May 10, 1863, Skirmishes at Caledonia and Pin Hook La
Report of Brig. Gen. Hugh T. Reid. U. S. Army, commanding First Brigade, Sixth Division Seventeenth Army Corps
PROVIDENCE, LA., May 12, 1863
I have the honor to report that on the 2d instant some 80 of the enemy crossed over Bayon Macon in the vicinity of Bissell's cut, at Ashton and carried away 15 or 20 negroes. Learning this fact, I made a reconnaissance on the 3d instant to that point with a company of a mounted infantry, in command of Major Roberts, of the First Kansas, and became satisfied, from information received from reliable sources, that the enemy on the west side of the bayou had concentrated his forces in the vicinity of Caledonia for the purpose of making raids to this side. It was practicable to cross the bayou in that vicinity and there were great difficulties in the way of crossing it at any other point. I therefore determined to withdraw the whole of the First Kansas Mounted Infantry from the plantations below Providence and concentrate them on Old River, knowing there could be no danger to the plantations whilst the enemy was so far north.
On the morning of the 8th, Captain Zesch, with six companies of the First Kansas, succeeded in reaching the bayou, and crossed some 20 of his men, under command of Lieutenant Thompson, on a raft, near Caledonia. Here he found the enemy in too great force and too strongly posted to risk anything more than a reconnaissance, and fell back to camp on Old River to await re-enforcements.
On the evening of the 8th instant, I sent Major Roberts to take command, and sent forward 100 men from the Sixteenth Wisconsin, under Captain Wheeler, by steamer, to Old River, and also sent forward three additional companies from the first Kansas, leaving one company at this place.
Major Roberts moved from Old River with the command on the morning of the 9th, and built a bridge over Bayou Macon during the day, and crossed over on the morning of the 10th, when he met the enemy in the most gallant manner, driving them from their position at Caledonia and pursuing them to their cover in log-houses in Pin Hook, killing 4 of their men and taking 2 prisoners, besides wounding a number. As the enemy could not be dislodged without artillery, the expedition returned to the bayou, and remained on the other side until the afternoon of the 11th without further encountering the enemy.
The First Regiment of Arkansas Volunteers, of African descent, under Colonel Wood, arrived here from Helena on the evening of the 10th, and I moved them and 50 men of the Sixteenth Wisconsin during the night to Old River, to be within supporting distance in case the flight should be continued on the 11th, but met a dispatch from Major Roberts which rendered it unnecessary to move them farther.
I crossed Bayou Macon to our troops on the other side of the bayou on the morning of the 11th and finding that nothings more could be done without artillery, recrossed during the day, destroyed the bridge, and brought the troops to Providence, except four companies of the First Kansas, left at Old River to watch the movements of the enemy.
Major Roberts of the First Kansas, deserves great credit for the masterly manner in which he executed my orders in this attack, having accomplished everything that was expected of him. Captain Zesch, of the same regiments, is also entitled to praise for the skill and prudence with which he managed his part of the command. Captain Wheeler of the Sixteenth Wisconsin, led his men against the enemy in gallant style, and both officers and men of these two regiments acted with great bravery and deserve high commendation. For further details I refer you to the report of Major Roberts herewith inclosed. The present disposition of the troops under my command is as follows: Four companies First Kansas at Old River; two companies at Wilton's three at Bass plantation, 4 miles below Providence, and one at this place. The Sixteenth Wisconsin, First Arkansas and Eighth Louisiana Volunteers, of African descent, at this place, and the Tenth Louisiana, of African descent, at Goodrich's Landing with the commissioners.
The Eighth Louisiana has been mustered into the service, and six, if not seven, companies of the Tenth Louisiana. Both these regiments are improving rapidly in drill, and are partially armed, and I hope to have them fully armed and equipped in a few days, as requisitions have gone forward. I have also sent for some artillery, which I hope to get from Helena. General----------- is said to be in command at Floyd, and to have brought up from Delhi 1,500 men and some artillery to re-enforce the Thirteenth Louisiana Battalion, with which we had the fight.
The rebels claimed to have 10,000 troops at Monroe, brought down from Little Rock to be sent to Alexandria, but say that Banks' army was falling back from Alexandria, and these troops were not sent there. If this is true, these troops may be expected to operate in this direction and toward Milliken's Bend.
The negroes and much property west of the bayou are being run off to Texas, though there are plenty of provisions, such as corn and hogs, left. The secesh hereabouts say that if Vicksburg falls the war is at an end in Louisiana. I have had most of the negroes who were unemployed here removed to the commissioners at Goodrich's Landing.
Since writing the above, I have learned, from what I believe to be a reliable source, that no troops have been sent from Monroe toward Bayou Macon; that 3,000 instead of 10,000 came from Little Rock to Monroe; that these troops have been sent to re-enforce Colonel (General) Taylor and Kirby Smith, on Red River, who were retreating before Banks' army; that General Hebert is at Monroe in command of only 60 men (Conscripts), and that he has had his things packed up for the last three weeks (in two wagons) on the west side of the Washita River ready to run on the approach of our forces. This information is derived from a New Hampshire Yankee, who has just made his escape from Monroe. He says that the troops are to be withdrawn from this side of the Washita, which I think is altogether probable from the movements we know to be going on west of the bayou.
H. T. REID,
Maj. Gen J. B. McPherson,
Commanding Seventeenth Army Corps
SOURCE: United States War Department. THE WAR OF THE REBELLION: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.