On the sergeant's return he ran into a squall of about 15 rebels at Birdsong Ferry; they exchanged shots, and the rebels retired across the river, where there are larger forces. The sergeant had one of his men slightly wounded and took 2 prisoner. I will send them to your headquarters to-morrow morning, as they are very talkative. They say that General Forrest, with his rebel cavalry, is a Mechanicsburg, and that another part of his force was unexpected to day to form a junction with him at or near the said town. The whole command is estimated at 4,000 men. The prisoners, of course, report the story that Johnston, with 30,000, in moving on Yazoo River. Big Black, in consequence of the late rains, was swollen considerably, but is receding rapidly again-so much so that, in the opinion of Captain Morris, the fords at Messinger's and near Birdsong Ferries are practicable again. Therefore, I re-enforced the captain by another company, in the exception, though that some of General Washburn's cavalry will relieve my men there to-morrow. I hear from my Edwards Station patrol that two new mounted regiments, the SIXTEENTH and THIRD Mississippi are in the vicinity of Bolton and Raymond. This seems to corroborate the above statement that the rebel cavalry force had been increased. To meet emergencies, I am constructing some breastworks defending the crossing of the river here. I shall lay the plan before you in a day or two. Having but a very limited number of contrabands here for that kind of work, I would be very limited number of contrabands here of that kind of work, I would be very glad to have about 100 more negroes from the organization regiments temporarily detached to assist my working party. If such a detail could be granted, the men would have to bring tools along.
I am, colonel with great esteem, your obedient servant,
P. J. OSTERHAUS,
Lieutenant Colonel John A. RAWLINS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, department of the Tennessee.
HDQRS. NINTH DIVISION, THIRTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Big Black River, MISS., June 14, 1863.
COLONEL: You favor of yesterday was received. The men reported to have been founded in the swamps between Mr. Hine's and Mrs. Stower's on the Hall's Ferry road, are in my opinion the same men whom my patrols had seen some days ago. There are only three or four of them, and they are disconnected rom any rebel command. Though the present stage of the river is such that the greatest vigilance is necessary to protect against a sudden attack of the enemy, it becomes fordable almost at any place. The Hall' Ferry (Mount Alban and Vicksburg) road does not belong to my beat. If I understood your instructions correctly, it is in Lauman's care. The distance from here Hall's Ferry is 12 more. For the small force of cavalry the duty Bridgeport Ferry is 12 more. Fro the small force of cavalry the duty is most severe, as I have still to send my pickets north far beyond Bridgeport Ferry, being in that direction not yet supported by any of Washburn's cavalry. On the 12th, a patrol went as far as Birdsong Ferry, and on its return ran into a secesh squad. They exchanged shots. One of my men was slightly wounded, and hem my patrol drove the rebels into the river taking 2 prisoners.