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
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.
STEPHEN D. LEE,
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
*See pp. 462, 463.
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
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