of Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks, U. S. Army, commanding Department of the
DEPT. OF THE GULF, NINETEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Simsport, on the Atchafalaya, where my command was at the date of my last
dispatch, I landed at Bayou Sara at 2 o'clock on the morning of the 21st.
A portion of the infantry was transported by steamer, and the balance of
the infantry, artillery, cavalry, and wagon train moving down on the west
bank of the river, and from this to Bayou Sara.
On the 23d, a junction
was effected with the advance of Major-General Augur and Brigadier-General
Sherman, our line occupying the Bayou Sara road, at a distance of 5 miles
from Port Hudson. Major-General Augur had an encounter with a portion of
the enemy on the Bayou Sara road, in the direction of Baton Rouge, which
resulted in the repulse of the enemy with heavy loss.
On the 25th, the enemy
was compelled to abandon his first line of works. General Weitzel's
brigade, which had covered our rear in the march from Alexandria, joined
us on the 26th, and on the morning of the 27th a general assault was made
upon the fortifications. The artillery opened fire between 5 and 6
o'clock, which was continued with animation during the day.
At 10 o'clock a.m.
Weitzel's brigade, with the division of General Grover, reduced to about two brigades, and the division of General Emory,
temporarily reduced by detachments to about a brigade, under command of
Colonel Paine, with two regiments of negro troops, made an assault upon
the right of the enemy's works, crossing Sandy Creek and driving him
through the wood into his fortifications. The fight lasted on this line
until 4 o'clock, and was very severely contested. On the left, the
infantry did not come up until later in the day, but at 2 o'clock an
assault was opened upon the works on the center and left of center by the
divisions under Major-General Augur and Brigadier General Sherman. The
enemy was driven into his works, and our troops moved up to the
fortifications, holding the opposite sides of the parapet with the enemy.
On the right, our troops still occupy this position. On the left, after
dark, the main body, being exposed to a flank fire, withdrew to a belt of
wood, the skirmishers remaining close upon the fortifications.
The works are defended
by a garrison much larger than generally represented. There appears to be
no want of ammunition or provisions on the part of the enemy. The
fortifications are very strong, and surrounded by a most intricate tract
of country, diversified by ravines, woods, plains, and cliffs, which it is
almost impossible to comprehend without careful and extended
Six regiments, under
command of Colonel Chickering, were detailed at Alexandria to guard the
train from that point and from Opelousas. These troops will be here
to-morrow, and strengthen our force some 3,000 men. My effective force on
the day of the assault was about 13,000; that of the enemy, within the
works, ten regiments, of between 500 and 600 each--in all, about 8,000
men--with mounted infantry out side the works in our rear (2,200),
consisting of the Ninth and Eleventh Regiments of Arkansas troops.
In the assault of the
27th, the behavior of the officers and men was most gallant, and left
nothing to be desired. Our limited acquaintance with the ground and the
character of the works, which were almost hidden from our observation
until the moment of approach, alone prevented the capture of the post.
We occupy the enemy
night and day with harassing attacks of infantry and artillery, giving him
no rest or sleep. Numerous prisoners and deserters, who are captured or
come in, report that the men are dispirited and depressed. We wait only
the arrival of our troops and the completion of more perfect
reconnaissances to renew our assault, and have strong hopes that it will
be successful. No time will be lost.
To avoid possible
failure in carrying this important post, I have notified General Grant by
one of his staff officers, who was present on the day after the assault,
of the details of our position and our strength, and have asked him, if it
be possible, to send us 5,000 or 10,000 men, with whose aid we could
accomplish its reduction in a single day. I understand the pressing
circumstances of his position, but hope that he may be able to assist us
in this emergency. We want only men. With the reduction of Port Hudson we
can join him without delay with at least 15,000 men and a finely appointed
siege train of artillery, which he greatly needs. We shall not, however,
delay our operations or post-pone effective movements for the reduction of
the post on account of this application to him for aid.
