howitzer; the latter, with 25 men, aboard the flat which I had sided up with 3-inch plank in gunboat style. Another party of infantry went in yawls and skiffs around the crevasses. We reached New Carthage at 7 o'clock, and pushed a picket forward on the Mississippi levee to James' plantation (on the map laid down as To lale Tarlton's), where they were fired upon by a small squad of rebels. I left one company of the Sixty-NINTH Indiana at New Carthage, with their pickets at James'. They are perfectly secure, as only the levee is out of water, and the cannot be flanked. The enemy left yesterday his camp at Judge Perkins' plantation for Saint Joseph Lake. From the information received by Mr. James, the battalion of Major [Isaac F.] Harrison numbers four companies mounted men, about 60 men each, and one battery of six smooth bore 6-pounder guns. There is a continued levee all the way from New Carthage to Saint Joseph, and the land beyond the Bayou Vidal, where it runs up to Perkin's plantation, is not submerged.
I have not the remotest doubt as to the practicability of the Bayou Vidal for boating purposes. It is a deep, straight channel; only very light obstructions between the crevasse and the Mississippi, and a few hours' work will clear them away. I intend to move one regiment to James' quarters. In this case Mr. James (an old gentleman) wishes to go to his place below, where his negroes are. He has not seen anything of our forces, and I see no reason why [we should] not let him go, but would not act before having your advice. Please give me your orders in that matter. I also wish to concentrate the whole First Brigade (five battalions) and Lanphere's battery around this camp, and shift the SECOND Brigade to and around Richmond. You will also be kind enough to let me know if you agree.
Yesterday the howitzers shelled the enemy out of their refuges beyond the bayou. A few their appearance toward evening, and opened fire on my pickets. They replied, and killed 1 rebel (shot through the breast and spinal column broken); nobody hurt here. Mr. Patterson will report about Roundaway Bayou. The wreck of the Indianola is visible at New Carthage, one wheel-house standing out of the water. The fight where she was lost was in front of New Carthage. The plantations of Joseph and Jefferson Davis are also opposite- a very tempting view.
I am, general, with great respect, your most obedient servant,
P. J. OSTERHAUS,
Major General John A. McClernand,
Commanding Thirteenth Army Corps.
HDQRS. NINTH DIVISION, THIRTEENTH ARMY CORPS.
New Carthage, La., April 18, 1863.
COLONEL: I have the honor to lay before the major-general commanding the Thirteenth Army Corps a short resume of the operations of the NINTH DIVISION since March 31.
On the 30th, Colonel Bennett was ordered to make a reconnaissance to Richmond with his own regiment (Sixty-NINTH Indiana Infantry) and some cavalry (SECOND Illinois Cavalry), and to examine into the practicability of a road or connection between Richmond, La., and New Carthage, La., on the Mississippi. A copy of General McClernand's instructions to this officer is annexed, marked A.