|MARCH 14-27, 1863.The Steele's Bayou
Expedition (to Rolling Fork, Miss., by Muddy, Steele's, and Black Bayous
and Deer Creek), with skirmishes (21st and 22d) on Deer Creek and (24th
and 25th) on Black Bayou.
Report of Maj. Gen. Carter L. Stevenson, C.S. Army,
MAJOR: I have the honor to report that, on the evening of the 20th instant, I received information that the enemy were endeavoring to turn my right by an expedition, which, entering Steele's, passed into Black Bayou and Deer Creek, and was at the time that the intelligence reached me within 20 miles of Rolling Fork, through which they expected to make their way into the Sunflower River and thence into the Yazoo.
The expedition consisted of five iron-clad boats, three armed sternwheel boats, four transports, three tugs, and nine barges, all heavily laden with troops. The importance attached to it by the enemy may be estimated by the fact that the boats were commanded by Acting Rear-Admiral Porter and the troops by General Sherman.
Some time before, I had sent off sharpshooters, under the command of Major [H. W.] Bridges, with orders to report to Colonel Ferguson, and co-operate with him in protecting the country drained by Deer Creek and the Sunflower from the raids of the enemy. This command reported to him on the 16th instant.
As soon as possible after the receipt of the intelligence, I directed Major-General Maury, commanding the right wing, to send Brigadier-General Featherston's brigade to Rolling Fork, to check their farther advance, and immediately afterward to dispatch a force, under Brigadier-General Lee, with orders to make their way up Deer Creek, fortify and obstruct it at the high ground at Hardee's, and out off, if possible, the retreat of the enemy.
The attack made upon them by our forces in front was successful. They were repulsed in confusion, with a loss of some camp and garrison equipage and several fine barges on the first day, and, being closely followed up subsequently, were steadily driven back, and, at last, completely foiled, relinquished their attempt, and, returning, resumed their former position in front of the city on the evening of the 27th instant.
The damage done their boats was so great that it could easily be discovered from the lookout station at this point.
I regret that not even the energy of General Lee, who generously volunteered for the occasion, could overcome the difficulties in his way in time to intercept their retreat. Had it been possible, he would have done it.
For notices of subordinate commanders, I refer you to the report of
Major-General Maury, herewith inclosed, and the letters of Colonel
Ferguson, heretofore forwarded.
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