HEADQUARTERS, Hammond, March 28, 1863.
This morning send flag with substance of your dispatch. Answered as follows:
HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES,
Front of Ponchatoula, La., March 28, 1863.
Lieutenant Col. H. H. MILLER,
Commanding at Ponchatoula:
Your communication of 27th received. The colonel commanding the brigade directs me to say that it will be referred to the commanding general of the department and his answer to the same transmitted to you.
W. H. DICKEY,
Lieutenant and Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
Enemy still entrenching 3 miles below Ponchatoula on railroad. My cavalry occupy Ponchatoula. My line of defense is Ponchatoula River, 2 miles north of town. Position strong and have fortified it well. Hear nothing from General Gardner. If permitted will attack when arrives. Enemy's loss on Tuesday's fight, given by reliable citizens, 18 killed, double that wounded. Can't ascertain number on Thursday; I had several wounded on Thursday; only 1 seriously, none killed. Enemy in bad condition; huddled on railroad in swamps and dying rapidly with disease.
H. H. MILLER,
Lieutenant General J. C. PEMBERTON.
PONCHATOULA, April 1, 1863.
GENERAL: On night 30th was joined by Colonel Simonton with 380 infantry, battery four guns, 80 cavalry. Same night my pickets drove enemy from first line of defenses, 3 miles below town. Next morning whole command moved forward; found formidable work on south side Prairie Marsh, abandoned work, capable containing 300 to 500 men, mounting one piece artillery, iron-clad with railroad iron; followed 3 miles; met flag truce, under Colonel Smith, One hundred and sixty-fifth Zouaves; he returned Masonic jewels stolen; same officer communicated with about cotton; no answer yet from headquarters. Moved down railroad sight Manchac; found enemy in force behind breastwork; gunboats in Pass protecting them; impassable marsh eighth side road; trestle work most way. Upon consultation with Colonel Simonton myself agreed impolitic attack.
Sent scouts forward; learn nothing because roads straight; scouts compelled creep sides embankment, but discovered on trestle work; remained until after night; withdrew to camp. After night sent party down Tangipoahoa river to Pontchartrain reconnoiter enemy in that direction; not returned. Enemy destroyed road from Ponchatoula as far as went. Enemy reported on Amite 2,000. Ordered Garland's battalion, which reported to me, back to Amite to guard river; have sufficient force protect against front; enough spare attack; force not more 2,000 that crosses Amite. Commence to-morrow fortify railroad at Prairie Marsh, and river at Wadesborough, Tangipahoa, and Natalbany thoroughly blockaded; impossible blockade Ponchatoula River.
H. H. RIVER,
19 R R-VOL XV