Report of Maj. Jesse S. Miller, Eleventh Wisconsin Infantry

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Report of Maj. Jesse S. Miller, Eleventh Wisconsin Infantry.

HDQRS. ELEVENTH WISCONSIN VET. VOL. INFANTRY,
Brashear City, September 30, 1864.
CAPT.: I have the honor to transmit herewith a report of the
expedition to Grand River Junction, of September 27, 28, 1864, and of
which I was in command:

I embarked on the U. S. gun-boat Carrabasset with 125 men of Eleventh
Infantry, Wisconsin Veteran Volunteers, at 5.30 p. m. September
26, when we dropped down to her moorings and made fast to
her anchor. At precisely 12 o’clock midnight we left moorings; arrived
off Pigeon Bayou at 5 a. m. 27th and anchored, it being so dark we
were unable to cross the bar at the mouth of bayou. At daylight weighed
anchor and crossed the bar into Bayou Pigeon ten minutes before 12
noon. The country between the mouth of Bayou Pigeon and the junction
of Grand River is one continuous wilderness. Until within one mile of
the junction there is not a house or sign of any habitation, although on
either side of the bayou the land is dry and might be cultivated. It is
covered with a heavy growth of live oak and thick clustering growth of
underwood. There are numerous paths running through it in all
directions, none of which show signs of recent travel. I landed parties
of men under competent officers at several different points along the
bayou and explored some distance back on either side, but could
discover no trace of the enemy. Pigeon Bayou is very narrow and
crooked, with large trees hanging over on either side, rendering it very
difficult of navigation with as large craft as the gun-boat, although it has
great depth, ranging from ten to twenty feet. Not finding the cavalry at
the junction when I arrived, I sent two armed boats up Grand River
about three-fourths of a mile, where I learned a large barge of cotton
was hidden in a small cove, with instructions to run the barge down to
the gun-boat if found. I then landed and went to the house of Mr.
Micheltre, directly opposite the mouth of Grand River. Here I found
two men who were in charge of the cotton and whom I arrested. I also
found a large quantity of cotton stored in the sugar-house on Micheltre’s
plantation, which I seized. The party sent in boats up Grand River found
the barge loaded with cotton hidden in a small cover about three-fourths
of a mile from the mouth, the underwood and large trees nearly hiding
it from view. No one being found at the barge they immediately took
possession of it and brought it safely to the junction. I then sent a
detachment under Capt. Park down the south side of Grand River as
far as the plantation of Charles Palfrey, occupied by one Mr. Brown,
distant four miles. He had learned that a Confederate captain and four
Confederate soldiers passed down in the direction of Lake Natchez on
the morning of the 26th. In the meantime I had the gun-boat turned
around, backed down opposite the sugar-house, and all the available
men I had, after placing a picket on each side of the river, set to loading
the cotton stored in the sugar-house onto the gun-boat. At 6 p. m. the
advance guard of the cavalry arrived, the main body at 7.30. I had an
interview with Maj. Clybourn, commanding the cavalry; remained at
this place all night. Started the barge down Bayou Pigeon at daylight
with one company of men under command of Capt. Park. Cavalry
started at 9 a. m. and at 10 a. m. I started down the bayou with the
gun-boat, passed the barge and crossed the bar, came alongside at 4
o’clock, when we took her in tow and arrived at Brashear City at 11.30
p. m. September 28, with 3 prisoners, 220 bales of cotton, and 1 large
barge. We destroyed two large flat-boats and several skiffs.

Very respectfully,

J. S. MILLER,
Maj. Eleventh Wisconsin Veteran Volunteers.

Capt. B. B. CAMPBELL,
Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

Chris

Christopher Wehner is a Civil War historian with his M.A. in United States history emphasis the American Civil War. He is a published author with two books, numerous journal and digital media media publications to his credit. To contact chris, cwehner -at- soldierstudies .org

4 thoughts on “Report of Maj. Jesse S. Miller, Eleventh Wisconsin Infantry

  1. I was raised at Bayou Pigeon, La., located on the eastern edge of the atchafalaya River Basin. I am writing a book about the history Bayou Pigeon, La. Imagine my surprize to find this information, by simply doing an internet search on ‘Bayou Pigeon, La. Civil War’. The information learned is priceless and several of the field reports will make the book, all properly documented of course. I am particularily impressed with the writings skills of a certain Capt. Jesse Miller. I have shared this information with several life long friends from Wisconsin, who have visited me here in the Atchafalay River Basin. They could not belive that wisconsin troops were here in the swamp. I also cannot believe those Damn Yankee’s whup us Cajuns boy, LOL! Thanks for having the web site so user friendly.

  2. I was raised in Bayou Pigeon & have always been known there as A.J. As young boys in the early 1940s, my brother Alcide & I lived on the Palfrey Plantation with our mother, Mathilde Mary Clement, her parents, Alcide Gervis & Mathilda Morales Clement & 2 aunts, Mildred & Amelie (Nana & T’aunt Amelie (or Tom). We spent many summers under the canapy of giant oaks surrounded by the cool waters of the bayou, swimming with cousins & friends in the same bodies of water as the alligators, fishing from the large willow tree & climbing the giant oaks with branches as large as trees themselves. My grandmother, Old Gramm, who lived until age 94, said the size of the oaks had not changed since she was a small girl growing up in the same area near the old sugar mill mentioned by Maj Miller. Nana & Tom lived on the property until the late 1960s when they were forced to find other dwelling after a fire destroyed all of their belongings along with the small cottage that had been built for the family following the decay and collapse of the original Palfrey Plantation House years earlier. We still refer to the area where we grew up as “Old Gramm’s Place”. We would love to have contact from anyone with any info, history or stories about the property or area.

    1. A.J., I loved reading that story! I am sure my dad, Edward Gervais Clement and his siblings did a lot swimming with all of you. Before is was fenced in, we used to stop often just to walk under those massive oaks!

  3. (written by daughter of A.J. & Faye Ann Callegan Berthelot as recounted by A.J.)

    I am a native of Bayou Pigeon & am still known there as A.J. During the 1940s my brother Alcide and I lived in the ‘Palfrey House’ with our mother Mathilde (Teal), her parents Alcide Gervis & Mathilde (Gramm) Clement, and 2 of our aunts, Mildred (Nana) & Amalie (T’Aunt Amalie / Tom). We spent many summers with cousins & friends swimming among the water lilies, fishing from an old Willow tree that arched over the bayou, playing beneath the tall raised porch & under the canopy of a giant Oak whose large branches draped the ground. My grandmother (1869-1963) had told us that the size of that Oak had not changed since she was a young girl growing up near the sugar mill mentioned in Maj Miller’s report above. The family lived in the house until it collapsed from decay, moving into a smaller cottage where they lived until the late 1960s when a fire destroyed the cottage & all their belongings forcing them to find other dwelling. Our family still refers to that strip of land as “Ole Gramm’s Place” and long to return home there someday.

    We would love to make contact with anyone having more information or stories about the area. Please contact us at either fayaj59@cox.net OR cillabl@yahoo.com

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