On the 4th of September, another detachment of sixty men guarding a railroad train, was ambushed at Boutte Station by a Confederate force 1,500 strong, and badly cut to pieces, losing fifteen killed and twenty wounded, although the train escaped. The Confederate force that attacked this train now turned to Bayou Des Allemands station, which was held by small detachment, and demanded its surrender. In the face of overwhelming odds, the three officers and 137 men surrendered.
Among those surrendering were seven Germans who had enlisted from New Orleans, and, being recognized by the Confederates were tried by a hasty Court Martial, condemned to death, and shot on the pretext that they were deserters from the rebel army, which was entirely untrue, and outright murder.
On October 24, 1862 BGen Godfrey Weitzel began an expedition for the capture of the whole La Fourche district by landing at Donaldsonville and going down the La Fourche. The 8th Vermont was assigned to Weitzel’s Brigade, and began on the 26th of October to open the Opelousas railroad to Brashear City. This was accomplished by December 8th having put in order 80 miles of road, built two bridges
covering 1,150 feet, rebuilt four miles of track, captured seven cannon, and opened complete railroad and telegraph communication between Algiers and Berwick Bay.
The 8th Vermont remained in camp at Brashear City until the 8th of January, 1863, when it moved to Camp Stevens at Thibodeaux, but returned in two days to engage in the expedition against the Confederate gunboat John L. Cotton, which was located in the Bayou Teche. The Cotton was a strong boat with a heavy armament and partially ironclad.
The force left Brashear City under command of BGen Weitzel on January 13th, and skirmished somewhat that evening. The next day sixty men from the 8th Vermont were sent under command of Captain Dutton to pick off the gunners of the Cotton, and the regiment crossed to the east side of the Bayou to drive out a force of sharp shooters from rifle pits that were doing serious damage to Union gunboats engaging the Cotton. The sixty men under Dutton were proceeding up the Bayou on a gunboat when they were hailed by another Union gunboat and begged to send a messenger to Colonel Thomas to hurry and take the rifle pits. One of the Union boats, the Calhoun, was aground, the gunners driven from their guns, her commander, Commodore Buchanan killed, and the boat in imminent danger of capture. The messenger was sent with all speed and the regiment rushed forward at double quick, Captain McFarland with Company A as skirmishers being thrown out on the right flank and Captain Dutton, with his picked sixty men being in advance on the left, but such was the swiftness of the charge that neither party was more than a moment in advance of the regiment, which swept into and over the rifle pits, killing seven of the enemy, wounding twenty-seven and capturing fifty-seven prisoners and more than two hundred stand of arms, and the Calhoun was saved.
Night came on and the position of the regiment was in jeopardy, as it stood alone the left bank of the stream. In this dilemma, Colonel Thomas ordered built a line of campfires nearly two miles in length on the right extension of our line, leading the enemy to believe we had been strongly re-enforced. The ploy worked and at about eleven o'clock the Confederates fired the Cotton and she drifted down the Teche, a pillar of flames, and sank. The expedition returned to Brashear City, the regiment not having met any loss, but having performed without question the most signal service done by any organization in the expedition.
Then followed life in trenches with its horrors. On the night of June 10th there was a fruitless reconnaissance in which there were some casualties to the 8th Vermont. On the 14th came the second great assault on Port Hudson, which resulted disastrously. The 8th Vermont led the assaulting column on this occasion, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Dillingham, Colonel Thomas still suffering from his wounds and very sick. By heroic effort the regiment reached the enemy's breastworks, but the ground over which it passed was strewn with its dead and wounded, and it was obliged to fall back with the loss in this fruitless affair of 21 killed and 75 wounded, of whom seven afterwards died of their wounds. Two days later, MGen Banks called for a volunteer storming party of one thousand men to lead another assault as a forlorn hope, but there was little enthusiasm and the number was never obtained, though several members of the 8th Vermont volunteered.
On September 1st, the 8th Vermont moved to Algiers and went by sea on the Sabine Pass Expedition. This Union Expedition was an Army-Navy attempt to prevent establishment of a Confederate supply line from Mexico to Texas. On September 8th the day of the battle, United States Navy Captain Frederick Crocker entered the Sabine River with four gunboats, accompanied by eighteen troop transports carrying 5,000 infantrymen including the 8th Vermont. Confederate Lieut. Richard Dowling's First Texas Heavy Artillery, a detachment of just 46 men, had previously placed stakes in the river to act as markers for cannon fire. As the Union convoy steamed among the stakes, the Confederates opened fire with deadly accuracy and wrought havoc on the boats. The Union Army was forced to withdraw down the river after having lost two gunboats and 200 sailors captured. The Confederates are believed not to have suffered a single casualty in what has been credited as the most one-sided Confederate victory during the entire war. After this disaster, the Union troops including the 8th Vermont returned to Algiers Sept. 11th.
On January 5, 1864, 321 men of the 8th Vermont, including Sergeant Mills, re-enlisted for three years more of service. Camp was moved to Franklin on January 6, and remained there two months. A furlough of thirty days having been granted those who re-enlisted, by order of the War Department, on the 7th of April, the regiment embarked the steamer Constitution for New York, and reached Montpelier, Vermont on the 16th. The recruits and the portion of the regiment that did not re-enlist remained in camp at Algiers under command of Major Barstow, but afterward moved to Thibodeaux where they had active service. On the 6th of June, Major Barstow sailed for New York with the non-veteran portion of the regiment, and they were mustered out of service at Brattleboro, June 22, 1864.
On June 3rd the veterans of the regiment including Sergeant Mills, returning from their furlough, reached New Orleans and were placed in camp at Morganzia Bend. From there the regiment went on several scouts, but without important results. With Louisiana and the Mississippi River secure, on July 2d the 8th Vermont went by transports to Algiers, and on the 5th embarked on the steamer St. Mary for Fort Monroe near Hampton, Virginia. From there it was ordered with all speed to Washington, D. C. to resist MGen Jubal Early's threat to the capital city. Joining the Army of the Shenandoah, during July and August the 8th Vermont made a series of marches and maneuvers, oftentimes forced and severe.