War of the Rebellion: Serial 036 Page 0435 Chapter XXXVI. THE STEELE'S BAYOU EXPEDITION, ETC.

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the dense canebrake, by lighted candles, up to the plantation that night, and on the next morning (March 22), without means of transportation or other facilities, save what we carried on our persons, we marched over the same road which had been traveled by Colonel Smith.

These troops were the battalion of the Thirteenth Regulars and the One hundred and thirteenth Illinois Infantry, being the remainder of Colonel Giles A. Smith's brigade, and the Eighty-THIRD Indiana, One hundred and SIXTEENTH Illinois, FIFTY-fourth and FIFTY-seventh Ohio, commanded by the senior officer present, Lieutenant-Colonel Rice, of the FIFTY-seventh Ohio.

Having reason to believe, from the sound of artillery in the direction of the fleet, the enemy to be in force near the gunboats, we hastened forward, and shortly after noon came to a detachment of the Eight Missouri, stationed at Indian Mound, to prevent the enemy from felling trees in Deer Creek to the rear of the fleet, and about 3 p. m. our advance guard, under the command of Captain [Edward C.] Washington, came in contact with the enemy.

Our arrival was very opportune, and the two leading battalions pushed the enemy along the swamp in rear of the plantation fields that bordered Deer Creek for about 2 miles, and until they were to the north and rear of the gunboat fleet. In person I pushed along the bayou road till I met Colonel Smith coming down to interpose between this same party and his outlying detachment.

As soon as possible I communicated with the admiral, and learned that he had found the route far more difficult than he had been led to believe, and, owing to natural and artificial obstacles to his advance, he had abandoned the attempt to reach the Yazoo, and the time of my meeting him was in the act of backing down Deer Creek. I accordingly made the necessary dispositions to cover his boats while engaged in this slow and tedious process.

The progress was slow, consuming all of the 22nd, 23rd, and part of the 24th of March, when the fleet again reached Black Bayou, at Hill's plantation. Not a shot was fired at the gunboats after we drove the enemy back on first encountering him. The enemy hung upon the rear of our column, but would not come within reach.

We remained at Hill's plantation all of the 25th, during which day the enemy appeared at Fore's plantation, about 3 miles above Hill's, displaying three regiments of infantry and some cavalry.

I endeavored to draw them within range, but they came no nearer. Admiral Porter left the fleet at that point on the morning of the 25th, and I proposed to remain for some days, but on the morning of the 26th. I Grant's note of March 22, and a note addressed to the admiral by his flag-captain, [K. Randolph] Breese, which the admiral had sent up to me, urging the immediate return to the mouth of the Yazoo of the fleet for certain reasons therein set forth: and having sent scouts well to the front, I concluded that the enemy had no design to come nearer than Watson's, 5 miles above. I determined to return. Accordingly, at noon that day pickets were drawn in, all the men and working parties were embarked on the gunboats and transports and we returned to our original camps, reaching them in the night of March 27.

I now inclose a map made by Lieutenant Pitzman, topographical engineer, showing the route as traveled. * Hence to the mouth of Cypress Bayou (12 miles) the navigation is good. Thence up Cypress 5 miles, also good. Thence 7 miles to Muddy Bayou; channel deep but crooked;

*Not found.