St. Louis Republican account of Ft. de Russy. Bayou de Glaize = Yellow Bayou
50 50 00 00 so 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 to be no of 15 a of in of is is FROM THE RED RIVER EXPEDITION. Capture of Fort DeRussj The Rebel Prospects in West Louisiana Gloomy. Correspondence of the St. Louis EcpiiHienn. Ox Board FLAcsuir, ) Foot DeRussv, March 2 1. To understand the importance of the gieat expedition up Red River, it is necessary to review the military situation in the beginning of March. Slier-man had returned to Vicksburg from his grand but disappointing raid into Mississippi, and instead of directing his forces toward Mobile, the point of greatest and almost the only position of vital concern to the rebels, he detached a portion of them to General Banks' assistance, who, it appears, had predetermined on scattering or demolishing the forces irt West Louisiana. It is altogether probable that something in the seasons had indicated this choice to Gen. Banks. For example, the Red river is only high enough to be navigable by the largest vessels during this month and the next, while the task of taking Mobile is one which might be undertaken at any time, though it is unaccountably strange that it was not begun in December instead of May. As is well known, the column under Gen. Franklin crossed from New Orleans to Brashear City about the 1st inst., and thence took up the line of march along the Bayou Teche, substantially the same route pursued nearly a year ago, via Opelousas to Alexandria. The forces under -General A. J. Smith, from the Department of the Tennessee, comprising the brigades under Gens. F. K. Smith, Thomas and Ellet, embarked at Vicksburg on the 10th, and proceeded down to the mouth of Red river, where they found an immense fleet of gunboats ready for the ascent. Touching the naval force, it may be well to remarkthat a more formidable fleet was never under single command than that now on the Western rivers, under Rear Admiral Porter, and, it might be said, also, never to less purpose. At the time of departure, the strength of the rebellion in the inland waters had been crushed. Its forts had been demolished at Henry. Donclson, Columbus, Island 10, Vicksburg, Hudson and New Orleans, by the gallant Foote and Farragut, united with the army. Its fleet had been sunk by E'.let. Farragut and Davis. All that remained to be extinguished was one insignificant fort at Gordon's landing, and one ram and one gunboat on Red river. To meet this force we had collected twenty powerful war vessels of all classes, from the light draught to the heaviest monitor. Among them were the monitors C zark, Osage, Neosho; the iron-clads Benton, Carondelet, Pittsburg, Mound City, Louisville, Essex and Chillieothe ; the rams Price, Choctaw, Lafayette, besides the lighter boats. Blackhaw, Uua-chita, Champion and Taylor. Contemplating this vast array of armed vessels to meet so weak a foe, those who are familiar with the history, cannot but contrast with it the different equipments with which the lamented Col. Ellet was dispatched on the same errand more than a year ago, with the (ueen of the West only. The twenty transports preceded by the twenty gunboats started from the Mississippi on the 10th, and ascended the Red river as far as w hat is called the Old river, when we turned into the Atchafalaya instead of continuing up Red river. Many were the speculations upon our course as they saw us descending the stream instead of ascending. To a person unacquainted with the peculiarities of this region it sct-ms indeed strange that the water should run up and down consecutively. The whole of West Louisiana is overspread with a network of bayous which are interlaced with each other in a very unusual manner. " Indeed, though K d river is usually accounted one of the tributaries of the Mississippi river, there is abundant evidence to believe that at no great period back the Red river continued its course to the Gulf through the Atchafalaya. The latter stream is now mainly fed by the former, and should properly bear its name. We found it for twelve miles a deep and navigable stream. At Simmsport the fleet came to a landing. The town itself does not exist, a few chimneys alone marking the former site, having been burned up by CoL Chas. Rivers Ellet, in retaliation for their heaving fired on his boat, the (ueen of the West. Col. John Elh't afterward visited the place with the Switzerland, during the siege of Port Hudson, when he had a severe engagement with the batteries, and finished the work of his cousin. Two new earthworks were found in course of construction, and abundant evidences of the traffic across