both McHenry and Bayucas were sunk, and that several men had been drowned in attempting to cross the former. This is a deplorable occurrence, and searching inquiry must be made to ascertain whether it came about through inattention or negligence. I have already ordered the arrest of the officer in charge of the ferry at McHenry Bayou. At best, considerable delay must attend the transportation of the troops and their baggage over these bayous. It is suggested that all craft, large and small, suitable for the purpose, be put in use to accelerate the movement. Captain Garber has directions to assist you to the extent of his power.
JOHN A. McLERNAND,
HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, THIRTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Pass Cavallo, Tex., March 13, 1864.
Major General JOHN A. McCLERNAND,
Commanding Thirteenth Army Corps:
I have this movement received your dispatch relating to the accident at McHenry Bayou to-day, by which several men were drowned, and hasten to reply. I was absent at the time of the occurrence, having gone yesterday to Indianola to superintend the evacuation of that place. The rear guard marched out to-day at 1 p.m., and I then waited with the gun-boat Estrella opposite the town for half an hour, took two schooners of refugees in tow and started for this point, and immediately on landing rode out to meet the troops coming from Indianola . At McHenry Bayou I first learned of the catastrophe which had occurred, and which appears to have been the result of accident not attributable to any negligence in the preparations made for crossing the troops, or in the management of the ferries, by the engineer officers in charge of them, but to the severe gale blowing to-day and the impetuosity and impatience of the troops in crowding the ferries more than they should have done in such rough weather.
From all the facts I have been able to gather thus far, the accident at McHenry Bayou was caused by sinking of the section of the bateau bridge used as a ferry-boat, in the middle of the bayou . I am informed that the engineer lieutenant in charge had remonstrated against the overloading of the float because of the severe gale, and after that two three other horses and some more men were placed on board by order of the major of the Sixty-ninth Indiana Volunteers; that this heavy load was not well distributed, and that the bateaux were sunk deeper at the end from which the gale was blowing than from the other end, in consequence of which the waves were driven into that end and the boats sunk. I will report the loss and any other facts as soon as they are ascertained.
The report of accident at Bayucas Bayou was exaggerated. The bateaux sank there, but it was after crossing, whilst they were ashore, when the gale was at its highest, and although the men were wet there was no loss. Both ferries were soon placed again in working condition and rendered more buoyant by placing whole boats between the bateaux, and have now been running for an hour and a half safely and effectually. At his moment all of the Second Brigade