War of the Rebellion: Serial 021 Page 0302 W. FLA.,S. ALA.,S. MISS.,LA.,TEX.,N. MEX. Chapter XXVII.

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that my ignorance of the inland navigation referred to prevents me from being able to express an opinion as to when they will succeed, if at all, in accomplishing their work. If it can be done it will be a clever thing, but I have seen so little accomplished as yet by our forces that I have now determined to wait until something is accomplished before I form an opinion.

The failure of my vessels to get by Port Hudson was a sad blow to me, and yet it was what might have been naturally looked for in a battle-a chance shot disabled the Richmond, and the pilots did the rest by running the ships ashore. We escaped with only 1 man killed and 2 slightly wounded, and the vessel was not injured at all, although she was frequently struck.

I have fought the batteries at Grand Gluf and at Warrenton five times since, and have lost 3 more of my men, but altogether we have escaped very well. Had two more of my vessels passed I would not have to apply to Admiral Porter for additional vessels to blockade Red River. As it is, I have only one ram (the Switzerland), and my force being so very small, we are compelled to keep together, but I hope it will not be long before we hear of the upper fleet. the rashness of General Ellet in running his two rams down in open day deprived me of the use of one of them; still even one is better than none.

I am enabled to fill up my coal and provisions which were floated down to me.

In order to blockade Red River I returned there as soon as I could get my supplies and repair damages to the Switzerland.

The rams did not lose a man in passing the Vicksburg batteries, but the Lancaster was sunk and the Switzerland received two shots in her boilers. The former was an old, worthless boat of the frailest construction. My greatest difficulty is to keep the Switzerland in fuel. This ship and the Albatross have over a month's supply.

I was much gratified to learn that you were in possession of the point opposite Port Hudson, and I hope we will be able to keep open the communication. I shall not make my visits often, however, as I wish to prevent boats going either up or down the Mississippi from Red River. I suppose that they will get used to fighting after a while.

My feeling have been most severely exercised in consequence of the disaster at Port Hudson. Not knowing what had caused it, and having such implicit confidence in the several commanders, I felt and feared the worst of consequences to them, and was greatly relieved when I learned through rebel papers that none of them had been killed but poor Cummings, who was a great loss, both to the country and to his family. I hope that the injury to McKinstry is not so great as they make it appear, and that he will recover without the loss of his leg. The failure to get through I know was almost death to them all. Poor Smith! I was afraid to hear from him. I saw all from a distance, yet was unable to help them, and blamed no one, because, as I have informed the Department, I knew they did all in their power to get through.

Very respectfully and truly, yours,*


Rear-Admiral, Commanding.


*For Banks' reply to this letter, under date of April 23, see "Correspondence, etc." post.