the stream at this point. A short distance up tho bayou, which enters at this point, were found twenty-foyr pontoons used for a bridge; also, portions of a raft of timber long enough to stretch across. News reached us that a camp near the river had been hastily evacuated at the sight of the fleet; afterward we heard that about two thousand had a fortified camp three mile3 from the river at the inter-sectionof Bayou Glaize (Yellow Bayou.) Next morning the land force were disembarked, and marched out by sunrise to find the camp broken up and the enemy gone; th? bridge leading across the stream burning, and evidence of a fright.' There were two extensive earthworks, still incomplete, and a prodigious raft being constructed across the Bayou Glaize so as to prevent the gunbonts ascending the little channel during high water. This location of their principal fortifications is significant in two thing-; their intentien to make the Atchafalaya as their line of defense, and their distrust of their ability to hold forts immediately on the banks of navigable streams. Henceforth we imagined their jolicy would be to hold the roads to the interior by works erected beyond th ranire of the irunboats. Their abandon ment of Simmsport was indicative that ; they had lost hope of defending sue- : cessfally these latter. i Five miles further out. our force over- ! took five teanw loaded with ti nts, which they burnt, and loaded up the tviams ! with sugar and molasses, which the ; rebels had unsuccessfully attempted to ! destroy. The whole column then re-i turned to the boats. 1 should not be a ! faithful historian if I omitted to men- tion that the conduct of the troops i since the late raid of General Sherman, j is becoming very prejudicial toourg" 1 ! name and to their efficiency. A spirit of destruction and wanton ferocity teems to have seized" upon many of. them, which is quite incredible. At j Red river landing they robbed a house ! of several thousand dollars m btiecie, i and then fired the house to conceal their crime. At Simin-txu t, a irty of l... . v.. ,...! .-.1 .1 I !inl insulted . 'I' iuriun'iiruii.ii'ii.-- " I.UllilV IWO UlllfS uisiiui" , i i" i i i .,- ..xunole 1 less checked by sumrnarj . xampn , , r ri. i - . .11 Intact uu- i .1 : . .1 . ., -.,... l.o eno ,le arm V iiieien uaiig' i v - 1 of cut throat ; IT Ul '' " ' ;. a 77 glad to say that I I am glad to say general Smith is disposed to punish all offenders severely. It was decided that the column should march overland to Fort De Pussy, the place to which it was supposed they had retreated, distant thirty-five miles. At daybreak they started in light marching order. The boats were steamed up the Red river, which proved to be extvvnu ly tortuous and difficult of navigation. At a point sixty-five miles above Black river, we came upon a small earthwork, without guns, distant by land about live miles irom the main fort. Hewn piles and timbers had floated past during the day, preparing us for the evacuation above. Mcumvhile the column under Gen. Smith, with Morse's brigade in the advance, made a night march across from Siinmspoit. Before they had gotten five miles out on their march they were beset by the enemy's cavalry, "which kept harra-ssing front and rear during the entire route. A company of cavalry, under ('apt. Hughes, preceded the column, skirmishing continually. Gen. F. Kilby Smith, who commanded the division in the rear, was often obliged to form in line to repel their threatened attack. Notwithstanding that a tie-lay of three hours occurred in re-building a bridge destroyed by the flying enemy, the entire march, thirty miles was accomplished in twenty hours, and, as the result showed, captured a strong position be fore sundown' a feat which has hardly a parellaL The country back of the fort is an undulating tableland, beautiful to behold, and inhabited by dependents of the early French settlers. Indeed many of them had hoisted over their porches the tr i color of France, although they have been living here receiving the privileges of citenship for more than twenty years. It was about three o'clock as the head of the column neared Fort DeRussy; come time was spent in making cautious approaches to the position, when the lines were moved up to the edge of the timber. The fort then opened heavily with four guns, firing shells and shrapnel, our forces bringing two batteries into action. The cannonading continued two hours, when (Jen. Smith ordered a line of skirmishers to ad vance, when a heavy fusilade followed. A charge was ordered ; the.YSth Illinois and the Sth Wisconsin led, when just as the men had reached the ditch the gurri-on surrendered. About