attacking the boats. About 2 p. m. we met their re-enforcements coming up, when a sharp skirmish ensued. Sherman arrived yesterday evening. Porter has conducted the fleet all the time. They formed a line of battle late yesterday and advanced on us through a field, but fell back before they came in range of our small-arms. We drove them yesterday about 2 miles. We have not advanced to-day. It is raining hard. I learn, upon reliable information from citizens, that they have on this line nearly all of their army that was in front of Vicksburg-from 20,000 to 40,000 men. This was their route for taking the Yazoo River, Mississippi, and Vicksburg. It is no small expedition of theirs. If they do not abandon it now, it will require a heavy force to defend this place. It is a hard line to defend. The shortest line we can defend here so as to keep them from cutting off supplies is 20 miles. I have not looked at the rear at all in this estimate. They can run their boats in Little Sunflower; also in Silver Creek. I cannot tell how supplies are above here. We may be unable to get them, even for a small force.
I state all these facts that you may judge of the expediency of sending more troops here. We need them, many more, but we have more here now than we could get away, if compelled to retire, with the number of boats we have here. We need more boats. The Arcadia runs badly in daylight, and cannot run at all at night. We saw nine of the enemy's gunboats yesterday evening. If they do not turn back now, this is their advance upon Vicksburg. I shall do the best I can, and leave the result to the Almighty.
Your obedient servant,
W. S. FEATHERSTON,
HEADQUARTERS FEATHERSTON'S BRIGADE,
Near Fort Pemberton, MISS., April 3, 1863.
MAJOR: In obedience to orders, I submit the following report of the troops under my command on Rolling Fork and Deer Creek:
About 3 a. m., March 19, I was ordered to move my brigade to Snyder's Bluff as rapidly as possible; to take two regiments from that point and one section of artillery, and proceed up Sunflower River and Rolling Fork to the junction of Rolling Fork and Deer Creek, to which point the enemy was said to be directing his movements. The order was promptly obeyed, and on Friday (20th), about 3 p. m., we arrived at the mouth of Rolling Fork, and disembarked the troops, who had to march through water three quarters of a mile before reaching land. Colonel Ferguson had preceded me from near Greenville, MISS., with his command, consisting of a battalion of infantry, six pieces of artillery, and a squadron of cavalry some 40 or 50 in number. Colonel Ferguson had previously engaged the enemy and driven back his advance guard from Dr. Chaney's house, immediately in the fork of Rolling Fork and Deer Creek. My artillery and infantry were moved rapidly from the boat landing, a distance of some 6 or 7 miles, to the head of Rolling Fork, and arrived there from 4. 30 to 5 p. m. I immediately assumed command of all the forces, and placed them in position for an immediate attack. The battalion of infantry was placed on the right, extending up to Deer Creek. The Twenty-SECOND and Twenty-THIRD Mississippi Regiments were placed on the left in the nearest strip of woods to the enemy and extending down Deer Creek below the enemy's line of boats;