I sent another expedition this morning, 1,000 infantry, 150 cavalry, a section of artillery, to Harrisonburg, La., where is a rebel hospital and force; also in the neighborhood much cattle, horses, and corn. Four thousand rebel cattle are grazing on Black River, La., thirty-two miles southwest. I will try them next.
HEADQUARTERS TWENTY-NINTH Illinois INFANTRY,
Fort McPherson, Natchez, Miss., September 21, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to inform the general commanding that in obedience to his orders I proceeded with the forces under my command, on the morning of the 19th instant, to Buck's Ferry, on the Homochitto River, arriving at that place at 1 p. m. On that evening and the following day the Fourth Illinois Cavalry, under my orders, gathered in about 185 head of very fat cattle from the adjacent plantations owned by disloyal men and women.
About noon of the 20th instant I ordered the Twenty-ninth Illinois Infantry, Major Curtis commanding, to proceed with the train to the residence of Mr. Helm, twelve miles from Natchez, and load the wagons with corn and then proceed to Natchez. The order was strictly obeyed. Corn amounting to 700 bushels was taken, and the command arrived at this place about 10 o'clock this a. m. With the remaining forces and cattle I started for this place, arriving at noon. With the cattle on hand and those found on the road, excepting those were obliged to leave on account of their fatness, which prevented them from traveling, I had delivered to the commissary of the post 203 head. But little was done in recruiting, as able-bodied negroes were very difficult to find. Besides the recruiting officers of the Seventieth and Seventy-first Colored Regiments showed much more zeal in rummaging houses, stealing chickens, and such other unsoldierly acts than they did in carrying out their real object. The Seventy-first recruiting officers were known to enter a private house, take without authority towels, &c., and discharge a pistol, much to the annoyance and terror of the inmates, who were ladies. Both parties need reprimand and explicit instructions before being allowed to go on another expedition, as such parties are necessarily compelled to be absent from the immediate notice of the commanding officer. I would have made a more careful investigation of this, had they not departed with Major Curtis before I learned of it. I have learned of one outrageous act of robbery and abuse of women and an old man. As yet I do not know the parties, but think I can discover them. Strict orders were given and good discipline maintained with these exceptions. I believe the expedition accomplished its object. Had it been otherwise, I would have returned by another road, or crossed the Homochitto River. We had a slight skirmish with a party of rebels across the river numbering twenty, and repeatedly drove them with six men of the Twenty-ninth Illinois. Permit me to say that beyond the river there is an excellent opportunity to obtain forage, stock, &c.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant C. B. SMITH,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.