
April 1st (1)
19th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: