Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/95

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Confederate Cavalry Around Port Hudson. 91

until a hundred or more heaps were roaring and seething in flames. Great jets spouted up into the midnight heavens, immense sparks shot out from these bonfires, as from the craters of volcanoes. Weird illuminations played fantastic tricks in the foliage above. Amid the roar of the ever-increasing fires could be heard the l ' Rebel yell" and the commands of the officers. In the glare of the flames men and horses took unnatural shapes, as they dashed to and fro, back and forth under an intense excitement, adding still more to the demon-like scene.

A gunboat stationed in front of the landing turned her guns loose, but being so close into shore her shots did no harm. The infantry, however, had been rallied, and, taking advantage of the firelight, opened fire upon the Confederates, emptying a number of saddles. This fire was returned by Powers' men; all formation was lost in the melee, and the officers ordered the men to retire and fight their way out. On reaching the plankroad, all companies re- formed, and a retrograde movement ensued. This was considered a brilliant affair, and one attended with great danger, as it was a night attack, clearly within the enemy's lines and against superior numbers, with the prospect of having Grierson's cavalry come in the rear, and thus cut off our only means of retreat. A million dollars worth of supplies intended for Banks' army were destroyed.

The writer witnessed at Johnsonville, on the Tennessee river, in November, 1864, such another sight, when General Forrest de- stroyed Sherman's military supplies, together with several gun- boats and many transports a conflagration once seen never to be forgotten or effaced from the human mind. So strenuous had been these daring raids and attacks by the Confederate cavalry on the enemy, that General Banks at last concluded to take active measures to destroy or drive from his flank and rear the forces under Colonel Powers; and, to that end, placed all the Federal cavalry with a six- gun battery under the charge of General Grierson, numbering 1,800 men. And with this force, in the latter part of June, 1863, Grier- son proceeded to hunt up his enemy. At this time General John L. Logan had assumed command of the Confederate cavalry, which was then encamped at Clinton, La. Colonel Powers still retained his office of Chief of Cavalry, and had equal powers in directing the movements of his command. General Grierson moved slowly and