back to him to explain the state of facts and the conclusion to which I had arrived.
Having also learned that the enemy had abandoned his first line of rifle-pits on the river bank about a mile above our landing, I had previously ordered General Stuart to march his division directly by that route, following the bank of the river. General McClernand soon overtook us and, confirming my conclusion, ordered me to countermarch Steele's division and hasten to lead Stuart's. Sending orders immediately to General Steele, who was some distance in advance, to make a feint on that road with his cavalry and one regiment of infantry and with the balance of his division retrace his steps, I rode back and overtook Stuart's column, which had reached within half a mile of the Post. I hastily made an examination of the grounds and directed Captain Pitzman, of the Topographical Engineers, to make a reconnaissance to the right, while I gave orders to dispose of the troops coming from the rear. Night closed in before these preparations were complete and the troops, already in position, bivouacked without fires through that bitter cold night.
The moon rose about 1 a.m., when I rode forward and examined the position of the enemy as well as possible and gave General Stuart some general instructions about throwing up an epaulement to a battery of field guns. General Steele's division was at the time passing to his position on the right, so that when day broke Steele was on the extreme right and Stuart next to him; Morgan's corps was on the left, resting on the river. We could hear the enemy all night busy at work chopping and felling trees, and became convinced he was resolved on a determined resistance. His position was: His right in a strong earth fort, with four bastion fronts, inclosing a space of about 100 yards square, and a line of hastily-constructed rifle-pits or parapet extending across a neck of level ground to a bayou west and north of this fort; the length of this line was about three-quarters of a mile. In the fort were mounted three heavy iron guns, two in embrasure and one en barbette, with four small rifled 3-inch guns and four smooth-bore 6-pounders distributed at the salients and flanks. Along the rifle-pits were also six other field pieces-12 pounder howitzers and 3-inch rifled guns.
Late in the evening of the 10th Admiral Porter's fleet made a furious attack upon the fort, continuing the cannonading till after it was dark; but although I had pushed one brigade of Stuart's division, commanded by Colonel Giles A. Smith, close up to the enemy's line, our forces were not then in position to make an assault.
Early the next morning, however, I moved all my corps into an easy position for assault, looking south across ground encumbered by fallen trees and covered with low bushes. The enemy could be seen moving back and forth along his lines, occasionally noticing our presence by some ill-directed shots, which did us little harm and accustomed our men to the sound of rifled cannon.
By 10 a.m. I reported to General McClernand in person that I was all ready for the assault, and only waited the simultaneous movement of the gunboats. They were to silence the fort and save us from the enfilading fire of its artillery along the only possible line of attack. About 12.30 I received notice from General McClernand that the gunboats were in motion.
The four 20-pounder rifled guns, under command of Lieutenants Hart and Putnam, were then in position to my left in the thick woods and brush and their men had been cutting the trees away to open a field of fire, but as Burbridge's brigade of Morgan's corps occupied ground