Shepard's and Abbott's regiments, and leave the Seventy-sixth Ohio, with instructions to use the houses near Bigg's and such other covering as can be had.
I sent Colonel Woods last night some signal rockets, with General Grant's orders to fire one in case the ram was seen ascending the stream, and two if descending. I have suggested other signals, and await General Grant's orders, which, when received, will be communicated to you.
Nearly all my cavalry (only 30) are with the foragers, up the river. I wish you would relieve the few now over at Biggs' by some of Blair's and your escorts-enough to bring intelligence over, as well as to communicate with the guard at the foot of the canal. I crossed over last night on foot, and the road across the swamp, though passable, is villainous.
W. T. SHERMAN.
HEADQUARTERS Fifteenth ARMY CORPS,
Camp near Vicksburg, February 27, 1863.
Colonel CHARLES R. WOODS,
Commanding Detachment near Bigg's House:
SIR: I have received your several communications, and have conferred with General Grant and Admiral Porter. The Indianola is lost, and there is no assurance that she is sunk or disabled beyond probability of repairs.
We know the enemy has two rams, in good order, and may have any number of transports. This makes vigilance on your part necessary.
Admiral Porter has no gunboats or rams to go again below to encounter the enemy; therefore the enemy has recovered the river below Vicksburg, and the Era is useless to us. You will, therefore, destroy her, not by fire, but in such a way as to leave no trace by which the enemy can guess where she is. Thus, let her machinery be detached, scattered, and sunk; pipes the same. By night tear her to pieces and use her cabin work for bivouac for your men. When stripped as well as possible, scuttle and sink her in deep water. Let the work be done so that when to-morrow dawns not a trace of her will be left.
If the Indianola be not sunk, I have no doubt we shall soon see her and her comrades-the Webb and Queen City. The admiral has sent for several rams, one of which (the Monarch) has arrived, and he feels no uneasiness about the fleet above Vicksburg.
I do believe the enemy may attempt a night move on our pickets, the motive being the capture of the Era and the battery. The only point where a landing could be made on the levee is near where the Era lies and a point above you, which I shall cause to be guarded by Stuart.
Should you want re-enforcements at any time, I will send them.
General Steele is present and reads this.
I am, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN.
UNITED STATES Mississippi SQUADRON, February 27, 1863.
Honorable GIDEON WELLES,
Secretary of the Navy:
SIR: I regret to inform you that the Indianola has also fallen into the hands of the enemy. The rams Webb and Queen of the WEST attacked