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to say, that in future, any document in which it
Doc. 130. may be repeated will be returned unanswered and unnoticed.
GENERAL STEELE'S EXPEDITION. With respect to the subject of the extract from Earl Russell's despatch, the President desires me
LITTLE ROCK“ DEMOCRAT” ACCOUNT. to state, that the plea of neutrality which is used
LITTLE Rock, May 8, 1864. to sustain the sinister course of her Majesty's! We have, heretofore, given such accounts as present government against the government of reached us of the movement of the army souththe confederate States, is so clearly contradicted ward to coöperate with General Banks in his by their actions that it is regarded by the world, proposed expedition against Shreveport. We not even excepting the United States, as a mere present, to-day, a succinct statement, which we cover for actual hostility, and the President can have collected from all the statements of the not but feel that this is a just view of it. Were, operations of the gallant little army of General indeed, her Majesty's government sincere in a Steele, from the day he left here. desire and determination to maintain neutrality, The advanced-guard moved from Little Rock the President would not but feel that they would on the twenty-third of March, on the military neither be just nor gallant to allow the subjugation road. On the twenty-fourth, the whole comof a nation like the confederate States, by such mand moved, the head of the column resting a barbarous, despotic race as are now attempting that night on the Saline, beyond Benton. On the it. He cannot but feel, with the history and tra- twenty-fifth, the command crossed Saline bottom, ditions of the Anglo-Saxon race before him, that and on the succeeding day reached Rockport. under a government faithfully representing the On the twenty-seventh, a bridge was thrown people of Great Britain, the whole weight and across the Ouachita River and the troops crossed power of that nation would be unhesitatingly and moved in the direction of Arkadelphia. thrown into the scale, in favor of the principles That night there was a heavy rain-storm, and the of free government on which these States were army encamped at Bayou Roche on the night of originally formed, and for which alone the con- the twenty-eighth, and arrived at Arkadelphia federate States are now struggling. He cannot on the succeeding day, where it remained until but feel that with such a government, and with the first of April, waiting to be joined by Genthe plea of neutrality urged upon the people, as eral Thayer. it now is, no such pitiful spectacle could be wit- From the time the head of the column reached nessed as is now manifested by her Majesty's Benton, the advance-guard was continually skirpresent government, in the persistent persecution mishing. Our losses were some two or three of the confederate States, at the beck and bidding wounded, and we captured a few prisoners. of officers of the United States, while a prime On the first of April, the army moved forward minister mocks and insults the intelligence of a to Spoonville, a distance of twelve or fourteen House of Commons, and of the world, by excus- miles. On the second, it moved from Spoonville ing the permission to allow British subjects to in the direction of Washington, and at nine go to the United States to fight against us, by the miles from the former place, encountered Marmapaltry subterfuge that it was the great demand duke and Cabell, in considerable force. The for labor, and the high rate of wages that were next obstacle was Little Red River, a rapid taking them thither. He cannot but feel that a stream and difficult to cross. General Steele had neutrality most cunningly, audaciously, fawning- | the choice of three crossings: that at Tate's ly, and insolently sought and urged, begged and Ferry, at the crossing of the military road, and demanded by one belligerent, and repudiated by at Elkins's Ferry. The enemy very truly supthe other, must be seen, by all impartial men, to posed that the object of General Steele was to be a mere pretext for aiding the cause of one at reach Camden, and occupied the road to Tate's the expense of the other; while pretending to Ferry in force, and had thrown up works, and be impartial, to be, in short, but a cover for made preparations to resist the crossing of our treacherous, malignant hostility.
army. Learning this, General Steele moved his As for the specious arguments on the subject command forward, as if he intended to proceed diof the rams, advanced by Earl Russell, the Presi- rectly to Washington, and leave Camden on his dent desires me to state that he is content to left. When within ten miles of the crossing of leave the world and history to pronounce judg- the military road, he threw forward some troops ment upon this attempt to heap injury upon in on the military road as if intending to pursue it, sult, by declaring that her Majesty's government sent a detachment of cavalry to seize and hold and law officers are satisfied of the questions in. Elkins's Ferry, and turned the direction of the volved, while those questions are still before the main body of the army southward, at right angles highest legal tribunal of the kingdom, composed with the former course. The troops sent forward of members of the government and the highest on the military road encountered Marmaduke law officers of the crown, for their decision. The and Shelby in force, and kept them in play; but President himself will not condescend to notice at the same time, Shelby attacked the rear of the them.
