On my way up, I met a messenger from Admiral Porter,* reporting continued obstructions in his way, and that in the end he would want 10,000 men to hold the country, that he might remove the obstructions. I wrote him at once of the delays in getting forward men to this point, and that it was a physical impossibility for us to reach his boats with anything like that force, but I would hurry up the troops of Stuart's# DIVISION to this point,# which is really the first high, or, rather, dry ground. But it does not fulfill any of General Grant's conditions, for we cannot reach the Yazoo from this point by land or water. I sent you Admiral Porter's letter by General Stuart.
About 3 a. m. to-day I received another letter from Admiral Porter, telling me that he was still in Deer Creek, and that his passage was obstructed by the enemy, and asked me to hurry up to co-operate. But as the great bulk of my corps is still behind, it would be improper for me to pass beyond all reach of them, and I have accordingly sent up Colonel Giles A. Smith, with all of his brigade now up, with orders to march up the east bank of Deer Creek to the gunboats. He got off about daylight, and has 21 miles to march. The admiral is, doubtless, concerned for the safety of his gunboats, and with propriety.
Deer Creek is a narrow, sluggish stream, full of willow bushes and overhanging trees, through which nothing but keel boats have usually plied. His iron-clads move like snails, but with great power, forcing all saplings and bushes and drift aside, but the channel is useless to us in a military way. It cannot be used at this present stage of water. Its banks are usually from 1 to 3 feet above water, and the road keeps upon the river bank a natural levee. There are a series of well-improved plantations the whole distance, and provisions are abundant; that is, cattle, sheep, hogs, and poultry. The wagon road will be useless at this season, as the wheels would cut to the hubs in the damp, low places, on which troops can march very well. If we want to operate along this narrow strip of land, of course the creek must be used to carry all articles of ammunition or subsistence other than what the men have on their backs.
My own impression is that the enemy have so obstructed Rolling Fork Bayou that it will be absolutely impassable to the admiral's fleet, and it will be a difficult and dangerous task to withdraw it safely back to Steele's Bayou and deep, navigable water. He must go through to Rolling Fork to turn his boats, but I understand the fleet is now within a mile of Rolling Fork. I will bring forward Stuart's DIVISION as fast as possible, and get it here, and it may be prudent to send Steele's DIVISION to the same point, that we may have a force sufficient for any possible contingency.
I have heard some considerable cannonading above this morning, which was doubtless from the gunboats, but it ceased after about an hour. I suppose the admiral was shelling the channel to protect his working parties. The enemy has a quicker route to reach Rolling Fork than we. Their boats can go from Yazoo City or Haynes' Bluff directly up the Sunflower, which is a large, good stream, and Rolling Fork is only 7 miles long, and I understand the levee along it is continuous and above water. To reach this point, which is 21 miles from the fleet, we have to disembark at Muddy Bayou, march across to Steele's ferry up 28 miles to the mouth of Black Bayou, and again transfer to a coal-barge, and tow up about 2 miles before we find the first land. Thence to this point is 2 1/2 up to the fleet. We were not and are
* See Addenda, p. 436
# See inclosure to Featherston's report of March 21, p. 457.
28 R R-VOL XXIV, PT. 1