HEADQUARTERS WALKER'S DIVISION,
July 10, 1863.
MAJOR: Since the date of my last report the forces under my command have broken up the plantations engaged in raising cotton under Federal leases from Milliken's Bend to Lake Providence, capturing some 2,000 negroes who have been restored to their masters, With the exception of those captured in arms, and a few the property of disloyal citizens of Louisiana. I consider it an unfortunate circumstance that any armed negroes were captured, but in the cavalry expedition which broke up the plantations below Lake Providence, colonel Parsons, commanding two cavalry regiments from the District of Arkansas, acting under my orders, encountered a force of 113 negroes and their 3 white officers in a fortified position, and when the officers proposed to to surrender upon the condition of being treated as prisoners of war, and the armed Negroid unconditionally, colonel Parsons accepted the terms. The position, upon a high mound, the sides of which had been scooped and otherwise strengthened, was of treat strength, and would have cost many lives and much previously time to have captured by assault. Under these circumstances, brigadier-General Tappan, who came up before the capitulation was consummated, approved the convention.
This was on the 30th ultimo, and I had made all my arrangements to push the next day toward Providence and Ashton, some miles above, where I intended to establish my batteries for the annoyance of the enemy's transports. That night I received General Taylor's instructions to march my DIVISION to Berwick Bay. I immediately returned to this point, and had embarked one of my brigades on the railroad train, when I received instructions from Lieutenant-GENERAL Smith to remain in this vicinity.
On the 5th instant, general Smith was here in person, and directed me to proceed to Ashton, on the Mississippi, and endeavor to blockade the river against, the enemy's transports and supply boats. In accordance With these instructions, I marched from here on the 7th instant. The same morning Captain James, who had been sent With a flag of truce to deliver a communication from General Taylor to General Grant, returned and reported the delivery of the dispatch to the enemy's pickets at Young's Point. He brought intelligence, derived from sources that I did not wholly credit, that Vicksburg had capitulated on the 4th instant. Not considering this entirely certain, I continued my movements, but the same day I received the intelligence unfortunately too well authentically to admit of a doubt. At the same time I received instructions from Lieutenant General Smith to return to this point, and in forced to abandon the Wahia Valley by superior numbers, to fall back on Red River or Natchitoches.
I am now engaged in burning all the cotton I can reach from Lake Providence to the lower end of Concordia Parish and shall endeavor to leave no spoil for the enemy. I have also instructed the cavalry to destroy as subsistence and forage on abandoned plantations that from its proximity to the river May give the enemy facilities for invasion. When this destruction is effected, I shall withdraw the greater portion of my forces toward the Washita River, to some more healthy locality. The ravages of disease have fearfully weakened my force, and I consider it essential to its future usefulness that it should be removed from here as early as practicable.
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. G. WALKER,
Major E. SURGET,
Asst. Adjt. General, Alexandria, La.