War of the Rebellion: Serial 003 Page 0665 Chapter X. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

Search Civil War Official Records

matter being furnished by the Cairo correspondent. One item of importance in the intelligence is the fact that a man named McGuire, a spy, has been sent to Union City and Memphis. I give you the intelligence that you may have him looked after. he might be secured and imprisoned until the end of these troubles. The captain of the Equality is just in from the works at Island Numbers 10, and brought me this letter. He further says that the work is progressing rapidly; that there are 150 negroes at work; that the works will soon be in condition to mount the guns; that they are now in position to be used if necessary.

The Missouri pickets are said to-have had a fight at Charleston yesterday, in which they were worsted. it is said that 2 were killed and 4 or 5 taken prisoners. They were, from the facts, criminally negligent. They were acting under the orders of General Thompson.

Lieutenant-Colonel McGehee has gone on after Colonel Neely to deliver your order in person. If Neely should return under the order, which I cannot suppose you would have given had you known all the circumstances and the condition of things, it will greatly imperil the forces already 40 miles from me. It will require four days to throw forward other troops for their relief. Reciting in my order the circumstances of the case, I directed Neely to proceed on the march; but what he will do I cannot tell. I only know that I had no idea you would be offended at my agreeing to what your engineer requested. I was glad to make the exchange, as it gave me more force with which to advance upon a perilous duty. I have no motive to gratify but to serve the country; and it seems to me that you ought to be disposed to strengthen the force all you could. If I have not our conference, and if I am to belied down and allowed no discretion, I certainly cannot but regard it unfortunate that I yielded to your wishes and accepted a command my feelings so strongly prompted me to decline. It is to me strange that my official intercourse with you is rendered both embarrassing and unpleasant when not intended on my part. If I have fitness for command you ought not to incline to cripple my energies. If I have not, and possess not your confidence, it would be better for the interest of the service that I had not been intrusted with this important command.

I should be glad to hear from you before I leave, but I fear I cannot. If I should shrink from the responsibility of acting upon my own clear convictions in a case involving the safety of the forces under my command, even though in doing so I disobeyed your orders, I would then, indeed, be unworthy your conference. If I have done right, I should be glad to know that you approve. If wrong, I do not shrink from the responsibility of action which I feel bound by every principle of duty to my command to take.

With respect,


Brigadier-General, C. S. Army.


New Madrid, Mo., August 20, 1861.

Major-General POLK:

GENERAL: Your dispatch by Lieutenant-Colonel Mcgehee is acknowledged. Colonel Neely's regiment marched on yesterday to support my advance now at Benton in front of the enemy, the pickets of the two forces having frequent collisions. This force is in an exposed position. Two dispatches reached me last night from Thompson and McCown,