Next came the Fourteenth Maine, posted in rear of the Bayou Sara road and to the left of the Greenwell Springs road. Next came the Twenty-first Indiana, posted in the woods in rear of Magnolia Cemetery, with four pieces of Everett's battery, under the command of Lieutenant Carruth, on their left, on the Greenwell Springs road. The Indiana battery, of two pieces, came up to the support of these pieces after the battle commenced. Next came the Sixth Michigan, posted across the country road on the right of Magnolia Cemetery and across the Clay Cut road, their left supporting two pieces of Everett's battery, posted on the road on the right of the Magnolia Cemetery. The Seventh Vermont was posted in the rear of the Twenty-first Indiana and Sixth Michigan on the right of the Catholic Cemetery. The Thirtieth Massachusetts came next, forming the right, and posted about one-half a mile in the rear of the State-House, supporting Nims' battery.
This disposition of the forces was made with the supposition that the enemy would attack our left flank under the cover of the ram Arkansas. The right flank depended upon gunboat support. The only fault of disposition, perhaps rendered unavoidable by the formations of the ground, was that the camps of the Fourteenth Maine and Twenty-first Indiana were pitched in front of their position in line of battle, and consequently came into the possession of the enemy for a short time. The enemy formed line of battle on the open grounds bordering on the Greenwell Springs road and attempted to draw our forces out. Failing in this, they advanced rapidly on the ground between the Clinton and Clay Cut roads. The whole brunt of attack consequently fell upon the Fourteenth Maine, Twenty-first Indiana, and Sixth Michigan. As soon as it became apparent that this was the real point of attack General Williams ordered up the Ninth Connecticut, Fourth Wisconsin, and one section of Manning's battery to support the left and Thirtieth Massachusetts and two sections of Nims' battery to support the right. You will therefore see that the disposition (with the slight exception hinted at) and the maneuvering were faultless.
The conduct of our troops was excellent. The Twenty-first Indiana particularly distinguished itself. I saw a number of the dead of the enemy to-day in front of the grounds they occupied; but, not content with the check they gave the enemy, this regiment pursued him quite a distance, strewing the ground with his dead.
The brave General Williams fell in front of the Sixth Michigan toward the end of the conflict, while giving his men a noble example of reckless and daring bravery. He was killed by a rifle-ball in the chest.
The enemy's forces consisted of two Louisiana regiments, the Fourth and Thirtieth; two Mississippi; the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Kentucky; two Tennessee; one Alabama regiment, thirteen guns, and a large guerrilla force. Their attacking force numbered fully 6,000 men. Our actual force engaged was not over 2,000.
Three companies of the Sixth Michigan covered themselves with glory in recovering from a large force two guns posted on the right of the Magnolia Cemetery, which temporarily were left by our forces. These same three companies captured the colors of the Fourth Louisiana, but only after they had shot down four successive color-bearers. The exact loss on our side is not yet reported, but certain it is that it is much less than that of the enemy.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant U. S. Engrs. and Chief Engr. Dept. of the Gulf.
Major General BENJAMIN F. BUTLER, Comdg. Dept. of the Gulf.