War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0899 Chapter XVII. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

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JACKSON, TENN., February 23, 1862.

General S. COOPER,

Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond:

GENERAL: I have to submit herewith a copy of a circular I have felt called upon the address to the Governors respectively of the States of Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, which I hope may me the sanction of the War Department. I shall be pleased to receive the instructions and views of the Department as soon as practicable.

It is presumed that the troops thus called into the field may be raised without difficulty or much delay, especially if I am authorized at once to receive then as parts of the quotas due from the several States mentioned.

In connection with the letter of Major-General Van Dorn, I beg leave to submit that all operations in States bordering on the Mississippi River should be made subordinate to the secure possession of that river, which, if lost, would involve the complete isolation and destruction of any army west of it.

Respectfully, general, your obedient servant,


General, C. S. Army.

[Inclosure Numbers 1.]


JACKSON, TENN., February 21, 1862.

DEAR SIR: As you are aware, heavy disasters have recently befallen our arms on the Kentucky border. The Tennessee River is in possession of the enemy since the capture of Fort Henry. The evacuation of Bowling Green and subsequent fall of Fort Donelson, with large loss of officers, men, arms, and munitions, have so weakened us on that line that Nashville can only be held by superhuman energy determination, land courage. At the time the direct communications of the forces at Columbus with those under General A. S. Johnston are broken, and the two armies effectually isolated from each other. With the enemy in command of the Tennessee River the position at Columbus is so endangered from a land approach from that river by a greatly superior force, that it s fall must be regarded as certain unless extraordinary efforts are made to re-enforce its present small army of occupation. I need not dwell upon the consequences of such a disaster. Suffice it to say it would involve the immediate loss to the Confederate States of the Mississippi River and Valley.

In view of the palpable situation, I am instructed to evacuate Columbus and take up less vulnerable positions on and in the vicinity of Island Numbers 10 and at New Madrid. In the execution of this measure, however, much will depend on the energy with which our enemy may follow up his late successes, and whether he will give us time to withdraw and receive his onset elsewhere.

Coming to this command at such a crisis, I have been filled with a profound anxiety and sense of the necessity for a prompt, resolute encounter with the exigency in time to prevent an irrevocable defeat. Columbus is now occupied by but about 12,000 men of all arms. At Island Numbers 10 and New Madrid are some 4,000 more, to which add Ruggles' brigade, and are under General Chalmers at Iuka, say, 5,000 more. Thus you will perceive I have a force at my disposition of but 21,000. If we remain supine and unerased to the dangers accumulating day