March 25, 1862-6.35 p. m.
Your of this date has just arrived. Information of the same character reached me from other sources this morning, and this evening a number of Western boat-builders meet at the Department to consider the best mode of meeting the rebel boat. The universal opinion among naval and military engineers in the East is that a floating ram striking and sinking the iron-clad vessel is the best mode of encountering it. A large class boat at Saint Louis might perhaps be got ready in a short time; would it not be well for you to consult some of your river men? Commodore Vanderbilt has given his steamship Vanderbilt for the purpose, and it is now at Norfolk to meet the Merrimac, and although not armor-clad, he is very confident of being able to run her down. Charles Ellet, a distinguished engineer, has given the subject much attention. I will end him to-morrow to see and consult you, and with authority to act as you may deem best. He is a man of courage and energy, and willing to risk his own life upon his own job.
EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
NEW MADRID, March 25, 1862.
Our canal progresses well; two steamers with four barges are nearly through. I will bring down several more steamers, and will deepen the canal so as to bring through it the smallest gunboat. We need her to cover our landing on the opposite bank. I sent some cavalry out from Point Pleasant 25 miles on plank road, under Major Rawalt, Seventh Illinois Cavalry, to break up Jeff. Thompson's camp. Came upon him, killed 6, and wounded many more; dispersed his force entirely in the swamp.
SPECIAL ORDERS, WAR. DEPT., ADJT. GENL.'S OFFICE, Numbers 64.
Washington, March 25, 1862.
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4. Brigadier General Thomas A. Davis is assigned to duty in the Department of the Mississippi, and will report in person to Major-General Halleck at saint Louis.
By order of the Secretary of War:
SAINT LOUIS, MO., March 26, 1862.
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
The main works of the enemy are on main-land, above Island Numbers 10. Gun and mortar boats can make no impression on them. Pope has been preparing to corss below and attack them in the rear, but may fail on account of the flood. If so, he will probably cross above to