army, under command of Brigadier-General Rice, I have the honor to be your lordship's obedi- near the crossing of the Terre Noir. The enemy ent, humble servant,
| attacked with great bravery, and were repulsed BURTON N. HARRISON. I with heavy loss.
On the third of April, the entire command fourteenth it was generally known that the rebels crossed the Little Red River at Elkins's Ferry, had found out that the real destination was Camand so well planned had been the movement, and den, that they had been outwitted, and that they so promptly executed, that it was not until the had sent Cabell and Shelby in front of the Union evening of that day, and by accident, that the army to resist the march to Camden. The fifenemy learned that the army had crossed. On teenth was spent in driving the rebels from pothis day, Colonel Engleman's brigade had a seri- sition to position, and our army entered Camden. ous engagement at Okolona, and soundly thrash- Camden was found to be strongly fortified, and, ed the enemy. On the succeeding day, Marma- with boats on the Ouachita to bring supplies, duke and Cabell, with a force of four or five could have been maintained against any rebel thousand men, made a furious attack, but were force. Deserters who came in reported that easily driven off, our army capturing, among Banks had been defeated, and spies returned other prisoners, two lieutenants, one of them a with the same intelligence. Some despatches member of Marmaduke's staff. The arıny re- from the enemy were captured, which confirmed mained here a day or two, waiting for General the fact that if Banks was not defeated he had Thayer to come up, who had been obliged to been so crippled as to make it necessary for him come by a different route from the one originally to stop. intended, on account of forage and bad roads. On the eighteenth, a forage team sent out by Our forces found that the enemy had thrown up the quartermaster was captured by the enemy. works to cover the road through the bottom. This was the first disaster during the expedition.
Immense labor had been expended here, as On the twentieth, a supply-train arrived from they were over a mile in length, consisting of Pine Bluff, and on the twenty-second the empty felled trees and heavy earth-work. After a sharp train was sent back, escorted by a brigade of inskirmish, the enemy left their defences and our fantry, four pieces of artillery, and a proper protroops occupied them. On the evening of the portion of cavalry. On the twenty-fifth, news seventh a terrible storm came up, with thunder was received that the train had been captured, and lightning and a deluge of rain. The river and Lieutenant-Colonel Drake, of the Seventyrose three feet, and the succeeding day was spent seventh Ohio, who was in command, was morin corduroying the bottoms and throwing a tally wounded. bridge across the river for the passage of Thay. Deserters, prisoners, spies, and scouts, who er's command, which had come up and now came or were brought in, gave information that joined the main army.
rendered it certain that Kirby Smith, in person, On Sunday, the tenth, a bright and beautiful with reēnforcements of eight thousand infantry, day, the army moved on to Prairie E'Ann, where, had joined Price and were advancing. Taking it was understood, Price had determined to make all these things into consideration, the scarcity a final and desperate stand. At a point on the of forage, the difficulty of keeping open a line for prairie two branches make off from the direct supplies, and that the rebels could avoid a battle road. The right hand goes to Washington, the and go round Camden, General Steele decided direct road goes to Spring Hill, which is on the to evacuate the place and return to his former direct route to Shreveport, and the left leads to lines. Camden. This point was covered by the enemy, On the night of the twenty-sixth, the whole who did not know which road General Steele command crossed the Ouachita, and moved for proposed to take. An artillery fight took place, Little Rock, by way of Princeton and Jenkins's the enemy having two or three batteries, which Ferry, on the Saline, which point was reached ceased at nightfall. After dark, the enemy, hav- on the twenty-seventh, and a pontoon thrown ing discovered the position of our artillery dur- across. Here it was learned that the rebel Gening the day, made a desperate effort to capture eral Fagan, with a large force and fourteen pieces the guns, but were repulsed with severe loss of artillery, had left their camp, five miles above and retreated to the earth and timber-works over that point, and were moving up the river to & mile long, commanding the Washington road. where it could be forded, in order to cross and On the next day our army moved nearer the threaten Little Rock. A cavalry force was sent rebel position, and felt of it to ascertain its to intercept Fagan. About noon of that day it strength and disposition. On the twelfth, at commenced raining, and continued to rain hard daylight, General Steele pushed forward and so during that and the succeeding day. Price came disposed his forces as to turn their left flank, up at this point, and the battle alluded to in yeswhen the enemy fled to Washington.