On the extreme right of
our line I posted the First and Third Regiments of negro troops. The First
Regiment of Louisiana Engineers, composed exclusively of colored men,
excepting the officers, was also engaged in the operations of the day. The
position occupied by these troops was one of importance,
and called for the utmost steadiness and bravery in those to whom it was
confided. It gives me pleasure to report that they answered every
expectation. In many respects their conduct was heroic. No troops could be
more determined or more daring. They made during the day three charges
upon the batteries of the enemy, suffering very heavy losses and holding
their position at nightfall with the other troops on the right of our
line. The highest commendation is bestowed upon them by all the officers
in command on the right. Whatever doubt may have existed heretofore as to
the efficiency of organizations of this character, the history of this day
proves conclusively to those who were in condition to observe the conduct
of these regiments that the Government will find in this class of troops
effective supporters and defenders. The severe test to which they were
subjected, and the determined manner in which they encountered the enemy,
leaves upon my mind no doubt of their ultimate success. They require only
good officers, commands of limited numbers, and careful discipline, to
make them excellent soldiers.
Our losses from the 23d
to this date, in killed, wounded, and missing, are nearly 1,000,
including, I deeply regret to say, some of the ablest officers of the
corps. I am unable yet to repeat them in detail.
I have the honor to be, with
much respect, your obedient servant,
U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.
DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
GENERAL: I have the
honor to inform you that, having silenced all the enemy's artillery,
completely invested the place, and established my batteries within 350
yards, I yesterday opened a vigorous cannonade for an hour, and at its
expiration made a formal demand on General Gardner for the surrender of
the garrison. He replied that his duty required him to defend the place,
and therefore he declined to surrender. Accordingly the necessary
arrangements were made to assault the works at daylight this morning,
after a cannonade and bombard-merit lasting during the night, reviewed
with vigor just previous to the attack. The attack was in three columns.
One, of a division under Brigadier-General Dwight, was intended to gain
entrance to the enemy's works on the extreme left; a feigned attack was to
be made with vigor by Major-General Augur in the center, and the main
attack was to be made by the right wing, under Brigadier-General Graver.
Neither column was successful in gaining the work, but our troops gained
advanced positions within from 50 to 200 yards from the works. These we
shall hold and intrench to-night. The enemy made several attempts to open
with artillery, but was almost immediately silenced. I believe our losses
are not heavy except in officers. I regret to say that that gallant
officer, Brig. Gen. Halbert E. Paine, fell, severely but it is thought not
dangerously wounded, while leading the Third Division to the attack. I am
still confident of success.
Very respectfully, your most
DEPT. OF THE GULF, NINETEENTH ARMY CORPS,
GENERAL: Affairs here
are progressing steadily to a favorable conclusion. The battery erected on
our extreme left, at about 300 yards of the citadel, breached the parapet
of the citadel, drove the enemy out of a troublesome rifle-pit, and
destroyed a gallery, which is believed to have been a part of a mine.
Under cover of its fire, our approach on the extreme left has been pushed
up to the citadel, and General Dwight makes an attempt to enter it
The sap on General
Grover's front has been pushed to within 13 feet of the ditch in the
re-entrant of the priest-cap. The sap-roller rolled into the ditch last
An elite storming
party has been organized, made up of about 850 volunteers from the whole
force, under the command of Col. H. W. Birge, Thirteenth Connecticut, who
has been engaged some days in preparing the column for its work.
The number of deserters
increases steadily. There have been 30 to-day. The beef-cattle of the
garrison have all been killed, either for food or by our fire, and the
salt meat has all been eaten. The men who deserted to-day after dinner
have had no meat, and were told they would get no more, and that mule meat
was to be issued hereafter.
I have seen a copy of
the Port Hudson Herald of the 28th, containing the news' of the arrival at
that place of an officer from General Joe Johnston with dispatches.
General Gardner publishes a general order, of date the 27th, assuring the
garrison that General Johnston will soon relieve Vicksburg, and then send
re-enforcements here, and declaring his purpose to defend the place to the
On the 18th instant a
force of the enemy (stated by some of our prisoners who were released on
parole to be one regiment of infantry, two of cavalry, and a battery of
artillery, under the command of Col. James P. Major, formerly of our
service) captured and burned the steamers Anglo American and Sykes at
Plaquemine, taking 68 prisoners, of whom 5 were citizens. The prisoners
consisted mainly of some convalescents belonging to the Twenty-eighth
The same force then
passed down the river and Bayou La Fourche, and, avoiding Donaldsonville,
struck the Opelousas Railway at Terre Bonne Station on the 20th instant,
cutting off communication between Brashear City and New Orleans.
