division, issued on the 18th instant, I made arrangements on that day for an expedition to Rosedale on the next, but before midnight of the 18th a citizen arrived from Port Hudson via False River (old bed) and Rosedale, who satisfied me that the enemy evacuated Rosedale on the morning of the 17th instant and marched up to Grosse Tete, but whether to Port Hudson via False River or to the Atchafalaya he was uncertain, because the two routes are identical as far as the confluence of the Grosse Tete and Fordoche. I then decided to clear the Grosse Tete of all obstructions to steamboat navigation, and requested Colonel Gooding and Lieutenant Watson to send with me the 291, the Bee, and two of the launches, so that I might take up, besides my infantry, 20 artillerists mounted as cavalry, and during the night, from Rosedale as a base, send a small party to gallop to False River and back; another to the Atchafalaya; also a party on hand cars to examine the railway toward Baton Rouge, and still another to seize locomotives and cars on the railroad near the Marigouin, and take them, with a part of the troops, to the river if practicable.
My communication to Colonel Gooding and Lieutenant Watson (who were at Plaquemine), requesting the use of the boats, was met by your telegraph ordering away the brigade. Having nothing but small boats, I could only hope to accomplish a part of my purpose. I immediately set out with 80 men, and before sunset cleared the obstructions from the Grosse Tete, so as to make it navigable for gunboats or steamboats. We then marched 6 miles from Little Portage to within, say, 3 miles of Rosedale, and halted there. I went to Rosedale with a small party (6) on borrowed horses.
The enemy had left on the morning of the 17th instant by the road which lies along the west bank of the Grosse Tete, and branches off at the junction of the Grosse Tete and Fordoche into two roads, of which one extends along the Upper Grosse Tete to the river above Port Hudson, and the other along the Fordoche to the Opelousas road, which connects the west bend of the Fordoche with the Atchafalaya. The distance from Rosedale to False River is about 25 miles, and from Rosedale to the Atchafalaya about the same. Both are good roads. The roads near Rosedale I found excellent and the country is very fine and high and dry. The Grosse Tete is, I believe, navigable by the smaller steamers and gunboats 10 miles above Rosedale and by the smallest (steamer Louisiana Belle) to a bridge within 6 miles of False River. It may be that steamers of a larger class can make that point at the present stage of water.
The rolling stock of the railway can be secured, but I was informed (how correctly I cannot confidently state) that the railway is submerged for a considerable distance about 4 miles east of Rosedale.
It would have been very gratifying to me to be able to send the scouts to False River and the Atchafalaya. We marched back to our boats and embarked, arriving at Indian Village before morning.
Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
HALBERT E. PAINE,
HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION,
Carrollton, La., February 21, 1863.
Respectfully referred to Major-General Banks. Colonel Gooding, in withdrawing the gunboat and launches, mistook my order, which was