Grover, reduced to about two brigades, and the division of General Emory, temporarily reduced by detachment to about a brigade, under command of Colonel Paine, with two regiments of negro troops, made an assault upon the right of the enemy's works, crossing Sandy Creek and driving him through the wood into his fortifications. The fight lasted on this line until 4 o'clock, and was very severely contested. On the left, the infantry did not come up until later in the day, but at 2 o'clock an assault was opened upon the works on the center and left of center by the divisions under Major-General Augur and Brigadier-General Sherman. The enemy was driven into his works, and our troops moved up to the fortifications, holding the opposite sides of the parapet with the enemy. On the right, our troops still occupy this position. On the left, after dark, the main body, being exposed to a flank fire, withdrew to a belt of wood, the skirmishers remaining close upon the fortifications.
The works are defended by a garrison much larger than generally represented. There appears to be no want of ammunition or provisions on the part of the enemy. The fortifications are very strong, and surrounded by a most intricate tract of country, diversified by ravines, woods, plains, and cliffs, which it is almost impossible to comprehend without careful and extended reconnaissances.
Six regiments, under command of Colonel Chickering, were detailed at Alexandria to guard the train from that point and from Opelousas. These troops will be here to-morrow, and strengthen our force some 3,000 men. My effective force on the day of the assault was about 13,000; that of the enemy, within the works, ten regiments, of between 500 and 600 each - in all, about 8,000 men - with mounted infantry outside the works in our rear (2,200), consisting of the Ninth and Eleventh Regiments of Arkansas troops.
In the assault of the 27th, the behavior of the officers and men was most gallant, and left nothing to be desired. Our limited acquaintance with the ground and the character of the works, which were almost hidden from our observation until the moment of approach, alone prevented the capture of the post.
We occupy the enemy night and day with harassing attacks of infantry and artillery, giving him no rest or sleep. Numerous prisoners and deserters, who are captured or come in, reports that the men are dispirited and depressed. We wait only the arrival of our troops and the completion of more perfect reconnaissances to renew our assault, and have strong hopes that it will be successful. No time will be lost.
To avoid possible failure in carrying this important post, I have notified General Grant by one of his staff officers, who was present on the day after the assault, of the details of our position and our strength, and have asked him, if it be possible, to send us 5,000 or 10,000 men, with whose aid we could accomplish its reduction in a single day. I understand the pressing circumstances of his position, but hope that he may be able to assist us in this emergency. We want only men. With the reduction of Port Hudson we can join him without delay with at least 15,000 men and a finely appointed siege train of artillery, which he greatly needs. We shall not,however, delay our operations or postpone effective movements for the reduction of the post on account of this application to him for aid.
On the extreme right of our line I posted the First and Third Regiments of negro troops. The First Regiment of Louisiana Engineers, composed exclusively of colored men, excepting the officers, was also engaged in the operations of the day. The position occupied by these