Columbus or Hickman for the same purpose. Nearly the whole Mississippi Valley in that vicinity is overflowed.
H. W. HALLECK,
Washington, March 26, 1862.
Major-General HALLECK, Saint Louis, Mo.:
Your letter of the 23rd just received. General Hunter has been placed in command of the Southern Department, including Sherman's and Brannan's commands. I have instructed him to proceed immediately to his command and operate vigorously against Savannah and Mobile. The sooner all the troops are withdrawn from their respective States and placed under discipline the better it will be for the service.
Nominations of Canby and Brice are pending before the Senate. Strong was about to be rejected, but I have applied for his confirmation, and it will be done.
EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
SAINT LOUIS, MO., March 26, 1862.
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
Information received from a man who left New Orleans that one iron-clad gunboat for river was nearly completed. Thinks it is now on the way up the Mississippi. Eleven other river gunboats building; also a very large ocean steamer, said to carry twenty-four guns, and to be made impenetrable to shot. All these vessels are being rapidly completed.
H. W. HALLECK,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
New Madrid, March 26, 1862.
Flag-Officer ANDREW H. FOOTE:
I have directed Colonel Bissell, who is making slow but certain progress with his work, to deepen the channel sufficiently to enable one of your smallest gunboats to be brought through. The river here is so wide that our guns on this side cannot command the landing on the opposite bank, and I need a gunboat to lie near the opposite shore, to prevent the establishment of batteries or the use of field guns against our boats in crossing. The enemy's pickets line the opposite shore from Island Numbers 10 all the way around to Tiptonville (Meriwether's Landing), and any movement will be observed as soon as it is begun. Of course the frail steamers loaded with men are not suitable to effect the passage of the river in the face of an enemy, even with field batteries. Your smallest gunboat will answer all purpose, and can be brought through, even if it be necessary to take off her guns temporarily. They can either be brought down in one of the steamers or barges or we can arm her with 32s and 8-inch howitzers here. I