War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0437 Chapter XVII. COLUMBUS, KY., EVACUATED.

Search Civil War Official Records

each other and turned, compelling thus the evacuation of his strongholds of Bowling Green first and now Columbus.

At 4 o'clock this morning the flotilla, under Flag-Officer Foote, Consisting of six gunboats, commanded by Captains Dove, Wlake, Stemmbel, Pauling, Thompson, and Shirk, and four mortar boats, in charge of Captain Phelps, U. S. Navy, assisted by Lieutenant Lyford, Ordnance Corps, U. S. Army, and three transports conveying Colonel Buford's Twenty-seventh Illinois Regiment and battalions of the Fifty-four and Seventy-first Ohio and Twenty-fifth Illinois, commanded by Majors Andrews and Sanger, the whole brigade being under Brigader-General Sherman, who rendered me most valuable and efficient assistance.

On arriving at Columbus it was difficult to say whether the fortifications were occupied by your own cavalry on a scout from Paducah or by the enemy. Every preparations was made for opening fire and landing the infantry, when General Sherman and Captain Phelps, with 30 soldiers, made a dashing reconnaissance with a tug, steaming directly under the water batteries. Satisfied that our troops had possession, they landed, ascended to the summit of the bluff, and together planted the Stars and Stripes amid the heartiest cheers of our brave tars and soldiers. Though rising from a sick bed to go upon the expedition, I could not resist landing to examine the works, which are of immense strength, consisting of tiers upon tiers of batteries on the river front, and a strong parapet and ditch, covered by a thick abatis, on the land side. The fortifications appear to have been evacuated hastily, considerable quantity of ordnance and ordnance stores, a number of anchors, and the remnant of the chain which was once stretched over the river, and a large supply of torpedoes remaining. Desolation was visible everywhere; huts, tents, barracks presented nothing but their blackened remains. Though the town was spared, I discovered what appeared a large magazine smoking from both extremities, and caused the train to be immediately cut. A garrison was left in the work of nearly 2,000 infantry and 400 cavalry, which I will strengthen immediately.

I urged upon Flag-Officer Foote the importance of immediately attacking the batteries of Island Numbers 10 and New madrid, but that gallant commodore, after consulting with his brave officers, was of the opinion that two or three days f repairs to the gunboats was indispensable.


Brigadier-General Volunteers, U. S. Army, Chief of Staff.

Major-General HALLECK, Saint Louis, Mo.

Numbers 3. Reports of Major General Leonidas Polk, C. S. Army.

COLUMBUS, KY., March 2, 1862.

The work is done. Columbus gone. Self and staff move in half an hour. Everything secured.


Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War.


Humboldt, Tenn., March 18, 1862.

On the day of the evacuation of Columbus I telegraphed General Beauregard it was accomplished, and I avail myself of the first leisure I have had to submit my official report.