Page:Confederate Military History - 1899 - Volume 10.djvu/87

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77
CONFEDERATE MILITARY HISTORY.

mile ahead. The Lafourche is not over-broad here. Both of its steep banks were made use of in Weitzel's coming fight.

General Taylor had had his hands full with his new command of western Louisiana. With New Orleans near, and Brashear City a still nearer Federal headquarters, the department seemed likely to impose a tax upon vigilance. Gunboats could move up the Atchafalaya and through it into the adjacent network of waters. Taylor knew himself to be weak both in guns and men, but worse than weak in gunboats. With Mouton, who was a host in himself, were the Eighteenth Louisiana his own regiment, and the Crescent regiment of New Orleans. Both of these organizations were veterans of Shiloh. The army of Tennessee had sent them to help their native State on the Lafourche.

As constituted, the Federal strength on the Lafourche was nearly double that of the Confederates. They had 2,500 infantry, 250 cavalry, and two batteries of field artillery. The Confederate cavalry, about the same number, was under the command of that gallant soldier, Col. W. G. Vincent. Vincent had with him only 600 infantry, with Semmes' field battery, to oppose the superior numbers of the enemy. Vincent, who on the arrival of Weitzel was in Donaldsonville, had fallen back to the Raccourci (cut-off) in Assumption parish. There Mouton had met him and learned the war news. Hearing of the disparity of force, Mouton had receded still more while waiting for reinforcements, previously ordered up from Berwick bay and Bayou Bœuf, where they had been stationed. Reaching, in falling back, the Winn plantation, two miles above Labadieville, he found the Eighteenth and Crescent regiments, with Ralston's battery, just come in from the bay. With them came the Terrebonne militia.

On October 25th the enemy were marching both sides of the bayou. To oppose the double advance, Mouton