Head Quarters 7. M. District
Camp 4 miles below Orleans
19. Jan. 1815
Last night at 12 Oclk the enemy precipitately decamped & returned to his boats-- leaving behind him, under medical attendance, eighty of his wounded, including two officers-- fourteen pieces of his heavy artillery, & a quantity of shot, having destroyed much of his powder. Such was the situation of the ground which he abandoned, & of that through which he retired-- protected by Canals, redoubts, entrenchments & swamps on his Right, & the river on his Left that I could not, without encountering a risque, which my true policy did not seem to require or to authorise, attempt to annoy him much on his retreat. We took only eight prisoners.
Whether it is the purpose of the enemy to abandon the expedition altogether or renew his efforts at some other point, I do not pretend to determine with positiveness. In my own mind however there is but little doubt that his last exertions have been made in this quarter, at any rate for the present season; &by the next, I hope we shall be fully prepared for him. In this belief I am strengthened not only by the prodigious loss he has sustained at the position he has just quitted, but by the failure of his fleet to pass Ft. St. Phillip
His loss, on this ground, since the debarkation of his troops, as stated by all the last prisoners & deserters, & as confirmed by many additional circumstances, must have exceeded four thousand; & was greater, in the action of the 8th. than was estimated, from the most correct data then in his possession, by the Inspector General, whose report has been forwarded you. I am more & more satisfied in the belief that had the arms destined for the use of this army reached us in time (& they have not reached us yet) the whole British army, in this quarter, would before now, have been captured or destroyed. We succeeded, however, on that day, in getting from the enemy about 1000 stand, of various descriptions.
Since the action of the 8th the enemy have been allowed very little respite--my artillery, from both sides of the river being constantly employed, til the night, & indeed until the hour of their retreat, in annoying them. No doubt they thought it quite time to quit a position on which so little rest could be found!
I am advised by Major Overton who commands at Ft. St. Phillips, in a letter of the 18th, that the enemy having bombarded his Fort for 8 or 9 days from 13 inch mortars without effect, had, on the morning of that day, retired. I have little doubt that he would have been able to have sunk their vessels had they attempted to run by.
Giving the proper weight to all theses considerations I believe you will not think me too sanguine in the belief that Louisiana is now clear of its enemy. I hope however, I need not assure you that wherever I command, such a believe shall never occasion any relaxation in the measures for resistance: I am but too sensible that the moment when the enemy is opposing us is not the most proper to provide them. I have the honor to be Sir with great respect Yr very Obt St
Major Genl comdg.
P.S. On the 18th. our prisoners, on shore, were delivered to us--an exchange having been previously agreed to. Those who are on board the fleet will be delivered at Petit Coquille-- after which I shall still have in my hands an excess of several hundred.
20th. Mr. Shields purser in the Navy, has today taken fifty four prisoners, among are 4 officers