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38 Series I Volume XLVIII-I Serial 101 - Powder River Expedition Part I


JANUARY 12-15, 1865. -Expedition from Morganza, La., with skirmishes.

Report of Colonel Morgan H. Chrysler, Second New York Veteran Cavalry.

Morganza, La., January 17, 1865.

LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to report that, in accordance with instructions from headquarters U. S. Forces, my command, consisting of a detachment of my regiment, left camp on the morning of the 12th instant in four detachments. The first down Bayou Fordoche, under Lieutenant Colonel A. L. Gurney; the second on Lower River and False River roads, under Major Fassett; the third on Poydras College road, under Major Cameron, and the fourth on Poydras road, commanded by myself. The second, third, and fourth concentrated at Poydras College same day, and were joined by first detachment at junction of Bayous Grossetete and Maringouin at 1 p. m. 14th instant, when I again divided the command into three detachments, one of them flanking Bayou Maringouin to the right one mile and a half, coming up in the rear of Barrows' plantation; the other two detachments on each bank of Bayou Grossetete to Rosedale and below, I holding the point at Governor Johnson's plantation, the junction of Bayous Grossetete and Maringouin. I found the roads upon all bayous in good order, but bridges all swept away by high water and the swamps all full. No force can now cross at Atchafalaya at any point between Red River and Plaquemine to come to the Mississippi River on account of the water. There is no heavy force on the opposite bank of the Atchafalaya, but detachments and squads of men stationed at every important point up to Alexandria. I found no accumulations of corn except that raised upon plantations. The different detachments of my command encountered the pickets of the enemy at New Roads, on False River; at Morgan's Ferry road, on Fordoche; at Livonia, on Fordoche; and at Erwin's and Rosedale, on Grossetete. The force on False River and vicinity, commanded, respectively, by Major Pryne, Captaieutenant Williams, is an irregular force, living upon the people, mounted on fleet horses, who run away at the first approach of danger. They are the men who in the night steal up and fire upon our advanced posts. Of this force 1 was killed and 2 wounded. This Major Pryne is endeavoring to raise a battalion, and pretends to have orders to commence conscripting on the 22nd instant. He has now about fifty men. The force upon the Fordoche scout between that, new Texas, and old river roads, commanded by Lieutenant Collins, and consists of about twenty men. The force upon the Maringouin, State, and Lyon's Ferry roads, commanded by Captain Ratliff, consists of one company of Second Louisiana Cavalry, and numbers about sixty men. This is the legitimate courier-line between the Mississippi River and the Atchafalaya, and a very reliable one. The Rosedale force, commanded by Lieutenant Stillwell, about fifteen men, who figure [between] West Baton Rouge and the Grossetete, are mostly engaged in contraband trade. Their reserve is the canebrake. I left camp on the 12th instant and returned on the evening of the 15th, during which time the command marched about 100 miles. The result of the expedition is 9 prisoners of war, horses and equipments, 1 prisoner paroled on account of being sick, 21 horses, 67 mules, 1 new ambulance and harness, a large quantity of water-proof percussion caps, powder, and a rebel mail. Casualties none. Scarcely any property was taken except that found in the woods. As