Fortieth Alabama pressed them on the left bank. As soon as the enemy discovered that their rear had been gained, they halted in an open country and fired furiously at everything which could be seen, but without effect. Our artillery returned the fire as long as their ammunition held out. The regiments in the rear encountered re-enforcements coming up, and immediately fell back after slight skirmishing. The re-enforcements arrived, deployed, run in our skirmishers, and marched back to the fleet. We remained in position until dark, then fell back.
My command, having been engaged for three successive days constantly, was then held in reserve, and the enemy was followed at too great a distance for them to be again use, except the cavalry, under Captain [G.] Barnes, to whose untiring energy and gallant conduct on this, as on every other occasion since he reporter to me, much praise is due.
The artillery, under Lieutenant [R. L.] Wood, behaved as I expected men who fought as they did on the 23rd ultimo. Their cool, calm courage and good shooting was a glad sight to a soldier's eye. I would include in this favorable notice the section under Lieutenant [A. P.] St. John, temporarily attached to the command of Lieutenant Wood.
The sharpshooters, under skillful guidance of Major Bridges and Captain Morgan, exhibited that reckless disregard for shell and grape which made the furious cannonade of the Yankees seem an amusing display of pyrotechnics.
The expenditure of all kinds of MISSILES, from a 13-inch shell to a Minie ball, on every point where it was though they might be hid, showed the estimation the enemy had of them. Except Private Reuben Wilmore, of Company I, THIRD Mississippi Volunteers, who fell, gallantly fighting, from a grape-shop wound in the head, none of my command were touched by their artillery, though subjected to a constant fire for three days. I regret to have to report Privates W. A. Swayze, Company C, McBeecher, Company H, and Samuel Devereau, Company E, all of THIRD Mississippi Volunteers, wounded by Minie balls, and Acting Sergt. Major John [G.] Poindexter, Company B, and Private McKnight, Company E, same regiment, captured. The two latter had particularly attracted my attention by skill and bravery.
There is just subject for congratulation that this formidable expedition, commanded by Admiral Porter, and consisting of some of the best iron-clads and mortar-boats, was successfully repulsed with such trifling loss; but I must express the belief that all the boats should have been captured or destroyed by a vigorous attack, and the infantry re-enforcements destroyed in detail as they came up.
I would call attention to the burning of houses and cotton and pillaging done by Admiral Porter, in direct contradiction of the notice published by himself, and official copy of which I forwarded to the department. One of the shells from this valiant hero exploded in the chamber of an invalid woman, in which then women and children had taken refuge. Providentially, but one negro woman was wounded by it. She now lies at the point of death. A child two years old was grievously burned.
This was the most effective shell thrown by them. We caused to be destroyed one large coal-barge, and captured nine launched and yawls and several small-arms and two flags, besides cooking utensils, &c.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. W. FERGUSON
Colonel, Commanding Detachments.
Major D. W. FLOWERREE,