War of the Rebellion: Serial 021 Page 0339 Chapter XXVII. OPERATIONS IN WEST LOUISIANA.

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No. 16. Report of Col. Harbert E. Paine, Fourth Wisconsin Infantry, commanding Second Brigade, of engaged at Fort Bisland.


Opelousas, La., April 21, 1863.

LIEUTENANT: In obedience to the order of the brigadier-general commanding the division I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my brigade on the 12th, 13th, and 14th days of this month:

As our army approached the enemy's works near Centreville on the 12th instant my brigade, which was next to General Weitzel's, marched in line of battle, and so formed the second line when the enemy's fire opened on us in the afternoon. At the end of the demonstration, by which the position and character of the enemy's works and batteries were ascertained, three of my regiments (the Eighth New Hampshire, Colonel Fearing; One hundred and thirty-third New York, Colonel Currie, and One hundred and seventy-third New York, Major Gallway) went into position for the night, with the right of the line resting on the bayou road and the left extending to General Weitzel's right. They lay on their arms, without fires. The Fourth Wisconsin, Lieutenant-Colonel Bean, went forward to the hold the sugar-house, in front of my right. The sugar-house, with the negro-cabins and grove of shade trees near it, covered a position the occupation of which by one party or the other in the morning promised to be of great moment.

Lieutenant-Colonel Bean was also ordered to deploy a line of sharpshooters along the bayou to attack the gunboat Diana in the event of an attempt to bring her down. Soon after Lieutenant-Colonel Bean had reached his position he was re-enforced by three companies of infantry and 30 cavalry. He posted the infantry in line of the left of the road and opposite the sugar-house, deployed five companies 200 yards in advance, and posted 40 picked men on the bank of the bayou.

During the night the cavalry pickets of the enemy approached very near to his first line and repeatedly fired on his men, wounding a few, but killing none. A dense fog enveloped us during the eight and remained until 8 o'clock the next morning.

At 1 o'clock on the morning of the 13th a communication from Lieutenant-Colonel Bean informed me that the enemy were actively at work near his position. Apprehending that they might be engaged in preparation for an attack at daybreak, I forwarded the note to General Emory.

In the morning the cavalry of the enemy attempted to force back our skirmishers, but were gallantly repulsed by Captain Moore, commanding Company E, Fourth Wisconsin. Captain Moore and his company distinguished themselves by the firmness and courage with which they maintained their hazardous position. Afterward 200 of the enemy's infantry attacked our advance post in the grove. After half an hour's contest they were repulsed.

Too much praise cannot be awarded for the bravery with which Captain Carter, Company B, Fourth Wisconsin, with only 40 of his men, sustained this attack of a greatly superior force, and for the courage, coolness, and sagacity with which he discharged his difficult duties during the night. Much of the time he was hardly 20 yards distant from the enemy, but they never succeeded in forcing his lines or discovering our position. He remained until noon in this grove, which was