moving no faster than supplies and ammunition could be transported to them.
The roads, though level, were intolerably bad, and the movement was thely slow. Arriving at Smith's plantation, 2 miles from New Carthage, it was found that the levee of Bayou Vidal was broken in several places, thus leaving New Carthage an island.
All the boats that could be were collected from the different bayous in the vicinity and others were built, but the transportation of an army in this way was found exceedingly tedious. Another route had to be found. This was done by making a further march around Vidal to Perkins' plantation, a distance of 12 miles more, making the whole distance to be marched from Milliken's Bend to reach water communication on the opposite side of the point 35 miles. Over this distance, with bad roads to contend against, supplies of ordnance stores and provisions had to be hauled by wagons with which to commence the campaign on the opposite of New Carthage, preparations were made for running transports by the Vicksburg batteries with Admiral Porter's gunboat fleet.
On the night of April 16, Admiral Porter's fleet and the transports Silver Wave, Forest Queen, and Henry Clay ran the Vicksburg batteries. The boilers of the transports were protected as well as possible with hay and cotton. More or less commissary stores were put on each. All three of these boats were struck more or less frequently while passing the enemy's batteries, and the Henry Clay, by the explosion of a shell or by some other means, was set on fire and entirely consumed. The other two boats were somewhat injured, but not seriously disabled. No one on board of either was hurt.
As these boats succeeded in getting by so well, I ordered six more to be prepared in like manner for running the batteries. These latter, viz, Tigress, Anglo-Saxon, Cheeseman, Empire City, Horizon, and Moderator, left Milliken's Bend on the night of April 22, and five of them got by, but in a somewhat damaged condition. The Tigress received a shot in her hull below the water line, and sunk on the Louisiana shore soon after passing the last of the batteries. The crews of these steamers, with the expedition of that of the Forest Queen, Captain C. D. Conway, and the Silver Wave, Captain McMillan, were composed of volunteers from the army. Upon the call for volunteers for this dangerous enterprise, officers and men presented themselves by hundreds, anxious to undertake the trip. The names of those whose services were accepted will be given in a separate report.
It is a striking feature, so far as my observation goes, of the present volunteer army of the United States, that there is nothing which men are called upon to do, mechanical or professional, that accomplished adepts cannot be found for the duty required in almost every regiment.
The transports injured in running the blockade were repaired by order of Admiral Porter, who was supplied with the material for such repairs as they required, and who was and is ever ready to afford all the assistance in his power for the furtherance of the success of our arms. In a very short time five of the transports were in running order, and the remainder were in a condition to be used as barges in the moving of troops. Twelve barges loaded with forage and rations were sent in tow of the last six boats that run the blockade. One-half of them got through in a condition to be used.
Owing to the limited number of transports below Vicksburg, it was found necessary to extend our line of land travel to Hard Times, La.,