The steamer Blackstone, Captain Berry, bound North, came to and lay by us until we had transferred all the troops on board that vessel and the Gemsbok. At dark in the evening of the day we stranded I had sent off from the wreck all but about 200 of them, when the two lighters we had employed from the shore hauled off and we remained on board until morning, when the work was renewed, and by 12 o'clock of the 11th instant we were on board of the vessel before named, with so much of the stores as we were able to remove, and got under way for Key West, the Blackstone returning with the Gemsbok for that purpose. The wreck had by this time settled to the depth of her guards and lay upon the bottom.
The stranding of this vessel was so palpably the result of the most criminal negligence, if not design, that I immediately arrested the sailing-master, Captain A. W. Richardson, who was in charge at the time and sent him on board the Blackstone, and have handed him over to the authorities here for examination. Fortunately no man was lost, nor have I learned that the slightest accident occurred in consequence of the wreck to any member of the regiment. We arrived and landed at Key West on the morning of the 12th instant and are without the means of transportation. Colonel Morgan, commanding this post, and Lieutenant Gibbs, post quartermaster have rendered us every assistance in securing quarters rations &c., for the regiment. I find many of our equipments are lost and some clothing. Much of this will be supplied here to-day, but Colonel Morgan doubts if he will spare guns enough. We have 127 men without guns or bayonets. Our tent poles and pins are all lost, having been thrown overboard when the steamer first struck. I trust we may be supplied at the place of our destination. We have the A tent.
I am, general, your obedient servant,
Colonel Comdg. One hundred and fifty-sixth New York Vols.
HEADQUARTERS BANKS' EXPEDITION, No. 29.
New Orleans, December 15, 1862.
All the troops of the expedition now here, except those affected with disease, which, in the medical director's opinion, requires their immediate disembarkation, and isolation, will at once proceed up the river, under the command of Brigadier-General Grover, and land at Baton Rouge. Major D. C. Houston, chief engineer, and First Lieutenant R. M. Hill, chief of ordnance, will accompany them, and will report to General Grover for temporary duty.
Every exertion will be used to get under way this evening.
Major-General Augur is specially charged with the execution of so much of this order as relates to starting the expedition. The landing will be covered and protected by the gunboats, and General Grover will communicate and co-operate with the commander of the naval forces in his operations.
By command of Major-General Banks:
RICH'D S. IRWIN,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Assistant Adjutant-General.
339 R R-VOL XV