Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/93

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Confederate Cavalry Around Port Hudson. 89

ate lines. The prisoners, through an interpreter, were given to un- derstand that any attempt to resist or escape would meet with death. Colonels Powers and Stockdale, with the remainder of the battalion, remained in the enemy's camp to gather up all wagons, arms sup- plies, etc., and to destroy the tents. All of which was done. As we were about to leave the camp, Grierson's Cavalry, which was encamped three miles away, appeared in line, with skirmishers thrown out in advance. Colonel Powers having accomplished his object, retraced his steps back to Freeman's. Grierson did not follow.

This brilliant affair resulted in the total destruction of an entire cavalry regiment, the taking of 700 prisoners, including the Lieu- tenant Colonel and Major, the capture of 1,600 new army pistols with large quantities of ammunition, 800 cavalry sabers, as many Mc- Clellan saddles, and other accoutrements, a large quantity of quar- termaster and commissary stores; eight wagons with mules, two fully equipped ambulances and other property. Captain James M. Ferguson, Adjutant of the battalion (now a resident of New Orleans) was among the first to reach the enemy, and after the fight to col- lect and set the men to work gathering up the arms, etc. Captain Ferguson filled one of the ambulances, hitched it up, and, with the enemy's battle flag in hand drove out of the camp as the Confeder- ates were abandoning it. The entire battalion was then armed with army pistols and sabers. All other saddles having been discarded for the new McClellan trees. Enough horses were captured to mount Colonel Griffith's Arkansas troops, and to furnish mounts to many new recruits and other dismounted men.

On the 2yth day of May, General Banks made a terrific assault on the works at Port Hudson with his entire land forces. . A heavy bombardment preceded the attack. The river batteries, in the meantime, were engaged by Farragut's fleet, stationed above and below the fort. The Confederates awaited the advance of the Fed- erals, who moved forward in two lines of battle. In this engage- ment, for the first time, negro troops fought during the war, two regiments of negroes being placed in the first line of battle. In front of the Confederate breastworks sharp pointed stakes had been firmly driven down to within a foot of the ground, and an abattis formed of fallen trees. The Confederates permitted the Federals to work their way well forward and get within sixty yards of the breastworks,