Thursday, February 9, 2017

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant George G. Smith: October 5, 1864

At sunrise heard canonading on the right, in the direction of the other detachment, when we commenced falling back, keeping as near in line with them as possible so as to protect their flank. We came to the forks of the roads near Bayou Sara, at about noon, and moved about one and a half miles out on the other road and met the retreating column, being hard pressed. They halted, and we formed in line of battle on an eminence commanding the road they had just passed. The enemy soon appeared, and our batteries opened on them, and the shells were seen exploding among them. They soon beat a hasty retreat. One of their caissons was blown up and they knocked a wheel off one of our guns. They then tried to flank us on the left. We fell back to a more suitable position, shelled them awhile, and silenced their batteries, when we withdrew to our transports, marching through the city of Bayou Sara. They hung on our rear until they crossed the line prescribed by the marine, when one of our gunboats sent a 11-inch shell over in that direction. This drew out a flag of truce from the rebels. A citizen and a rebel major appeared, protesting against the shelling among the women and children. The reply was, “Keep your troops on the other side of the line agreed upon by former stipulations and the gunboats won't shell you.” The transports then moved up the river, the band playing “Foot Balls.” We were in Morganza at dark.

I could never get any satisfactory information in regard to the purpose of that expedition. It was simply a feint, as we had strict orders not to bring on an engagement, which would not have been the case if anything else had been intended. Stories have been reported that there was a large drove of cattle at Woodville from Texas, that had swam the river, and when we drew the forces away that were guarding them. a force of Union troops came down the river and captured them. If it was so, I could never get any satisfactory account of it. Our losses were six killed and wounded.

SOURCE: Abstracted from George G. Smith, Leaves from a Soldier's Diary, p. 131-3

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