railroad to within 3 miles of Ponchatoula, take position, and hold the pass until he heard the signal of attack from me at Wadesborough Landing, when he was to advance and from a junction with me at Ponchatoula. I then proceeded with the main body of the troops up the Tickfaw River and Ponchatoula Creek to Wadesborough Landing, 3 miles from Ponchatoula.
Owing to the great difficulty of navigation in the creek, from its extremely tortious course, we did not arrive at Wadesborough until about noon the 24th. I immediately debarked the troops, threw out skirmishers, and advanced toward Ponchatoula. About half a mile from the landing we found the enemy's skirmishers in strong force, and, believing from the number of skirmishers that the enemy were in strong force than we had supposed, immediately formed line of battle and advanced three companies ahead, skirmishing. We drove them steadily before us, the main body never coming within range of their fire, into and through Ponchatoula. I immediately sent four companies, under command of Captain Trask, Fourteenth Maine Volunteers, to the bridge across the Ponchatoula Creek, 2 miles above Ponchatoula, and dispatched a messenger to Colonel Smith to inform him that we occupied the town.
Colonel Smith's regiment arrived about 3 p. m. He had a sharp skirmish, losing 3 men wounded, but drove the enemy before him. The enemy made a slight stand at the bridge, and I sent up four companies, under Colonel Bacon, to make the work sure. They destroyed that bridge, and also open smaller one a mile this side.
Having accomplished the object of the expedition thus far, and believing the village of Ponchatoula could not be held against forces greater than my own, ordered the schooners and gunboats in Ponchatoula Creek to the North Pass, and fell back, on the afternoon of the 25th, to a point 3 miles south of Poncatoula, on the railroad, with the main body of my command, leaving six companies at Poncatoula, under command of Major Clarke, Sixth Regiment Michigan Volunteers, as picket and provost guard, with orders to fall back on the main body in save of attack. I here erected a small battery of railroad iron and mounted on e of the filed pieces, in charge of the detachment of the Ninth Connecticut Volunteers.
On the evening of the 26th the enemy appeared in strong force and attacked our pickets at Ponchatoula. the pickets immediately retired to the main body at the point spoken of. No firing took place after the skirmishers retreated. As far as we can learn they have a force consisting of 2,000 infantry, 300 cavalry, and two 12-pounder field pieces.
The point occupied by us could have been easily held against this force, but, owing to the difficultly of getting rations for the troop up from the Pass, I determined to fall back to the bend in the railroad, about 8 miles this side of Ponchatoula, and did so also night, where I now am. I am erecting a small battery at this point. I forgot to mention that on our arrival at Wadensborough Landing we found the schooner L. H. Davis inflames. We also found two schooners loaded with cotton. We have captured some 12 prisoners, who have been sent on to New Orleans.
Owing to the very bad weather the march over the trestle work from keener was not only difficult but dangerous, and many of our men were compelled to fall out by reason of hurts received by falling through the trestle work.
The skirmish on the 24th was conducted by Captains Griffin, Company A;