Letter from E. M. Jefferson to Admiral Buchanan, C. S. Navy, proposing to conduct expedition against the enemy at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
MOBILE, April 8, 1864.
...I then intend to push for the Mississippi coast, near the mouth of Pearl River, and break up a lucrative commerce that is now carried on to some extent by the enemy in that section of our coast, by burning and destroying the vessels that fall into my hands, and should an opportunity offer, which I have no doubt of, I shall push through the Rigolets and enter Lake Pontchartrain, and there await an opportunity of entering the new basin, where the enemy have a small, high-pressure, stern-wheel steamer, mounting one gun, with a crew of 20 men, black and white...
Report of Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Kirby, U. S. Navy, commanding U. S. S. Elk. U. S. S. ELK, No. 47, New Orleans, La., June 13, 1864. SIR: I most respectfully beg leave to report that on Friday, the 10th instant, I captured the sloop Yankee Doodle, coming out of the middle entrance of the Pearl River with a cargo consisting of 8 bales of cotton, and as she had not the proper papers I took her to Fort Pike, from which place I telegraphed to Commodore Palmer and received orders from him to bring her to this city and turn her over to the court, which order I have this day carried out.
Maj. Pulver, Twentieth Infantry, Corps dAfrique. HEADQUARTERS, Fort Pike, April 21, 1864. Maj. JOHN LEVERING, Asst. Adjt. Gen., Defenses of New Orleans: SIR:
...In obedience to the above order I went ou board the steamer Lizzie Davis at midnight of the 1st of April, in command of the above-named companies, numbering about 150 men in all, and proceeded up West Pearl River to within about 1 mile of Fletchers Crossing, where we tied up for the night of the 2d. On the morning of the 3d, we pro- ceeded on up the river as far as Homes Bayou, which I found so thoroughly blocked up with driftwood and trees that had been cut in that it was useless to attempt to go through it. Prospects for doing serious damage to the enemies of our country in that direction looked extremely doubtful, as the inhabitants, what few there were, were very poor, and most of them deserters from the rebel army. It now being late in the day, and considering navigation farther up West Pearl extremely hazardous for a boat as large as the Lizzie Davis...
March 21, 1864.
...My orders were very stringent, and very summary measures were taken with such as were captured, and with marked benefit to many of the rest. Some escaped to the bottoms on Pearl River, swearing they would return with Yankee re-enforcements; others were brought to reason and loyalty, and have come in and surrendered themselves. I have to- day dispatched another expedition from this place to the counties of Smith and others lying on Pearl River, to break up an organization which has been formed there, and which has held three public meet- ings. I shall not stop until these outbreaks are suppressed and their authors punished, but it would be far better for the Government to dispose of its military resources in such a way as to prevent them. I remain, respectfully, your obedient servant, L. POLK, Lieutenant- General.
March 14, 1864 letter from Wirt Adams to HDQRS Cav. Brig.
...I sent report of recent operations of my brigade to Captain Moorman this afternoon and hope it has reached you. I inclose you herewith two letters received today from William Haley, sheriff of Copiah County, one giving information of the shipment of corn down Pearl River, as he supposes for sale to the enemy, and the other giving information of a notice or handbill posted in Bahala by deserters or other disloyal parties. Baliala is on the railroad, 10 miles below Gallatin. I have received information tonight that disloyal men living on the Yazoo River 10 to 20 miles above Yazoo City are engaged in ginning the cotton on Colonel Fields and other plantations for the purpose of selling it to the enemy. I have instructed Lieutenant Moore, whom I send tomorrow morning with a small detail after some deserters from Captain Yerger's company, to arrest or shoot the scoundrels engaged in this business. A gentleman direct from Port Gibson informs me that Ellet's marine brigade returned to Rodney on Saturday last. They have been engaged for some time past, during the absence of General Lees command, in hauling off Government cotton from the interior, of which they have secured a large supply. They doubtless intend resuming this lucrative business. From 500 to 1,000 bales were also taken from the lower part of Hinds and upper part of Claiborne Counties by small parties of Yankees during the absence of our cavalry...
