succeeded General Emory, encountered the enemy outside of his works on the afternoon of the 24th, and, after sharp fight, drove him to his outer line of intrenchments.
On the 25th, the junction of all the forces having been completed, the works of the enemy were invested. Preparations were immediately made for an assault. Rumors had been circulated for several days previous that the enemy had abandoned the position, and it was impossible to obtain definite information of his strength. It was generally supposed, however, that the force had been greatly diminished, and that an assault would result in its captured.
A very through preparation was made on the 25th and 26th, and on May 27 a desperate attack upon the works was made, Generals Weitzel, Grover, and Dwight commanding our right, General Augur the center, and General T. W. Sherman the left. The plan of attack contemplated simultaneous movements on the right and left of our lines. The attack upon the right commenced with vigor early in the morning. Had the movement upon the left been executed at the same time, it is possible the assault might have been successful. But the garrison was much stronger than had been represented, and the enemy was found able to defend his works at all points.
The conduct of the troops was admirable, and most important advantages were gained, which contributed to the success of all subsequent movements. At one time our advance had reached the interior line of the enemy, but were unable to hold their position. Nothing but the assault would have satisfied the troops of the presence or strength of the enemy and his works.
Our loss in this engagement was 293 killed and 1,549 wounded. We were unable to estimate with accuracy the loss of the enemy, but it was very severe. In one regiment, the Fifteenth Arkansas, out of 292 officers and men, the loss sustained during the siege, according to a history of the defense by a rebel officer, was 132, of whom 76 fell on May 27. The force of the enemy within the fortifications numbered from 7,000 to 8,000 with 2,500 cavalry in our rear at Clinton, and a small force on the west side of the river, commanding a point opposite the enemy's batteries, making altogether between 10,000 and 11,000 men engaged in the defense of the position, inside and outside the works.
The operations in the Teche country, with the losses sustained in battle and sickness occasioned by rapid and exhausting marches, had reduced my effective fore to less than 13,000, including Augur's command. Of these, twenty regiments were nine-months' men, whose terms began to expire in May, and all expired in August. This was not an adequate force for the capture of the place. There ought not to have been less than 3 to 1 for this purpose. The force that we had anticipated receiving from General Grant, promised in the several communications to which I have referred, would have enabled us, on the 27th, beyond any question, to have completed the capture of the works and garrison, when we could have immediately moved to Vicksburg to aid him in his attack on that place, without exposing New Orleans or any other post on the Lower Mississippi to capture by the enemy.
On the night of the 27th, the army rested within rifle-shot of the enemy's works, and commenced the construction of work of defense. The enemy's interior line extended from 4 to 5 miles, from river to river. The line occupied by us necessarily covered from 7 to 8 miles. Our greater length of line made the enemy equal, if not superior, in numbers in any attack that could be made by us upon them.