his steps nor send me the forces he had contemplated, and requesting me to join his command at Vicksburg.
This change in his plans was a cause of serious embarrassment. There were three courses open to my command: First, to pursue the enemy to Shreveport, which would be without public advantage, as his army had been captured or completely routed; secondly, to join General Grant at Vicksburg; and, thirdly, to invest Port Hudson with such forces as I had at my command.
It was impossible for me to move my forces to General Grant at Vicksburg for want of sufficient water transportation. I had barely steamers enough to put my troops across Berwick Bay and the Atchafalaya, and on the morning after the passage of the bay, when our forces had turned the enemy's position, and the troops under Emory and Weitzel had advanced directly upon his work, there was not a single boat of any kind left with which I could communicate with Brashear City across the bay. It seemed impossible for me at that time to transport any portion of my troops and artillery to General Grant without leaving my trains and 6,000 fugitive negroes, who had come within our lines, to the chances of capture by the enemy. Besides, it was perfectly clear that, in the event of the movement of my forces to Vicksburg, unless that post should immediately fall, the rebel garrison at Port Hudson, then 16,000 to 18,000 strong, would prevent our communication with New Orleans, and,in the event of any disaster by which we should be detained at Vicksburg, would hold that city at its mercy. The force west of the Mississippi, which I had dispersed, would reorganize by re-enforcements from Texas, and move directly upon the La Fourche and Algiers, opposite New Orleans, both of which were nearly defenseless. This was so apparent to my mind that I felt that a compliance with the request of General Grant would result in the loss of my trains, the recapture of the negroes who were following the army, and the probable loss of New Orleans. This conclusion was justified by the subsequent invasion and occupation of the west bank of the river, and a most desperate attack by the Louisiana and Texas forces, 12,000 strong, on the works at Donaldsonville, June 28. I therefore concluded to move immediately against Port Hudson, and to take my chances for the reduction of that post.
To avoid mistake, I directed Brigadier General William Dwight to report our condition to General Grant in person and his counsel. General Dwight returned with the advice that I attack Port Hudson without delay, and that he would give me 5,000 men, but that I should not wait for them.
My command moved from Alexandria on May 14 and 15, a portion going down the river, and the remainder marching by land to Simsport, crossing the Atchafalaya at that point which great difficulty, by means of our transports and the steamers we had captured, and from thence moved down the right bank of the Mississippi to Bayou Sara, crossing the Mississippi at that point on the night of the 23d, and moving directly upon the enemy's works at Port Hudson, a distance of 15 miles, on May 24.
Major General C. C. Augur, commanding the forces at Baton Rouge, about 3,500 men, had been directed to effect a junction with our forces in the rear of Port Hudson. He encountered the enemy at Plains Store, about 4 miles from Port Hudson, repulsing him with a loss of 150 killed, wounded, and prisoners, and effected a junction with the rest of our forces on the 25th.
Our right wing, under Generals Weitzel, Grover, and Dwight, who