During the night of the 29th I visited Admiral Porter on his flatboat and advised him of he condition of affairs, and on the following day, after a personal examination of the various positions, I was force to the conclusion that we could not break the enemy's center without being too crippler became necessary. I proposed to Admiral Porter if he would cover a landing at some high point close up to the Drumgould I would hold the present ground and send 10,000 choice troops and assault the batteries there-that is, attack the enemy's right-which, if successful, would give us the substantial possession of the Yazoo River and place us in connection with General Grant.
Admiral Porter promptly and heartily agreed; and on a full conference, after close questioning some negroes as to the nature of the ground about the mount of the Skillet Goliah, we came to the conclusion that no road on firm ground could be found south of that bayou. It was therefore agreed that the 10,000 should be embarked immediately after dark during the night of December 31, and under cover of all the gunboats proceed before day slowly and silently up to the batteries above and engage them, the gunboats to silence the batteries, the troops then to disembark, storm the batteries, and hold them. While this was going on I was to attack the enemy here hole him in check, preventing re-enforcements going up to the bluff, and in case of success to move all my forces to that point. Steele's division and the First Brigade of my Second Division were designated and embarked; the gunboats were all on position and up to midnight everything appeared favorable.
I left the admiral about 12 o'clock at night and the assault was to take place about 4 a. m. I went to my camp and had all the officers at their posts ready to act on the first sound of cannonading in the direction of Drumgould's Bluff; but about daylight I received a note from General Steele stating the admiral had found the fog so dense on the river that the boats could not move, and that the expedition must be deferred to another night; but before the night of January 1, 1863, I received a note from Admiral Porter that "inasmuch as their moon does not set tonight until 5.25 the landing must be a daylight affair, which, in my (his) opinion, is too hazardous to try."
Of course I was sadly disappointed, as it was the only remaining chance of our securing a lodgment on the ridge between the Yazoo and Black Rivers from which to operate against Vicksburg and the railroad east, as also to secure the navigation of eh Yazoo River; but I am forces to admit the admiral's judgment was well founded, and that even in case success the assault on the batteries of Drugould's Bluff would have been attended with a fearful sacrifice of life.
One-third of my command had already embarked for the expedition; the rest were bivouacked in low, swampy, timbered ground, which a single night's rain would have made a quagmire, if not a lake. Marks of overflow stained the trees 10 and 12 feet above their roots, and as further attempts against the center were deemed by all the brigade and division commanders as impracticable, I saw no good reason for remaining in so unenviable a place any longer. All the necessary orders were made and all the men and materials were re-embarked on the ordinal transports by sunrise of January 2.
During all this time the enemy displayed in our front, whenever we presenter ourselves, large masses of infantry and cavalry; artillery crowned the summits of the hills, appeared in the batteries on the faces, and field-guns present themselves everywhere along the county
39 R R-VOL XVII