War of the Rebellion: Serial 021 Page 0728 W. FLA., S. ALA., S. MISS., LA., TEX., N. MEX. Chapter

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XXVII.

surplus train will move back to-day. My advance is 60 miles above Alexandria. We shall fight the enemy if we can find him, but cannot pursue him farther unless we have a chance to overtake or meet him. I want the fruits of this campaign-wagons, mules, cattle, horses, and negroes-saved. Let them all be crossed to Brashear and kept there as well as possible. The army will cover everything. It will move in two or three days slowly, giving you time.

For your convenience I subjoin the directions given above:

1st. Remove the sick, the negroes, and cotton from Barre's Landing. The troops will join us on the march. Place at hand one transport there for disabled men.

2nd. Bring up flat-boats and transports to New Iberia for disabled men, who will leave our column at that point. Remove all stores, &c.

3rd. Cross cattle, mules, horses, and negroes to Brashear City, to be kept there.

4th. Have transports there sufficient to cross our troops and transportation.

5th. Expedite as much as possible the opening of Bayou Plaque mine or Bayou Sorrel. The work should be pressed night and day.

6th. Save the guns on board the Diana at Franklin.

The admiral, after having periled his fleet and the army to get above Port Hudson, now has ordered Captain Palmer to run the batteries back again. I shall protest against it and hope it will not be done at present.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

N. P. BANKS,

Major-General, Commanding.

HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES,

Camp on Merritt's Plantation, May 12, 1863-5 p. m.

Captain HALSTED,

Assistant Adjutant-General:

I have the honor to report, for the information of the major-general commanding, that I left camp at Baton Rouge with the forces assigned me, in orders of yesterday's date, twenty minutes before 5 o'clock a. m. this morning, and proceeded along the Clinton road unmolested until my advance cavalry picket, under command of Captain Godfrey, reached a point near Cypress Bayou, near the saw-will, when an advance mounted picket of the enemy, some 30 strong, developed themselves in front by a volley, discharged at a distance of some 400 yards at Captain Godfrey's cavalry, which was returned and kept up at distances varying from 300 to 500 yards for nearly 4 miles. From information gained from residents on the road and comparatively intelligent blacks, together by the indications of horses having been picketed during the night, I think the cavalry force west of White's Bayou could not have been less than about 200. I pursued them some distance beyond the bridge which crosses White's Bayou with the small cavalry force at my disposal and one piece of Arnold's battery. Not wishing to develop my strength to the enemy until Colonel Grierson had passed, I deemed it prudent to return and proceed to the point I originally intended to occupy to-night. On recrossing White's Bayou Bridge I left Colonel Messer, with the whole of the Fiftieth Massachusetts Volunteers, one section of Arnold's battery, and 20 cavalry, strongly posted, with instructions to hold the same; if assailed by too strong a party to destroy the bridge, which would only inconvenience cavalry and retard artillery for a short