Reports of Col. W. R. Miles, Louisiana Legion, of Operations May 21-July 7.

HEADQUARTERS MILES' LEGION, Port Hudson, May 22, 1863. MAJ.: With 400 infantry and a battery of my command, I moved out yesterday on the Plains road, in obedience to orders. About 2 miles from this place my skirmishers fell in with an advance party of the enemy, fired on them, emptied three saddles, and drove the rest rapidly back. A short distance beyond, his cavalry were seen drawn up in considerable force. Our artillery opened a well-directed fire, and the cavalry retreated rapidly. We advanced, firing shell and shrapnel at intervals, until near Plains Store, where my skirmishers found the enemy's infantry with some artillery, and has a sharp contest with them. The line was quickly formed and ordered to advance. It moved forward steadily, and was soon engaged in close and deadly conflict. The contest raged with great fury for nearly an hour, when I discovered we were overpowered by greatly superior numbers, any my line was being pressed back. I at once ordered a section of Capt. [R. M.] Boone's battery to advance up the Plains Store road, to a point where it could deliver a raking fire on the enemy's right flank. The order was promptly obeyed, and the fire was so effective as to completely check his movements, enabling me to withdraw the command at leisure and in good order, bringing off 23 of my wounded, this being all I could furnish transportation for. In this affair both infantry and artillery behaved with great coolness and courage, and deserve much praise for their soldierly bearing. I have no means of knowing the exact number of the enemy we encountered. It was quite large, however, and very much exceeded our own, the prisoners captured by us stating it to consist of fifteen regiments of infantry, besides artillery and a large cavalry force. Our loss in killed, wounded, and missing is 89. It is impossible to state with accuracy the number of killed and wounded. I only know of 8 killed and 23 wounded. The enemy, however, report having buried 40 of our dead, and say they are in possession of a number of our wounded. I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant, W. R. MILES, Col., Comdg. Legion.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, May 24, 1863. I beg leave to report that no attack or menace has been made on my line today. The shelling from guns and mortars, however, has been extraordinarily furious, and I regret to say that 3 men have been killed and 3 others slightly wounded by them. The casualties occurred in Maj. Anderson Merchant's battalion. I am, general, very respectfully, W. R. MILES, Col., Comdg.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, May 25, 1863. I beg leave to report that, at an interval of about two hours, two advances have been made on our lines to-day-the first by infantry and cavalry, and the second by cavalry alone-both times in considerable force, and both times were driven back hurriedly, the latter time in great confusion and in full run. A short time after the second repulse, a flag of truce was observed near the place from which the enemy was driven. I sent Capt. [R. M.] Hewitt and Lieut. [B. W.] Clark to meet it. Before they reached the ground, the flag moved off. They could plainly see litters, bearing off either wounded or dead. It occurs to me that this is plain violation of the white flag. I dared not fire upon it, and yet it may have been made use of to carry off wounded who otherwise would have become our prisoners. If it can be used for one illicit purpose it may be fore another, and its sanctity will be destroyed; I therefore beg leave to call Maj.-Gen. Gardner's attention to it. I am, major, very respectfully, W. R. MILES, Col., Comdg.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, May 27, 1863. About half an hour by sun this morning the enemy opened an infernal fire on our lines. With occasional lulls, the cannonade continued until about 2 p. m., when I learned the enemy had formed in line of battle, and was advancing on Gen. Beall's center and left. Without waiting for official notification, I at once pushed forward to his support every man I could spare. My men had barely got their position when the enemy opened fire, advancing with infantry and artillery. He was repulsed three several times, and has now retired. I am holding the field, Gen. Beall's forces having gone to the left. What the enemy's loss is it is impossible to say. Subordinate commanders not having handed in their reports, it is impossible to give an accurate list of casualties. I will supply the omission hereafter. Respectfully, W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, May 28, 1863. The enemy opened his accustomed cannonade at an early hour this morning, the mortar fleet and gunboats below chiming in, and for some time shell and solid shot fell thick along the line. Between 10 and 11 o'clock I received notice that Maj.-Gen. Banks had asked for a truce, to allow him the opportunity to bury his dead and care for his wounded, who covered the ground where the fights occurred yesterday. The various precautionary orders connected therewith were received, promptly communicated, and vigilantly enforced. I observed no disposition on the part of the enemy to violate the truce during the day. Ten prisoners were taken by my men and sent to headquarters this morning. Lieut. [W. W.] Carlos, thought to have been mortally wounded yesterday evening, is improving, and will, I think, recover. The wounds received by others are slight, with one exception. We had none killed. I am, respectfully, your obedient servant, W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, May 30, 1863. During last night the fleet shelled us without intermission, but without result. We have only been fired at during the day by a few skirmishers. No one hit. It is the first day of calm since the 24th. I am very respectfully, W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, May 