MAY 4, 1863. - Attempt of the tug George Sturgess to pass the Vicksburg batteries.
Number 1. -Lieutenant Colonel Judson D. Bingham, u. S. Army, Chief Quartermaster.
Number 2. -Lieutenant James Marquess, Twenty-seventh Missouri Infantry.
Number 1. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Judson D. Bingham, u. S. Army, Chief Quartermaster. MILLIKEN'S BEND, La., May 4, 1863.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that your instructions of April 30 were received at 11 a. m., May 1, in relation to sending two tugs with four barges down the river. I immediately commenced the execution of your instructions, and at 7 a. m., May 2, the four largest and best barges that I could obtain were loaded with subsistence stores. I made a written application to the commander of the troops here (Major-General Steele) for a detail to assist in loading the barges and preparing them for the trip. Captain [William] Gaster, assistant quartermaster, who had immediate charge of the preparation, by my direction, also made an application for a detail. None was furnished, and the loading and preparations were made by the mechanics employed in the quartermaster's DEPARTMENT and a few negroes that I had collected. The force was so small that it was compelled to work night and day until the barges were ready.
On the evening of May 2, I heard that our troops had evacuated Young's Point, and that the enemy had landed near the abandoned camps. I then consulted with Major-General Sherman, who advised me to wait until the next night (3rd), and he would send a force to occupy the Point, to prevent the capture of the boats from the Louisiana shore in case the tugs were compelled to land to repair any damages that might be sustained. I followed the advice of General Sherman, and delayed the departure of the boats until 10 p. m. of the 3rd .
On the morning of the 3rd, only two of the barges were in condition to start. One was sunk to the guards, and another leaking, and would not sustain enough hay to protect the tug. I was, therefore, compelled to send only one tug with two barges, as I could not prepare another tow in time. At 10 p. m. of the 3rd, the tug with two barges was started down the river, with crew compete and a detail of the commissioned officers and 15 armed men to repel boarders. Soon after the tug rounded the Point, I saw several flashes from guns, but heard only two or three reports. The firing did not seem to be from very heavy guns. Soon after the firing commenced, I saw a Light, which I supposed was made by the enemy on the Louisiana shore, but it passed down the river so rapidly as to satisfy me that the barges were on fire. Our troops had possession of a portion of the Point, and rescued one man from the wreck whose statement I inclose herewith. *
I am now preparing two large barges, and can send them down the river at any time, but do not consider it advisable to do so without further instructions, as they are almost sure of destruction unless we
*Not found. Reference is probably to report of Lieutenant James Marquess, following.