War of the Rebellion: Serial 021 Page 0281 Chapter XXVII. EXPEDITION FROM NEW ORLEANS.

Search Civil War Official Records

pencil note from Colonel Clark and from officers just from his command, I can furnish him the outlines.

Having directed Colonel Clark, on the 21st, to make a reconnaissance of the country north of Manchac Pass, with the view of ascertaining the force of the enemy on the Jackson Railroad, driving them out of Ponchatoula if possible, and breaking up the railroad bridges across the Ponchatoula River above that village, the troops at this disposal were placed imposition at Manchac Pass, in order too that the operation could be performed on the 23rd instant.

On that day the Sixth Michigan Regiment was put on board a little steamer (Savory) and three small schooners, sent up from New Orleans for the purpose, and, escorted by the little gunboat Barataria (two guns), ascended the Ponchatoula to Wadensborough Landing, a point 3 miles from a village of that name. In the mean while five small companies of the One hundred and sixty-fifth New York Volunteers, under Lieutenant Col. Abel Smith, crossed the Passes in small boats, sent up from New Orleans for that purpose, and landed on the railroad track. This force was supported by a field rifled gun, manned by men of the Ninth Connecticut Volunteers, which was intended to hold the passage-way leading up from the Pass in any event.

In consequence of the several storm on that day and the difficult and serious character of the rive the transports were unable to get up to the landing until the morning of the next day. In the mean whole Lieutenant-Colonel Smith had cleared the defile leading to Ponchatoula of the enemy, and securely held its head until the arrival of the Sixth Michigan at the village.

After some smart skirmishing on all sides, conducted, as I understand, in admirable order, the enemy, which was found to consist of three companies of cavalry, was entirely routed and driven off. Not a person appears to have been killed on our side, though Colonel Clark report 6 wounded. What loss the enemy sustained I have not learned, except 1 officer and 4 proves taken prisoners. Ponchatoula lies upon the railroad, and about 10 miles by rail and 17 or 20 by the river from the North Pass. Two or three schooners loaded with cotton and stores were captured, and two schooners loaded with cotton and laying at Wadensborough Landing were found burned by the enemy to prevent them falling into the hands of Colonel Clark. Colonel Clark then advanced a portion of his troops and destroyed two railroad bridges, one across the bayou about 1 mile beyond the village and about 40 feet in length, and the other across the Ponchatoula River about 2 miles above the village and about 200 yards in length.

From all I have thus far learned this affair was conducted handsomely and with good judgment and reflects much credit on Colonel Clark. Much credit is due also to Captain [Le Grand W.] Perce, my division quartermaster, for the energy he displayed in collecting and controlling the transportation. He was present too with Colonel Clark during the whole expedition, and I am informed displayed both vigor and judgment. As soon as Colonel Clark renders his report it will be duly forwarded.

Not knowing what force would be found at Ponchatoula, and determined to have the pest-hole cleared out at all events, I order Colonel Nickerson, commanding at Bonnet Carre, to make a demonstration on the Lower Amite River at the same time with three companies of cavalry and one regiment of infantry, thus threatening the rod leading to Springfield and Ponchatoula from the Mississippi River. From Colonel Nickerson I have heard only by telegraph. He was on the