Learning that the enemy was advancing on the place in force, I ordered Colonel L. M. Walker, with two regiments, from Fort Pillow. On the arrival of these two regiments I occupied the position on the shore of the mouth of the Bayou Saint John.
On the night of the 26th I returned to Columbus and reported the condition of affairs to Major-General Polk. I returned to Madrid Bend on the 27th.
The enemy appeared before New Madrid on the 1st instant, having the day previous driven in our scouts, capturing from General M. Jeff. Thompson several of his small cannon.
The work being constructed at the mouth of the bayou was garrisoned by Colonel Travis's Fifth Tennessee Regiment, Colonel Walker's Fortieth Regiment,* and Colonel Baker's First Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi Regiment, + and Captain Smith P. Bankhead's field battery, under command of Colonel Travis. Brigadier General A. P. Stewart was assigned to the command of the forces at New Madrid.
March 4, the enemy advanced with artillery and infantry, and were promptly repulsed by the fire from Commander Hollins' fleet of gun-boats and our artillery.
March 5, picket skirmishing all day.
March 6, the enemy planted a battery at Point Pleasant, and by a white flag induced Captain Dunnington (Pontchartrain) to near the shore, when she was fired into by musketry, killing and wounding several. Picket skirmishing all day.
March 7, a strong advance of the enemy was driven back by the fire from the gunboats, Captain Bankhead's battery, and Captain R. A. Stewart's Parrott guns. The gunboats failed to silence the battery at Point Pleasant, which attempt was renewed on the 8th and 9th with a like result, Captain R. A. Stewart driving the enemy's infantry from the shore at that point with his Parrott guns.
March 10, heavy picket skirmishing all day.
March 11, I placed two 24-pounder siege pieces opposite Point Pleasant.
March 13, the enemy planted some batteries during the night, with rifle pits supporting the batteries. They opened fire upon our transports, hitting all that approached Fort Thompson. The enemy's guns were 24-pounders and one 8-inch gun. Commander Hollins, from his gunboats, and we with our guns form the works, returned the fire, repulsing one heavy advance upon the fort at the mouth of the bayou.
By a careful examination of their works I became satisfied that they were making regular approaches to cut off communication with the lower fort (Fort Thompson). I was also convinced that our gunboats could not stand against their land batteries, and that unless the fleet dropped below Point Pleasant it would be cut off. Commander Hollins and General Stewart concurring in this opinion, I ordered the evacuation of New Madrid.
I directed General Stewart to take the immediate direction of the evacuation of Fort Thompson, placing at his disposal the steamer Louisville, a large wharf-boat lying at the fort, and two gunboats; and to General L. M. Walker that of the fort, and two gunboats; and to General L. M. Walker that of the work at the mouth of the bayou, placing at his disposal the steamer De Soto and one gunboat, and I ordered the steamers Winchester and Ohio Belle to report to General Walker. The captain of the Winchester did not obey the order.
*This became the Fifth Confederate Regiment.
+Probably became the Fourth Confederate Regiment.