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[519] their shields, turn somersets, and yell in the face of their enemies, to frighten them, and then run away at the first sign of an engagement.

It puts the sailors and soldiers out of all patience with them, after the trouble they have had in getting here. Now and then the army have a little brush with their pickets; but that don't often happen. It is not the intention of these rebels to fight. The men are tired of the war, and many of their officers are anxious to go into cotton speculation. A large trade has been carried on between this and New-Orleans, the rebels receiving supplies for their cotton. There is a surprising abundance of every kind of food in this country, and no suffering among the people, except for luxuries. It would be folly to suppose they could all be starved out. The only way is to take possession of this rich region, hold it with a strong military and naval force, and enforce the laws.

There are some good Union men here, who have suffered much. I hope the day of their delivery has come.

General Smith has left a good force at the forts (and I left the Benton and Essex) to destroy them effectually, which will be some labor. We have seven or eight thousand troops in this city, and are expecting to hear soon of General Banks's arrival. He has been delayed by storms, which have made the roads heavy.

The force that left the forts with a party under General Polignac, from Harrisonburgh, have gone out to meet General Banks, who will soon dispose of them, and the chances are that, when all our cavalry now approaching with General Banks get after them, the rebels will be captured or scattered, not to unite again for some time.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

David D. Porter, Rear-Admiral. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.
P. S.--I beg leave to mention, as a proof of the rapidity with which this portion of General Sherman's command, under Brigadier-General A. J. Smith, did their work, they marched twenty-eight miles, starting at daylight; built a bridge which cost them over two hours hard work; had a sharp skirmishing and artillery attack of two hours, and had possession of the forts all intact before sunset.

It is one of the best military moves made this war.

I beg leave to inclose copy of Lieutenant Commanders S. L. Phelps's report.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

David D. Porter, Rear-Admiral.

Instructions from Admiral Porter to Lieutenant Commander S. L. Phelps.

flag-ship Black Hawk, U. S. Mississippi Squadron, Red River, March 12, 1864.
sir: You will proceed at once up the Red River with the vessels I will detail to follow you, and commence removing the obstructions in the river, while, in the mean time, I will take a tour into the Atchafalaya, and land the troops at Simmsport, for the purpose of reconnoitring, etc. If you remove the obstructions, move up within a short distance of Fort De Russy, but make no attack until I get up with the main force, though, if there is any force at De Russy, you can amuse them by feints until, the army get into their rear. Take every precaution against torpedoes, and protect your men against sharp-shooters.

Very respectfully, your obedient. servant,

Report of Lieutenant Commander S. L. Phelps.

United States iron-clad ram Eastport, Alexandria, La., March 16, 1864.
sir: In obedience to your order of the twelfth instant, I proceeded up Red River; the La Fayette, Choctaw, Osage, Neosho, Ozark, Fort Hindman, and Cricket in company, meeting with no obstacle till we reached the obstructions eight miles below Fort De Russy, on the fourteenth instant. The great length and draught of the La Fayette and Choctaw rendered it difficult for them to navigate this narrow and crooked river, and our progress was slow. Near the head of the Rappions were works for light artillery, commanding a difficult turn in the river, which had been recently abandoned.

The obstructions consisted of piles driven across the river, supported by a second tier of shorter ones, on which rested braces and ties from the upper ones. Immediately below these is a raft of timber, well secured across the river, and made of logs which do not float. Finally, a forest of trees had been cut and floated down upon the piles from above. The river had broken through these obstructions, and had partially undermined the rifle-pits on the right bank. The Fort Hindman removed a portion of the raft, when I ran this vessel up, and, by both pulling and ramming, broke out the piles and framework still obstructing the passage of vessels. This work consumed nearly the entire day. The Osage, Fort Hindman, and Cricket followed me through, and we hastened up to the Fort.

For a short time there had been rapid artillery firing, which ceased as we came in sight of the works, then about sunset, except three shots fired by the rebels from a gun in an angle of the water-battery. We could see the enemy using musketry from the parapets of the rear works, but could see nothing of the attacking force. An officer from General Smith had reached the vessel, notifying me of the approach of his force, but with no advice as to time or plan of attack.

The line of fire of the gunboats would have passed directly to the rear of the works, injuring our own people more than the enemy in his works. I fired a short-fuzed shell at an elevation as a signal gun, and then ventured one onehundred pounder rifle-shell at the water-battery, which shell burst over it, and the enemy ran from it. A few moments after this, a white flag was displayed from the rear works, some six hundred

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