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Doc. 171-operations on the Opelousas.

General Banks's official report.

headquarters, Department of the Gulf, Nineteenth army corps, Opelousas, April 23, 1863.
General: On the evening of the seventeenth, General Grover, who had marched from New-Iberia by a shorter road, and thus gained the advance, met the enemy at Bayou Vermilion. The enemy's force consisted of a considerable number of cavalry, one thousand infantry and six pieces of artillery, masked in a strong position on the opposite bank, with which we were unacquainted. The enemy was driven from his position, but not until he had succeeded in destroying the bridge over the bayou by fire. Every thing had been previously arranged for this purpose.

The enemy's flight was precipitous. The night of the seventeenth and the whole of the next day were occupied in pushing with vigor the reconstruction of this bridge.

On the nineteenth the march was resumed, and continued to the vicinity of Grand Coteau, and on the following day our main force occupied Opelousas. The cavalry, supported by one regiment of infantry and a section of artillery, being thrown forward to Washington, on the Courtableau, a distance of six miles.

The command rested on the twenty-first. Yesterday morning, the twenty-second, I sent out Brigadier-General Dwight with his brigade of Grover's division and detachments of artillery and cavalry, to push forward through Washington toward Alexandria. He found the bridges over bayous Cocodue and Bocuff destroyed, and occupied the evening and night in replacing them by a single bridge at the junction of the two bayous. The people say that the enemy threw large quantities of ammunition and some small arms into Bayou Cocodue, and that the Texans declared that they were going to Texas. Here the steamer Wave was burnt by the enemy, and the principal portion of her cargo, which had been transferred to a flat, captured by us. A despatch was found by General Dwight, in which Gov. Moore tells General Taylor to retreat slowly to Alexandria, and if pressed to retire to Texas. General l)wight will push well forward to-day, and probably halt to-morrow, to continue his march or return, according to circumstances .

An expedition, consisting of the One Hundred and Sixty-second New-York, Lieutenant-Colonel Blanchard, one section of artillery, and Barrett's company B, First Louisiana cavalry, accompanied by Captain Durham, Assistant Adjutant-General, and First Lieutenant Harwood, Engineers, (both of my staff;) was sent out yesterday morning by way of Barre's Landing, to examine the Bayou Courtableau, in the direction of Bute-a-la-Rose. Last night Captain Dunham reported the road impassable, four miles beyond Barre's Landing, and that the expedition had captured the steamer Ellen, in a small bayou, leading out of the Courtableau. This capture is a timely assistance to us.

I informed you in my number “nine” that I had ordered the gunboats to take Bute-a-la-Rose. This was handsomely done without serious loss on the morning of the twenty-sixth instant, by Lieutenant-Commander Cooke, United States Navy, with his gunboat and four companies of infantry. We captured here the garrison of sixty men and its commander, two heavy guns in position and in good order, a large quantity of ammunition, and the key of the Atchafalaya.

. . . . . .

I hope not to be obliged to lose a moment in improving the decisive advantage gained in this section. We have destroyed the enemy's army and navy, and made their organization impossible by destroying or removing the material. We hold the key of the position.

Among the evidences of our victory are two thousand prisoners, two transports and twenty guns, (including one piece of the Valverde battery,) taken; and three gunboats and eight transports destroyed.

I have the honor to be, General very respectfully, your obedient servant,

N. P. Banks, Major-General Commanding. Major-General H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief, Washington City.

Lieutenant-Colonel Peck's report.

headquarters Twelfth regiment Conn. Vols., in the field near Opelousas, La., April 22, 1863.
Adjutant-General J. D. Williams:
sir: I have the honor to present the following report of the operations of the Twelfth regiment Connecticut volunteers during the recent expedition to this point.

We left Brashear City, La., on the ninth of April, eighteen hundred and sixty-three, and proceeded to Berwick, where we remained until the eleventh, when we marched to a point one mile above Pattersonville, company B being thrown forward as skirmishers. We bivouacked for the night, and on the twelfth marched forward on the left of the brigade in support of Carruth's Sixth Massachusetts battery on our right, our front being covered by company A, thrown forward as skirmishers.

During the day our skirmishers were constantly engaged with those of the enemy, but sustained no loss. During the afternoon we came under the fire of the enemy's artillery, when an engagement ensued which lasted till night. At dark we withdrew out of range of the enemy's guns and bivouacked in line of battle upon the left of the brigade line.

On the thirteenth, soon after daylight, the regiment was formed in support of the Twenty-first Indiana battery, which opened upon the enemy's fortifications and the gunboat Diana, which had taken position upon their left. After the silencing and withdrawal of the Diana, the regiment was advanced to the front of the enemy's works, and successively, during the day, supported Carruth's, Mack's, Duryea's, and Bainbridge's batteries. [553]

Companies E, F, and G were advanced as skirmishers, and approached within speaking distance of the enemy's intrenchments. They were actively engaged during the whole afternoon with very apparent effect. All our casualties occurred during this engagement. The battle was continued till some time after dark, when we bivouacked upon the field in line of battle. During the night the enemy's works were evacuated.

On the fourteenth we marched in pursuit through Franklin. On the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth, we marched through Jeanerets, New-Iberia, and St. Martinsville, without special incident. On the eighteenth we rested near Vermilionville. On the nineteenth, renewed our march for Opelousas, where we arrived on Monday morning, the twentieth. We are distant from New-Orleans one hundred and eighty miles, and from Alexandria, on the Red River, about seventy-five miles.

The patient endurance of the men of the regiment, of the fatigues and privations of the long march, in their eagerness to overtake and again engage the routed enemy, deserves the highest praise. Captains Grannis and Brennan, with their companies, as skirmishers on the eleventh and twelfth, did most creditable service. The coolness and pertinacity with which the companies of Captains Braley and Byxbee annoyed the gunners of the enemy during the entire afternoon of the thirteenth, under a fire of grape and canister and repeated volleys of musketry, reflect the highest credit upon the courage and skill of the officers and soldiers of those companies present.

I take pleasure in mentioning the efficient support of Major Lewis during the progress of the expedition. Our wounded were promptly cared for by Doctor Cummings, Acting Surgeon. Chaplain Bradford is deserving of great praise for the fearless activity with which he ministered to the suffering during the battle and the night following. I inclose a list of the killed and wounded.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

Frank H. Peck, Lieut.-Colonel Commanding Twelfth Connecticut Vols.
P. S.--Lieutenant Francis, who was wounded and captured on the Diana on the twenty-eighth of March, was recaptured at Franklin, where he now remains in hospital, receiving all possible attention.

F. H. P.

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