our troops occupying a position on the Teche above the confluence with the Atchafalaya, where earthworks were being constructed and heavy guns (24 and 32 pounders) mounted. These works are nearly completed and four guns now in position. About 2 miles below these entrenchments obstructions have been placed in Bayou Teche. The steamer Cotton, formerly a Mississippi River passenger boat, on which three guns have been placed, engaged and succeeded in driving out of the Teche four of the enemy's gunboats which had gotten into Berwisck Bay. These boats of the enemy were formerly river and sea steamers, which have been somewhat strengthened, but are by no means formidable. Their light draught, however, enables, but are by no means formidable. Their light draught, however, enables the to navigate the bayous and streams in the interior of the State. I am satisfied if the Mobile and St. Mary, the two boats which were removed from Berwick Bay on the fall of New Orleans and carried to the Yazoo, had been here, they, with the Cotton, even in her unfinished state, would have sunk the enemy's boats.
I am about to construct a work on the Atchafalaya River with a view to the protection of that stream. The importance of keeping the Atchafalay open cannot be overestimated, from the fact that it affords the only water transportation for the salt from the mines on Avery's Island to the Red and Mississippi Rivers. By a short land portage from the Teche this salt can be transported to boats navigating the Atchafalay. The presence of the Mobile and St. Mary would conduce greatly to the protection of that important stream.
I am of the opinion that the proper concentration of the troops under command of Brigadier-General Mouton at some point on the La Fourche would have enabled him to defeat the enemy in their land attack by way of the Bayou La Fourche, but the division of his force in guarding remote points and fear of being cut off by the enemy's gunboats and forces at Berwick Bay rendered his force inadequate to contend wither the enemy on the bayou and induced him to hasten his evacuation of of La Fourche country. Subsequent events showed that ample time would have been afforded General Mouton to have concentrated his forces as above mentioned and cross the bay before the enemy's boats could have reached it. With the enemy, however, at Berwick Bay it would have even impossible for our troops to have occupied the La Fourche section, as communication with this portion of the country and our supplies would have been cut off.
Nearly all the troops of General Mouton's command are men who have been raised in this neighborhood and whose families reside here; hence at all times, and especially under circumstances like this which have just taken place, much straggling occurs, and the strength of the command is thus materially lessened. One good regiment of infantry not subject to such influences would be of incalculable service to me, and if you can spare me such a regiment I should feel much strengthened.
If the enemy sends any very considerable force against the salt mines my force would be inadequate to its defense. Against such as is now probably at his disposal I feel that there is no danger of their being cut off, but their importance to us is doubtless well known to the enemy, and my induce an attack with a large force.
I have just heard that Sibley's brigade, which was ordered to report to me, has had its destination changed, and is now ordered to Richmond, Va. I had confidently expected at least the accession of that brigade to my command.
I regret exceedingly that the steamer Newsboy, laden with salt for