One company of the One hundred and thirty-third New York was at Plaguemine, and one company of the One hundred and seventy-third New York was near Lobdell's Store, on the right bank, to break up the enemy's signal communication.
N. P. BANKS,
HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE GULF, NINETEENTH ARMY CORPS,
New Orleans, La., March 27, 1863.
SIR: Since my dispatch of the 21st instant (which should have been No. 7.) the force consisting of Dudley's brigade and the One hundred and seventy-fourth New York, of Chapin's brigade, of Augur's division; two sections of Arnold's battery (G), Fifth Artillery; two companies (D and E) of the Second Rhode Island Cavalry, and Magee's company (B) of Massachusetts unattached cavalry, all under the command of Col. N. A. M. Dudley, thirtieth Massachusetts, has succeeded in opening communication with a point of the river near the mouth of False Rive, above Port Hudson. A party of cavalry sent froward from a detachment, consisting of the One hundred and seventy-fourth New York and Second Louisiana, under Col. Charles J. Paine, of the latter regiment, reached that point on the 19th.
Colonel Paine, who led this party in person, reports that he could discover no signs of the Hartford or Albatross, and could year nothing of them. Contrabands and deserters reported that the admiral had passed up the river.
On the 20th four steamers wee seen to arrive at Port Hudson, said to be from Red River. Five quite intelligent negroes, who came down form Natchez in skiffs, reported that two of our big ships had passed that point on their way up, said to be part of the fleet engaged at Port Hudson. It seemed almost certain therefore that the admiral had passed the mouth of Red river and gone to Vicksburg.
My object in sending this force across the river was therefore attained; but, upon the earnest solicitation of Commander Alden, Colonel Dudley was permitted to remain at Winter's plantation for several days longer, in hopes that the Hartford might return in the early part of this week, and with the purpose of affording to Admiral Farragut on opportunity of rejoining in person the main portion of his fleet, still below Port Hudson, and of transferring his flag to another vessel, as he would probably desire to do.
On the 25th, however, still hearing nothing of the admiral, and having put the divisions of grover and Emory under marching orders, I ordered Colonel Dudley to rejoin his division at Baton Rouge. It is reported to me to-day that these orders have been executed.
Should the admiral return to the vicinity of Port Hudson he will undoubtedly be seen or heard of by the fleet lying just below that place. I think we can easily establish and maintain communication with him.
Incidentally to the main object of his expedition, Colonel Dudley succeeded in securing considerable supplies of fresh beef, sugar, molasses, and cotton, and a number of horses and mules. The fresh beef especially was a welcome addition to the supplies of both the Army and Navy.
Copies of the reports of Colonels Dudley nd Parmele, dated, respectively, 19th and 17th instant, are inclosed.
I take leave to bring to you special notice the energy, professional
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