Mississippi Marine Brigade – Part 7

Affair at Goodrich’s Landing

As the surrender of Vicksburg became a foregone conclusion the emphasis of operations shifted to the Louisiana side of the river. Ellet’s cavalry had maintained patrols in the area and reported that an informant had warned of another attack on Milliken’s Bend. On 27 June the attack took place, not at the expected location but at Goodrich’s Landing about ten mile up river from Milliken’s Bend.

Two regiments of black volunteers from the 1st Arkansas and 10th Louisiana under the command of Colonel William Wood occupied a “very good little fort” there but had unwisely sent two companies out to an exposed position at a lesser fort. Confederate Colonel William Parson’s cavalry took advantage of the situation with his Texas cavalry and captured the entire lot. The 1st Kansas Mounted Regiment was sent by BG Hugh Reid to lure the Confederate troopers back into a trap. The well laid plan was ruined when the John Raine arriving with a portion of the Mississippi Marine Brigade fired on them warning them away. Yet another Union commander was irritated by the actions of the brigade.

On 30 June the entire Marine brigade was assembled and with the assistance of Wood’s regiments set off in search of the elusive Parsons. Ellet anticipated a short action and failed to provision the column with either food or water. After a march of five miles it was determined that they had taken the wrong road and a countermarch was ordered. In the vicinity of Tensas Bayou Ellet halted the infantry column so they could satisfy their hunger at a blackberry patch while the cavalry continued ahead. When Major Hubbard reported that the cavalry had located the Confederate force nearby Ellet could not get his men to respond to his movement order. By the time the infantry column was finally reassembled the Confederate troopers had made good their getaway and burned the bridge behind them. Although Ellet claimed that his marines had pushed Parson’s force away they had actually been ordered back by MG Richard Taylor and had left without a fight.

Eventually Ellet sent three companies across the remains of the bridge to pursue the departing enemy. What they discovered on the chase would lead to much controversy. Parson’s men left a trail of destruction that included burned cotton gins, slave quarters, and the charred remains of slaves killed in the wanton destruction. In a letter published in the St. Louis Democrat LT S. F. Cole also stated “that numerous charred skeletons of the white officers of the negro troops were found, in some cases nailed to trees and slabs and evidently burned alive.” LTC Samuel Nasmith, of the 25th Wisconsin, confirmed the killings in his report of the expedition stating “the rebel atrocities committed…were such as the pen fails to record in proper language.” The column returned to the landing and on 1 July the brigade loaded the boats and departed for Young’s Point to rest his troops. Their brief stay left most of the regular units in the area unimpressed. LTC Nasmith complained bitterly about lack of cooperation from Hubbard and called the brigade “entirely worthless” and “a positive injury” to the operations in Louisiana.

Mississippi Marine Brigade (Campaign Series)


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