of the enemy's cavalry, who retreated on the cross-road. I sent some cavalry in pursuit, hoping to drive them into Colonel Ingraham's hands, but, after losing 1 prisoner to us, the enemy dispersed through the bypaths in the woods. I also sent some cavalry and infantry on a road from this point to the left to destroy a bridge over the same bayou, which is crossed by the bridge which General Grover destroyed when the whole command retired on Sunday, March 15. At this point I learned that the rebel General Rust, with two of his staff, had been there during the day to order all cotton sent to Port Hudson; that he had about 400 cavalry and some infantry at the Springfield Landing cross road, near the church. This was corroborated at Mr. Merritt's house, near by. The cavalry of my advance at this moment retreated. They had made a dash at the church, wounded and captured one of the enemy, and been followed, as the enemy, recovering from his surprise, dashed at them in superior force. I immediately sent to Colonel Van Zandt to move his brigade up to the field on the other side of Barnes' house, moving forward myself to the position indicated in your orders.
Here I remained undisturbed, except by a few shots from the enemy's pickets, which extended from left to right around the whole skirt of wood in front of my position, i. e., from the burnt bridge, on the road to Springfield Landing, to beyond the church. I soon received information from Captain Hodge, commanding the train, that his wagons were loaded, and that he was moving to the rear. I was also informed by Captain Godfrey, of the cavalry, that he could not establish his pickets in the wood, and that the enemy was in strong force in the plains beyond.
At 8.15 p. m. I sent written instructions to Colonel Ingraham to retreat, and immediately began to dispose of my command in the road. The silent withdrawal of my pickets from the immediate presence of the enemy took some time, and it was 10 p. m. before I took up my march of this camp, which I reached at 1 this a.m. with my whole command without any loss whatever.
From the prisoners taken and from a country woman who traveled from the neighborhood of Jackson, Miss., during the late advance of the whole command I learn that the retreat of all the enemy's force which was outside of the works at Port Hudson was most precipitate, and a considerable portion of that force then dispersed, and is now being collected together again from distances varying from 20 to 40 miles. The same sources of information indicate that the soldiers of the enemy have a great respect for the strength of the fortifications at Port Hudson and will only fight there; that the rebels have not heretofore put any of their conscripts on picket outside the works, but that since this whole command moved back to this position they have done so.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WILLIAM DWIGHT, JR.,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Detachment.
Lieutenant Col. RICHARD B. IRWIN,