terday's paper was fought on Saturday, the thirThey were pursued by cavalry for several tieth. It was a splendid victory, the rebels remiles, as if it was intended to follow them up, treating, losing three pieces of artillery and other but our army then took the road to Camden. / material of war. The next day was spent in crossing the Terre After the defeat of the rebels, as the roads Bouge bottom, one of the worst in the State. It and weather prevented marching, General Steele had to be corduroyed for miles and bridges made. I decided to send General Carr to Little Rock to While this was being done, the rebel General watch Fagan, as he felt confident of again whipDockery attacked the rear, commanded by Gen- ping Price and Smith, should they conclude to eral Thayer, who drove the assailants back and attack again. punished them severely. On the night of the As the rebels did not come to time, the army took up its line of march, and while we are writ | CAPTURE OF SIMMSPORT AND FORT DE ing is marching through the city with the guns
RUSSY.* and trophies captured from the enemy.
REPORT OF REAR-ADMIRAL D. D. PORTER. Such is an outline of the expedition as we have gathered it from those who accompanied it. Our
MISSISSIPPI SQUADRON, Flag-SHIP BLACK HAWK, L
FORT De Russy, Red River, March 15, 1864. I losses in the various skirmishes were light, being only in wounded and those taken with the train.' SIR: I had the honor to report to you that I The report of the loss on Saturday has not been was about to ascend Red River with a fleet of received, but it was small, and that of the enemy gunboats, in company with a portion of General heavy, as the latter attacked while our men
acked while our men Sherman's command, or that of General Banks, fought from position.
whichever concluded to go. Generals Rice, Solomon, Carr, and Thayer, all On the seventh of March I had assembled at fought like bull-dogs, and, when their commands the mouth of Red River a large fleet of ironwere attacked, successfully repulsed the enemy. clads, composed of the following vessels : Essex. The negro regiments fought well, and took two
Commander Robert Townsend ; Benton, Lieuguns at Elkins's Ferry.
tenant Commander James A. Greer; La Fayette, It is evident that the check received by General Lieutenant Commander J. P. Foster ; Choctaw, Banks, and his falling back to Grand Ecore, made Lieutenant Commander F. M. Ramsey; Chillia further advance by General Steele, with his cothe, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant S. P. Cousmall army, impossible. It was useless to hold thouy ; Ozark, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Camden and depend upon supplies from this George W. Browne ; Louisville, Lieutenant point or Pine Bluff. As the Red River expedi Commander E. K. Owen ; Carondelet, Lieutention had been delayed, if not broken up, a return
ant Commander J. G. Mitchell ; Eastport, Lieuto Little Rock was the only alternative.
tenant Commander S. L. Phelps; Pittsburgh, The command has marched over three hun- Acting Volunteer Lieutenant W. R. Hoel dred miles, driven rebels nearly the whole time,
| Mound City, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant A. giving them battle wherever they offered it, R. Langthorne; Osage, Lieutenant Commander whipped them in every engagement, outwitted
racement outwitted T. 0. Selfridge ; Neosho, Acting Volunteer Lieuthem when they attempted strategy, and has re- tenant Samuel Howard ; Ouachita, Lieutenant turned with comparatively little loss, if we ex- Commander Byron Wilson; Fort Hindman, Actcept the return train, which was cut off and cap
ing Volunteer Lieutenant John Pearce. And the tured by superior numbers.
| lighter boats: Lexington, Lieutenant George M. | Bache; Cricket, Acting Master H. H. Gorringe ; Gazelle, Acting Master Charles Thatcher; Black
Hawk, Lieutenant Commander K. R. Breese. Doc. 131.
