There is a trifling stockade for defense. So long as gun-boats remain at the mouth of the river this command will probably be safe; but as these boats are not under the military control and may leave for some other locality on a sudden call, I consider this detachment entirely unsafe. Either a strong garrison should be left there in a strong redoubt or this one should be withdrawn. There was a store thereon shore, and I ordered the captain in command to compel the owner to leave by the first boat.
I arrived at this place on the 11th and commenced inspecting on the 12th. The present commander, Colonel Crooks, Sixth Minnesota Infantry, is an efficient soldier. He has been in command only a few days, and has in that time introduced important reforms. He has many irregularities to correct, and will proceed with his work in the administrative department as fast as he can find the time. He had already closed his lines before my arrival here, and is very strict in the enforcement of his regulations. The headquarter's department demands his attention, and it will receive it. There are too many clerks and other employees there. I herewith inclose a copy* of my letter of instructions to him.
I received, very unexpectedly, on the night of the 13th, orders to assume command of the District of Vicksburg, and as I must leave here for that post on the first boat I now discontinue my inspection and leave this part incomplete.
The health of the troops here is very bad indeed. This appears to be the most deadly place on the river. This fact, together with that of two of largest regiments here now, being 100-days' men, whose times expire in less than a month, renders it injudicious to recommend any reserve force here for offensive operations. The Sixth Minnesota should be immediately removed to Vicksburg to regain its health enough to make it effective. The effective force here now is about 3,100 men.
The following inspections are made: Fifteenth Illinois Calvary--Inspected at 4.30 p. m. August 13. Aggregate effective, five companies, 326; 377, serviceable and 6 unserviceable horses. The regiment has heretofore had private horses, but they have recently been bought by the Government and are in fine condition. This regiment is almost entirely unarmed, having only 185 carbines and accouterments, most of which are condemned. They require 300 sets of horse equipments, 400 carbines and accounterments, and 343 pistols. Sanitary condition good. Battery E, Second U. S. Artillery (colored)-Inspected August 13, at 6 p. m. Aggregate effective, 108. Sanitary and general condition good. They have two 3-inch rifled ordnance guns and two captured 12-pounders, eighty-three horses, and three six-mule teams in good condition. They are improving in drill and progressing well. Fifty-sixth U. S. Infantry (colored)-Inspected at 8 a. m. August 12. Aggregate effective, 780, of which 581 are at Helena and the remainder at two points four and fourteen mile below here guarding a district of plantations. They are in very indifferent condition as to discipline and officers. The colonel was hardly responsible for the condition of the regiment, as he had only