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[162] General Major with his division and some artillery was to establish himself on Red River below Alexandria, and attack the gunboats and transports moving up and down the river. The standing order was to attack every day, and annoy the enemy by every possible means.

Then a series of desultory engagements followed, in which in the morning, we drove back the enemy's pickets and outposts, to be driven in our turn by their supports of infantry and artillery, while the plantations around were set ablaze by the Federals. These skirmishes, producing no apparent advantages, cost us many lives. In Debray's regiment, Lieutenant Kerr, of Company C, was killed, and Lieutenants King, of Company E. and Burts, of Company B, were wounded; the former mortally, and the latter severely. At Polk's plantation Colonel Myers rejoined the regiment with the men whom he had been detached to bring from Texas, and resumed command.

Meanwhile, Banks felt uncomfortable at Alexandria. The low stage of the water in Red River prevented his gunboats and heavier transports from passing down the rapids immediately above that city, and below his communications and line of supplies were intercepted by General Major, who captured and sunk several of his transports. But for the remonstrances of Admiral Porter, Banks would have hastened to the Mississippi with his land forces, abandoning to their fate his boats detained above Alexandria. However, by dint of engineering skill and almost superhuman exertion, a dam was constructed, which so raised the water in the river as to allow the gunboats to come down after having been stripped of their armorplates.

The Federals, setting Alexandria on fire, started on the river road, escorted by their gunboats. Our cavalry and Polignac's division, by a night march on a parallel road, reached Marksville in advance, and caused the enemy to move through that town speedily enough, to prevent them from destroying it. On the next day, in Mansura Prairie, General Wharton formed his small force into line, so as to bar the road, and compel the enemy to deploy, and show his strength. Banks' whole army was at hand. Then, an artillery duel began, in which over fifty guns took part. The witnesses of that engagement have, probably, not forgotten the protracted rumbling noise produced by the echoing of the reports of artillery along the skirt of timber extending in our rear. As the enemy was seen endeavoring to turn our left, we gave way, and hastened to the heights that overlook the town of Moreauville, on Yellow Bayou. On the next morning, the enemy appeared, but was not suffered to tarry in the town and indulge in his wonted acts of incendiarism.

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