boats experience much trouble from short bends and overhanging trees. Thence 20 miles up Steele's Bayou; good navigation for small boats. Thence 4 miles through Black Bayou; navigation has been much improved by our pioneers, but is still impracticable to any save iron boats; wooden boats would be all torn to pieces. Thence 30 miles up Deer Creek; water deep but channel narrow, crooked, and filled with young willows; which bind the boats and make navigation difficult, and the banks along the whole length are lined with heavy trees and overhanging branches that tear down chimneys and carry away pilot-houses, stanchions, and all wood-work.
I did not see the Rolling Fork, but without hesitation I pronounce Black Bayou and Deer Creek useless to us as a military channel.
All the country along Steele's Bayou and Black Bayou is under water, but along Deer Creek are many fine plantations, well stocked with mules, cattle, sheep, hogs, corn, and cotton.
Our expedition being chiefly for reconnaissance and partially to protect the gunboats, we went no farther than these objects required.
I inclose the report of Colonel Giles A. Smith and Lieutenant-Colonel Rice, and being myself along, bear testimony to the alacrity of the troops, their eagerness to pursue the enemy, and the cheerfulness with which they marched in rain and mud.
I feel assured Admiral Porter will admit we rendered him and his fleet good service, as without our presence it would have cost him many valuable lives to have extricated his boats while the banks of Deer Creek were lined by the enemy's sharpshooters, against whom his heavy ordnance could not well be brought to bear.
We lost but 2 men-one of the Sixth Missouri and one of the Eighty THIRD Indiana-whose names are given in the appropriate places.
In order that the general may fully understand the disposition made of the troops sent on this expedition, I inclose the reports of Brigadier-General Stuart, commanding the DIVISION, and his brigadiers, Colonels Giles A. Smith, T. Kilby Smith, and Hugh Ewing; also of Lieutenant-Colonel Rice, who commanded the SECOND Brigade in its march up Deer Creek and back.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General, Commanding Fifteenth Army Corps.
Colonel John A. RAWLINS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Department of the Tennessee.
DEER CREEK, March 19, 1863.
We are within 1 1/2 miles of Rolling Fork, having undergone an immensity of labor. Had the way been as good as represented to me, I should have been in Yazoo City by this time; but we have been delayed by obstruction which I did not mind much, and the little willows, which grow so thick that we stuck fast hundreds of times.
I beg that you will shove up troops to us at once. I am holding the mouth of Rolling Fork against [Wirt] Adams' troops, which have attacked our 200 men. We have only two pieces of artillery; they have six, and 200 men. We should take possession here at once with the army. There is everything here the heart of a soldier could desire; everything in abundance. Please send; it takes all my men to defend the position I have taken. I think the distance is only 14 miles by land