War of the Rebellion: Serial 021 Page 0375 Chapter XXVII. OPERATIONS IN WEST LOUISIANA.

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ments is as follows: There are 400 of the enemy's cavalry at the bridge just beyond Holmesville. There is a strong picket just this side of that place at the cross-road. There are about 40 mounted men on the Big Cane road, which is the road on my right as I look toward Holmesville. At the Cocodrie Bridge, toward Chicotvile, there are 200 more mounted men. These latter went to that bridge this morning or yesterday afternoon from the bridge above Holmesville, when their place was supplied at the Homesville Bridge by 300 mounted men from Alexandria. There are perhaps from 40 to 60 cavalrymen ranging the roads to my left as I look toward Holmesville, to observe my movements. The little affair of Captain Williamson's cavalry yesterday morning at daybreak is said so to have frightened the enemy's sentinels that they find difficulty in keeping the men on post. The enemy is said to be moving back to Holmesville from Alexandria to feel us in greater force. this he is said will disband unless they can fight us. They hope by a contest to call back to their ranks many who have deserted and many who insist on going to Texas.

The enemy are building breastworks, about 15 miles this side of Alexandria, of cotton bales covered with dirt. I believe these are all the reports that I have of the enemy's intentions. They are such as to render my stay here without an object, or rather without an important object, useless.

I hear further that the enemy have just got 15,000 men at Alexandria, and that they have moved 3,000 of those we drove up toward Alexandria back to this end of the railroad from Alexandria, toward Cheneyville. The numbers in both these cases are probably exaggerated.

I intended to have sent out to-night a regiment of infantry and some cavalry to have driven the enemy from the bridge beyond Holmesville and to have tested the correctness of these rumors. I should have made this movement at an hour and under difficulties arising from the mud, &c., which would have insured success and perhaps surprise, and still further puzzled the enemy as to my intentions, but your dispatch and the entire circumstances of the case cause me to retire.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully,


Brigadier-General, Commanding Advance Brigade.

Lieutenant-Colonel IRWIN,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

HDQRS. FIRST BRIGADE, GROVER'S DIVISION, Washington, La., May 2, 1863-6 a. m.

SIR: In compliance with instructions received from the brigadier general commanding this army, I moved yesterday afternoon against the enemy with al the cavalry belonging to this army, the Fourth Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers, and two pieces of artillery. I found the enemy as soon as I had crossed the bridge at Washington, and such was the first resistance that I met with from his that I ordered Captain Barrett's company of Louisiana cavalry to move to the front through an old path and road so as to come out in rear of the rebel troops. The conduct of this movement was confided to Major Robinson, chief of cavalry, and he was furnished with a negro guide, who was acquainted with the woods and paths. Major Robinson was directed to avoid the