morning pushed ahead for the plank road, which place we had not reached before the enemy appeared in Point Pleasant and arrested a number of stragglers and citizens. I still have possession of the plank road, and my men have orders to defend it or destroy it.
Since the before-mentioned time I have not been in New Madrid, and therefore can give no information as to the subsequent events. When I left, on Monday, the 23rd, I supposed that the 7,000 men who had been at Benton had reached New Madrid with the cavalry that had arrived from Bird's Point via Sikeston. There were reported to be at Commerce 5,000 men, but previous and current report places the number of General Pope's command at 20,000.
I will beg leave here to remark that I have always contended that without a line of works from the river westward to the swaps (between 6 and 7 miles) the holding of New Madrid was useless as a river defense, and without these works a large number of men would be required; and after the enemy made his approach before the fort that was built a dogged and determined resistance would have only proved our valor and not our wisdom, and after it was found that out gunboats could not defend the river bank the evacuation of the place was a military necessity.
Yours, most respectfully,
M. JEFF. THOMPSON,
Brigadier-General, Missouri State Guard.
Numbers 39. Report of Colonel J. G. W. Steedman, First Alabama Infantry.
HDQRS. FIRST REGIMENT, ALABAMA VOLUNTEERS,
Island Numbers 10, Mississippi River, March 28, 1862.
SIR: I beg leave to report that on the 17th instant two detachments, of 15 men each, under command of Lieutenant Owens and Sanford, from the First Alabama Regiment, constituted a portion of the garrison of Battery Numbers 1.
At 12 m., in obedience to orders from General Trudeau, I went to the battery in person. The battery had not yet opened fire on the gun-boats, three of which previously (a half hour) had dropped down within a mile of the battery and opened fire upon it. Upon reaching the battery and finding the gunboats in full range, I ordered the battery to open at once. The men received the order with loud cheers and went into the action most gallantly.
In the course of an hour their shots were telling well on the enemy, we having but thee guns (8-inch ship guns) which could reach. I would remark that the battery was in miserable condition, the men standing to their knees in mud and water to serve the guns. The water having just receded from an overflow of the whole battery, it required 20 men to work one gun. We had no magazine, our ammunition being set on the parapet to keep it out of water.
In two hours the first detachment from my regiment and Captain Rucker's company were exhausted. Colonel Brown's Tennessee regiment being near at hand, I called upon him for assistance until I could get artillerists from the other batteries. Forty men came cheerfully, and served the guns until relief came from General Trudeau, consisting of detachments from the various artillery companies near his head-