I received communications from General Banks, informing me that he would be in Alexandria on
the seventeenth March, and I made my dispoRED RIVER EXPEDITION.
sitions to meet him there. On the eleventh inREPORTS OF ADMIRAL PORTER.
stant, part of General Sherman's command, ten
thousand men, under the command of BrigadierMISSISSIPPI SQUADRON, FLAG-SHIP BLACK HAWK, OFF RED RIVER,
General A. J. Smith, joined me in transports at
March 2, 1864. ) | the mouth of Red River, and next morning early Sir: I came down here anticipating a move on the gunboats started up the river, followed by the part of the army up toward Shreveport; the transports. There was just sufficient water but as the river is lower than it has been known to allow the larger boats to pass. By previous to be for years, I much fear that the combined arrangement, Lieutenant Commander Phelps, in movement cannot come off without interfering the Eastport, was ordered to push on up with with plans formed by General Grant.
his vessel and those that could keep with him, General Sherman has gone to New-Orleans to and clear away the heavy obstructions the rebels make arrangements with General Banks, and I had placed in the river, and to amuse the Fort am expecting his return every day. In the mean | until the army could land at Simmsport and get time the gunboats are up the Atchafalaya and into the rear of the enemy's works, which could Black Rivers, destroying bridges and stores, and be done by making a march of thirty miles. endeavoring to destroy eight thousand cattle col. The Benton, Pittsburgh, Chillicothe, Louislected at Sicily Island.
ville, Mound City, Carondelet, Ouachita, LexingThe Mississippi River is very quiet, and the ton, and Gazelle turned off to the left into the rebels retreated into the interior on hearing of Atchafalaya, followed by the troops, while the the advance of the gunboats.
others went on up the river. The gunboats I am, sir,
arrived at Simmsport about twelve o'clock, and Very respectfully,
found the enemy posted in force about three Your obedient servant,
miles back. The Benton landed her crew, and David D. PORTER drove in the pickets. The army came along in
Rear-Admiral, about half an hour more, and landed the next Hon. GIDEON WELLES,
morning, taking possession of the enemy's campSecretary of the Navy, Washington, D.O.
• See Doc. 96, ante.
ing ground, the latter retreating toward Fort De at Fort De Russy, with their numbers, as some Russy. That night, General Smith concluded of them appear to be heavy guns. The Ordnance to follow them by land, while I proceeded up Bureau may be able to account for them. Red River with all the gunboats and transports. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient In the mean time the Eastport had reached the servant,
DAVID D. PORTER, obstructions, and, with the vessels that kept pace
Rear-Admiral. with her, had commenced the work of demolition
1 Hon. GIDEON WELLES, on the formidable barricade, on which the rebels
Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C. had been employed five months. They sup- List of Guns captured at Fort De Russy water. posed it impassable, but our energetic sailors, with battery.-One thirty-two pounder, thirty-three hard work, opened a passage in a few hours. hundred weight, F. P. F., No. 227, navy, in bar.. The obstructions consisted of heavy piles driven bette, J. S. C. Proven 1847. into the mud, and braced in every direction ; One thirty-one pounder, thirty-three hundred they were also clamped together with heavy iron weight, F. P. F., No. 226, navy, in barbette, J. plates and chains.
S. C. Proven 1847. The Eastport and Neosho got through about Two nine-inch Dahlgren guns. No marks four o'clock in the afternoon, and proceeded up could be discovered on these guns, but they to the Fort, which at that moment was being sur- bore all the evidence of having been in service rounded by the troops under General Smith, who in the navy, the remains of gun-blacking being had marched from Simmsport since daylight on them. Both lugs were cut for locks with the A brisk musketry-fire was going on between the usual composition; piece fitted in to spare lug. rebels and our troops, and they were so close to One thirty-two pounder, sixty hundred weight, gether it was difficult to distinguish the combat- 1827, navy gun. ants. The Eastport opened her batteries, but, One thirty-two pounder United States rifled, fearing to injure our own men, ceased firing, marked W. J. W., No. 289. This gun is an old when our troops proceeded to the assault, and army thirty-two pounder, rifled, with band carried the place. "In a few moments, and with shrunk on the breech. small loss, two hundred and fifty prisoners, Two twenty-four pounder siege-guns, two sixeight heavy guns, and two field-pieces fell into pounder field-pieces, in hill battery. our hands, and all the munitions of war.
