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[631] strike a blow against New Orleans, they would debouch from this direction. The Southern general J. Thompson had stationed himself in the village of Pontchitoula, situated seventy-seven kilometres from the great city, and sixteen beyond the bridge of the Manchac pass. He had three hundred men with him, together with a battery of artillery. Strong conceived the idea of surprising him; he shipped one hundred and fifty men on board the Ceres and one hundred on the New London, two of the steamers of light draught which had been detailed to guard the waters of Lake Pontchartrain. The first, proceeding up Tangipahoa River, was to land the troops she had on board east of Pontchitoula, while the second was to make its landing on the left bank of the Manchac pass, after having destroyed the railway bridge. It was expected that both would strike J. Thompson's camp at the same time. Strong hoped thus to cut off his retreat and capture him with all his troops. But this plan could not be carried out; the New London vainly tried two nights in succession to get over the Manchac bar, and the Ceres was found too large to ascend the winding course of the Tangipahoa. Strong was obliged to send the New London back, and to enter the Manchac pass with the Ceres in broad daylight, the forces of the expedition being thus reduced to the troops on board this ship. A surprise was henceforth impracticable, which rendered it necessary to use the greater speed. Strong landed on the morning of the 15th of June near the bridge of the Manchac pass, which he proceeded to destroy, and at once pushed on with his small band toward Pontchitoula. A tropical sun darted its rays on the heads of the Federal soldiers, and was reflected from the putrid waters of the marshes by which they were surrounded. In order to cross these swamps they had nothing but the railway embankment to walk upon, and for several kilometres they were even obliged to jump from beam to beam over the open work of the bridges which alternate with the causeway. The Confederates were on the lookout for them in front of Pontchitoula with a battery of artillery; but after the first discharge, seeing that the Federals were steadily advancing, they took to flight. Strong destroyed a large number of wagons and army stores, occupied the village, where he found arms and equipments, and returned to his vessel on the same evening. The

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