Please report your action in the premises to this Department. Prompt action is necessary.
By order of the Secretary of War:
NEW MADRID, March 19, 1862.
Have had the country examined between here and Islands 8 and 10. Had to be done in skiffs, as the whole region is under water. River rising rapidly and threatening to overflow this place. For the present it is impossible to get troops to Foote's assistance this side of the river. They could not aid him even if there. The only way to attack the works opposite Island Numbers 10 is by crossing the river here. Nearly the whole of the enemy's force now encamped at Tiptonville, 5 miles below Point Pleasant, and a little above my lower battery. Am having an examination made, to see if by digging across one or two ridges I cannot connect Island N. 8 with river below Island Numbers 10 by connecting two bayous. If so, the work will be done by as large a force as necessary to complete it in twenty-four hours. All the roads leading northeast from here are under water-in many places 6 feet deep and rising. It is impracticable for the present to build a road across the peninsula-utterly so. Rebels are shut up in bend of river, with only outlet across Reelfoot Lake by flat-boat. Impracticable now, as the lake is 4 miles wide in cypress timber.
Capture of the enemy, I think, only a question of time. they have small supplies of provisions, and can get no more. Is it not possible for a couple of gunboats to run past Island Numbers 10 so I can cross my command over the river? Haver urged Foote to try.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
New Madrid, March 19, 1862.
Colonel J. W. BISSELL:
Your two communications of yesterday have been received.* If it indeed be impracticable to get a gunboat or two past the enemy's batteries, some other mode of dealing with him must be devised. I desire you, therefore, to make an examination of the peninsula opposite Island Numbers 10, to ascertain whether a short canal, not to exceed 2 miles in length, cannot be dug, so that boats can enter above Island Numbers 10 and come out into the river below it. A mere ditch, through which the water of the river can be started, will at this state of the river was into a deep channel in one night. I think, from the character of the ground and the high condition of the river, it may be feasible to do this in twenty-four hours, so that gunboats at least could pass through and enter the river below the island. Show this letter to Colonel Buford, who will furnish you every assistance. If the work can be done lay off the line of it and call on Colonel Buford for all his
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