War of the Rebellion: Serial 036 Page 0439 Chapter XXXVI. THE STEELE'S BAYOU EXPEDITION, ETC.

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The Sixth Missouri and One hundred and SIXTEENTH Illinois Regiments embarked at the mouth of Muddy Bayou on the evening of Thursday, March 18 [19], and proceeded up Steele's Bayou to the mouth of Black; thence up Black Bayou to Hill's plantation and junction with Deer Creek, where we arrived on Friday at 4 p. m., where we joined the Eight Missouri, Lieutenant Colonel Coleman commanding which had arrived at that point two days before. General Sherman had also established his headquarters here, having preceded the Eight Missouri in a tug, with no other escort than two or three of his personal staff, reconnoitering all the different bayous and branches, thereby greatly facilitating the movements of the troops, but at the same time exposing himself beyond precedent in a commanding general

At 3 o'clock on Saturday morning, the 20th [21st] instant, General Sherman having received a communication from Admiral Porter, at the mouth of Rolling Fork, asking for a speedy co-operation of the land forces with his fleet, I was ordered by General Sherman to be ready with all the available force at that point to accompany him to his relief; but before starting it was arranged that I should proceed, with the force at hand (800 men), while he remained, again entirely unprotected,, to hurry up the troops expected to arrive that night, consisting of the Thirteenth Infantry and One hundred and thirteenth Illinois Volunteers, completing my brigade, and the SECOND Brigade, Colonel T. Kilby Smith commanding.

This, as the sequel showed, proved a very wise measure, and resulted in the safety of the whole fleet. At daybreak we were in motion with a negro guide. We had proceeded but about 6 miles when we found the enemy had been very busy felling trees to obstruct the creek. All the negroes along the route had been notified to be ready at nightfall to continue the work. To prevent this as much as possible, I ordered all able-bodied negroes to be taken along, and warned some of the principal inhabitants that they would be held responsible for any more obstructions being placed across the creek.

We reached the admiral about 4 p. m. with no opposition save my advance guard (Company A, Sixth Missouri) being fired into from the opposite side of the creek, killing 1 man and slightly wounding another. Having no way of crossing, we had to content ourselves by driving them beyond musket-range, and, proceeding with as little loss of time as possible, I found the fleet obstructed in front by fallen trees and in rear by a sunken coal-barge, and surrounded by a large force of rebels with an abundant supply of artillery, but wisely keeping their main force out of range of the admiral's guns. Every tree and stump covered a sharp-shooter, ready to pick off any luckless marine who showed his head above decks, and entirely preventing working parties from removing obstructions.

In pursuance of orders from General Sherman, I reported to Admiral Porter for orders, who turned over to me all the land forces in his fleet, about 150 men, together with two howitzers, and was instructed by him to retain a sufficient force to clear out the sharpshooters, and distribute the remainder along the creek for 6 or 7 miles, to prevent any more obstructions being placed in it during the night. This was speedily arranged, our skirmishers capturing 3 prisoners.

Immediate steps were now taken to remove the coal-barge, which was accomplished about daylight on Sunday morning, when the fleet moved back toward Black Bayou. By 3 p. m. we had only marched about 6 miles, owing to the large number of trees to be removed. At this point, where our progress was very slow, we discovered a long line of the en-