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

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

Brashear City, La., November 19, 1864.

CAPT.: I have the honor to submit the following report of the
expedition to Bayou Portage under my command:

I left Brashear City at 11 o’clock on the night of November 17 with 200
men-150 of the Eleventh Infantry Wisconsin Veteran Volunteers, and
fifty of the Ninety-third U. S. Infantry (colored)-on board the gun-boat
Nijanza No. 41 and steam transport Cornie, arrived at the mouth
of Bayou Portage at 6 a. m. November 18, and proceed up the bayou
a short distance. The Cornie, a few rods in advance, was fired upon
from an ambush by about sixty men, killing 1 man of the Ninety-third
U. S. Infantry (colored). I immediately landed the force on the gunboat
and attempted to get in rear of the force that fired on the Cornie, but
they retreated up the bayou. I then deployed one company as skirmishers
and advanced up the bayou, the Cornie keeping abreast of me as far up
as she could go. I then had all the men on board landed except
twenty-five colored men and a captain, leaving them as guards for the
boat. I continued on up the bayou, my skirmish line keeping up a pretty
sharp fire with the enemy. I sent one company of about thirty men
around to the left for the purpose of getting into their rear, but they fell
in with a company of cavalry which prevented this. After driving the
enemy about two miles and a half we overhauled one of the large flats
loaded with baggage and tied up on the opposite side of the bayou, and
succeeded in getting it across, although under pretty severe fire from the
opposite side. I ordered the baggage set on fire and the boat destroyed.
I also captured 1 prisoner here, from whom I learned that the other flats
were some half hour the start of us. I concluded that it would be useless
to follow them farther, as they could row them as fast or faster than we
could drive the force that was now opposing us. I therefore fell back to
the boats and re-embarked, having been on shore four hours. The enemy
followed us back and exchanged a few shots with the rear before my
men were all on board. It is impossible for me to say how many of the
enemy were killed or wounded, but I am quite positive that 2 were
killed. The casualties on our side was 1 man killed and 1 slightly
wounded. We destroyed 1 large flat loaded with baggage and several
small boats, and barracks for about 300 men, with a considerable
amount of camp and garrison equipage, and some cornmeal and sugar.
It is impossible for me to say how strong the enemy were, but I should
judge them to be not less than 200 or 250 men, and under command of
Capt.’s Murphy, King, and Whittaker.

I have the honor to remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Maj. Eleventh Infantry, Wisconsin Veteran Volunteers.

Assistant Adjutant-Gen., District of La Fourche.

Source: Official Records
[Series I. Vol. 41. Part I, Reports. Serial No. 83.]

About 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
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