31, 1863. This morning the enemy's sharpshooters, deployed in front of a party of my lines under cover, opened an irregular fire, which has been kept up all day. The cannonade, directed at my redans and an attempted enfilade of the works, has been quite vigorous at times, never entirely ceasing. About 4 o'clock this evening, the fleet below commenced shelling furiously, and kept it up two hours and a half. Last night the fleet shelled us from 11 o'clock until sun-up this morning; all this resulting in wounding 1 man. I have sent 200 men to relieve that number of Col. [I. G. W.] Steedman's men, on the left. Since their arrival there this evening, I learn 2 of them have been wounded severely. I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant, W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, June 1, 1863. The fleet indulged in its customary shelling last night, and at intervals to-day. The enemy's batteries for the last twenty-four hours have been steadily playing on our front, attempting at times to enfilade the works. No serious result. Sharpshooters, as usual, have been plying their vocation on both sides. So far as can be learned, on immediate attempt will be made to carry the works by assault, the enemy not having recovered from the effects of his last attempt upon us. W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, June 3, 1863. Just after writing my report of yesterday, 2 men of the legion were wounded here by the enemy's sharpshooters. I have learned that the detachment of the legion holding Col. Steedman's position has had 1 man killed to-day and 5 wounded. The fleet last night shelled us slowly, without inflicting any injury; and the batteries, though playing on us all day, have not injured a man or affected the works. The enemy is at work in front of the outer works in Gibbon's field. It is impossible to tell precisely what he is doing; most probably digging rifle-pits and preparing a place for his artillery. I am, major, very respectfully, W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, June 6, 1863. The batteries and fleet for some two hours this forenoon grave us a very heavy fire. The battery heretofore stationed at the mouth of Troth's lane moved off this evening in the direction of the river below; and the battery near Hunt's house, with eight wagon-loads of stores, moved off also but the same hour and in the same direction. Unless these movements are a ruse, it is evident the enemy is moving off a large portion, if not all, of his forces. I have no casualties to report for the day. I am, major, very respectfully, W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON,Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, June 7, 1863. Early this morning a large body of infantry marched from the river at Troth's through the lane out toward the works. [R. M.] Bonne's battery fired several shots at the column as it passed, and a number of them were seen to fall. They double-quicked out of range, and got, under cover. During the day the enemy has been discovered working steadily in the edge of the woods nearly midway between where his batteries that were taken off yesterday evening were formerly posted. It looks as if he is preparing a place for a large battery. Late this evening several companies of troops have been seen passing from the woods toward Troth's. They were fired upon by Lieut. [H. W.] Coleman, and made to pass by in haste and some confusion. I will send out a scout between midnight and day to examine the woods between my right and Troth's for the purpose of learning the enemy's numbers there, and what he is doing. The fleet shelled us last night, and a battery back of Slaughter's late residence, in front of Gen. Beall's lines, has been firing on us through the day. No casualty. The batteries near Hunt's house and the mouth of Troth's lane, that were removed yesterday evening have not yet reappeared. No artillery visible in front of my lines. I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant, W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, June 8, 1863. Late yesterday evening, after writing my report, I had 1 man killed by the enemy's sharpshooters. Between 1 and 2 o'clock this morning, the enemy in force made an advance on my left and center. He was handsomely repulsed, and did not renew the attack. During the night, two pieces of artillery were placed in position near Hunt's house, and have saluted us several times since. My scouts, sent out in the woods between the Troth road and the river, report a strong force of the enemy there, and say they are engaged in digging rifle-pits and throwing up earthworks. Should you desire to send any one outside the lines for information, the two young men who acted for me, I think, would successfully accomplish the mission. The fleet shelled us, as usual, during the night. I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant, W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

ON THE FIELD, June 9, 1863. The enemy has brought back his Parrott and Whitworth guns to my front, and, in addition, has planted two light 8-inch mortars and one 8-inch gun, with all of which he has been delivering an energetic fire since about 11 o'clock this morning, wounding 1 man severely. It seems a miracle that we have escaped thus, for the 8-inch gun has an enfilading fire along several hundred yards of my left. This gun is placed in the point of woods between Hunt's and Slaughter's, and is beyond the range of my small pieces. I sent word to that effect to Brig.