Grand Ecore La
April 15 1864
I was broken off short in my writing to you on Wednesday by a sudden call to arms and as it was a scare which our worthy leaders did not get out of for the best part of two days. As we left camp I left the letter to be mailed. Where I left off I do not know, but I think at the opening of the engagement of the 9th.
We had a bad position, the Enemy took advantage of it, and made their main attack upon our Brigade which was forced to give way. and a running fight ensued, in which the Enemy had it all his own way for a while. I waited long enough to see some of our regiment grabbed not two paces from where I stood when as all were then in full retreat and the Colonel and other officers gone, I concluded not to go to Shreveport against my will so for the first time, I had to double quick from before the Enemy. It was a fearful gauntlet and required much more courage to run than to quickly submit. Up hill, and up, for a quarter of a mile, the Enemy sending a storm of leaden hail after us under which one after another rolled over until we were badly thinned when we reached the top. I had overtaken the Col & Lt Col on my way up and the latter was wounded just before I came up with him. We continued to fall back with the current after rounding the hill, I expecting every minute that a rally would be met where those ahead would be stopped and formed for further defense, when we were assailed in our rear and every sign of a pursuit given. We immediately halted and allowed those in our rear to close up and soon formed a battalion of about three hundred, composed from all regiments, with which we determined to check pursuit in that narrow road. While here we learned that we could strike the main road by moving off to our right which we at once did, with the intention of forming in the rear of Smiths Division 16th A.C. I was still under the orders of Col Peck and with him remained through all.
Although cut off ourselves and unable to learn the fate of the day, others of our officers and men who had fled in another direction were more lucky and remained upon a portion of the field protected by Smith's Division and there reformed. When Smiths force became engaged the Enemy were badly repulsed with the loss of hundreds killed and wounded by the thousand. From the position you can perhaps imagine an effect impossible to be described. As I have said our line was not supported by another in our rear and was thus very weak, but the hill side which we were forced to fly up was covered by artillery which was of no use to us while we were so far in advance of it because grape would have done us as much harm as the Enemy, but as we got clear of the ground we opened a chance for the artillery to use grape & canister from the top of the hill against the advancing hosts. The first charge of grape was fired as I passed the guns going to the rear and from that time until the Enemy were upon the guns and captured them charge after charge of the most destructive character was poured into their massed ranks. The attempt to get the guns off was a failure, on account of the fierce shower of bullets killing all the horses. I saw a team of six horses attempt to draw a gun off when before they had gone five paces, five of the six were shot. This was the condition of the field when we were pushed from it. Infantry routed, Artillery captured and Cavalry all to the rear in charge of the trains. Smiths Reserve was still left but what he did we were ignorant of until afterwards but it appears that when the Enemy supposed themselves masters of the field, and were scattered by their long pursuit, Smith brought a well directed flank fire upon their the condition of the field when we were pushed from it. Infantry routed, Artillery captured advancing lines and perfectly bewildered them, and such was Smiths admirable Generalship that in the whole course of their retreat the Enemy were subject to a galling flank fire of the most destructive character. All the troops then on the field then started in chase and drove the Enemy until dark. After dark a retreat was ordered and the army fell back to the "Two Bridges" where it was joined by our battalion early the next morning
Some words having occurred between Col Peck and Genel Emory as to his absence from the field the Col has applied for a court of Enquiry into his conduct which I think can be easily defended should all other charges which could be brought against him, be excluded.
We have continued the retreat to the cover of the Gun Boats and here we found that all the transports had gone up the river with ammunition supplies and our heavy ordinance, and were locked there by the Enemy who had batteries to prevent their return. We were going to Shreveport too fast. The probable capture or destruction of these transports was what I meant by further reverses in my last. Luckily these have been saved and although we have been signally defeated in the "object of the Expedition" and Bank chance for Presidency is slim this campaign will not be allowed to be classed as such a reverse as it deserves.
The water is so low in the river that in all probability the whole Expedition will be abandoned.
The loss of the Reg. in Killed Wounded & Missing is 197.
My health is good