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[430] unusual manner. Indeed, though Red River is usually accounted one of the tributaries of the Mississippi River, there is abundant evidence to believe that at no great period back the Red River continued its course to the Gulf through the Atchafalaya. The latter stream is now mainly fed by the former, and should properly bear its name. We found it for twelve miles a deep and navigable stream.

At Simmsport the fleet came to a landing. The town itself does not exist, a few chimneys alone marking the former site, having been burned up by Colonel Charles Rivers Ellet, in retaliation for their having fired on his boat, the Queen of the West. Colonel John Ellet afterward visited the place with the Switzerland, during the siege of Port Hudson, when he had a severe engagement with the batteries, and finished the work of his cousin.

Two new earthworks were found in course of construction, and abundant evidences of the traffic across the stream at this point. A short distance up the bayou, which enters at this point, were found twenty-four pontoons used for a bridge; also, portions of a raft of timber long enough to stretch across. News reached us that a camp near the river had been hastily evacuated at the sight of the fleet; afterward we heard that about two thousand had a fortified camp three miles from the river, at the intersection of Bayou Glaize, (Yellow Bayou.) Next morning the land forces were disembarked, and marched out by sunrise to find the camp broken up and the enemy gone; the bridge leading across the stream burning, and evidence of a fright. There were two extensive earthworks, still incomplete, and a prodigious raft being constructed across Bayou Glaize so as to prevent the gunboats ascending the little channel during high-water. This location of their principal fortifications is significant in two things: their intention to make the Atchafalaya as their line of defence, and their distrust of their ability to hold forts immediately on the banks of navigable streams. Henceforth we imagined their policy would be to hold the roads to the interior by works erected beyond the range of the gunboats. Their abandonment of Simmsport was indicative that they had lost hope of defending successfully these latter.

Five miles further out, our force overtook five teams loaded with tents, which they burned, and loaded up the teams with sugar and molasses, which the rebels had unsuccessfully attempted to destroy. The whole column then returned to the boats. I should not be a faithful historian if I omitted to mention that the conduct of the troops since the late raid of General Sherman, is becoming very prejudicial to our good name and to their efficiency. A spirit of destruction and wanton ferocity seems to have seized upon many of them, which is quite incredible. At Red River landing they robbed a house of several thousand dollars in specie, and then fired the house to conceal their crime. At Simmsport, a party of them stole out, and robbed and insulted a family two miles distant. In fact, unless checked by summary example, there is danger of our whole noble army degenerating into a band of cut-throats and robbers. I am glad to say that General Smith is disposed to punish all offenders severely.

It was decided that the column should march overland to Fort De Russy, the place to which it was supposed they had retreated, distant thirty-five miles. At daybreak, they started in light marching order. The boats were steamed up the Red River, which proved to be extremely tortuous and difficult of navigation. At a point sixty-five miles above the mouth, and twenty-five above Black River, we came upon a small earthwork, without guns, distant by land about five miles from the main fort. Hewn piles and timbers had floated past during the day, preparing us for the evacuation above.

Meanwhile the column under General Smith, with Morse's brigade in the advance, made a night march across from Simmsport. Before they had gotten five miles out on their march, they were beset by the enemy's cavalry, which kept harassing front and rear during the entire route. A company of cavalry, under Captain Hughes, preceded the column, skirmishing continually. General F. Kilby Smith, who commanded the division in the rear, was often obliged to form in line to repel their threatened attack. Notwithstanding that a delay of three hours occurred in rebuilding a bridge destroyed by the flying enemy, the entire march, thirty miles, was accomplished in twenty hours, and, as the result showed, captured a strong position before sundown — a feat which has hardly a parallel. The country back of the Fort is an undulating table-land, beautiful to behold, and inhabited by descendants of the early French settlers. Indeed, many of them had hoisted over their porches the tri-color of France, although they have been living here, receiving the privileges of citizenship, for more than twenty years.

It was about three o'clock as the head of the column neared Fort De Russy; some time was spent in making cautious approaches to the position, when the lines were moved up to the edge of the timber. The Fort then opened heavily with four guns, firing shells and shrapnel, our forces bringing two batteries into action. The cannonading continued two hours, when General Smith ordered a line of skirmishers to advance, when a heavy fusilade followed. A charge was ordered; the Fifty-eighth Illinois and the Eighth Wisconsin led, when just as the men had reached the ditch the garrison surrendered. About this time the boats made their appearance, the Eastport in the lead. They fired two shots without effect, across a rock, when the cheers of our delighted soldiers told them the Fort was ours. The gunboats were not engaged; the honor of this victory may be set down to the credit of the land forces.

The Fort consists of two distinct and formidable earth-works connected by a covered way.

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