Colonel Bennett took up his march on the morning of the 31st ultimo, and arrived at Roundaway Bayou, opposite Richmond, about 2 p. m., finding the enemy's cavalry pickets in town. While our men opened fire on them, some of the cavalry crossed the bayou is skiffs and boldly attacked the rebels; these fled precipitately, leaving 2 wounded in our hands and carrying off 7 more.
A personal reconnaissance on April 1, made in pursuance of instructions from corps headquarters (copy of which is annexed, marked B), convinced me of the necessity of a permanent occupation of Richmond, this being a point by which the most necessary subsistence stores were forwarded to the besieged garrison at Vicksburg, the very rich and fertile regions between the Mississippi and Tensas Rivers and Bayou Macon being easily reached by water from Richmond. This reconnaissance also removed all doubts as to the main object of the expedition, viz, the practicability of a road to New Carthage.
General McClernand sharing my opinion as to the importance of Richmond, and desirous of pushing forward the expedition to New Carthage without delay, he ordered re-enforcements to be brought up.
Accordingly, on the 2nd instant, I sent the Forty-NINTH Indiana Infantry and Twenty-SECOND Kentucky Infantry, with one section of the Seventh Michigan Battery, to Roundaway Bayou, throwing the Sixty-NINTH Indiana Infantry and one company of cavalry by boats across that stream, to occupy the town and the road to New Carthage, as far as Stanbrough's plantation (3 1/2 miles out), commanding at that point a road leading to Alligator Lake, and said not to be submerged, where a force of the enemy was said to be encamped. At the same time I directed a reconnaissance to be made by cavalry as far as possible toward New Carthage. These movements were preparatory to an expedition in force, intended to be made on the New Carthage road as soon as a bridge across Roundaway Bayou, which the general had ordered Captain Patterson to build, could be completed. I therefore ordered the remainder of the First Brigade, General Garrand commanding, together with the remaining two sections of the Seventh Michigan Battery, and a battalion of the Sixth Missouri Cavalry, with four mountain howitzers, forward from Milliken's Bend to Richmond, at which latter point they arrived on the afternoon of the 3rd instant. The cavalry reconnaissance returned the same day, after having advanced about 10 miles, where their farther progress was stopped by a rebel cavalry force at Holmes' plantation.
The bridge across Roundaway Bayou having been completed at 7 p. m. on the 3rd instant, the expedition to New Carthage was ordered for the following morning, and was to consist of detachments of the SECOND and THIRD Illinois Cavalry and Sixth Missouri Cavalry, amounting to about 250 men, and four mountain howitzers, besides the Forty-NINTH and Sixty-NINTH Regiments Indiana Infantry, the occupation of Richmond and Stanbrough's plantation being intrusted to General Garrand and the remaining troops.
I crossed the bridge at 5 a. m. on the 4th instant, in the above order, and arrived at Holmes' plantation, where the enemy's rear guard was seen the day before, at 9 a. m.
The last of the rebels left Holmes' on the arrival of my column, and remained all day at a safe but observing distance. I marched on to Smith's plantation, where Roundaway Bayou enters Bayou Vidal. Smith's place is about 2 miles almost due north from Carthage, and the road totally submerged, the only possible communication being by boats. Seeing the enemy's pickets still in my front, I concluded to