The same day they
attacked and were repulsed by our forces at La Fourche Crossing,
consisting of the One hundred and seventy-sixth New York and Twenty-third
Connecticut, lacking two companies, which had been concentrated to meet
the attack, under the command of Lieut. Col. Albert Stickney, Forty-
The attack was renewed
on the afternoon of the 21st, and again repulsed in a manner very
creditable to the troops engaged and to their commander. With less than
1,000 men, he drove back the greatly superior force of the enemy, who
retired, leaving 53 of his dead on the field and 16 prisoners in our
hands. Our loss was 8 killed and 16 wounded.
Massachusetts and Ninth Connecticut were sent down from New Orleans in a
special train that night, and the Fifteenth Maine, which had opportunely
arrived from Pensacola, followed the next morning. No further attack was
The steamer Saint
Mary's, sent round from New Orleans, with orders from General Emory to the
troops at Brashear to hold out to the last, met at Southwest Pass the
gunboat Hollyhock, returning from Berwick Bay, with the unpleasant news
that the enemy, having crossed the lake on rafts in
considerable force, succeeded, on the 22d instant, in surprising and
capturing the small garrison of Brashear--although as fully warned of
their danger as any orders could warn them--taking at the same time about
300 prisoners, two 30-pounder Parrott and six 24-pounder guns, a small
train of ears, and everything else at the place.
Early yesterday morning
Donaldsonville, garrisoned by but 225 men, including convalescents, under
the command of Maj. J. D. Bullen, Twenty-eighth Maine, was attacked by a
large force of the enemy, under the command of Brig. Gen. Thomas Green, of
The attack began at
1.30 a.m., and lasted till daylight. The defense was most gallant. The
brave garrison defended their interior line with desperation, and finally
repulsed the enemy with great slaughter, killing and wounding more than
their own number, and taking prisoners twice as many officers and nearly
as many men as they had.
The enemy retreated
some 5 miles, and General Green sent in a flag asking permission to bury
his dead, singularly enough accompanied by an apology for his failure-
that he was unfortunate in not getting his men into the skirmish, owing to
the rashness of his commanders.
I sent down Brigadier
General ------ last night with the First Louisiana Volunteers and two
sections of Closson's battery, and General Emory sent up two companies
from New Orleans.
The gunboats Winona,
Princess Royal, and Monongahela rendered great assistance in the defense
of Donaldsonville, and they have since been joined by the Genesee.
Our forces on the
railway have fallen back upon Algiers. The forces of the enemy now
occupying the La Fourche and operating upon our communications consist of
all the troops in Western Louisiana, under Major-General Taylor, and about
5,000 cavalry, sent by Magruder from Texas. Their whole force is from
9,000 to 12,000. The fall of Port Hudson will enable us to settle that
affair very speedily.
The dispositions of
Brigadier-General Emory were well made and with the greatest promptitude,
and our only misfortune at Brashear is due entirely to the carelessness
and disobedience of subordinates.
In these operations but
400 soldiers could be left in New Orleans to protect the depots of this
army and all our vital interests in a large city occupied by a population
essentially hostile, and liable, from its position, to sudden attacks from
The consequences that
would have followed the movement of the enemy upon the La Fourche, had my
command moved to Vicksburg, leaving Port Hudson and its garrison in my
rear, are obvious--New Orleans would have fallen. A few more days must
decide the fate of this place. I regard its fall as certain.
Our losses in the
attack were as follows:
and men. Killed.
The discrepancy between
the totals consists of 13 killed and 84 wounded and missing; total 99
reported in one instance without distinguishing between officers and men.
Many who were at first reported missing are now known to have been killed.
I have the honor to be,
general, your most obedient servant,
Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
General- in- Chief,
DEPT. OF THE GULF, NINETEENTH ARMY CORPS,
GENERAL: Since my
dispatch of the 29th ultimo was written, the siege has been progressing
rather slowly, indeed, but with all the rapidity attainable under the
circumstances. Our approaches are pushed up to the ditch at the citadel on
our extreme left, and in front of the right priest-cap, where the assault
of the 14th was made.
On the morning of the
4th, when the right sap was within 10 feet of the ditch, the enemy sprung
a small mine, and extended the approach into the ditch. Both on the right
and left we are now engaged in pushing mines to blow up the parapet, and
the enemy is clearly counter-mining. The column of stormers is fully
organized and ready. A few days more must decide this operation, and, I
have no doubt, in our favor.
By the arrival of Col.