FLAG-SHIP BLACK HAWK • The main body of the enemy, five thousand
OFF ALEXANDRIA, LA., March 16, 1864. } strong, under the rebel General Walker, made SIR: I have the honor to inform you that I their escape. They left the Fort, it was said, to arrived at this place this afternoon. As soon as give battle to our troops, and left a garrison of the Forts were surrendered, I pushed on the three hundred men to defend it. Our army came fastest vessels, Ouachita and Lexington, followin by a different road from what they expected, ed by the Eastport, to Alexandria. The Quachita and made short work of them. Among the guns arrived here as the last of a fleet of transports captured was one of the Indianola's nine-inch, passed over the falls. The rebels set fire to a and one belonging to the Harriet Lane. The large ferry-boat, and one of the boats grounding rest of the guns were twenty-four and thirty-two on the falls, was also burnt, to prevent her fallpounders, and one one hundred and sixty pounding into our hands. As no reliable pilot could er rifle.
be procured to take our boats across the falls, As soon as the Fort was in possession of the the transports will have to escape for the prestroops, I sent off up the river the fleetest gun-ent, but are sure to be captured or destroyed boats I had, to cut the enemy off, if possible, or before the month is over. The surrender of the harass them until our troops could be placed on forts at Point De Russy is of much more importthe transports. By sunset the transports will ance than I at first supposed. The rebels had be in Alexandria and ahead of the rebels, and I depended on that point to stop any advance of hope the latter will be cut off.
army or navy into this part of rebeldom. Large These works have been made much more for- quantities of ammunition, best engineers, and midable than they were last year, and the loss best troops were sent there, and in two or three of guns must be severely felt by the rebels, as months more it would have been a most formi. they have only fifteen more heavy guns in this dable place. As it was, it was not complete, section of the country. The whole affair has(though the guns were in position,) and would been well managed; the troops made a splendid have stood a very poor chance if attacked in march and attack, and the officers in command force. The works have been laid out by a Colof the gunboats and transports have shown great onel De Russy, and are of the most extensive zeal and industry in getting up the river and and formidable kind. Colonel De Russy, from through the obstructions which the rebels deem- appearances, is a most excellent engineer to build ed impassable.
forts, but don't seem to know what to do with I forgot to mention in my last report that in them after they are constructed. The same rethe recent attack on Trinity by the gunboats, a mark may apply to his obstructions, which look number of negroes were recaptured, who were well on paper, but don't stop our advance. The captured by the enemy in a recent attack upon efforts of these people to keep up this war remind Goodrich's Landing.
one very much of the antics of Chinamen, who I inclose herewith a list of the guns captured I build canvas forts, paint hideous dragons on
their shields, turn somersets, and yell in the into the Atchafalaya, and land the troops at face of their enemies, to frighten them, and then Simmsport, for the purpose of reconnoitring, etc. run away at the first sign of an engagement. If you remove the obstructions, move up within
It puts the sailors and soldiers out of all pa- a short distance of Fort De Russy, but make no tience with them, after the trouble they have had attack until I get up with the main force, though, in getting here. Now and then the army have a if there is any force at De Russy, you can amuse little brush with their pickets; but that don't them by feints until the army get into their rear. often happen. It is not the intention of these Take every precaution against torpedoes, and rebels to fight. The men are tired of the war, protect your men against sharp-shooters. and many of their officers are anxious to go into Very respectfully, your obedient servant, cotton speculation. A large trade has been car
DAVID D. Porter, ried on between this and New-Orleans, the rebels
Rear-Admiral. receiving supplies for their cotton. There is a
Lieutenant Commander S. L. PHELPS, surprising abundance of every kind of food in
Commanding Eastport. this country, and no suffering among the people, REPORT OF LIEUTENANT COMMANDER & L. PHELPS. except for luxuries. It would be folly to sup
UNITED STATES IRON-OLAD RAM EASTPORT, pose they could all be starved out. The only
ALEXANDRIA, LA., March 16, 1864. I way is to take possession of this rich region, hold | SIR: In obedience to your order of the twelfth it with a strong military and naval force, and instant, I proceeded up Red River; the La Fayette, enforce the laws.
