No. 5. Reports of Brigadier General Thomas Williams, U. S. Army, commanding Expeditionary Corps, of operations May 26-August 2, with instructions from Major-General Butler.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND BRIGADE,
Baton Rouge Arsenal, May 29, 1862
MAJOR: My last report* from just below Vicksburg, is supposed to have reached headquarters by the hands of Lieutenant McCoy, acting brigade commissary sent with steamer Benton for subsistence stores and clothing; ammunition also much needed for our small arms, should have been required at the same time. The latter is now nearly exhausted.
Arriving here this morning at 6.30 a.m., under escort of the war sloop Brooklyn and gunboat Kineo, I found the flag-officer off the town with the Hartford and Kennebec. Having called upon the flag-officer, he represented to me that the inhabitants, in momentary expectation of sack, burning, and pillage at the hands of the rebels, entreated our protection and that he himself had opened the batteries of his own vessel on a party of irregular cavalry who rode down to the water's edge yesterday and fired into one of his boats, wounding an officer and 2 men. With the view of saving the public buildings and affording protection to the lives and property of loyal citizens the flag-officer suggested the expediency of landing the troops, in which I the more readily concurred, the troops requiring rest, the means of cooking, and cleaning themselves. To enable me to effect this, my subsistence being exhausted the flag-officer has kindly supplied me with subsistence, chiefly bread and meat, for three days. Meanwhile I must rely on the return of the Benton, with Lieutenant McCoy, and such supplies of fresh meat as it may be in my power to procure from the surrounding country invested with guerrilla bands.
Union men, in great alarm, represent a large force at Camp Moore, some say 6,000 men, some less, who threaten to march on the town and burn it. My whole effective infantry force of 1,400, and 75 artillery and four pieces, may suffice to prevent such a disaster, but for perfect security I would suggest respectfully that the remaining three regiments of my brigade and Nims' battery be sent me, and perhaps it would be well to send the additional regiments designed to take part in the Mobile expedition, in order, first, that they may be put in shape for service and that troops and commander may have some knowledge of each other. Another reason may be stated that the position here is high and probably far more healthy than New Orleans and the ground for encamping and exercising troops such as cannot be found about New Orleans.
The steamer Star, with subsistence stores, Lieutenant McCoy in charge, has as I write arrived from New Orleans, and brings Major-General Butler's dispatch of May 27.
I regret to say I believe there is just ground against the Wisconsin and Michigan regiments for the charge of pillaging and marauding preferred against them by the inhabitants of Kenner Station. Orders have been issued, conversations held with the officers remonstrating and denouncing, and the fidelity of guards, and sentinels insisted on, thus far, I believe, in vain. These regiments, officers and men, with rare
*This is the first of the reports found.