Page:Confederate Military History - 1899 - Volume 10.djvu/88

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made a careful distribution of his small force. On the right bank he placed the Eighteenth regiment, 240 men; Crescent regiment, 135; Ralston 's battery, 64; detachment of cavalry, 100; total, 539 men; and on the left bank, Thirty-third regiment (Clack's and Fournet's battalions), 594 men; Terrebonne regiment, 34; Semmes' battery, 75; Second Louisiana cavalry, 150 men; total, 853 men.

It was a peculiar fight which was made at Labadieville, October 27th. Fought on both sides of the Lafourche, the enemy numbered equally strong on the two banks, massing 1,500 to 1,800 on each side. The column on the right bank, pressing forward with greater eagerness, had outstripped that on the left. About 9 a. m. it approached our line of battle. Mouton, fighting resolutely, here succeeded in checking their forward movement. All this time a duel was going on between the batteries. Unfortunately, at the outset Ralston's battery was severely injured by the enemy's shells. To make it worse, ammunition giving out, it was compelled to fall back. Owing to the loss of its commander this was done in some confusion. Confusion in a small force cuts with a wider swath than in an army.

The trouble with Ralston's battery led to a retrograde movement on our part, to a position about a mile and a half below at Labadieville, about 4 p. m., and here the Confederates made a new stand. Mouton had the commander's eye—the eye which in the battle sees every angle of the field. He had noticed that the enemy, having crossed troops on his pontoon bridge to the right bank, was massing his forces there. This was a challenge to which Mouton at once responded by throwing across to the same bank part of his infantry stationed on the left. Mouton says in his report: "At the close of the day the force of the enemy numbered about 2,000 infantry, 100 cavalry and a battery, while my own barely reached 1,000, including the infantry, cavalry and artillery."