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[98] Semmes, who was in command of the Diana, to abandon her after setting her on fire; this sacrifice to be made after General Mouton had fallen back. Thus again was it done to another Confederate vessel. It mattered nothing that the Diana had but lately joined the Confederate sisterhood. Another vessel, the Confederate gunboat Stevens, was to be sunk by its commander—‘unfinished condition — the enemy near—unfit for action—absence of guns’—so ran the Stevens' report. This law of destruction was inexorable on the Mississippi and all its outlying bayous, between 1861 and 1865.

The retreat continued undisturbed. The rear guard, under Colonel Green, varied occasional skirmishes with the enemy with frequent dashes upon the pursuers, and thus arrived at Vermilion bayou. As soon as his whole train and forces had safely crossed the bayou, Taylor had the bridge burned. Then, having planted artillery on the heights and sharpshooters on the right of his line, along the upper banks, he allowed the troops and teams to rest from Thursday afternoon to midday on Friday. Nothing further occurred but skirmishes at the bridge, repelling the enemy from treading on our rear guard. Still retreating slowly, Taylor burned the bridges across bayous Boeuf and Cocodrie. When near the town of Opelousas he moved, through Green's efficient cover of his rear, across the Boeuf and beyond all danger of capture an extensive train.

Thus without strain, in no hurry, and ever keeping the enemy in awe of the mystery lying in their peppery rear guard, taking easy stages, often allowed to rest—once, after burning Vermilion bridge, for a whole day—and saving all their stores, did the Louisianians, who had fought so gallantly at Bisland, led by Mouton and guarded by Green, retreat before their enemy. Never before had a retreat of an inferior force from a large army been so free from haste or confusion. Taylor fell back toward Natchitoches. Mouton was ordered to the westward of

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