more serious than the loss of the raft. I requested General Hebert to ask him to release the small boats and replace them by larger ones, which, while they would answer his purpose better, are unfit for the collection of supplies. I received this morning the following reply from General Hebert:
I have urged Mr. Weldon to let us have the small boats. There is no prospect of getting any from him as yet. He is clothed with much authority, and uses it very independently. He has given me much unnecessary expense. He is unreasonable and unmanageable. I frankly confess that nothing but the written authority given him by the lieutenant-general commanding has prevented me from placing him in arrest.
The boats that passed last night were loaded to the guards, and had very much the appearance of iron-clads, but I believe that but one was a gunboat. The others were carefully guarded by high layers of cotton, boarded on the outside or covered with tarpaulins painted black. Some were protected by barges on the sides. The largest transport (side-wheel) sunk above Brown & Johnston's; only her wheel-house and stacks are out of water. The boiler of a stern-wheel boat was pierced, and she passed Warrenton in a sinking condition.
The raft constructed for the preservation of Big Black Bridge can be floated down to any point which may be selected for the crossing of the river, and might be serviceable as a pass-way for footmen. The water at the bridge is now low, and the raft may not be needed. If the lieutenant-general approves, I will have it towed down Please remind him that I have no engineer officer, and Captain [D.] Wintter is constantly occupied here.
I am, major, respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. C. STEVENSON.
JACKSON, April 23, 1863.
General STEVENSON, Vicksburg:
I consider it essential that a communication, at least for infantry, be made, by the attack will not be made on your front or right, and that all troops not absolutely necessary to hold the works there should be held as a movable force, either for Warrenton or Grand Gulf.
If the raft can be secured below, I have no objection to its being sent down. Report to me dispositions you make under these instructions.
J. C. PEMBERTON.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE GULF, Mobile, Ala., April 24, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON, Secretary of Way, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: General Pemberton's dispatch to you about hawsers and chains was very incorrect. I immediately on receipt of his dispatch for chains collected all I could, placed them in charge of a special messenger, and sent them to Vicksburg. Several days afterward, a wandering agent of one of his quartermasters discovered two hawsers on board two boats in Government service, and desired me to impress them. I declined, because they were necessary for the boats, and I had previously supplied General Pemberton's requisition. The department may rely upon my giving every possible assistance to every officer in the public service in an unselfish spirit.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. B. BUCKNER.