duly seen by the cavalry picket to pass down and a courier promptly started for my headquarters with the information; before he arrived, however, the Fair Play had left and was at her destination.
In reviewing the facts of the case in connection with the occurrence I am not able to perceive that any precautions were omitted on my part, if the single fact of permitting the quartermaster to control the hour of departure be excepted. The boat could have been delayed and run only by daylight had there ben the slightest intimation of danger. I am under the impression, however, that could precautions have been taken on the other side corresponding with those taken on this the boat would not have been lost. This, however, is given simply as an impression, and I may very well be in error, but there is no doubt of the most culpable carelessness existing on board the boat while lying at the Bend. Unfortunately, the captain and crew being unattached to the service, no punishment can be meted out to them.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
M. L. SMITH,
Honorable GEORGE W. RANDOLPH, Secretary of War.
Numbers 6. Report of Captain M. McDonald, C. S. Army, of capture of the steamer Fair Play.
Vicksburg, Miss., September 12, 1862.
SIR: The fact of the loss of the steamer Fair Play, with Government arms and ammunition on board, has doubtless been reported to you.
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Upon the requisition of Colonel Kennard the brigade quartermaster was ordered by Brigadier General M. L. Smith to place the Fair Play at his disposal to carry the quartermaster's and ordnance stores then here to Milliken's Bend. The Fair Play was loaded; proceeded to Milliken's Bend; the stores, comprising 2,000 Enfield rifles, about 200,000 rounds of ammunition for small-arms; accouterments and equipments; a section of a mountain artillery battery, with ammunition, artillery harness, &c.; also quartermaster's stores. These were safely disembarked, transported to Monroe, and are now, I presume, in the hands of troops.
Upon the evening of August 17 the Fair Play again left Vicksburg, with a cargo of arms and ammunition. Reached Milliken's Bend about 2.30 a. m. of the 18th and was tied up to the shore. Major Govan and Colonel Kennard both went upon the boat about an hour after the boat landed, all being asleep or on shore except the watchman. The enemy's boats appeared; alarm was given; the boat was hastily abandoned, and, its cargo intact, taken possession of by the enemy.
These are the circumstances as they have been communicated to me. What measures, if any, were taken to prevent a surprise I do not know. The point selected for the landing of the stores was an eligible one, and I think that if proper vigilance had been exercised by the troops then in the neighborhood of Milliken's Bend no surprise could have been apprehended.
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Captain and Ordnance Officer Third Brigade.