War of the Rebellion: Serial 003 Page 0634 OPERATIONS IN MO., ARK., KANS., AND IND. T.

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ing my communications by moving in the direction proposed. My base is at Pitman's Ferry, which I think should be yours. If you base yourself on the Mississippi anywhere between New Madrid and Cape Girardeau, even if successful in your operations against Bird's Point and Cape Girardeau, your communications would be liable to constant interruptions.

I am reasoning on the supposition that you do not intend at present to cut loose entirely from your sources of supply. Without presuming to enlighten you on your course, I desire you to consider what you will gain by attacking either Cape Girardeau or Bird's Point. To whip the enemy is certainly important at all times, but one ought always to fight with an object. What do you propose to accomplish by dislodging the enemy from these points? You can pass both places, in my opinion, without molestation. If they follow you, however, you can fight them greatly to your advantage in the field. If you take both places, they can occupy other points on the Mississippi, and your communications would still be open to attack. Your true policy is to unite with me here, take Ironton, march on Rolla; then abandon our base of operations, cut off Lyon from h is communications, attack and rout him; then march with all our forces combined (yours, McCulloch's, Jackson's, and mine) on Saint Louis. With Saint Louis in our possession, the points you are going to attack would be turned, and must fall as a necessary consequence.

The occupation of New Madrid is important. It ought to be held with a strong force. It checks the enemy from entering Arkansas either by Chalk Bluff or Pocahontas.

I am waiting for news from the party sent to burn the bridges between Ironton and Saint Louis.

Very respectfully,




New Madrid, Mo., August 7, 1861.

Major-General POLK:

I received a dispatch at 3 o'clock this morning. General Hardee is at Greenville. Thompson was ordered back to be within supporting distance of my position, but I doubt if he will return. If the enemy should send down a large force against me I must fight it in the open field, and if surrounded, which can easily be done, you will perceive that my whole force will be in great danger.

If you hold this place, it is certain the enemy can get no lower down the river. If this force should not be able to hold its position, there is no reason for keeping it here when its power for defense would be more than doubled elsewhere. If not supported by a force adequate to the work and the exposed position nor withdrawn, I shall have no alternative left me but to abandon this place and go into the interior, where the force will be less exposed. Your course leaves me no other alternative.

My duty to the troops under my command requires me to adopt all possible expedients to avoid its sacrifice, and in my present position I see no other. If you cannot supply additional force and if you are apprehensive of an attempt to descend the river, why not place this force where its power would make the works at Forts Pillow and Randolph impregnable? I am satisfied the enemy will not attempt a descent so