REPORT 19



Report of Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Lee, C.S. Army, Commanding Brigade
 

VICKSBURG, MISS., March 30, 1863.


      MAJOR: In the absence of Major-General Maury, from whom I received orders, I have the honor to submit the following report of my operations on Deer Creek during the last week:
     The enemy, having passed up Steele’s Bayou and through Big Black Bayou into Deer Creek, were endeavoring to reach the Sunflower by passing through the Rolling Fork. Brigadier-General Featherston and Lieutenant-Colonel Ferguson, having met the enemy at the Rolling Fork, checked his further progress.
     Major-General Maury directed me to take charge of an expedition and proceed to Wilson’s plantation, on Lower Deer Creek, to obstruct the creek, throw up works, and, if advisable, make a diversion in the enemy’s rear, with a view to aid General Featherston, and, if the means of communication admitted, he would furnish me with troops for a heavy attack on the enemy.
     I arrived at Wilson’s about 6 miles from the mouth of Deer Creek, on the 24th, with the Third Louisiana. The First Mississippi Battalion was already at that point, obstructing the creek by felling trees.
     On the 25th, the Third Louisiana commenced a log intrenchment, the low ground not admitting of digging to make proper works, the highest ground not being over 1 ½ feet above the creek and overflow from the high water.
     On the 26th, the log intrenchment was continued by the Third Louisiana and Twenty-sixth Louisiana, which had arrived on the evening of the 25th, the obstructions being continued by the First Mississippi Battalion.
     On the 27th, about 2 a.m., I received a note from Colonel Ferguson and from General Featherston informing me that the enemy had retreated through Black Bayou and made their escape. The Lower Deer Creek country for 6 miles above Wilson’s was almost entirely under water from the high state of water, and it was difficult to find sufficient ground even at Wilson’s for bivouacking troops. The creek not having been cleared out, the small steamer could only get up about 3 miles from the mouth, and the other 3 miles troops and supplies had to be transported in two large wood-boats by hauling up the creek by the trees and bushes, the water being too deep for poling and boats not being arranged for and too large for the use of oars. These difficulties rendered transportation very difficult. The number of skiffs at my control being very few, could not be depended on for furnishing supplies. These difficulties taken in connection with the limited supply of rations at Snyder’s Mill, and the country being overflowed in my front, prevented my making any serious advance on the enemy. Therefore, I sent a force of 75 men to the place next above Wilson’s (Hardee’s), distance from the pickets of the enemy about 7 miles. This detachment to reach its post had to wade through water 3 ½ feet deep for a mile. The enemy having retreated, I immediately commenced re-embarking the troops for Snyder’s Mill.
     I left Wilson’s place on the 29th, and arrived in this city the same date. A squadron of cavalry was left on Black Bayou to picket and report in case the enemy should return. I consider it highly improbable that the enemy will ever attempt to reach the Yazoo River through Lower Deer Creek. The creek from Hill’s lower place (Kelsaw) to Paxton’s, 3 miles from the mouth, has never been cleared out, the trees generally overlapping. The water is deep enough for steamers, but it would require a great deal of labor to make it practicable. The part uncleared is about 20 miles, and the country on either side of the creek overflowed except a narrow skirt of bank. Should the enemy attempt this route, it will be necessary to establish our work in front of Wilson’s place (say at Hardee’s, the place beyond Wilson’s), as the communication between Wilson’s and Hardee’s by land is impracticable, and by the creek about 9 miles. The route by Geary [Greasy?] Bayou to Hardee’s will have to be used. By this route the steamer can go to within 3 miles of Hardee’s, and from the steamer large flat-boats can go through the overflow to within 100 yards of Hardee’s. All that is necessary to be done by this route is to have the route blazed through the overflow. To operate in this creek, it will be necessary to have a great many skiffs, as they really afford the only means of moving about until Hill’s Kelsaw place is reached, from which there is a good road to Black Bayou, about 6 miles. I discontinued the felling of trees in Deer Creek, as, in my opinion, the creek was more obstructed by the standing timber than by the timber felled. The timber is very heavy, and on being felled sinks to the bottom, and the boats can generally run over it, or, after being felled, it can readily be pushed into the overflow from the creek. The trees by being felled make a clearing or road for the boats, so the felling of timber at the present high water rather assists the enemy than otherwise. The water is now rising, and the higher it rises the more the standing timber is an obstruction to boats. The timber generally is not tall enough to reach across the creek, or sets back so far from the creek that, when felled, the limbs only reach the deepest water.
     I would respectfully recommend that a number of skiffs be at once constructed for service on Lower Deer Creek, and a small force (say 100 men) be left to watch the enemy above Hardee’s.
     General [Louis] Hebert, at Snyder’s Mill, has taken charge on Deer Creek since my return.
     Respectfully submitted.  


STEPHEN D. LEE, 
Brigadier-General.


Major [J.J.] REEVE,
A.A.G., 2d Dist., Dept. Miss. And E. La., Vicksburg, Miss.

P.S. – I inclose two sketches from the creek, which will explain the references.*

*See pp. 462, 463.
 
 

Sources:
Text and Maps:
THE WAR OF THE REBELLION: A COMPILATION OF THE OFFICIAL RECORDS OF THE UNION AND CONFEDERATE ARMIES PREPARED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR, BY BVT. LIEUT. COL. ROBERT N. SCOTT, THIRD U.S. ARTILLERY AND PUBLISHED PURSUANT TO ACT OF CONGRESS APPROVED JUNE 16, 1880.
The US Government Printing Office
Volume: XXXVI: Pages 430-667
Photographs:
NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
Washington Navy Yard
805 Kidder Breese Street SE
Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5060
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