War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0438 OPERATIONS IN KY., TENN., N. ALA., AND S. W. VA. Chapter XVII.

Search Civil War Official Records

Upon receipt of instructions from the War Department, through General Beauregard, to evacuate Columbus and select a defensive position below, I proceed to arrange and organize a plan for the accomplishment of that object, and to execute it with as much celerity as the safety of my command and the security of the public property at risk would allow.

The position below offering most advantages for defensive works, and which it ws agreed to adopt, was that embracing Island Numbers 10, the main-land in Madrid Bend, on the Tennessee shore, and New Madrid. At the two latter places works had been thrown up during the last autumn, and measures were already in progress for increasing their strength by the construction of heavy batteries.

On February 25 I issued orders for the removal of the sick as a preparatory step. Orders were also issued be me for the removal of the commissary and quartermaster's stores; then the ordnance stores of every description, and then the heavy guns. These orders were executed promptly and in the most satisfactory manner.

To Brigadier-General McCown was assigned the command of the river defenses at the position chosen. His division was ordered thither on the 27th. A sufficient number of guns having been placed in battery to make that position secure, all the rest of the troops, excepting the cavalry, moved on the 1st, General Stewards brigade going by steamer to New Madrid, the remainder marching by land to Union City under General Cheatham.

I remained with my staff and the cavalry to supervise the completion of the work until the following day. The last shipment of articles of special value being made, the quarters and other buildings erected by our troops were consigned to the flames by the cavalry, and at 3 p. m. myself and staff followed our retiring column.

The enemy's cavalry, the first of his forces to arrive after the avocation, reached Columbus in the afternoon next day, twenty-four hours after the last of our troops had left.

In five days we removed the accumulation of six months, taking with us all our commissary and quartermaster's stores, an amount sufficient to supply my whole command for eight months; all our powder and other ammunition and ordnance stores, excepting a few shot and gun-carriages, and every heavy gun in the fort. Two 32-pounders, in a remote outwork, were the only valuable guns left, and these, with three or four small and indifferent carronades, similarly situated, were spiked and rendered useless. Tho whole number of pieces of artillery composing our armament was one hundred and forty.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

L. POLK,

Major-General, Commanding.

Colonel THOMAS JORDAN,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Jackson, Tenn.