War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0731 Chapter XVII. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. - CONFEDERATE.

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Columbus, Ky., December 2, 1861.

Major-General POLK,

Columbus, Ky.:

GENERAL: Occupying temporarily the command of your division, which you can resume at pleasure, I feel it my duty in all things relating to important movements of the command to take no action with out consulting your judgment. In this view of my position and of the courtesy due to yours, I have deferred to your wishes in regard to an advance upon the enemy's position. If attacked now and his unarmed gunboats captured or destroyed, we can conceive of no movement so important, no victory so pregnant with great results to the cause of the Confederate Government, as that and the capture of Cairo. With Commodore Hollins' fleet of gunboats and our land forces acting together and making simultaneous attacks by water mad land we can take Bird's Point and Fort Holt and captured or destroy his unarmed gunboats, and probably Cairo. If we stand still and await the ample preparations he is making and allow him to assail us with shells from fifty gun and mortar boats, and to throw around our position an army of 50,000 or 75,000 men, our position may become difficult to maintain. In other words, in my judgment, our safety, in a great measure, depends upon our attacking him before he is armed for the conflict or ready to move on our position. My convictions of duty in this important matter induces a distinct avowal of the determination, if left to the exercise of my own judgment, to make an early advance on the enemy's position. Time is now of the highest importance; even a delay of five days might hazard the success of the enterprise. Saint Louis papers inform us that four of his unarmed gunboats, seventy-two rifled cannon, and 3,000 loaded shell have arrived at Cairo. These as yet are unarmed, and three other gunboats at Mound City are afloat, but unarmed. Commodore Hollins is confident that with the co-operation of our hand forces, attacking his batteries, we can capture and destroy these gunboats and batteries, and may possibly take Cairo itself. A successful attack upon these gunboats and batteries without support by our land forces is simply an impossible thing. I ask your approval of the movement.

With great respect, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Commanding.

NASHVILLE, TENN., December 2, 1861.

Captain E. D. BLAKE,

Assistant Adjutant-General, First Div., West. Dept., Ky.:

SIR: In obedience to special orders from headquarters Western Department I have assumed command of the defenses of the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers on the line of Forts Donelson and Henry and of the country immediately adjacent thereto. You will please say to the major-general commanding division that I have made a thorough examination of the whole line and will report as soon as practicable on the subject. I will state here, however, that it is but too plain that instant and powerful steps must be taken to strengthen not only the two forts in the way of work, but the armament must be increased materially in number of pieces of artillery as well as in weight of metal. I have communicated with General Johnston on the subject and learn