staffs, I made a reconnaissance, terminating only half a mile from New Carthage and the river, and in full view of both. We discovered the country to be deluged from Smith's plantation, where Bayous Vidal and Roundaway unite, and whence they communicate by a common channel with the Mississippi near Carthage; also that the levee extending from Bayou Vidal to Carthage and the Mississippi was broken and crossed by rapid currents at three different places. Upon our approach to the last crevasse, half a mile from Carthage, we were fired on by the enemy and our skiff stopped, but not until we had ascertained that steamers could pass from the Mississippi to Smith's plantation, and that by such means our forces could be transferred from Smith's to the Mississippi shore.
Having thus determined this important point, on the 5th a flat-boat was wrested from the enemy on Bayou Vidal, 8 miles below Smith's, and brought to the latter place.
On the 6th, after the boat had been hastily prepared to receive them, a small party, with two mountain howitzers, were embarked, and moved forward to dislodge the enemy from Carthage. Upon the approach of the boat within range of her armament, the enemy hastily evacuated Carthage, and took refuge 1 1/2 miles below, among a number of buildings on James' plantation. Rapidly disembarking, the party pursued and again dislodges him, killing a rebel lieutenant and taken possession of the buildings.
On the 7th, General Osterhaus pressed his advantages by sending forward artillery and shelling the woods across Bayou Vidal in the neighborhood of Dunbar's plantation, and dislodging the enemy's sharpshooters.
In turn, on the 8th the enemy took the offensive, and sought to dislodge the detachment at James'. For this purpose he opened two 12-pounder howitzers upon it, but after an hour had been spent in fruitless endeavors, again fell back to Perkins'.
On the 9th, Lieutenant Stickel, with a company of the SECOND Illinois Cavalry, while scouring the country westward toward the Tensas, fell in with a recruiting party of the enemy, and succeeded in capturing 3 officers and 1 private.
Having been considerably strengthened by re-enforcements, supposed to have been sent from Grant Gulf, on the east bank of the Mississippi, the enemy on the 15th sought to reinstate his line between Perkins' and Dumbar's plantations, the latter place being 8 miles from Perkins' and the same distance from Smith's. For this purpose he divided his force, directing one portion across Mill Bayou against our rear, in the neighborhood of Dunbar's, and the remainder against the detachment at James'.
Our pickets near Dunbar's, upon the approach of the enemy, fell back upon their reserve, who being rapidly re-enforced, promptly attacked and forced the enemy to recross Mill Bayou, taking 2 prisoners, and losing 1 killed and 1 wounded of the SECOND Illinois Cavalry. Thus failing at this point, that portion of the enemy operating in front of James' also retreated.
Up to this time I had been restrained from throwing az considerable portion of my forces upon the river, for want of az other means than a few skiffs and other small boats, and because, in the absence of gunboats to protect them, while limited by the flood to the occupancy of the Mississippi levee, they would have been exposed to destruction by the gunboats of the enemy, then supposed to be cruising near New Carthage.