and our 24s opposite mouth of slough, together with the floating battery, will cover the whole ground (all open corn fields) for half a mile back from the river with shells and round shot, and prevent any considerable body of the enemy from assembling against the first division which crosses. Once give that division a foot-hold on the bank, and covered by these batteries, and no force the enemy has can dislodge it.
With this whole force on the other side, I shall at once advance and intersect the road from island Numbers 10 to Tiptonville. Subsequent movements will of course depend upon circumstances.
Our floating battery has been somewhat changed in plan since I telegraphed you. In addition to its defensive arrangements, I shall lash on each side of it a barge floored over with empty water-tight barrels and loaded with cotton bales and dry cottonwood rails packed tight. The barges will be planked over the top with heavy planks, spiked to string pieces, to prevent any of the barrels, bales of cotton, or rails escaping. These barges will float even if filled with water. This arrangements will give 20 feet of cotton bales and tightly-packed rails on each side of the barge carrying the guns, the sides and ends of which are 4 1/2 feet thick, of heavy timber. This battery will carry 150 rifle-men, and will be well provided with row-boats in case of unforeseen accident. As it will be anchored in shoal water in the slough and very near the shore, both of the main-land and of the island, the worst case for us that could happen will not occasion loss of life.
If Commodore Foote will send us two of his gunboats (which I hardly hope) I shall continue to make a great show of preparation at the batteries opposite Watson's, and during the night will drop the transports and gunboats, without lights, down the river, close along the Missouri shore. Just below our battery of 32s they pass behind Island Numbers 11, and even in day-time would be out of danger. Fro half a mile along the shore, until they pass behind the island, they would be within range of the enemy's batteries opposite, but would run no risk in the night, as they cannot be seen and will not be heard. I propose to push them on down the river to a point opposite Tiptonville, marching the whole force down by and the same night, so as to embark and cross to Tiptonville at daylight under cover of our two gunboats. This plan is perfectly feasible and free of danger, and would completely cut off everything in the bend and at the island. The enemy's gunboats could not for a moment contend with ours. There are no heavy guns of the enemy near Tiptonville, though without the cover of our gunboats their own gunboats and field batteries, with the infantry force they have there, could effectually prevent our crossing. This plan, therefore, by far the easiest to execute and the most complete in its results, depends upon getting two gunboats. If I had the gunboat fleet under my control I would have them very soon. There is not one chance in a thousand that either of them would be hit or even seen in the night. There are 9 feet of water in the channel along the Missouri shore from Commodore Foote's flotilla to this place, in no part of which would the boats be nearer than three-fourths of a mile to the batteries of Island Numbers 10. I could tell you many strange and startling reasons given by the commodore for not risking it, such as his grave responsibility to the country for the security of Saint Louis, Louisville, &c. He says if the Benton were taken by the enemy, or in fact any of his iron-clad boats, which (as he says) are invincible fighting up stream, his whole fleet could be routed, and Saint Louis and Louisville be at the mercy of the enemy from Island Numbers 10, &c. It is useless to argue against such ideas; so I