-Gen. Beall, and requested him to order some of his guns opposite to open on it, in the hope of either silencing it or deranging its fire. For some good reason, doubtless, nothing of the sort has been done. I beg leave respectfully to suggest that it is of very great importance to pay some attention to this big gun, as it is by all means the ugliest acquaintance we have yet made. The shelling by the fleet last night was not very severe. I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant, W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, June 10, 1863. The mortars of the fleet, the mortars of the land batteries, the Parrott and Whitworth guns, opened on us at dusk yesterday evening, and kept up a furious fire through the night. The practice was good and the scenic effect splendid. At 2 o'clock this morning the 8-inch shell gun joined in, and delivered her raking fire along my entire left. Three men were wounded severely during the night. Lieut.-Col. [M. J.] Smith's fire was without effect on these pieces, his range being short and his aim inaccurate. Lieut.-Col. Smith's guns can only do good by moving one or more of them out to the line. It is for you to determine whether it is politic and practicable to place in position on the outer line his 8-inch gun and 42-pounder. They might silence the enemy's heavy batteries. They are of no value, except for river defense, where they now are. During the entire day the enemy have been shelling my lines. The men, I am proud to say, bear it like horses, and I think will make good the defense against any assault. I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant, W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, June 11, 1863. In addition to the casualties mentioned in my report of yesterday, I have to add four more who were not reported to me until after my report was sent in. None of the wounds serious, however. Last night, on my extreme right, where Lieut.-Col. [Fred. B.] Brand commands, my picket was surprised, Lieut. [J. A.] Taylor, in command of it, seriously wounded, 9 privates and 2 non-commissioned officers captured. To-day, Capt. R. M. Boone (Boone's battery), while at his post directing his guns, was seriously wounded in the thigh. one other man has been wounded to-day. The enemy has opened some additional guns on me to-day, placed in a new position between Troth's road and the river. He has kept up a tremendous fire during the day from all his guns and mortars, and the small number of casualties would seem to indicate that a special Providence is protecting us. I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant, W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, June 12, 1863. Last night the guns and mortars from the fleet, as well as the guns and mortars from the numerous batteries on shore, kept up a brisk fire upon us, resulting in no loss of life, or wound, even. During the day their fire has slackened considerably-I would fain hope tapering to its final end. Neither of the 24-pounder guns are yet mounted on my lines, and if no more attention shall be given in directing the labor of the large nightly details I am called on to furnish than has been bestowed heretofore, it is a mere matter of conjecture when they will be put in position. No casualties reported during the day. The 30-pounder Parrott gun at the extreme right has been dismounted to-day by the enemy's land batteries. I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant, W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, June 13, 1863. Very nearly this morning we were quite severely cannonaded. Later on in the forenoon the most tremendous affair of the siege came off. From the fleet in the river and from every gun in position on shore came the quick flash and angry roar of threatening annihilation. The air grew thick with smoke and hoarse with sound. After some hours spent in this manner, it became apparent the enemy was making preparations for a charge. Gen. Beall's line being most threatened, I sent one battalion to his support, keeping the balance of my force in position to repel an attack should one be made on my own line, or move to the further support of Gen. Beall. No attack was made on me; and, after trying several times to bring their lines to the assault, the enemy beat a hasty retreat. Nothing but a few of his sharpshooters approached the breastworks, and the neighborhood soon grew too hot for them. How many of them were killed and wounded I do not know. Of the battalion sent by me to Gen. Beall's support, 2 men were severely wounded. Besides these, I have lost on my lines to-day 1 man killed and 1 wounded. Yesterday, on the extreme right, where Lieut.-Col. [Fred. B. or G.] Brand commands, there were of the pickets 1 man killed. 1 wounded, and 5 captured. I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant, W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, June 14, 1863. About 4 a. m. the enemy opened a terrible fire from all his guns along the line, from the extreme right to the extreme left. It was kept up till 8 o'clock, varying in intensity, but always severe. At an early hour I could distinguish the rattle of small-arms toward the left, and for a time thought no demonstration was intended against my position, but was soon undeceived. In regular line of battle, the enemy attempted an advance through the open field upon my left. A few shots from the artillery and a few rounds from the infantry caused him to fall back. He then moved toward the woods on his left, where, being joined by additional forces, he attempted to carry the advanced work near the Troth road. He was allowed to pass one regiment unmolested down the hill into the ravine at the base of the work. Thinking no opposition was meant, perhaps, he started a second regiment down the same road, which was also allowed to make its march unmolested abut half-way down the hill, when, at the same moment, the advancing regiment was opened upon by a section of [R. M.] Boone's battery and the stationary one by the infantry. Stupefied and bewildered, these regiments scarcely attempted to reply, but broke in confusion, and in disorder hurried from the conflict. Though his infantry amounted to many regiments, these two were all that came within the range of our pieces. The casualties of the day are 4 killed and 11 