and activity as any living could employ. It had to be prosecuted under the fire of the enemy's sharpshooters, protected as well as the men might be by our skirmishers on the bank, who were ordered to keep up so vigorous a fire that the enemy should not dare to lift their heads above their rifle-pits; but the enemy, and especially their armed negroes, did dare to rise and fire, and did serious execution upon our men.
I received a message from General Sherman, verbally, that General Morgan was crossing and to push my force across if possible. I ordered Colonel Smith (Fifty-fourth Ohio) to commence the crossing of his brigade at every hazard. He placed his own regiment (First-fourth Ohio) in the advance, and had them in the roadway descending
the hill, when Brigadier General A. J. Smith appeared on the ground to assume command of the division by Major-General Sherman's orders.
I gave General Smith every information in my possession as to the relative positions of both forces and the if defenses, and advised him that I considered the crossing as utterly impracticable at that point in face of the enemy's defenses; that while we might (but not without considerable and perhaps serious loss) gain the opposite shore we could not possibly ascend the bank. After General Smith assumed the command he ordered the work to be resumed in the roadway to clear off the obstructions still farther. Under fire of the battery and the skirmishers I set a party of 30 men, which officers (from the Fifty-fourth Ohio), at work. It was by this time well down near the foot of the steep, in view of the enemy's sharpshooters, and first man who struck an ax into a tree was shot dead. At almost the same moment a shell from one of our batteries exploded prematurely, killing 3 men in the roadway and wounding some other. Two other shells from the same guns prematurely exploded in the same manner. The men swore terribly but did not seem dismayed, not did they leave their ground till they were retired by General Smith's order. He desired to make a personal reconnaissance of the ground in our front, and our operations for the day were suspended. It was near sunset.
The Fourth Brigade had alone, of al the troops in the division, been engaged as skirmishers, as pickets, and working parties from the time we had debarked, and were fatigued.
The next morning (Monday) General Smith ordered the First Brigade forward to relieve it. Since that time I have kept the brigade actively employed night and day on our defenses, furnishing one regiment (the One hundred and twenty-seventh Illinois) as a working party on the roads to our rear. The First Brigade, after Monday, was withdraw for a contemplated expedition, and did not return till we were withdrawn from the field.
The unhappy fate of the lieutenant-colonel commanding the Fifty-eight Ohio (who fell subsequently in the assault on our left) makes it mu duty, as it would otherwise have been my pleasure,to testify to his high qualities as a soldier and his dauntless personal courage, which were conspicuous in the advance on the bayou on Saturday. The regiment behaved splendidly.
Colonel T. Kilby Smith, of the Fifth-fourth Ohio (who succeeded to the command of the Fourth Brigade after I assumed that of the division), performed every duty with activity, intelligence, and directness most marked. He was swiftly in every part of the field executing my orders, and was tireless in his zeal, enterprise, and devotion. I was sincerely grateful to him.
Unsuccessful thought our attempt was, it proved our men to be all we