AUGUST 4-6, 1864. -Expedition from Natchez, Miss., to Gillespie's Plantation, La., and skirmish.
Report of Colonel Bernard G. Farrar, Sixth U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery.
HEADQUARTERS FORT MCPHERSON,
Natchez, Miss., August 7, 1864.
I have the honor to report that in accordance with instructions from the general commanding, I proceeded with detachments of the Sixth U. S. Colored Artillery, 324 men, Major Coleman commanding; Twenty-eighth Illinois Infantry, 222 men, Captain Presson commanding; Twenty-ninth Illinois Infantry, 120 men, Lieutenant- Colonel Callicott commanding; FIFTY-eighth U. S. Colored, Infantry, 350 men, Colonel Preston commanding; Fourth Illinois Cavalry, 160 men, Colonel Wallace commanding, on board transports to the Whitehall plantation, five miles below Vidalia, where the troops were disembarked. At the same time Lieutenant-Colonel McCaleb, commanding at Vidalia, was ordered to proceed to Grosse Bayou with 400 infantry, Captain Harberts commanding; 100 cavalry, Captain Wallace; one section Company K, Second Illinois Artillery, Lieutenant Neihardt commanding, and there join the main body under my command. On the disembarkation of the troops at Whitehall, which was effected about 8 p. m., the column was put in motion and marched in the direction of the Stacy plantation, five miles east of Trinity, where a rebel brigade of 800 men was supposed to be encamped. By a rapid and secret night march through the swamp along a road seldom traveled, I hoped to surprise the enemy, and crush them before re-enforcements could arrive from Walker's [command], then encamped beyond the Ouachita. Owing to the intense darkness of the night, and the almost impenetrable density of the wood, the command had to be piloted through by torchlight and in single file for three miles. Two miles this side of the Cosgrove plantation our advance was fired on by the enemy's pickets. Colonel Wallace, commanding the cavalry, was ordered to move forward with the utmost rapidity and drive the enemy from their position. But feeble resistance was offered our advance. On our arrival at the Stacy plantation at 7 a. m. we found that the enemy had evacuated the position the night previous and moved across the Tensas in the direction of Harrisonburg, when they encamped on the Gilbert plantation. A few minutes after our arrival a junction was formed with the cavalry under Lieutenant-Colonel McCaleb, who had crossed the bayou with but little opposition, and had moved down as instructed with his cavalry to effect a junction with my command. The men having marched all night, I ordered as far as Colonel Preston to halt the infantry until 4 o'clock and then proceed as far as Grosse Bayou on their return home, and encamp there until 12 o'clock that night. Not being able to procure forage here, I moved with the cavalry force to the Gillespie plantation, on which the infantry and artillery which had come from Vidalia were then encamped. At 2 p. m. the vedette reported a large cavalry force approaching along the levee from the Gilbert plantation, on the Tensas. Ordering the infantry and artillery to take up a good position behind the levee, I moved forward with the cavalry to attack the enemy. About one mile distant I found them about 350 strong in line of battle, with their left covered with plantation buildings, and the right in an open cotton-field. Forming my men in line, I advanced upon the enemy, and, arrived within 200 yards of their position,