War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0711 Chapter XVII. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. - CONFEDERATE.

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that the former fort, which was nearly completed, was built not at the most favorable position, but that it was a strong work, and, instead of abandoning it and building at another place, he advised that it should be completed and other works constructed on the opposite side of the river, on the high lands just above the fort. Measures for the accomplishment of this work were adopted as rapidly as the means at our disposal would allow. A negro force which was offered by planters in Tennessee and North Alabama was employed on the work, and efforts were made to push it to completion as fast as the means at command would allow.

Lieutenant Dixon also made a similar reconnaissance on the Cumberland, and gave it as his opinion that, although a better position might have been chosen for the fortifications on that river, under the circumstances then surrounding our command it would be better to retain and strengthen the position chosen. He accordingly made surveys for additional outworks, and the service of a considerable slave force was obtained to construct them. This work was continued and kept under the supervision of Lieutenant Dixon. Lieutenant Dixon also advised the placing of obstructions in the Cumberland at a certain point below, where there was shoal water, so as to afford protection to the operatives engaged on the fortifications against the enemy's gunboats. This was done, and it operated as a check to the navigation so long as the water continued low.

You are aware that efforts were made to obtain heavy ordnance to arm these forts, but as we had to rely on supplies from the Atlantic sea-coast, they came slowly, and it became necessary to divert a number of pieces intended for Columbus to the service of those forts.

The principal difficulty in the way of a successful defense of the rivers in question was the want of an adequate force-a force of infantry and a force of experienced artillerists. They were applied for by you and also by me, and the appeal was made earnestly to every quarter from whence relief might be hoped for. Why it was not furnished others must say. I believe the chief reason, so far as the infantry was concerned, was the want of arms. As to experienced artillerists, they were not in the country.

When General Tilghman was made brigadier-general he was assigned by you to the command of the defenses on the Tennessee and Cumberland. It was at a time when the operations of the enemy had begun to be active on those rivers, and the difficulty of communicating as rapidly as the exigencies of the service required, through the circuitous route to Columbus, made it expedient for him to place himself in direct communication to the general headquarters. Nevertheless, all the support I could give him in answer to his calls was afforded. He received from Columbus a detachment of artillery officers as instructors of his troops in that arm on two several occasions, and all the infantry at my command that could be spared from the defense of Columbus.

The importance of gunboats as an element of power in our military operations was frequently brought to the attention of the Government. One transport boat, the Eastport, was ordered to be purchased, and converted into a gunboat on the Tennessee River, but it was unfortunately too late to be of any service.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

L. POLK,

Major-General, Commanding.