Today in History:

23 Series I Volume XV- Serial 21 - Baton Rouge-Natchez


exceptions, appear to be wholly destitute of the moral sense, and I believe that they believe, in the face of all remonstrances, exhortations, and disgust, expressed in no measured terms, that they regard pillaging not only right in itself but a soldierly accomplishment. The major-general commanding will perceive that where nearly all are in league how difficult detection, is how far more difficult conviction. He may reset assured that I will prevent pillaging when I can, and, not preventing will detect and punish when I can detect and convict.

The major-general commanding, in his dispatch of 27th of May, assumed my transportation to have been excessive. On this subject I beg to differ from him wholly, and to say, on the contrary, that the men have suffered from insufficiency of transportation, cramped and crowded more live stock than men, without the means of exercise on board or room to form for inspection. Filth and dirt with all the authority and supervision I could exert, abounded on vessels and men to a disgusting and of course most unwholesome degree. Indeed it may be said,"You were not expected to be gone long, and you were expected to land whenever you could to relieve your men and cleanse your vessels:" but I answer, In the quarter where I have been longest the flooded country afforded no dry ground to land on. I followed the fleet, and as the crews of the fleet could find no landing place and remained on board my men remained on board, with this difference, that while the former were in comfort with their ton's measurement per man, we were in as much and more discomfort with our fraction of a ton than men should ever be subjected to, especially if expected to be vigorous, discipline, and effective military.

I shall refer to the flag-officer, requesting the assistance of one or two gunboats what the major-general commanding says about the probable attempt of the rebels to bring troops and beef cattle down the Red River and thence by the way of the Black River to rear of Vicksburg, but in my position here and objects here shall await his further orders before taking part with the troops in intercepting, &c. Black River enters the Mississippi at Grand Gulf, some 40 miles below Vicksburg, and intersects the Jackson Railroad some 12 miles behind Vicksburg. I suggested to the flag-officer a movement by that river on the rear of Vicksburg to destroy the railroad bridge at the railroad crossing of the Black River, understood to be about 1 mile long, but on consulting the pilots they said the river was not navigable for our gunboats; that the trade by that river was inconsiderable, and carried on by boats of the lightest draught. When off Vicksburg we learned from negro runaways that the rebels had a battery of four guns at the railroad bridge for its protection and to defend the approach up the Black River, and while at the town of Grand Gulf (mouth of the Black River) the 26th were informed by like authority that a battery of eleven guns had been placed 12 miles above the mouth as a further defense against our advance. It is proper for me to report that having on the 26th been fired on by a field battery of four guns when off the town of Grand Gulf and descending the river (with the loss of 1 man killed and 1 officer slightly wounded), the gunboat Kineo, at the instance of Captain Craven, fired several shot and shell into the town, and the battery, with its camp, about 1 1/2 miles in rear of the town, was thereby persuaded to leave. Learning, however, toward evening that they had left their camp and one gun behind in their hasty flight, I dispatched four Wisconsin companies, under Major Boardman, to capture the gun and remove and destroy the camp. These troops came up as the last of the rebels were leaving, guns and tents having preceded them. A few shots only were exchanged between