the Sciota, Itasca, and Katahdin, having gone up to that place on Saturday morning early. I gave the commanding officer the order from Commodore Morris, and was accompanied to near Donaldsonville by all of them, the Sciota going to anchor a few miles above, for the protection of the steamboat Iberville, loading with sugar on the west bank of the river. The Katahdin and Itasca anchored opposite Donaldsonville. It being dark when we arrived I deemed it prudent to wait until morning before landing. Early Monday morning I landed my command, and, finding the rebel pickets in the village, I followed them closely nearly 4 miles down the bayou to where they were encamped in sugar-houses. On or approach they scattered among the came and ran to the woods. Finding I could effect nothing, I returned to the town with a few blankets, left in the precipitancy of the flight of the rebels. I learned their provisions were on the opposite side of the bayou, where they have a small fortifications and five or six guns, and use the sugar warehouses of Aro & Cox as barracks. On yesterday (Wednesday) I determined to see what the strength of their works and forces, having had so many conflicting statements in regard to their numbers, varying from 1,000 to 2,500. I was met by them with one 6-pounder gun within 1 1/2 miles of the river, but I only allowed them one shot by pushing on so rapidly as to compel a hasty retreat to save their gun. They opened on us once more, when I brought two of my guns into battery soon drove them to their fortifications, pushing them rapidly. When within 700 yards of their fortifications they opened a well-directed fire on us with five guns-one 12-pounder, one 8-pounder, three 6-pounders, and perhaps one 5-pounder. I immediately ordered my guns into battery and returned their fire briskly, but finding my guns overmatched I determined to charge their fortifications; but while my officers were making the necessary arrangements for carrying the order out I discovered their cavalry, under command of Major McVaters, about half a mile distant, passing rapidly along a road but through the woods, back of the fields, parallel to the one leading to the river, and down which I had marched. I immediately countermanded the order to charge and retraced my steps, when in less than 1 1/2 miles from the river the rebel cavalry commenced making its appearance, having emerged from the woods, but too late to ambuscade us. They pushed on and got between me and the river, but only to lose several of their number and be driven back at double the speed they came up. I then returned to the river bank, with my command completely exhausted by the long march and constant skirmishing, frequently going at double-quick. I was compelled to halt three or four times on my return to enable the men to rest.
We took one prisoner in arms and the town assessor and brought a few of the citizens as refugees. I found it out of my power to effect anything. Force and transportation insufficient to follow on down the bayou to Napoleonville, Thibodeaux, Terre Bonne, &c., and as I learned that the Spanish refugees preferred remaining and fighting the rebels a la mode Seminole, I resolved to return to this camp.
My loss was one (Lieutentant Harding) missing and one artillerist slightly wounded. Rebel loss could have been less than 30 or 40. Some of the citizens reported it much greater. I captured a few horses only, there being but few left by the rebels.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
JAS. W. McMILLAN,
Colonel Twenty-first Indiana Volunteers.
Major GEORGE C. STRONG, A. A. G., Dept. of the Gulf.