The quartermaster here and chief of ordnance have an order to send this regiment with the ammunition. These orders are conflicting. I have directed the One hundred and thirty-first New York, of Dwight's brigade, to go with the ammunition. Shall I send the One hundred and seventy-third New York with the remainder of Dwights' brigade?
The river has fallen considerably, and the people here tell me that all the different roads here are now passable. I am told that there is not a single gunboat in the Atchafalaya.
The Quinnebaug, which was passed yesterday afternoon at 4 o'clock, about 15 miles below here, has not arrived, and has not been heard from. I have sent the Saint Charles with a guard to see about her.
As there is a good road from the Opelousas country to the junction of Bayou Rouge and the Atchafalaya, and as the country has been abandoned by us, and as the enemy has a force of cavalry, as least, throughout the country, I have been led to believe some accident has befallen the Quinnebaug.
Unless the Atchafalaya is held at the present stage of water with gunboats, the enemy can cross infantry and cavalry to the bank of the Mississippi, attack the baggage train and cavalry on its way to Bayou Sara, and even afford the garrison at Port Hudson a chance to escape in this direction.
Captain [Richard] Barrett, when surrounded, as mentioned in my last dispatch, himself escaped; his men were taken.
Does it not seem that the enemy, not having followed me, may be after Chickering? If so, would it not be well to advise him?
I shall cross my whole force here and await further orders. Perkins has taken 179 horses. There is no fuel for any transports but the General Banks; hence the transports are unserviceable.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Commanding the United States Forces.
P. S.-The Saint Charles has just returned. The Quinnebaug is following her.
Sunday, May 24, 1863.
Lieutenant Colonel RICHARD B. IRWIN, Assistant Adjutant-General:
COLONEL: Yesterday we captured the rebel signal corps, and last evening took Lieutenant [John] Barthelemy, Twentieth Louisiana Regiment, who had just crossed from Port Hudson. No information of any consequence was obtained from any of the parties.
I took the position I was directed by order of 23rd to assume, and am confident that no forces can be thrown across and escape by the roads indicated by Lieutenant Harwood. To-day I shall examine the country to the interior, and close any roads I may find.
In the hurry of our embarkation, we did not supply ourselves with rations. Captain Dunham was advised of the deficiency, and promised that we should be supplied to-day. We want coffee, hard bread, and port for 350 men.
Will you oblige me by sending down my servant, Frank, with baggage which I need?
I send you the signal corps flag. Possibly it may be of use.