two light-clads, but certainly the rams and iron-clad, should be pushed forward with the greatest possible speed, leaving the transports and balance of naval vessels to come forward as rapidly as they could. I went so far as to obtrude my opinions upon Acting Commodore Smith, urging that, for the main objects of the expedition, the troops were an incumbrance, and could only assist by occupying important points after they had been taken possession of. But notwithstanding General Ross insisted on this in more than one interview, it was not assented to. It was with the greatest difficulty that we could persuade him to put his coal-barges behind and allow the expedition to steam a little faster than the stream would float them.
I believe I have given you quite as full an account of matters here as I can in a letter.
Our offensive operations are suspended till more ammunition can be obtained, the gunboats wishing to hold some on hand for defense.
I don't know what course General Ross and Commodore Smith will now adopt, but it is the intention to wait on the defensive till we can determine something better.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. H. WILSON,
Commanding Army of the Tennessee.
HEADQUARTERS YAZOO EXPEDITION,
U. S. TRANSPORT VOLUNTEER,
Near Fort Greenwood, MISS., March 18, 1863-10 p. m.
DEAR RAWLINS: Military and naval operations here are about terminated for the present. His Excellency Acting Rear-Admiral Commodore Smith left to-day for a more salubrious climate, very sick, giving it as his opinion that the present force of iron-clads could not take the two rebel guns in our front. Captain Foster, the next in rank, has assumed command, and insists on withdrawing his force. General Ross assented at first, but has since determined to delay here till General Quinby arrives to assume the responsibility of attempting to reduce the rebel work or of withdrawing the land forces.
I am satisfied there is but one right way to take the fort, and that is for the gunboats to go right at it and hammer it till they take it. A deserter came in this morning, confirming in every particular the justice of my view. He says there were no heavy guns mounted here till the 10th or 12th this month; that a heavy force is collecting at Yazoo City, and that they are building a tremendous raft there, upon which they keep constantly employed 1,000 men. They are also building one gunboat a mile below the city, 300 feet long, but for want of material it will require twenty-four months to finish. With this exception they have neither gunboat nor ram anywhere on these waters.
General Loring is in command in our front; don't know his force, but heard some one say over 3,000 men. Captains [Isaac N.] Brown and [F. E.] Shepperd, of the rebel Navy, have charge of the two large guns over in the fort, and when we made our attack on Monday they had but a very limited supply of ammunition. The rifle 6. 4 was, in fact, silenced for want of projectiles. The Chillicothe drew out early, and Smith wouldn't let the De Kalb go down to press the matter. The deserter
25 R R-VOL XXIV PT I