Doc. 187.-fight near Vermilionville, La.
headquarters First division nineteenth army corps, Vermilionville, Oct. 10.After the slight skirmish with the rebels on Sunday evening, the fourth instant, and the rapid retreat of the enemy for some four miles, they again, as soon as our advance halted, assumed their air of defiance, sending their scouts within a short distance of our lines, and making a show of strength which they were not supposed to be possessed of. Accordingly, on Tuesday, Colonel Davis was ordered forward to furnish them an opportunity for a fight or foot-race, at their own option. Their determination was quickly taken at the appearance of our force, and the gallant Colonel gave them a hot chase for several miles, accelerating their unreluctant movement by a brisk application of musketry and shells from Captain Nim's battery. One horse was killed, and report says a few of the enemy were wounded. The ground thus gained it was desirable to hold, and accordingly the First brigade of this division, Acting Brigadier-General Love commanding, was ordered forward to the support of the cavalry. They were not interfered with, the enemy preserving their distance, reconnoitring closely, and well in hand for a race upon our advancing. The morning of Thursday, the ninth instant, the Nineteenth corps was ordered to advance, the rear of the entire column, consisting of the Thirteenth army corps, Major-General Ord commanding, having closed up, and the entire command being well in hand, advancing cautiously, but surely, ready for service in a moment should occasion require. There was no occasion, however, for the troops to test the fighting qualities of the rebels, for they kept well out of range, retreating before the cavalry without firing a shot. At night the encampment was pitched on the open prairie, about seven miles from Vermilion Bayou, at which point the enemy were reported in force at from two to eight thousand men, with some heavy siege guns, two field batteries of artillery, quite a force of cavalry, and several regiments of infantry. Our cavalry were sent well to the front, and exchanged shots with the enemy's pickets, who were posted on the east side of the bayou. The position of the enemy was apparently a powerful one, and, if they mustered as strong as reported, every thing looked fair for a severe engagement. During our stay at this camp, Colonel Paine, of the Second Louisiana regiment, ranking officer of the First brigade, arrived and assumed command, relieving Colonel Love, who assumed command of his old regiment, the One Hundred and Sixteenth New-York volunteers. Next morning, at eight o'clock, the advance was resumed, and about eleven o'clock reached a favorable position for forming line of battle, in the neighborhood of which Major-General Franklin, who had preceded the army a short distance, had established his headquarters. Colonel Davis,  from a point about a quarter of a mile to the right, opened the fight with a brisk skirmish, driving the enemy across the bayou, and followed up the advantage with a hot fire from the section of Nim's rifled battery with his command. In a very short time a battery of the First Regular United States artillery, (Elaian's,) under command of Lieutenant Frank Taylor, was in position in the centre, immediately opened fire, sending shells some two or three miles across the bayou, stirring up the enemy in lively style. Taylor was followed by the First Indiana battery, Major Ray commanding, which was stationed on the extreme left, and opened with the twenty and thirty-pounder rifled pieces, shelling the woods on the shore of the bayou, up and down. The two last-named batteries were assisted by the One Hundred and Sixteenth New-York volunteers, Colonel Love, (of the First brigade, Colonel Paine, First division, General Weitzel,) who were deployed as skirmishers, supported by the One Hundred and Fifteenth New-York volunteers, Colonel Kinsy, of the same brigade. For about an hour the firing was very warm, the booming of the cannon being interspersed with the sharp reports of the muskets, the enemy replying but feebly, mostly from the left of their line, and soon ceasing altogether. A reconnoissance revealed the fact that they had fled, in their haste leaving behind them in their camp, dinner already cooked, some arms, camp furniture, and in one spot three of their hats. A force was immediately thrown across the cavalry fording, close to the remains of a destroyed bridge on our right, and the infantry by means of an improvised pontoon bridge laid on the half-burnt stringers of a bridge on the left. There was some little skirmishing after crossing, the enemy firing on our cavalry as they retreated. That they met with severe loss is perfectly evident, as new-made graves were discovered this morning a short distance from the town, and the inhabitants report that quite a number of wounded rebels were carried through the place during the progress of the fight. The army is now consolidated, and Major-General Banks arrived just after the fight of yesterday, assuming command of the entire force, consisting of the Thirteenth and Nineteenth army corps, under the command of Generals Ord and Franklin. Our loss was none killed, and Major Cowan, of the Second Louisiana cavalry, and four privates wounded. The Major's wound is reported as very slight, and he will be on duty again in a very short time. The conduct of all concerned in this affair was excellent, and the most conspicuous of all was the gallant General Weitzel on his war-horse, riding boldly to the front, whither he had forbidden any other going on horseback. His appearance inspired his troops with the wildest enthusiasm, and the firing, which was warm and rapid before, seemed to redouble as he rode along t<*>e line.