MISSISSIPPI CITY, April 7, 1864. Maj. J. C. DENIS, Provost -Marshal- General, Demopolis, Ala.: MAJOR: In accordance with your orders I have to report that a band of deserters still continue prowling about the country, doing considerable damage to the farmers and molesting travelers. Though dispersed from Perry and Jones Counties, they appear in other parts. Large numbers of these from Jones County have gone down Pearl River to and near Honey Island, where they exist in some force and hold the country in awe, openly boasting of their being in communication with the Yankees. In fact, it is dangerous to travel in that part of Louisiana. In Marion County, Miss., and the upper part of Washington Parish, La., they are banded together in large numbers, bid defiance to the authorities, and claim to have a government of their own in opposition to the Confederate Government. Your obedient servant, DANL. LOGAN.
HEADQUARTERS, Demopolis, Ala., April 25, 1864. Colonel LOWRY: COLONEL: The lieutenant-general commanding directs me to say that he has received your several reports of your operations with great satisfaction, and conveys to you and your command his thanks for the prompt, efficient, and vigorous manner in which you have conducted your campaign. The impression made by it has been felt, not only in the army but by the whole department, arid must tell most favorably upon the success of our cause. I am instructed by him to say that he desires you to push your operations down Pearl B~iver toward its month; to deploy your troops so as to move upon Honey Island and clear it out, drivin~ such men as may have sought refuge there over into Louisiana. You will enter upomi a new cam- paign against all abseu,tees and conscripts found in East Louisiana and Southwestern Mississippi. In this campaign you will have the co-operation of all the cavalry force under the command of Col. John S. Scott, commanding that district, and the desire of the lieutenant- general is that you make such thorough work in your operations as not to require them to be repeated. The lieutenant-generals orders to Colonel Scott are that he direct Colonel Dumonteil, commanding cavalry regiment, now in Copiah, to move eastward to Pearl River and to deploy it down that river so as to cover all the crossings as low down as the head of Honey Island, which will be about the point at which your right will rest after crossing that river. He will thus be in a position to prevent their recrossing above that point, he will, at the same time, post three companies of the Ninth Louisiana Cavalry Battalion, under Captain Ainacker, near the mouth of the river, extending across it from Shieldsborough to Mandeville. These companies will prevent escape to Fort Pike on the lake shore. From Mandeville he will order four other cavalry companies, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Hill, to picket along the lake shore extending westward from the mouth of the Amite. From this point the regiment of Colonel Powers will be posted up the Amite, so as to picket it above Port Hudson. This line will run generally parallel with the Mississippi and within 7 miles of the river at Baton Rouge. Upon Colonel Powers extreme left Colonel Scotts regiment will be posted so as to extend to the river below Bayou Sara. A cordon of pickets will thus be established dowii Pearl River to its mouth; thence along the lake shore to within a short distance of the Missis ii River; thence northward of that river to the Homo Chitto. ThIs cordon will prevent the escape either to New Orleans or west of the Mississippi. After crossing the Pearl River with your command you will deploy your troops so as, in conjunction with the cavalry which will close in and co-operate with you, to drive the men you are pursuing northward and make their escape impossible. You will give instructions to arrest every man capable of bearing arms from seventeen to fifty, and to concentrate them at Jackson for organization and distribution. As you pass on up the river you will keep well on to the Mississippi, so as to clear out the bottoms and as far as possible the villages along its banks. In the prosecution of this campaign you are allowed to exercise a sound discretion in the execution of its details. You will nevertheless bear in mind that the country into which you are now sent has been sadly demoralized, and none other than a vigorous and decisive measure will serve to bring it back to a sound and healthful moral condition. It is of the utmost importance that the movement should be made without a days delay. You will therefore proceed to its execution immediately upon the receipt of these orders. You will keep yourself in immediate and constant communication with Colonel Scott, so that the co-operation shall be understood. You will keep me advised of the progress every day by telegraph, and by written communication by courier more fully every three days. You will also keep an accurate account of all arrests you make. Very respectfully, your obedient servant, THOS. M. JACK, Assistant Adjutant- General.
