I send this down by Mr. Scott, whom I have requested to try to get up an excitement among the Missourians, so that I can get more of them. It is reported that the enemy have a larger siege train, and that one of the mortars required twenty-six horses to pull it from Commerce to Benton.
It is also reported that body of cavalry have come our from Bird's Point to Charleston, but Kalfus will report them to you if true. I would be pleased if you would send up a man to let Kalfus or Price know that I am up here, as it will make them more vigilant.
Mr. Scott can give you all the gossip.
M. JEFF. THOMPSON, M. S. G.
GAYOSA HOUSE, MEMPHIS, TENN.,
March 28, 1862-7 p. m.
GENERAL: Your favor of the 26th instant is at hand. I have not been at New Madrid since March 3, at 4 p. m., and could only repeat rumor of the conduct of affairs at that place after the time; but as I think the most serious mistakes, if any, which have been committed were prior to that time, I will report what came under my observation after my leaving you at Columbus on February 26.
Upon my arrival at New Madrid I found the citizens terribly frightened at rumored reports of the approach of the enemy. I could hear nothing definite as to his whereabouts, and as the Missouri Legislature was to meet at New Madrid on March 3, and as it was very important that the session should be punctually held, I proposed that I would go with a few volunteers to discover his whereabouts, and, if possible, to prevent his coming to near Madrid.
I will beg leave here to digress a moment and state why I desired he should not come. You will probably remember that I never was in favor of works at New Madrid, and only assisted in building such as were ordered, and did not, upon my suggestion, finish the work which was called Fort Bankhead, because I believed the proper front to defend the position was the causeway know as Jones' Ford (Moore's Ford), believing that any work could be turned from the nature of the county, and nothing but numbers could command the country after the enemy had crossed the fords above mentioned. While I consulted with Colonel Gantt, commandant at this post, and Brigadier-General McCown, and they approved of my expedition, I must here again remark, for the truth of history, that General McCown remarked to me that I might go to see where the enemy was, but that I must parley; not to count on him to frighten him away; to tole him in. I remarked that after Wednesday he might come as soon as he pleased, as by that time the Legislature would adjourn, and you had ordered me to report to General Van Dorn after that time; but that they must be kept away until then if possible.
I left New Madrid at noon on Thursday, July [February] 27, with 66 volunteers, some of whom were Confederate volunteers, some Missouri State Guards, and some amateurs. That night we stopped at Sikeston, where we found a supper prepared for the Federals, who has been expected the same night, which supper we ate. I was informed that 1,000 had been expected there that night.
On the morning of July [February] 28 we started for Jones' Ford, which is 30-odd miles from New Madrid. We reached the place early