which place, however, they were immediately driven, and a party sent, under Colonel Colburn, railway superintendent, with men and material, to repair the bridge. I had previously sent round the Saint Mary's, with orders to the commanding officer at Brashear to hold out to the last extremity, and that I would soon send him assistance.
On the 22d, the Fifteenth Maine arrived very opportunely from Pensacola. I sent it immediately to the support of Colonel Cahill, moving toward Brashear.
On the 23d, I had the honor to receive a telegram from General Banks, directing me not to risk too much for Brashear; to have the gunboat take off the men and guns, and evacuate the place if I could not hold it. On the same day I had already ordered the railway to be repaired, and that Colonel Cahill should push on toward Brashear as the only means of its relief. At this time I had no idea of any other force attacking Brashear than that just repulsed from La Fourche.
On the 24th, I reiterated my order not to retire from La Fourche, but to press on to Brashear, repairing the railway. Soon after, I received the following telegrams from Colonel Cahill:
LA FOURCHE, June 24, 1863.
Major Morgan, at Thibodeaux, reports 7,000 of the enemy moving down the Bayou La Fourche.
LA FOURCHE, June 24, 1863.
The enemy is advancing on both sides the Bayou La Fourche in large force, 4 miles above. My trains have not yet arrived.
At the same time that I received these two telegrams, the Saint Mary's returned from Brashear with the sad intelligence of the fall of that place, and that it was taken by a force brought from the opposite side of the river. Accounts received before this satisfied me that the force which had previously been threatening Brashear amounted to about 5,000 men, whom I naturally supposed the same force which had made the raid through the La Fourche country. But prisoners captured by Lieutenant-Colonel Stickney disclosed the fact that the troops which attacked him at the crossing were an altogether independent force.
It came direct from Texas, was commanded by Colonel Major, consisted of five regiments and twelve pieces of artillery, crossing the Atchafalayia opposite Port Hudson, drove in your pickets, and came down across the Plaquemine at Indian Village. Besides Major's troops, Taylor has been re-enforced by the brigades of [J. W.] Speight and Spade [?], and I estimated their united forces at from 9,000 to 12,000 men. The whole of my force now assembled amounted to but 1,600 men. Under these circumstances, I considered any attempt to recover Brashear hopeless, and withdrew my small force to this city.
I send you copies of the reports made by such officers as escaped from Brashear City. The works at that place were nothing but water batteries, open behind, and the place was taken by a party landing from Flat Lake and attacking in the rear. It appears the gunboat was too frail in its structure to be of any service, and I am sorry to say it also appears that the 400 convalescents whom I had ordered to be left there, with instructions that they should be armed and organized for the defense of the place, were neither armed nor organized, and did little or nothing for its defenses.