All the wounded are anxious to get away, but my means of transportation are not adequate, and, besides, I do not consider myself authorized to cause the transfer. I hope to be able to report o you to morrow how I succeeded in the work of laying waste, and remain, with great esteem, your most obedient servant,
P. J. OSTERHAUS,
Major General U. S. GRANT,
Commanding Department of the Tennessee.
HEADQUARTERS NINTH DIVISION,
Big Black River Railroad Bridge, MISS. May 30, 1863.
COLONEL: IN pursuance of my letter of yesterday evening, addressed to Major-General Grant, I have the honor to report that the long railroad bridge is burned and down since 11 o'clock last night. I keep a strong detail at work to destroy the railroad beyond the bayou (east of the fortifications), but having but very insufficient tools, they could only take up the rails and ties for a little over a mile beyond the bayou bridge. The ties and rails are most effectually destroyed. Another party is detailed to continue the work to-day, and if I can manage to gather cavalry enough to protect them beyond my line of pickets, I hope to have the gap extended from the river to Edwards Station by to-morrow. This morning I sent, through Quartermaster Absalom Finch, of the SECOND Brigade, NINTH DIVISION, 200 bales of cotton and 60 head of beefcattle. The cattle are some of the best stock I have seen. About 100 more bales of cotton are awaiting shipment on return of my trains. Most of the cotton taken 5 miles southeast from here, beyond the river. When my men were loading the last wagons yesterday night, the covering cavalry patrols reported a rebel picket in sight. My men dashed 1 mile of them, I immediately sent out from Colonel Wright's (Sixth Missouri) cavalry several patrols to feel the enemy and collect all information about him. These patrol parties just returned and report as follows: Patrol Number 1 went on the road where the rebels were seen in the afternoon, leading from our Big Black River hospital (Smith's plantation) into the Raymond road. On the arrival at the point in question, the enemy had changed his position and had moved in a northern direction. They were about 300 strong, under a Colonel or Major [H. B.]Lyon, and all of the Eighty Kentucky. This regiment left Vicksburg 600 strong on May 19, and marched by way of Cayuaga and Crystal Springs, to Meridian, where it was mounted and marched back by Jackson, and is now a patrolling and cotton-burning tour. The regiment does not number over 300 now, and is by no means anxious for a fight. Patrol Number 2. Started for Edwards Station, and thence north to Green's Hill Church, where they learned that Hall's cavalry (three companies and 300 infantry were between Brownsville and Birdsong Ferry. The latter seems to be of importance to the rebels. Patrol Number 3. Marched to Bolton, where they burned two railroad cars and a depot, which were not destroyed before, and in going out north to Brownsville set ; fire to about 1,500 bushels of corn. In coming