On April 3 the fire from the enemy's rifled cannon forced the floating battery from its moorings.
On the 4th, a note, signed "One of Jeff. Thompson's men," and dated April 1, gave notice that the canal would be completed the next day, the 2nd. On the same night, during a violent storm, the first gunboat ran past all the batteries above New Madrid unharmed; it was early discovered, and every gun was opened on it.
On the 6th, this boat engaged the lower batteries and silenced some. Supposing that an attempt to land would be made the next morning, I left the artillery to man the forts on and near the island and a regiment of infantry to guard the island. I moved at night with Stewart's light battery and the infantry stationed in that part of the bend, in all about 1,000 men, to a central point of the peninsula, 6 miles distant, ordering the remaining infantry, about 1,500 men, of whom 400 were unarmed, should an opportunity present itself on his landing. The storm of this night enabled a second gunboat to pass uninjured, and before the detachments of infantry had assembled form the different posts in the wide circuit of the bend the enemy were landing under the production of the heavy batteries of their boats. I now determined to save, if possible, my infantry and light artillery by a retreat. But one way was open, through Timptonville (distance 6 miles), a sluice, which here emptied into the river, and then by the bank of the river, under the fire of the enemy's battery on the opposite side of the river, the overflow covering this bank, and by its depth forbidding any movement farther inland. This was practicable, if the gunboats did not interfere. I accordingly put my command in motion, first sending my engineer to superintend the destruction of everything at the forts. He was intercepted by the enemy and forced to return. My arrival at Tiptonville was preceded by the gunboats, and the infantry, artillery, and cavalry of the enemy were on me. In my judgment resistance and escape were alike hopeless, and the next morning I surrendered the column under my immediate command.
I make this report entirely from memory. Copies of all letters to the commanding general were destroyed, to prevent their falling into the enemy's hands. I make the report now, because on yesterday I receiver information that the President expected it. I did not make it earlier because I did not know that it was expected. I had reported the condition of the command and each movement of the enemy fully to the commanding general, and had assured him that the result would be as it proved, the fall of the place twelve hours after the enemy crossed. I hope you will do me the justice, with His Excellency the President, to inform him that when I asked when I might expect orders, you told me that you could give me no information; that you suggested that there was no objection to my leaving the city of Richmond in the mean time; and, above all, that there was no suggestion made of any report or other act of mine as necessary or proper before leaving, or requisite as an antecedent to my return to the field.
I hope to reach Richmond the day after the reception of this report, that I may more promptly and conveniently give any further information which you may require.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. W. MACKALL,
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General.