Expedition from Fort Pike, La., to the Pearl River. Report of Lieitt. Col. Alfred G. Hall, Serenty-fourth U. S. Colored Troops. HEADQUARTERS, Fort Pike, La., September 13, 1864. SIR: I have the honor to report the results of the expedition up Pearl River, made in conformity to orders from the commanding general: I left Fort Pike at 9 a. in. September 10, 1864, on the steamer J. D. Swain with a force of 200 men. I proceeded up West Pearl River to a point called Deer Island Landing, where 1 landed my men at 11.15 a. m. and marched along the road leading from the landing into the country. At 12.10 a. m. I reached a house formerly occupied by John Porter; the house is now deserted. At 12.45 I reached the house of Widow Joyner. I found no one there but women and children. I was informed by Mrs. Joyner that three horsemen had passed her house that morning at about 10 oclock riding toward the landing, armed with shotguns and pistols, probably a squad of the fellows we were after, en route to warn their friends of our approach, having seen the smoke of the steamer as she came up the river. I was unable to gain any other information of the jayhawkers at this place. The women stated that those that had passed the house that morning were the first they had seen for months. I resumed march at 1.25 p. in., sending one-half of my force, under Lieutenants Gallagher and Morrison, back half a mile over the road I had just come, to take a branch road to go to the house of a man named Sadler,while with the remainder of the men kept on with the intention of visiting the place of a man named Snyder. I reached the house of Mrs. Mitchell; no one to be seen but women and children. I could get no information there; they say they know nothing of the rebel * Some irrelevaut matter omitted. cavalry. Left Mrs. Mitchells at 1.35 p. m. There were two roads from here, and through mistake of the guide I took the wrong road. The guide discovered his mistake after marching about one mile and took the shortest way across the country to gain the right road. After marching several miles I found myself on the right road about one-fourth of a mile from Mitchells. The road I should have taken runs nearly at right angles with the one I took. The other party gave the signal that they had reached Sadlers and I concluded to join them instead of going to Snyders; I arrived at Sadlers at 2.15 p. m. I was unable to learn anything definite of the cavalry. A party of them had been there three days before and searched the house for rebel deserteis. There was no one at home at the time but two women, one an invalid. They could not tell the number of men in the party. I obtained horses at Sadlers and accompanied by my adjutant proceeded to the house of Snyder, about two miles from Sadlers. From information gamed there and elsewhere I concluded that if I should run up East Pearl or Pearl liver proper I should be able to find the party of cavalry or hear of them in the vicinity of Gainesville. I re-embarked and started for East Pearl at 5.30 p. in. I ran up as far as Pe4arlington, and laid off at that place till 5.30 a. in. the 12th; proceeded to a bluff about two miles and a half al)ove I~earlington. I landed and sent a party under Lieutenant Sternes to Homner~s Bridge, about three miles from the landiiig. He returned at 8 a. in., reporting no signs of the enemy. I landed again near Napoleon, marched through the town, scouting the country back of it. I found nothing of the cavalry at this place, and no news of them. The country here is nearly deserted. I was informed here that the news of our coming was far ahead of us, as they could see our steamer for a number of miles down the river. I proceeded from this point to Gainesville, fifteen miles above Pearling- ton, and here learned that five of the rebel cavalry had been there the (lay previous. At Gainesville one uman William Marsen was brought mu by the guard. He claims to be a paroled prisoner; but I have good evidence that he is connected with theni, and has been employed in driving cattle for the commissary department, rebel army. There are probably a nuniber of rebel cavalry at Honey Island, about nine miles from Gainesville; bnt with our steamer it was useless to attempt their capture, our approach beiimg known to them hours before, and unless they choose to fight us they could easily avoid us. I would respectfully suggest that in any future expedition the troops be landed at some point near the fort on the rebel side and marched through the country, mounting if needs be. Although unsuccessful in overtaking any rebel force, the inhabitants expressed the desire that our troops come often. I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, ALFRED G. HALL, ljjentenqnt- Colonel, Commanding Post.