After incredible labor and exposure, wading through the swamps, and in many places dragging wagons and artillery by hand, we appeared before New Madrid on the 3rd of March, and at once drove in the pickets and outposts of the enemy and closely invested the place.
I append hereto my official report of the operations against New Madrid, the reports of division and brigade commanders, and my official correspondence with General Halleck by letter and telegraph. I also attach hereto a return of the force engaged, which exhibits in details its entire organization and every regiment of which it was composed.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
New Madrid, March 14, 1862.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit for the information of the general commanding the department the following report of the operations which resulted in the capture of this place.
I arrived before the town with the forces under my command on Monday, the 3rd instant. I found the place occupied by five regiments of infantry and several companies of artillery. One bastioned earthwork, mounting 14 heavy guns, about a half a mile below the town, and another irregular work at the upper end of the town, mounting 7 pieces of heavy artillery, together with lines of intrenchments between them, constituted the defensive works. Six gunboats, carrying from 4 to 8 heavy guns each, were anchored along the shore between the upper and lower redoubts. The country is perfectly level for miles around the place, and as the river was so high that the guns of the gunboats looked directly over the banks, the approaches to the town for several miles were commanded by direct and cross-fire from at least 60 guns of heavy caliber. It would not have been difficult to carry the intrenchments, but it would have been attended with heavy loss, and we should not have been able to hold the place half an hour exposed to the destructive fire of the gunboats.
As there seemed no immediate hope of the appearance of our gunboats, it became necessary to bring down a few heavy guns by land to operate against those of the enemy. They were accordingly sent for, and meantime forced reconnaissances were pushed over the whole ground and into several parts of the town. Some brisk skirmishes resulted in which the enemy invariably retreated precipitately. It was found impossible to induce them to trust any considerable force of their infantry outside of their intrenchments. As soon as I found it would be necessary to wait the arrival of our heavy guns I determined to occupy some point on the river below, and establish our small guns, if possible, in such position as to blockade the river, so far as transports were concerned, and to cut off supplies and re-enforcements for the enemy from below. Point Pleasant, 12 miles below, was selected as being in a rich agricultural region, and being the terminus ofthe plank road from the interior of Arkansas. I accordingly threw forward Colonel Plummer, Eleventh Missouri, to that point, with three regiments of infantry, three companies of cavalry, and a field battery of 10-pounder Parrott and rifled guns, with orders to make a lodgment on the river bank, to line the banks with rifle pits for 1,000 men, and to establish his artillery in sunk batteries of single pieces between the rifle pits. The arrangement was made to present as small a mark as possible to the shells of the gunboats, and to render futile the use of
6 R R-VOL VIII