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[521] a courier came in from General Banks, bringing the unpleasant and most unexpected news, “Our army has met with a reverse,” and was falling back to Pleasant Hill, some sixty miles in our rear. Orders also came to General A. J. Smith to return to Grand Ecore with the transports and the troops he had with him. Here was an end to our expedition for the present, and we reluctantly turned back, after having nearly reached the object we were aiming at. The information we received was of a very unsatisfactory kind, and we did not know really what was the exact state of affairs, no letters having been sent by post courier.

It would be very difficult to describe the return passage of the fleet through this narrow and snaggy river. As long as our army could advance triumphantly, it was not so bad; but we had every reason to suppose that our return would be interrupted in every way and at every point by the enemy's land forces, and we were not disappointed. They commenced on us from high banks, at a place called Coushatta, and kept up a fire of musketry whenever an opportunity was offered them. By a proper distribution of the gunboats I had no trouble in driving them away, though from the high banks they could fire on our decks almost with impunity. As we proceeded down the river they increased in numbers, and as we only made thirty miles a day, they could cross from point to point and be ready to meet us on our arrival below. On the left bank of the river a man by the name of Harrison, with one thousand nine hundred cavalry and four or five pieces of artillery, was appointed to follow us down and annoy us. It was very fortunate for us that this person and his command were lately severely handled by a gunboat, (a few weeks ago,) which made them careful about coming within range. On the evening of the twelfth instant we were attacked from the right bank of the river by a detachment of men of quite another character. They were a part of the army which two or three days previous had gained success over our army, and flushed with victory, or under the excitement of liquor, they appeared suddenly upon the right bank, and fearlessly opened fire on the Osage, Lieutenant Commander T. O. Selfridge, (iron-clad,) she being hard aground at the time with a transport (the Black Hawk) alongside of her, towing her off. The rebels opened with two thousand muskets, and soon drove every one out of the Black Hawk to the safe casemates of the monitor. Lieutenant Bache had just come from his vessel, (the Lexington,) and fortunately was enabled to pull up to her again, keeping close under the bank, while the Osage opened a destructive fire on these poor deluded wretches, who, maddened with liquor and led on by their officers, were vainly attempting to capture an iron vessel. I am told that their hootings and actions baffle description. Force after force seemed to be brought up to the edge of the bank, where they confronted the guns of the iron vessel, only to be cut down by grape-shot and canister. In the mean time Lieutenant Bache had reached his vessel, and widening the distance between him and the Osage, he opened a cross-fire on the infuriated rebels, who fought with such desperation and courage against certain destruction, that it could only be accounted for in one way. Our opinions were verified on inspection of some of the bodies of the slain — the men actually smelling of Louisiana rum! This affair lasted nearly two hours before the rebels fled. They brought up two pieces of artillery, one of which was quickly knocked over by the Lexington's guns, the other they managed to carry off. The cross-fire of the Lexington finally decided this curious affair of a fight between infantry and gunboats. The rebels were mowed down by her canister, and finally retreated in as quick haste as they had come to the attack, leaving the space of a mile covered with the dead and wounded, muskets and knapsacks. A dying rebel informed our men that General Greene had his head blown off, which I do not vouch for as true. If true, it is a serious loss to the rebels. Night coming on, we had no means of ascertaining the damage done to the rebels. We were troubled no more from the right bank of the river, and a party of five thousand men who were marching to cut us off were persuaded to change their mind after hearing of the unfortunate termination to the first expedition. That same night I ordered the transports to proceed on, having placed the gunboats at a point where the rebels had a battery. All the transports were passed safely, the rebels not firing a shot in return to the many that were bursting over the hills. The next morning, the thirteenth instant, I followed down myself, and finding at Compte, six miles from Grand Ecore by land, that they had got aground, and would be some time in getting through, I proceeded down in this vessel to Grand Ecore, and got General Banks to send up troops enough to keep the guerrillas away from the river. We were fired on as usual after we started down, but when I had the troops sent up, the transports came along without any rouble. This has been an expedition where a great deal of labor has been expended, a great deal of individual bravery shown, and on such occasions the commander-in-chief is apt to find out the metal of which his officers are made, and on future occasions it will enable him to select those who will not likely fail in the time of need. To Lieutenant Commander T. O. Selfridge, commanding the Osage, and Lieutenant George M. Bache, commanding the Lexington, I am particularly indebted for the gallant manner in which they defended their vessels, and for their management during the expedition, always anticipating and intelligently carrying out my wishes and orders.

I found the fleet at Grand Ecore somewhat in an unpleasant situation--two of them being above the bar, and not likely to get away again this season, unless there is a rise of a foot. I could not provide against this, when over a hundred

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