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[572] possible. On the east of Mansura, on the road which strikes the ford of Bayou Glaise, the prairie is bounded by woods which crown quite a high hill visible from a great distance. Wharton posted his batteries on the edge of these woods, in the depths of which it was easy to imagine the presence of a whole army, and from these he cannonaded the Federals, who were advancing slowly, for a long time. Finally, toward evening, seeing that Smith threatened to cut off his retreat, he fell back in a southerly direction.

On the next day, the 16th, the head of the Union column reached Simsport on the Atchafalaya. But the army could not in its entirety embark at this out-of-the-way place on a river of difficult navigation. Banks was in a hurry, as we have said, to bring it to the shores of the Mississippi, where numerous transports could easily come from New Orleans to take it there. But the Atchafalaya presented a formidable obstacle. Its width of nearly seven hundred yards was a good place for drilling the ponton-train. A rise of the Mississippi was pouring in an enormous mass of water. Banks had again recourse to Bailey in this emergency. The latter proposed to construct a bridge of boats, making use, however, not of simple pontons, but of all the transports which to the number of twenty had come to meet the army at Simsport. His plan was immediately adopted. The large boats, anchored side by side, were joined together by rough, hewn logs and by stout timbers on which a flooring was placed. The passage thus constructed across the gunwales over everything which encumbers the deck of a vessel might be expected to be very uneven, the boats which support it not having the same height above the water. It was not, for that, the less practicable, and was opened on the 19th. During its construction Smith remained on the borders of Yellow Bayou, a small tributary of the Atchafalaya which flows westward from Simsport, in order to protect it and cover the rest of the army. The enemy, in fact, became more and more enterprising in proportion to their belief that the Federals were on the point of getting away. On the 17th, Wharton, starting in pursuit of them, had made a spirited attack upon their rearguard near Bayou Glaise, and one of his regiments, following close, captured some wagons from it that evening in the very

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