used, it was not until the evening of March 1 that the light-draught gunboats and transports entered the Coldwater. By this time a number of our transports were more of less crippled, and it seemed to me quite evident that it was of the utmost importance that a part of the expedition should advance more rapidly than the coal-barges and the partially disabled transports could be moved.
We were entering the enemy's country through a route with which he was familiar, and he was advised daily by a line of couriers connecting with his telegraph lines of our progress. The point at which we were aiming-the confluence of the Yalabusha and Tallahatchee Rivers-if gained, opened to us the Yazoo Valley, the richest in the southwest, containing immense supplies of all descriptions.
The enemy was, by means of the Yazoo River, in easy communication with this point, and could speedily concentrate any desired force to oppose our progress. Reports began to reach us of the enemy's determination to make a stand at Greenwood, but if even a single gunboat could reach the point before the rebels had erected fortifications, and mounted heavy guns, they could very easily be prevented from effecting a lodgment.
The wide strips of overflowed country on each side between the river and the hills rendered the movement of boats comparatively safe, as there were very few points above Greenwood that could be reached by infantry and artillery, and if the enemy came in force he must come by the river.
The iron-clads, not being subject to the impediments that constantly retarded the light-draughts and transports, moved down the stream with great facility, and, if allowed to proceed without waiting for the rest of the fleet, could have reached Greenwood probably in two days after leaving the Pass. Besides the delay necessarily attending this movement, the were many that I deemed quite unnecessary. Instead of moving in the morning at early dawn, as could and should have been done, it was frequently delayed until 7 or 7. 30 o'clock. On several occasions the gunboat immediately in my advance stopped and lay to an hour for dinner; and when in motion it seemed that they moved very slowly, as I had no difficulty in keeping up with my transports. In consulting with Lieutenant Commander Watson Smith, I urged the necessity of greater rapidity of movement; advised leaving the coal-barges in the rear, with sufficient guard to protect them, and, with the iron-clads and such light transports and light gunboats as could keep up with them, to push forward with the utmost expedition, and gain the mouth of the Tallahatchee, and hold it until the rest of the fleet could join them. I was ably SECONDED by Lieutenant Colonel Wilson. Lieutenant-Commanders Foster and Walker, commanding the iron-clads, also concurred in these views, and were very desirous to be permitted to push forward .
They entered the Coldwater on the morning of February 27, and, had they moved directly on, would have reached the point now known as Fort Pemberton before a single gun was mounted, thus giving us easy control of the Yalabusha and the Yazoo as far as Yazoo City; but the plan was rejected, and it was not until the 11th of March that we reached the mouth of the Tallahatchee.
By this time the rebels had concentrated there about 6,000 men, and had formidable works completed. Possibly, we still might have succeeded, had not the Chillicothe, through fault of construction, proved unable to sustain the fire of the enemy's heavy guns. Infantry being precluded, by the situation of the fort and extent of the overflow, from