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[550] satisfy himself that the dispositions were proper, General Banks rode to the front with his staff, and thence along the whole line, saying kind words to officers and men, and wearing that bright, winning smile so peculiar to him, and which seemed to give new confidence to the men whose lives were on their country's altar. Noon came and passed; but beyond the slow shelling of the woods, and a stray shot from some impetuous picket, there was no sign of an engagement. Our men remained in line all day, and passed the hours by their guns; some lying down, some sleeping and dozing, others reading and eating the remnants of yesterday's ration; but all ready for the signal that would bring on the action. The day remained bright, and warm, and clear, and it began to be thought that it would close without an action, and that the enemy had withdrawn with their booty. Those in the front knew better. The rebels were there, making their dispositions and preparing for the onset. In the mean time the General and staff returned to the ridge near the brick house, and partook of some refreshment, satisfied that the day was ours, and determined to await events.

On our left centre, far in the advance, was a battery of four guns, belonging to a New-York regiment. It occupied an exposed position, and it had been suggested by some of the staff-officers that there was danger of its capture. This battery had been making itself an object of interest to the rebels, for every ten minutes it sent a shot into their midst. About half-past 4 in the afternoon, a sharp volley of musketry was heard, and all eyes turned toward this battery, for over it circles of smoke were ascending, and around it men were engaged in battle. The rebel line rushed from the woods and charged the battery. The contest was sharp. The smoke obscured the sight, and for a few minutes we could only guess how the struggle was going. Finally our line was seen to retreat, but we had no fear. We knew that the men composing that line were men of the Nineteenth corps. We had seen their valor on the day before, and, although there, before our eyes, they were falling back, we felt assured it was with a purpose. So it proved. The temporary retreat was a feint, intended to draw the rebels from the woods. They came, rushed upon the battery, and surrounded it. This success brought another line of clay-colored rebels, and they cheered as though they had gained a victory. The time had come. The enemy was before us. Emory's division rallied; and one of Smith's divisions, which had been lying on the ground, arose, and sent volley after volley into the enemy's midst. This was something different from fighting an exposed division in pine woods, in the midst of baggage-trains, and so the poor rebels found. Again and again they rallied, but only to fall back again and again, and finally to retreat and scamper through the woods. The battery which tempted them from their covert was retaken, and its shot and shell went plunging through their retreating column. It seemed as though death was reaping a mysterious harvest, and to the right and left the sheaves were falling.

The battle was extended along the whole line; it was nothing but charge and rally, to charge and rally again. In every point our men gained the day. The lines of Smith's division stood like the stone walls that Virginian patois has contributed to our military language, and every effort of the enemy to force them was futile. Thus it continued for an hour; and in describing the scene at the battery, I find that I have given in detail all that can be remembered of this brief and glorious fight. One other movement was noticeable. The rebels, toward the end of the engagement, tried to flank our left by sending a column over the ridge, upon which the unfinished seminary stood. The effort was more disastrous than the attempt upon the battery. They were driven back with fearful slaughter, routed from the field, leaving many hundreds of prisoners in our hands. This ended the engagement, and our forces were victorious.

Night was over all, and the stars began to shine. Our wounded were removed, and, unmolested, General Banks accomplished his movement toward Grand Ecore.

Our losses in the two days battle in killed, wounded, and missing, are estimated at two thousand. Colonel Benedict, commanding a brigade, was the only general officer killed. We learn that General Mouton, commanding a part of the rebel army, was also slain.



Another account.

camp of the Eighty-Third O. V. I., Grand Ecore, La., April 12.
The past week has been an eventful one in the military history of this department. Doubtless, exaggerated reports of rebel success and the demoralization of the Federal troops have reached you, and it is with a view to counteract the influence of such reports that I propose to give you as brief a description of recent events as is consistent with a proper understanding of them. Let me premise by assuring your readers that the troops are in the best of spirits, and fully confident of their ability to carry the campaign to a successful close, provided they have leaders upon whose judgment they can place reliance.

On Wednesday, the sixth instant, our whole force, with the exception of General A. J. Smith's immediate command, left Natchitoches, and pursued their way through the “Piny” woods, in the direction of Shreveport, one hundred miles distant. On the evening of the seventh, we reached Pleasant Hill, a small village, thirty-five miles from Natchitoches, our cavalry advance skirmishing nearly all the way through the woods. They had a severe one on that morning, two miles beyond Pleasant Hill, in which the Eighty-seventh Illinois (mounted infantry) lost quite heavily.

On the morning of the eighth, we resumed our march, the Fourth division (to which the Eighty-third has been re-transferred, since I last wrote


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