says there is no possibility of a doubt that we should have captured the battery had our gunboats continued in action. Night before last they received a small supply of rifle shot, and on Sunday night they received and mounted the 8-inch gun which threw solid shot at us on Monday.
We have thrown away a magnificent chance to injure the enemy, and all because of the culpable and inexcusable slowness of the naval commander in the first place, and his timidity and cautiousness in the SECOND.
The matter rests just this way now: If Admiral Porter can send three good iron-clads, well supplied with ammunition, say, 400 rounds for each gun, and a good man to fight them, they can yet capture the place. If he can't do so, it is childish folly to keep the present force here, thereby causing the enemy to strengthen his position and allowing him an opportunity to bag our entire force. Twenty thousand men would be safe here, and, supplied with a lib- eral allowance of siege material, might so damage the enemy as to require him to evacuate; but if the land force are required to stop at every point of importance, and reduce it by a siege, how long do you think it will require them to reach Yazoo City?
It's provoking beyond measure to think that everything we undertake must be marred by incompetency and stupidity! I am intensely disgusted to-night.
In case of our withdrawal entirely or partially, I shall avail myself of the first opportunity to return to Vicksburg or to headquarters to see you and the general.
It seems to me the principal advantages of this line have already been lost, and what remain derive their importance from the fact that the gunboats, by being vigorously handled, ought to open us a rapid and safe line of communication, at least to Yazoo City. If the gunboats can't do this work, the venture fails, at least so far as concerns its advantages. An army in time can go through unassisted, but I would not like to be answerable for all the time consumed, nor for the success of the army afterward.
I have just finished dismantling our land battery and removing the guns to the landing. This was thought best, since we were nearly out of ammunition for them, and to save the labor of guarding the battery. I can't begin to give you an idea of my disgust.
Write me soon, and in the mean time believe me, dear Rawlins, very truly, your friend,
J. H. WILSON.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Milliken's Bend., La., April 9, 1863.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report, for the information of the Engineer Department:
On the 29th of January, while at the mouth of the Yazoo River, I received verbal instructions from Major-General Grant to proceed at once to Helena, Ark., and organize an expedition for opening and examining the Yazoo Pass. Brigadier-General Gorman, commanding District of Eastern Arkansas, was directed to furnish all necessary details, boats and implements. I was instructed to cut he levee across the mouth of the Pass, and descend at least as far as the Coldwater, if practicable; return as soon as possible, and report upon the practicability of the route as a line of military operations.
At 2 p. m. on the 2nd of February, with 400 men, furnished with