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[163]

Following on General Bank's steps, on the 17th of May, we reached Norwood's plantation, about three miles distant from Atchafalaya, and deployed into line to attack his rear. But the enemy, turning against us, and massing his forces against our left, on the road, to allow his long train of wagons to defile on the pontoon bridge thrown over the stream, held us at bay with rapid volleys of musketry and artillery. This unfortunate and unnecessary affair, the only result of which was to delay the enemy in reaching the eastern side of the Atchafalaya, where we wanted him to go, cost us over two hundred men killed and wounded. Having no means to cross the Atchafalaya, we parted with General Banks's army. This was the closing scene of a brisk and brilliant six weeks campaign, in which 15,000 men indifferently armed and supplied, soon reduced to 6,000 men, hurled back an army of 40,000 men, splendidly appointed, and confident of sweeping aside, with ease, any obstacle thrown in its way to Shreveport, and thence, to Texas. Thus, our State was spared a formidable invasion and its inevitable consequences-ruin and devastation.

Then, quiet and dull times prevailed. The cavalry corps, except one brigade kept, by turns, in observation on the Atchafalaya, spread over Western Louisiana, halting wherever supplies and grass could be found. Debray's brigade visited alternately Opelousas, Alexandria and Natchitoches, until October, when its turn came to do duty in the Atchafalaya swamps. There, bad rations, scanty forage, malarial fevers and camp diseases, the absence of medical stores, and worn out clothing and blankets caused much suffering and misery, nearly destroying the efficiency of the brigade.

At last, by the close of November, the welcome order was received to return to Texas, by slow marches, consuming such commissary's and quartermaster's stores as had not decayed in the depots, where they had been accumulated by the operation of the ‘Impressment Act.’ The brigade halted at Sabine Town, San Augustine, Carthage, Henderson and Crockett; and by the close of March it reached the lower Brazos, at Pittsville, near Richmond. Men and horses had recovered strength and spirits, and brigade manoeuvering was actively entered upon, when, to our mutual sorrow, Gould's regiment was ordered off, to be attached to another brigade. Gould's was replaced by McNeal's regiment, which being ordered on detached service on the Trinity River, never coalesced with the brigade. From Pittsville, the brigade moved to the vicinity of Hempstead, where it camped at a short distance from the infantry division of

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