Soon after the steamboat Vicksburg came in sight, rounding the point, intending to land at Natchez, but on discovering her danger, of which I apprised here by firing a musket, she promptly put about to escape capture, which she succeeded in doing, though after two ineffectual shots fired at her from the foremost gunboat, the balls from which I saw distinctly strike the water, notwithstanding we were all aware, as no doubt the enemy was, that her cabin was occupied by women and children.
I had stationed Adjutant Lyle at the landing with 9 armed men, all that could be procured or raised for the defense of the city of Natchez, with orders to receive the communication from the enemy if it came in the usual form, viz, under a flag of truce. As the boat of the enemy exhibited no such flag, a letter which the officer of the boat had and endeavored to send to the authorities was decidedly refused by Adjutant Lyle. The officer of the boat, in a very unusual manner, hailed for some person to carry his letter. A man from among the crowd of our people rushed forth to receive the letter, when he was promptly arrested and is now in jail at Fayette awaiting his trial. The officer then, finding his inability in that manner to communicate with any of the authorities, after venting sundry expressions, returned to the Iroquois. Soon after, perceiving that the enemy had seized the steam ferry-boat, with a view of landing a body of men, I ordered Adjutant Lyle, if the force of the enemy was overpowering, to commence his retreat by the time they had partly crossed the river, so as to make his movement leisurely, quietly, and orderly, which order he executed in a commendable manner. The force of the enemy, represented as 130 strong, well armed and with artillery, being too powerful for any resistance I could make-for after repeated exertions by every means I could only procure 5 others who were willing to defend the city, making 14 in all, coupled with the fact of the conscripts positively refusing to do duty-I notified the city authorities of my inability, and turned the control of the city over to them.
Meanwhile the enemy had rapidly approached the shore, without any flag of truce, with the view, I presume, of landing and taking forcible possession of the city, which I stood carefully watching and observing, when, to my surprise, after a few moments' delay, they pushed off and rejoined their squadron without landing any force.
Some time afterward, in calling on the mayor, I learned that they had delivered a letter-the same no doubt that I had refused in the morning-to a person who claimed to act under the civil authority in receiving the letter in that manner. Next morning at 8 o'clock, before the civil authorities had replied to that letter, which it appears was a formal demand for the surrender of the city, I visited in person the city council, and in writing protested against the reception of any communication from the enemy, except in accordance with the customary rules and regulations of war, a copy of which I inclose. This was, however, unheeded and communication opened with the enemy, after the unusual and degrading insult had been officered to them; the object of the enemy being to ignore any right on our part to be considered belligerent, but only illegal and unauthorized combatants, and as such not entitled to the usages of civilized warfare.
On Tuesday morning I left the city, after it had been surrendered to the enemy, and have not been inside of it since; conceiving it undignified on the part of a Confederate officer to visit a place in the possession of the enemy although not occupied in force. I still watch their movements very assiduously and carefully, and after they had been joined by several transports and landed a thousand troops on the Lou-
47 R R-VOL XV