HEADQUARTERS CAMP WEITZEL,
Donaldsonville, January 15, 1863.
Col. RICHARD B. IRWIN,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Dept. of the Gulf, New Orleans:
SIR: Everything is quiet in this section; no appearance of the enemy moving down from the Grosse Tete.
The lieutenant in command of Perkins' cavalry at Plaquemine has just sent me a dispatch stating that there was a force of about 3,000 on the Grosse Tete, with eight pieces of artillery, but that he could discover no symptoms of their moving. I keep my mounted pickets well up the river and across from 4 miles above this place on the river to Grand Bayou, and it will not be possible for the enemy to get by without my knowing it. If he attempts to go by I can attack him 4 miles above this place on the river or about the same distance down the bayou, or follow him up. You will understand that the enemy can take what is called the cut-off, and go from the river road to the Bayou La Fourche without coming within 4 miles of this place.
The One hundred and sixty-second New York Regiment and the Twenty-first Indiana Battery are on the north bank of the bayou, and I shall move over there with the First Louisiana Volunteers to-morrow, when we shall be in convenient position to attack the enemy or to occupy the fortifications if necessary. The fort is so nearly finished that I think it could be held, with the assistance of the gunboats, against 5,000 men. I would recommend that four 20-pounder Parrotts be forwarded to this place immediately to mount in the fort. The artillery company which is here could use them to good advantage in case that we should be compelled to occupy the fort. The lieutenant commanding the Indiana battery says there are two 20-pounder Parrotts at Carrollton which were exchanged for smaller guns by a Massachusetts battery, and that they are doing no good there. He would like them for his battery; says he has sufficient teams to draw them easily.
Should the general think best to mount the guns in the fortification it cannot be done too quickly. At least 250 rounds of ammunition would be required for each gun.
I wrote to the Chief of Engineers stating that the fortification was ready for the armament, and requesting that the should make arrangements for it. The guns that I ask for now are only a temporary matter, and would not interefe with his arrangements. From your dispatch I infer that you think the telegraph station is near this place; it is about 40 miles distant.
My regiment is in good condition and the Indiana battery can be relied upon in every place, and I shall give the enemy if there are 5,000 of them, and I can give Weitzel's rear guard timely warning so that it can get out of the way; but I don't think the enemy will attack this point or attempt to pass down the La Fourche.
R. E. HOLCOMB,
HEADQUARTERS RESERVE BRIGADE,
Camp Stevens, La., January 18, 1863.
LieutenantCol. RICHARD B. IRWIN,
Adjutant-General, Dept. of the Gulf, New Orleans, La.:
COLONEL: I was much surprised to-day to hear from Lieutenant Harris, United States Marine Corps, that the admiral had again thought