horsemen came with me at full gallop, yelling like Indians. My infantry received us with three cheers, and, as we thundered over the bridge with 500 horse, it had the effect of a Chinese fight, and the enemy retired at a double-quick. My horses were entirely too much worn out to take advantage of their retreat, but we nevertheless followed them for several miles. Just before my arrival one of my infantry pickets of 30 men laid in ambush until the enemy approached so close that in a single volley, in which but 27 guns were fired, we killed 5, severely wounded 8, and slightly wounded many more, and then fell back, without losing a man, Our surgeons, Poplin and Gaulding, went over, tendered their services, and were kindly received by the commander.
I will remain here until the enemy discovers my weakness. I have been sadly disappointed in Recruiting my army, as there are no arms in the country, and the people will not go without they know when and where they are to receive them. I found, however, that the hears of the people were all right, and, from New Madrid to Big River Bridge, we have been welcomed in the most flattering and encouraging manner.
Had I with me a few Confederate regiments I could take Ironton by Sunday, and capture 12,000,000 rations and an immense quantity of forage, which is being collected for winter quarters. My rapid and unexpected movements have fully convinced them that my force is very large, and I have also exercised my talents upon them with fictitious orders and reports, but I do not feel safe enough to undertake to ship the lead from the mines near here. The reports that come in to-day will influence the citizens, as well as myself, and I may have a week to spare here, in which case I will have a quantity of lead moved south of here, and then I can move it away at my leisure.
If you can spare me one of your brigades I can fall back to the swamps, and, by immediately advancing again with its support, we can take Ironton without any question. My men are perfectly familiar with all the roads through the country, and if my horses are recruited I can easily finish the railroad.
Preparations are being made to winter 10,000 men at Ironton, 10,000 at Springfield, with a large force at Saint Louis. If this is broken up, Southern Missouri will be comparatively free.
Yours, most respectfully,
M. JEFF. THOMPSON,
General A. S. JOHNSTON, C. S. A., Columbus, Ky.
FREDERICKTOWN, MO., October 20, 1861.
SIR: I am still here, but will probably start away to-day. We have intercepted a courier from Colonel Plummer, U. S. Army, to the commanding officer at Ironton, saying that he is marching with considerable force to intercept my retreat (I understand 3,000 men). They were to have encamped at Dallas last night, and say they will encamp within 10 miles of us to-night. I have sent our vigilant pickets to scour the country, and, if the report be true, I will shape my course accordingly. You will please make some inquiries into the matter, and, if they follow me into Wayne County, you will please send our a few regiments into Stoddard County, ready to relieve us or strike at Cape Girardeau. Fremont is too far from railroad and rivers to return to the support, and a little energy will now secure the Mississippi above Cairo, which is as important as Paducah. I have 16,000 pounds of lead secured. I