Numbers 13. Reports of Colonel Hohn G. Fonda, One hundred and eighteenth Illinois Infantry (mounted), commanding Cavalry Brigade, of engagement at Bayou Bourbeau, and skirmishes November 11.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST CAVALRY BRIGADE,
Carrion Crow Bayou, November 3, 1863.
GENERAL: I respectfully submit the following as my report of the part taken by the cavalry under my command in the action of to-day:
In anticipation of an attack at daybreak this morning, I had the horses saddled and the men in readiness at 4 a. m. The enemy not appearing, however, at 8 a. m. I sent 200 of the First Louisiana Cavalry to guard a forage train going in the direction of Grand Coteau, and took 80 men of the One hundred and eighteenth Illinois Mounted Infantry to reconnoiter our front. Advancing directly west about 1 mile, I discovered what appeared to be a strong line of pickets.
I had not been here long when you came out with two pieces of artillery and some infantry. After firing upon the enemy some time with the prairie without discovering any force. All appeared to have hone to our right.
I returned to camp, with 80 men that I had with me, at 10 a. m. Between this time and noon there was some firing on the picket line,. At noon I was informed by the officer of the picket that a heavy column of the enemy was coming down the Opelousas road. I immediately ordered all the cavalry to saddle, and within fifteen minutes they were in lie in front of the camp.
The forge train had just returned. I ordered the forage thrown out of the wagons, and the camp equipage to be loaded and driven to the rear.
We had not been in line long when the enemy, in strong force, attempted to turn our right flank. I immediately ordered all the cavalry to dash across the bridge, and form on the south side of the bayou. The One hundred and eighteenth Illinois was dismounted and sent forward as skirmishers, the First Louisiana Cavalry, Colonel Robinson, advancing with them. The enemy did not succeed in turning our flank. I now ordered the First Louisiana Cavalry to recross the bridge, which they did, and gallantly charged the enemy, who were then in our camp, cut his line in two, and drove those on the right from that part of the field. While making this charge, my horse, having been hit once before, was shot, and fell to the ground. My men were moving rapidly against the enemy on the right, and, by the time that I had recovered from my fall, I found myself entirely alone, and exposed to the fire of those on the left. I was compelled to escape on foot. My men recrossed the bayou below the bridge, and were again formed into line in the prairie, on the south side of the river.
Colonel Robinson, with a portion of his regiment, now pushed forward into the prairie in pursuit of the enemy's cavalry. They were retreating too rapidly, however, to be cut off or overtaken.
The forces under my command consisted of the First Louisiana Cavalry, 300 men; Fourteenth New York Cavalry, 80 men, and 80 of the One hundred and eighteenth Illinois Mounted Infantry; in all, 460 men.