Kilby Smith yesterday, with dispatches from General Grant, I have news
from the forces before Vicksburg to June 30. Affairs there are evidently
in much the same condition as here. Colonel Smith was particularly struck
with and remarked upon the coincidence. The most important piece of
intelligence brought by the colonel is of the inactivity of Johnston's
army, and of his apparent inability to raise the siege.
From the reports of
General Emory, dated the 3d and 4th instant, copies of which and my
replies I have the honor to inclose, you will see that the enemy has
thrown more force into the La Fourche, and is actively engaged in annoying
our communications and menacing New Orleans. I have urgently requested
Admiral Farragut to patrol the river, so as to prevent the success of any
attempt of the enemy to cross the river, either in force or by
detachments, and partially, at least, to frustrate the attempt to cut off
communication with the city. I inclose a copy of my note to the admiral.
As matters stand, the
enemy will do us some harm in the La Fourche and cause us considerable
annoyance on the river; but I consider it certain that Port Hudson will
fall before New Orleans is seriously endangered, and that the close of
this operation will enable us to make short work of the other; but I
cannot refrain from reflecting what would have been the condition of
affairs had this command, leaving the hostile garrison of Port Hudson in
our rear, marched to Vicksburg, where General Grant has already, as he
states, "a very large force--much more than can be used in the
investment of the rebel works." When General Emory concentrated his
little command at La Fourche Crossing, to repel the enemy's advance there,
there were just 400 soldiers in and around New Orleans. I think General
Emory overestimates the force in the La Fourche when he puts it at 13,000,
and believe that the whole force of the enemy there consists of Taylor's
army, of about 4,000 men, which we defeated on the Teche,
and a re-enforcement of from 3,000 to 5,000 cavalry or mounted infantry
from Texas. The infantry garrison of Port Hudson and the cavalry force
which is hovering on our rear numbered, united, when we arrived here, at
least 7.000. Against a combined attack of these forces on both sides of
the river, New Orleans could not have been defended.
I shall request General
Grant to send me at least -- thousand men as soon as he can possibly spare
them, in order that we may secure what we shall so hardly have gained. I
am confident, general, of a speedy and favorable result.
Very respectfully, your most
Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Washington, D. C.
[Inclosure No. 1.]
DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Maj. Gen. N. P. BANKS,
GENERAL: Feeling a
great anxiety to learn the situation at Port Hudson, I send Col. Kilby
Smith to communicate with you. Colonel Smith has been here during the
entire siege of Vicksburg, and can inform you fully of the position of
affairs at this place. I confidently expected that Vicksburg would have
been in our possession before this, leaving me able to send you any force
that might be required against Port Hudson. I have a very large
force--much more than can be used in the investment of the rebel
works--but Johnston still hovers east of Black River Whether he will
attack or not, I look upon now as doubtful. No doubt he would, however, if
I should weaken my force to any extent. I have sent into Louisiana to
learn the movements of Kirby Smith, but, as yet, hear nothing definite.
Should it be my good
fortune, general, to get into Vicksburg while you are still investing Port
Hudson, I will commence immediately shipping troops to you, and will send
such number as you may indicate as being necessary. The troops of this
command are in excellent health and spirits. There is not the slightest
indication of despondency among either officers or men.
Hoping to hear favorable
news from your field of operations by the return of Colonel Smith, I
remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
[Inclosure No. 2. ]
DEFENSES OF NEW ORLEANS,
GENERAL: The time has
come when I think it imperatively necessary that you send me
re-enforcements. The enemy are in force at Des Allemands Bayou, on the
Vacherie road, and at Whitehall Saw-mill. The Iberville has been fired
into and disabled, and is now coming down in tow of the Sallie Robinson. I
do not think you have one moment to lose in sending re-enforcements. Transports will have to
be conveyed by gunboats. The enemy have sent a flag of truce from Des
Allemands Bayou, saying they have 1,200 prisoners they wish to deliver.
Where they came from I do not know. They have already sent in 50 by the
way of the fort at Donaldsonville. These men have used such seditious
language that the commanding officer at the United States barracks has
been obliged to put them in confinement.
The navy is all above,
except the Pensacola and Portsmouth, and the New London, which is about
being completed and sent to Texas.
Just as I finished the
above, the Zephyr, with my aide-de-camp, Lieutenant French, returning from
Donaldsonville, where I was compelled to send re-enforcements, has also
been fired into, receiving two solid shots.
As I before informed
you, the attempt to raise a force here is a failure.
The enemy's plan is to
cut your communications, and then march on this city.
Very respectfully, your most
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