War of the Rebellion: Serial 008 Page 0173 Chapter XVIII. NEW MADRID, MO., AND ISLAND Numbers 10, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

in the day, and sending a vedette towards Benton (where we knew the enemy to be), we commenced burning the bridges and chopping down trees across the road. I went with a small party to the Sumter Ford, some miles distant, and threw the plank off the bridges into the water to float away. I had scarcely returned to Jones' Ford before a courier arrived, in hot haste, to inform me that the enemy had reach Sikeston in large force by the railroad, and were preparing to cut off my retreat. I immediately ordered my men to retreat by a swamp road known only to the guides, and to await at a specified safe position for my orders. I, with 4 men, passed down towards the enemy, and avoiding him at Sikeston, came into the road 2 miles below. I here met Lieutenant Grant, of the Twelfth Arkansas, who had charge of the picket. Lieutenant Grant informed me that a messenger had been sent to New Madrid, informing the officer there that I was surrounded, and that Colonel Kitchen, with a considerable force of my old brigade, now Confederate soldiers, and others, would be up that evening to relieve me.

I at once sent a courier to my men in the swamp to meet me at that spot in the morning early. In the mean time I sent into Sikeston to see the enemy's force, and was credibly told that there were but 300 infantry and 100 cavalry in the town. I then started to New Madrid, expecting at each moment to meet the relieving party; but after dark, and immediately at the town, I met 20 of my men to relieve me.

Hearing from citizens that nothing had been done towards sending re-enforcements, and it being late at night, I did not report to the officer commanding; but after a short rest I started before day to join my of the enemy; fed our horses and waited on him. Then I concluded to attack them in that form. Finding me south of them instead of north, as they expected, that I might confuse and probably whip them, I opened one of my small cannon at them, and, to my astonishment, Kelley's [Kellogg's] cavalry and the cavalry of Hamilton's brigade deployed before me. I immediately ordered my men to push for New Madrid, or until they met support, as fast as possible, while I and a dozen selected men attracted the attention of the enemy.

I answered them for thirty or forty minutes, when they discovered my men and charged the. For 16 miles the run was kept up by the enemy, overtaking and capturing three of my little cannon.

Upon my arrival at New Madrid I reported that the cavalry of the Federals was within 4 miles, but that the infantry had not crossed Jones' ford, and advised an attack upon him. Nothing was done.

On Sunday, 2nd instant, about noon, the enemy appeared immediately on the outskirts of New Madrid. Bankhead's battery was sent to the saw-mill, and a regiment (I think Walker's) was sent through the park to meet them. A few rifle shots had been fired by the enemy at some of my men in the road, when Bankhead threw a shell among them, when they retired. All of ours, as far as I could learn, returned to quarters.

On Monday, 3rd instant, the whole force was reported as approaching, and at noon the gunboats commenced firing shell over the town and among them. I saw that it had been determined to await an attack behind the defenses, and having with me about 200 men, many of whom were my brigade officers, and as the Legislature had failed to meet, I asked permission of General McCowan to take my men to the plank road, at the west end of which most of my men were stationed. General McCowan approved of my course, and at sundown I started.

We halted near Point Pleasant for a few hours, and early in the