abandoning the works later, it would be impossible to take off the command at that point. I had been assured by all who appeared to know the character of the country that no heavy guns could be brought to New Madrid; but found that they opened with 24-pounders, and they had an 8-inch; one shell of that caliber was thrown into our works. I believed, therefore, that if the evacuation was to take place it should be done at once. Generals McCowan and Stewart were both present at this consultation. General Stuart remarked that the artillerymen in the fort were worn out already, and the only chance of relieving them was by taking men from Numbers 10, and they would have to be sent there and the others taken away under fire of the enemy, which to any vessel that had approached the fort during the day had been more than dangerous.
The enemy were throwing up works on the lower part of the fort, as was proved by their opening fire the next morning from that side, enfilading the entire camp and position, and it would have rendered it impossible to send transports to the post at all. Their force was too strong for the small force we had at Madrid in the works erected there to hold out very long under any circumstances, particularly if regular approaches were made, which to mind evidently was their intention. Our fire had not seemed to stop their progress, though our shot and shell appeared to do great execution, as we could see their ambulances going continually. Whenever their columns appeared on the open field we could disperse them and drive them back; but in their trenches I doubt if we were as successful; at least we did not appear to stop their works.
Under these circumstances I though if our force was not strong enough to stop their work intrenching we had better evacuate. It was my opinion, and so expressed to both generals; and that if it was to be done, the sooner it was done the better, and that it ought to be accomplished. What the facilities were for moving-I told General McCown that three of the gunboats would give such assistance as would be required. I ordered the Livingston, Commander Pinkney; the gunboat Polk, Lieutenant-Commander Carter; and the Pontchartrain, Lieutenant-Commander Dunnington, to that duty. The Pontchartrain was employed at the upper fort; the other two vessels at Fort Thompson.
I was not myself on shore during the embarkation of the troops nor the dismantling of the forts, but will refer you for all this information to the honorable Secretary of the Navy, to whom I inclosed the reports of their movements on that night. I would be unwilling to say what ought or could be done under the circumstances, not having been present; but I believe much more might have been saved if stricter discipline had been maintained among the troops; but from my own observation I doubt the possibility among volunteers, raised and officered as many of our regiments are.
I remain, general, your obedient servant,
GEO. N. HOLLINS,
Major General LEONIDAS POLK,