river from John's Bayou at New Madrid to their lowest battery at Andy Riddle's, and at the same time not be exposed to any injurious fire.
If it became absolutely necessary at any time these two gunboats could pass the blockade in the night, as is proven they can do, though at some little risk. The well drilled and disciplined crews of these boats, with their vigilance at night and shell guns ready at a moment's notice, would render our position at Island Numbers 10 (with a judicious distribution of our own troops and guns and watchfulness) secure, I feel satisfied.
The placing of two of those gunboats now below Riley's at the positions I have indicated I believe to be of vital importance, however disagreeable it may be to their crews; but inconvenience and risks all of us must be subject to. Two full regiments could not be as effective as two gunboats on the west side of the peninsula. As now located, to be signalized to by the uncertain explosion of rockets, &c., and move up in the dark, must prove abortive, if the enemy have the slightest energy and strategy, which must be accorded to them.
A. B. GRAY.
[NOTE.-The marginal notes were added to the original report May 27, 1862.]
REDAN FORT, CAMP POLK, ISLAND Numbers 10,
Thursday, September 18, 1861.
CAPTAIN: It becomes my duty to report to you that the progress of our work has been so retarded by circumstances over which I have no control that in my judgment any further drawbacks may cause us to lose (should certain contingencies happen) one of the finest strategic position for the defense of the Mississippi Valley.
The "contingencies" referred to have now happened.
The multiplicity of matters surrounding you at Columbus has caused this point, I am afraid, to become of much less consideration than it really deserves.
That of Columbus, &c.
I am now fully convinced that Island Numbers 10, with its connections, properly fortified, would offer the greatest resistance to a combined water and land attack of the enemy, while at the same moment he would receive an irreparable injury.
The "connections" of Island Numbers 10 are the "Reelfoot Lake" and Union City on the east and New Madrid and the swamps of New River on the west.
A concentrated cross-fire from the batteries I propose would be irresistible by the boats of the enemy, and our intrenchments from the river to the lake could not be taken by a force five times superior in numbers.
Proven to be so-battle of the 17th March, 1862, and bombardment from the 15th to 25th of March.
We cannot be outflanked, owing to the proximity of the bayou and lake to the river, and it would be equally impossible to invest us. The general character of the ground is the most inviting to an attack and certain defeat of the enemy. To an ordinary observer the absence of any impressively strong features in the topography might create an unfavorable opinion as to its strength, but I am satisfied that a close study of the ground by a military man would
Island Numbers 10 not yet outflanked on the right nor invested. If invested, it will be through the loss of New Madrid, which is the left flank of Island Numbers 10 and Union City and Obion River to the right.