Detachments of the SECOND and THIRD Illinois, and the Sixth Missouri, also form part of my immediate command.
After several fruitless efforts to penetrate the State of Mississippi above Vicksburg and turn the rear of that city, it became a question of extreme interest and importance whether a point below on the Mississippi River might not be reached, from which the same result might be accomplished.
My corps, happily, was in favorable condition to test this question. It was inspired by an eager desire to prove its usefulness, and impatiently awaited an opportunity to do so. Sharing with it in this feeling, I was more than rejoiced in permission to essay an effort to cross the peninsula opposite Vicksburg from Milliken's Bend to New Carthage.
MILLIKEN'S BEND TO NEW CARTHAGE.
Accordingly, on March 29 , I ordered General Osterhaus to send forward a detachment of infantry, artillery, and cavalry, to surprise and capture Richmond, the capital of Madison Parish, Louisiana.
On the morning of the 30th [31st],* Colonel Bennett, with the Sixty NINTH Indiana, a section of artillery, and a detachment of the SECOND Illinois Cavalry, took up the line of march in execution of this order. By 2 p. m. he had marched 12 miles over a miry road, an reached the bank of Roundaway Bayou, opposite Richmond.
Artillery first and infantry next opened fire on the small force garrisoning the town, and immediately dislodged it. A portion of the cavalry, dismounting form their horses, sprang into the small boats brought along on wagons, and, paddling them across the bayou with the butts of their carbines hastened to occupy the town. Hot pursuit of the fugitive enemy was soon after made by another portion of the cavalry, who swam their horses over the bayou. Seven of the enemy were wounded, four of whom fell into our hands.
This spirited and successful attack was consummated under my own observation, and effecte wonted supplies transported through Richmond from the rich tracts traversed by the Tensas River and Bayou Macon to Vicksburg.
On the night of the 3rd, a bridge 200 feet long, made of logs taken from houses, had been thrown across Roundaway Bayou at Richmond by the pioneer corps, under Captain [William F.] Patterson. This was the work of twenty-four hours, and a way being thus opened, the remainder of General Osterhaus' DIVISION was rapidly moved forward, and so disposed as to cover and hold the only practicable land route between Milliken's Bend and Smith's plantation, 2 miles north of New Carthage.
Meantime many obstacles were overcome, old roads were repaired, new ones made, boats constructed for the transportation of men and supplies, 20 miles of levee sleeplessly guarded day and night, and every possible precaution used to prevent the rising flood from breaking through the levee and engulfing us. Other obstacles also opposed our advance. Harrison's rebel cavalry, supported by a detachment of infantry, were active and vigilant to prevent it; but, after having been repeatedly repulsed, on the 4th fled across Bayou Vidal, and returned to their camp at Perkins' plantation, on the Mississippi, 6 miles below Carthage.
On the same day, embarking in a skiff at Smith's plantation, and accompanied by General Osterhaus and a few members of our respective
*See Osterhaus' report, p. 489