this time the boats made their appearance, t'e East port in the lead. They lircd two shots without effect, across a rock, when the cheers of our delighted soldiers told them the fort was ours. The gunboats were not engaged; the honor of this victory may be set down to the credit of tiie land forces. The fort consists of two distinct and formidable earthworks connected by a covered way. The upper part, the one facing the road from the interior, is a beautiful specimen of engineering skill, and is remarkable for the substantial and permanent manner in which every part is constructed. It mounted at the time of capture four guns, two field and two siege, though capable of accommodating twenty. It is perhaps a quarter of a mile from the river bank, and seated on the gradual slope of a ridge, the first seen on ascending the river. In the lower work commanding the river was a casemated battery of three guns of superior construction. Fpon a yolid frame of twenty inches of timber were laid two layers of railroad iron, the upper tier reversed and laid into the interstices of the lower. But two guns were in position in it one de.en-inch columbiad, take n from the lndiunola. and an eight-inch smooth bore. On each side were batteries of two guns each, one a seven-inch rifle of 1'arrott pattern, making in ail eight siege and two field pieces. There were found besides large quantities of ammunition and a thousand mu-kets, besides tlotir, sugar, A c. Uur loss in the ai'air was four killed and thirty wounded ; rebels five killed and four wounded. Two hundred pri-oners constituted the garrison then in the fort, all of which fell into our hands, with twenty-lour officers. A force of about a thousand men lias been stationed tit De Rus.-y, until recently." The smallness of the garrison is a matter of much surprise, as the enemy must have known of our presence for some days; besides it appears that a small number b it in the morning before the attack. Two tliii ty two pounders, on wheels, were Infilled oil duly a few hours before our arrival, and narrowly escaped capture by our forces. If is unaccountable . that the rebels should leave so valuable a position almost defenceless at this time, and can only be accounted for on the ground that General Banks was menacing Alexandria, and decided to sacrifice one of the two places to hold the other. The troops have already re-embarked, and are on the way to Alexandria. Fort De Russy takes its name from Col. De Rtissy, who formerly commanded in this vicinity, and lives not far distant. Lieutenant Colonel Bird was in command, though he reported to (ieneral Walker, whose headquarters were at Alexandria. The following officer are prisoners: Capt s. Stevens, Morran, Wise, Wikdit, Lain! and King: Lieut. Den-on, Fuller, i Forgartv, Claydoji, Trumbull (Eng..) I Burbank, Hewev, A-senheinier, I all, llauk, Ball, Little, B.uksd.de, Sprinks, Eringhurst and Stout. From various source we gather that the relief here have about abandoned tho idea of defending any of their n tvi-gable streams. When asked to account tor their apparent negb ct ef so important a fort, they reply that this was considered merely ns an experiment in engineering (c-rtainiy a very creditable one, and one, which the gunboat alone i might have vainly assailed for a month,) I but claim that so soon a. we b are the rivers, tliev Will tall till US I on us tor destrue- tion. This certainly not find cor- migration in the fact that they surrendered to forces which inarched across the country. Of tlii- sort was the unfinished oli-truet!on T pil" a lout nine j mil' 9 below here, which the gunloat I had to tear away t i allow the huge ; tran-ports to i-a-s through. As nearly as I can learn, Waiker ha two thou-1 and men, mostly infantry, south of u. ; Taylor h t. pThap. a many at Alexandria, and it i probable that they may ' be united at the latter place. Banks ; has some, doubtless, in his front, a'-out p-loU-a. The Red river ha r.ot U . n u.-eii lor large transport or gunloats sun e .nay la-t'. being hitherto too low. Th Weld., Mi-ouri. Grand IUe and Mary Keet.e, are at Shreveport. armed. j be distance on Ihi river from the Mi-sis-ip-i.i are, Black riv. r. ! n-bs; DeKu.-sy, ,.l m les- Alexandria. I M miles ; Snreve- jiori 4"o miles. Cotton Scecclati v It i currently r.u I in New Oilcan that the mili- t li-v ot-ciations now going on in Louisi ana Will r' -uil in tie hipmeut of large ouantitie of cotton to New Orb-ail, . 1 . r,. I i, a''11 -."" ' " "ie-n -j u - ,. .. . - . la tor that an fi.ier of , w. made lor r' Vi ei,u.;4.'.. w i'"' as an au iiioi i.c'.i mi re-i"iinei:i. ui a ...I ...I ... .1 ,.4- Northern paper.