War of the Rebellion: Serial 008 Page 0086 OPERATIONS IN MO., ARK., KANS., AND IND. T. Chapter XVIII.

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enemy, perceiving the consequence of establishing these batteries, attempted in every way by his gunboats to prevent their construction. They were therefore in every case established in the night. As soon as daylight unmasked our lowest battery the enemy saw at once that we must either be dislodged or all reliable communication with his forces would be cut off. Five gunboats, therefore, at once advanced against the battery, which consisted of two 24-pounder siege guns and two 10-pounder Parrotts, manned by a detachment of the First United States Infantry, under Lieutenant Bates, and supported by General Palmer's division, encamped 1 1/2 miles in rear. Rifle pits for 500 sharpshooters were dug on the flanks of the battery, close to the river bank, and were constantly occupied. The gunboats ran up to within 300 yards, and a furious cannonade was kept up for an hour and a half, when they were repulsed with the loss of one gunboat sunk, several badly damaged, and many men shot down at their guns by our sharpshooters from the rifle pits. Our loss was 1 man killed. From that time no attempt was made against the battery, and all communication from below with the forces near Island Numbers 10 cut off. One of the gunboats would occasionally, during a dark night, steal up close along the opposite shore to Tiptonville, but always at such great risk that it was seldom undertaken. Neither supplies nor men could be taken up or carried off in this way.

Such was the condition of affairs on the 16th of March. The object for which the land forces had been moved upon New Madrid was accomplished in the capture of that place and the blockade of the river to any supplies and re-enforcements for the enemy at and around Island Numbers 10.

Meantime the flotilla had been firing at long range both from the gun and mortar boats at the batteries of the enemy on and opposite the island for seven consecutive days without any apparent effect and without any advance whatever toward their reduction. This result was doubtless due to defective construction of the boats.

On the 16th of March I received your dispatch, directing me if possible to construct a road through the swamps to a point on the Missouri shore opposite Island Numbers 10 and transfer a portion of my force sufficient to erect batteries at that point to assist in the artillery practice on the enemy's batteries. I accordingly dispatched Colonel J. W. Bissell, Engineer Regiment, to examine the country with this view, directing him at the same time if he found it impracticable to build a road through the swamps and overflow of the river, to ascertain whether it were possible to dig a canal across the peninsula from some point above Island Numbers 10 to Neew Madrid, in order that steam transports might be brought to me, which would enable my command to cross the river. The idea of the canal was suggested to me by General Schuyler Hamilton in a conversation upon the necessity of crossing the river and assailing the enemy's batteries near Island Numbers 10 in the rear.

On the 17th March I suggested to Commodore Foote by letter that he should run the enemy's batteries with one of his gunboats, and thus enable me to cross the river with my command, assuring him that by this means I could thrown into the rear of the enemy men enough to deal with any force he might have. This request the commodore declined on the ground of impracticability. Colonel Bissell having reported a road impracticable, but that a route could be found for a channel sufficient for small steamers, I immediately directed him to commence the canal with his whole regiment, and to call on Colonel Buford, commanding the land forces temporarily with the flotilla, which had been placed under my command, for any assistance in men or