wounded. Failing in his general attack of the morning, the enemy had distributed a large number of sharpshooters all along the line, who, throughout the day, have been unwearying in their work. I regret to add that Lieut. [B. W.] Clark, of my staff, discovered last night a considerable space of the breastwork next to my left not only without men to resist an attack, but even without a guard or picket. I sent one company to guard the work during the night. I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant, W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, June 15, 1863. The fleet shelled us last night. The land batteries have fired on us at intervals throughout the day, and the sharpshooters have been more than ordinarily energetic, productive of no casualty, however. Opposite my extreme right, the enemy is busily engaged in throwing up a new chain of rifle-pits, which we are unable to prevent. I am, major very, respectfully, your obedient servant, W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, June 16, 1863. The fleet last night shelled us at it accustomed time and in about the usual quantity. The batteries to-day have been active, but not extremely vigorous. The sharpshooters, particularly on the extreme right, have displayed more energy and perseverance than on any day heretofore. The casualties of the day are 1 killed and 3 wounded. No evidence of any extraordinary demonstration by the enemy. I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant, W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, June 17, 1863. The ordinary shelling of the fleet last night was productive of nothing except its noise. There has been but little firing from the land batteries to-day, resulting in severely wounding 1 man. The sharpshooters on parts of my line have been very active, but have hit no one to-day. The works on the hill opposite to my right are progressing rapidly. I have no means of stopping them. I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant, W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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HDQRS. RIGHT WING, June 24, 1863. The fleet was again quiet last night. The land batteries have fired at intervals during the day. Sharpshooting as usual, resulting in the killing of 1 man. The enemy's works on my right continue to progress rapidly toward completion. They threw up a parallel and traverse last night, the parallel distant abut 150 yards from the brow of the hill upon which Battery No. 11 is placed. The enemy's fatigue parties have been driven from their work several times during the day by shells thrown from Capt. [S. M] Thomas' pieces in the outer work on the Troth road. He has instructions to fire at distant intervals during the night, to prevent any further work, if possible. I am, major, respectfully W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, July 6, 1863. So far as I can discover, the enemy has made no material progress on the right. His ditch seems to be taking a different direction. The heavy guns of his batteries on both sides of the river, during parts of the day, have been served with much activity, while his sharpshooters in swarms have hailed their bullets on our lines. I have to report 1 lieutenant (Ninth Louisiana Battalion Partisan Rangers) killed and 1 lieutenant (Twenty-third Arkansas) seriously wounded by them. Your order of to-day, directing me to retire the whole of Maj. [Anderson] Merchant's command, has been obeyed, as well as that other order directing me to make a permanent detail of 9 men from my command, to report for duty to the provost-marshal. In obeying these orders, however, I beg leave most respectfully to say that I think the public interest command originally given to me, the last is now taken away, and I am required to send away 9 men in addition. This leaves me with less than 400 muskets to defend over 1/4 miles of breastworks. I have at least one-third of the entire line, and less than one-sixth of the fighting force to defend it with. Besides, when the center and left were in danger in the early part of the siege, the labor and blood of my command were freely contributed to sustain them. Now that the right is sorely pressed, and more vigorously menaced then any other part of the lines, I hardly think it just to me, or right in view of the public interest, to reduce my men to so low an ebb. Let me be understood: I will hold my line as long as a man stands up; but in justice to the men, who are worked and fought without rest day or night, I earnestly request that enough be left with me to give them an occasional respite of a day. I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant, W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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ON THE FIELD, July 7, 1863. Sharpshooting, though less active to-day than yesterday, has been quite brisk. one man of the legion killed. The cannonading has been irregular; at no time very severe, and productive of no result. The enemy still works with the spade in close proximity to my rifle-pits, but it is impossible to fathom his designs. His tower grown and his ditch lengthens, one day in one direction, another day in another. This morning all his land batteries fired a salute, and followed it immediately with shotted guns, accompanies by vociferous yelling. Later in the day the fleet fired a salute also. What is meant we do not know. Some of them halloed over, saying that Vicksburg had fallen on the 4th instant. My own impression is that some fictitious good news had been given to his troops in order to raise their spirits; perhaps with a view of stimulating them to a charge in the morning. We will be prepared for them should they do so. I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant, W. R. MILES, Col.

Maj. T. F. WILLSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

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