Choctaw, Osage, Neosho, Ozark, Fort Hindman, There are some good Union men here, who and Cricket in company, meeting with no ob. have suffered much, I hope the day of their de- stacle till we reached the obstructions eight miles livery has come.
below Fort De Russy, on the fourteenth instant. General Smith has left a good force at the forts The great length and draught of the La Fayette (and I left the Benton and Essex) to destroy them and Choctaw rendered it difficult for them to effectually, which will be some labor. We have navigate this narrow and crooked river, and our seven or eight thousand troops in this city, and progress was slow. Near the head of the Rap. are expecting to hear soon of General Banks's pions were works for light artillery, commanding arrival. He has been delayed by storms, which a difficult turn in the river, which had been rehave made the roads heavy.
cently abandoned. The force that left the forts with a party un- The obstructions consisted of piles driven der General Polignac, from Harrisonburgh, have across the river, supported by a second tier of gone out to meet General Banks, who will soon | shorter ones, on which rested braces and ties dispose of them, and the chances are that, when from the upper ones. Immediately below these all our cavalry now approaching with General is a raft of timber, well secured across the river, Banks get after them, the rebels will be captured and made of logs which do not float. Finally, a or scattered, not to unite again for some time. | forest of trees had been cut and floated down I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, upon the piles from above. The river had broken
David D. PORTER, through these obstructions, and had partially un
Rear Admiral, dermined the rifle-pits on the right bank. The Hon. GIDEON WELLES,
Fort Hindman removed a portion of the raft, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.
when I ran this vessel up, and, by both pulling P.S.-I beg leave to mention, as a proof of the and ramming, broke out the piles and framework rapidity with which this portion of General Sher- still obstructing the passage of vessels. This man's command, under Brigadier-General A. J. work consumed nearly the entire day. The Os. Smith, did their work, they marched twenty-eight age, Fort Hindman, and Cricket followed me miles, starting at daylight; built a bridge which through, and we hastened up to the Fort. cost them over two hours' hard work ; had a For a short time there had been rapid artillery sharp skirmishing and artillery attack of two firing, which ceased as we came in sight of the hours, and had possession of the forts all intact works, then about sunset, except three shots before sunset.
fired by the rebels from a gun in an angle of the It is one of the best military moves made this water-battery. We could see the enemy using war.
musketry from the parapets of the rear works, I beg leave to inclose copy of Lieutenant Com but could see nothing of the attacking force. An mander S. L. Phelps's report.
officer from General Smith had reached the ves. Very respectfully, your obedient servant, sel, notifying me of the approach of his force, but
DAVID D. PORTER, with no advice as to time or plan of attack.
Rear-Admiral. | The line of fire of the gunboats would have INSTRUCTIONS FROM ADMIRAL PORTER TO LIEUTENANT COMMANDER 8. L. PHELPS.
ing our own people more than the enemy in his FLAG-SHIP BLACK HAWK, U. S. MISSISSIPPI SQUADRON,
works. I fired a short-fuzed shell' at an elevaRed River, March 12, 1864. 3 tion as a signal gun, and then ventured one oneSir: You will proceed at once up the Red Riv- hundred pounder rifle-shell at the water-battery, er with the vessels I will detail to follow you, which shell burst over it, and the enemy ran and commence removing the obstructions in the from it. A few moments after this, a white flag river, while, in the mean time, I will take a tour was displayed from the rear works, some six hun