June 15, 1863.
Major E. SURGET,
SIR: Having learned that you have received both written and verbal reports in regard to the gunboat Cotton's trip from Grand Ecore to Shreveport, permit me to render you this my report:
An order was unexpectedly received by me from Captain H. Kelso, commanding gunboat fleet, "to take charge of the gunboat Cotton," and proceed with all dispatch to Shreveport, as soon as the ordnance stores should be placed on board. The third clause of the order reads thus: "The Grand Duke will render assistance to the Cotton whenever the latter may rejoin it."
On the morning of the 14th, having received all the ordnance stores on board, I left the landing at Grand Ecore for Shreveport, the Grand Duke following me, and did render me assistance as far up Red River as Loggy Bayou, where the river becomes very narrow. At a point above this, the Grand Duke left the Cotton, and proceeded on, leaving the steamboat T. S. Conley to assist me. With the assistance of the Conley, I reached the plantation of a Mr. Gatlin, some 83 miles from Shreveport. At this place I came very near sinking both boats, as the river was very narrow and the current very rapid. By great effort, with spring lines attached to the bank, the Conley would pull the Cotton away from the bank, and as soon as I could get steerage-way, the Conley could not get out of my way. After trying this repeatedly, at imminent risk, I shipped the ordnance stores by the Conley to Shreveport, together with the steam-pipe, as I was fully convinced that the Cotton could make no farther progress without having the use of her other wheel, or the assistance of a boat of sufficient power. Had the Grand Duke remained with the Cotton, I could have made the trip.
On Monday, the 18th of May, Mr. Boutte, engineer, went up with the steam-pipe, with an order to the quartermaster at Shreveport to have it repaired immediately. A letter from Mr. Boutte informed me the work could not be done right off. The steamer Texas came along, bound up. I got on board of her and went up. Lieutenant General E. Kirby Smith was on board, and I gave him the particulars. He issued an order to General Boggs, he referred me to the quartermaster, to whom I had sent the pipe at first. I informed him the steam-pipe had been in Shreveport for eight days, and the coppersmith were employed on the new ram Missouri. He then gave me an order on the naval officer, the naval officer ont he contractors, and the contractors on some one else, until finally the work was commenced the tenth day after it had left the Cotton.
During this time the river had fallen 3 feet, and, before I left Shreveport, I called on General Boggs to know what I should do in case I could not reach Shreveport. He told me to report immediately. The steam-pipe being fitted, I left Gatlin's plantation, and proceeded on the trip very well until I reached the "cut-off," or, as some term it, the "ditch." After a delay of thirty hours in endeavoring to get though, I repaired immediately in a skiff to Shreveport (31 miles), and reported to Brigadier General W. R. Boggs that I had removed all the loose bales of cotton to the bank, and I could not get the Cotton through the "ditch" without tearing both wheels out of her. He first advised me to communicate the facts to you, mentioning that the courier would leave at 4 p. m. It was then 12 m. But after a conference with General Smith,