march past Smith's, in order to find out, if possible, the locality of the rebel camp.
At Montgomery's I halted the column, pushing a cavalry patrol farther on to Dunbar's plantation, 6 miles below Montgomery's, when they saw the rebels cross Bayou Vidal, and learned that their main camp was on a high ridge on Judge Perkins' tract, between the Mississippi River and Bayou Bridgeman, 6 miles below New Carthage and 4 miles to the south of Dunbar's plantation.
Further inquiry was unnecessary, volumes of water separating and protecting me from them. Leaving a picket of observation at Dunbar's, where the rebels crossed Bayou Vidal, I encamped the detachment of THIRD Illinois Cavalry at Montgomery's, stationing at the same time pickets at such points between Montgomery's and Dunbar's as could control the enemy's approach. The main body of the expeditionary column I marched back to Smith's plantation, with the consent and approval of Major-General McClernand, who had by this time joined me.
A reconnaissance made by the major-general and myself across the bayou toward New Carthage showed that the water was over all the plantations between Smith's and New Carthage. We advanced along the levee running parallel with Bayou Vidal, and, going around two breaks in the levee, we found our farther progress stopped by the fire of a rebel picket, on the other side of the THIRD and last break. We were now in full sight of the inundated town of New Carthage, and it was evident that communication with the place could only be established by boats.
On our return to Smith's, I immediately commenced preparations to secure a foothold at New Carthage. The enemy had secured all boats and flats, and the nearest one of any size, I could hear of was about 8 miles down Bayou Vidal, below Dunbar's, and was protected by a rebel picket. This information I received from an intelligent negro, who came into my lines with 4 of the same complexion. Finding them willing to take the flat from the enemy, I ordered Captain Carnahan, on the 5th instant, to send the colored party and 20 men from the THIRD Illinois Cavalry to secure the boat.
They started at once and got possession of the flat, but found their return to Smith's plantation disputed by about 50 of the enemy's cavalry, on the east side of the bayou, who opened on the party in the flat at once. This fire was returned by the THIRD Illinois Cavalry from the other side of the stream so effectually that it commanded the whole attention of the rebels and the flat ran the blockade without injury. The enemy lost 1 killed and 1 badly wounded.
Captain Patterson, who had arrived the same day, was immediately put to work to arrange the flat-boat so as to give protection against musketry fire, and to receive one light gun and the requisite infantry force, for the purpose of taking New Carthage.
Everything was completed the same day and night, and at 5 a. m. on April 6, I started on the boat for New Carthage. Our advance caused the rebel force to fall back down the Mississippi levee.
Having disembarked the mountain howitzer and the two companies of infantry (one from the Forty-NINTH and one from the Sixty-NINTH Indiana), I followed up the rebels without delay. They made a stand at the gin on James' plantation, about 1 1/2 miles below New Carthage. It was very important to dislodge them from this point, for the reason that the mansion, quarters, steam gin, grist, and saw mills of James', covering together about 20 acres, were for miles the only dry land on the Mis-