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The Bayou Teche Expedition
September 6 to November 22, 1863
Various Descriptions From Soldiers
Web Author's Notes:
The following are several excerpts from a letters by Pvt. Thomas B. Linn, Company B, to his relatives back in Ohio. He wrote the letters while camped at Berwick, Louisiana, after the regiment had returned from a north-westerly advance to Opelousas, Louisiana, which they had reached October 24, 1863. The men did not understand why they had marched so far, just to return by the route they had come. Note Linn's negative comments about General Nathaniel Banks, the commander of the operations at the time, in the first excerpt. In subsequent letters he seems to have softened his stance toward Banks, possibly upon hearing new information as to the reasons for the advance and withdrawal.

Excerpt from letter of Pvt. Thomas B. Linn, Company B, to his uncle:

Brashear City, La., Nov. 11, 1863
...We were in the great Texas Expedition - were to pass through Louisiana but like all other plans of the great Gen. Banks failed and we have returned to Brashear City - probably to New Orleans to start out afresh; out-generaled and driven by an inferior force and that too almost without a battle. We were as far as Oppolousas over a hundred miles from here - had not more then got there till we were ordered back to New Iberia to protect the rear. We made the backward trip, about 53 miles, in three days - took four advancing. ... Our front had fallen back to Roundabout Bayou twelve miles this side of Oppolousas. Here they suffered themselves to be completely surprised and a short but bloody conflict ensued. Our boys were being paid off when the rebels came yelling right into their camp driving them back with heavy loss. They afterwards rallied and then Mr. Reb. had to give way leaving us in possession of the field. Our loss was about 600 in killed, wounded and missing - mostly prisoners. The rebel loss in killed and wounded was heavier than ours although we did not take as many prisoners. The army fell back fourteen miles to Vermillion Bayou and made a stand - in a couple of days afterward we were all ordered back here.

Excerpt from letter of Pvt. Thomas B. Linn, Company B, to his sisters:

Berwick, La., Nov. 13, 1863
... You may judge we were surprised for we thought our force large enough to hold our position and could not understand why we were falling back. True our advance had been surprised and had lost many prisoners but were not defeated. The army was then slowly falling back. Gen. Burbage's Division was lying at Round-about Bayou, 14 miles beyond Vermillionville. The paymaster had visited them - was just going to pay them off when the rebels came rushing into camp killing and wounding some and taking more prisoners. Our fellows soon rallied and charged on the rebels, drove them from the field, not, however, before they had destroyed all our camp equipage, etc. Our loss was 40 killed, 70 wounded and 535 missing. The rebels left 100 dead on the field, don't know how many wounded they had -- we got some prisoners but not near so many as they did. Our regiment brought 52 down with us. This surely was not the cause of our falling back. It is supposed that Gen. Banks is at Brownsville, Texas and they say our expedition was a success - that we did not intend to go further than Oppolousas -- only went to draw the rebel troops from Texas, while Banks got a foot-hold there. They had left Brownsville a week before Banks got there and was not expecting him at all. We are now awaiting transportation to join Banks. ..."

Excerpt from letter of Pvt. Thomas B. Linn, Company B, to L. S.:

Berwick Bay, La., Friday Eve. Nov. 13, 1863
Little did I think when I wrote you last seated in my gay little lodge at New Iberia that my next written in less than a week afterwards would be headed and written at Berwick's Bay - almost our starting point. We did not get to stay in our comfortable quarters but three nights before we had to leave them and fall back to our present encampment. I am hardly able to tell why we fell back but the general opinion now is that our object was accomplished, that we only went up to Oppolousas to draw the rebel forces while Banks effected a landing twelve miles from there without much resistance as the army had left there a week before to repel the Yankee hordes who were infesting Louisiana. As soon as we received our orders we began to fall back slowly. The rebels made a dash on Gen. Berbage's division - drove them from their breakfast and greenbacks )They were to be paid off and the paymaster was with them) killing 40, wounding 70 and taking 535 prisoners. Our troops rallied and charging back drove them from the field with a loss of 100 killed and many wounded and some prisoners. We lost all our baggage and camp equipage but saved the money. ...

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