War of the Rebellion: Serial 008 Page 0153 Chapter XVIII. NEW MADRID, MO., AND ISLAND Numbers 10, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

fidence in their new batteries, and, in short, that everything is a complete as our limited means would allow.

I cannot commend too highly the captains commanding the batteries for their zeal and perseverance, for their promptness in obeying orders, and for the high state of discipline of their respective commands. The behavior of the corps of artillery and the important services rendered from March 1 up to this day render the corps worthy of the thanks of their commanding officers.


A little after daylight on the morning of the 15th instant firing of cannon was heard up the river, immediately followed by four long whistles from our scout steamer, the grampus, which was soon seen coming down the river under a full head of steam. Following close behind came the enemy's gun and mortar boats, consisting of light gunboats, five tugs, towing as many mortar boats, and several large transports.

At a distance of 4 miles some of the gunboats opened fire, firing shot and shell slowly, and directing their fire at various points in the bend, evidently feeling for batteries. At the first alarm I had immediately repaired to Captain Sterling's battery and had the four alarm guns fired and the guns of all the smooth bores shotted. The rifled pieces were ordered to be loaded with cartridges and the shot to be placed in the guns in case of an attack only. I signaled Captain Humes, on the island, to do the same, and at 7.30 o'clock I reported to the major-general all ready for action.

The enemy continued firing slowly during the day from the gun-boats. In the evening, seeing several tugs in front of his battery, Captain Ruckere opened upon them with shot and shell, but with no perceptible effect, the distance being too great for the range of our guns. The gun detachments were ordered to remain at their pieces during the night, the First Alabama Regiment relieving our gunners from midnight until daylight.

At 9 p. m. Captain Cummings, of the signal service, went to Battery Numbers 1 and established there a signal station, which proved of great service during the various engagements.

The captains of the batteries were notified at the same time that at 12 p. m. the steamboat Winchester would be sunk by the engineers in the wash-channel on the Missouri shore. All went on quietly that night, and the obstruction of the channel was successfully performed without attracting the enemy's notice.

On the 16th gunboats came from behind the point on the Missouri shore, where most of the fleet lay during the night.

About 11 a. m. they formed a line of battle, which was beautifully kept all day, the mortar boats on the wings, fastened to the shore, at a range of 4,200 yards, the gunboats forming the center and the transports fastened behind the point, out of harm's way.

At 11.30 o'clock the fire was opened from three 13-inch mortar boats and from two gunboats, a fourth mortar (a 10-inch) opening towards evening. Shells were thrown in Battery Numbers 1, around the bend, and on the island; but the fire seemed especially directed towards those two points. The range was short and pointing inaccurate.

Towards 9 o'clock that morning I received a report from the officer of the day that Captain Rucker was making signals of distress or else that he had shown the white flag from his battery. Amazed and mor-