War of the Rebellion: Serial 003 Page 0685 Chapter X. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

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broken up by the withdrawal of the Missouri forces under the orders of Governor Jackson, and in response to an application from General Pillow they were ordered to New Madrid, since which we learn, but not officially, that General Pillow has abandoned New Madrid. The President has expected daily to receive from you, as he hopes, satisfactory information in relation to these events.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Adjutant and Inspector General.


New Madrid, August 28, 1861.

Major-General POLK:

GENERAL: I have just received Hardee's reply to your dispatch and mine in regard to his co-operation with me. He says that he cannot advance, and will not attempt it. That point being settled, it only remains for me, with as good grace as I can, to turn my face (now ready for the first time since I landed at this place) upon other duty, without an apparent abandonment of a forward movement. I have to-day visited the works being built above this place. To my surprise I found the battery constructed on ground subject to fully 3 feet of overflow, and about a mile above the head of the island, in a full river at least 1 mile, and I think 1 1/4 miles from the battery. It is built on the very brink of a soft bank already chipping off the action of the water. The first full river will sweep away the parapet. In addition to this error in the selection of the site, the engineer is now grading down the original bank within the work fully 2 feet, so that the seep water will drive out the forces in the work before the river gets within 3 or 4 feet of high water mark. The forest is so damp and the overflow bottom is so wet, that it is impossible for troops to live in the work. They will die like sheep of the rot.

Just at the head of the island, on the Tennessee shore, there is a good position for a battery to command the Tennessee chute, and about half way down the island, on the west side, is a very favorable position for another battery to command the western chute. The Tennessee battery can be turned and taken, that channel of the river is open, and the other battery will be of no practical value. In addition to these two batteries, both of which must have a strong supporting force, you must have a strong supporting force, you must have a strong entrenched work at this place, else that work will be liable to be cut off from its river base. My judgment therefore is, that the value of this position is greatly overrated. Less than 5,000 men could not hold this place, and an equal force on the Tennessee shore, and 1,000 on the island, which would make the position a very expensive one. Even then it will not add materially to the safety of the river. You are in possession at Fort Pillow of the only strong strategical position on the river below Columbus. My mind reaches now to that gateway into Tennessee as the only protection against an invading column into the interior as well as descent down the river. That has always been my opinion, and it was to get as far on the way to Columbus as I could go that induced me to establish the force at Union City, looking with certainty to the time that I could occupy Columbus.