sickly season, and on little more than half rations for man or horse; and, second, of two companies of infantry, about 130 men, just mustered into the service, and indifferently armed. To these have since been added eight companies of similar infantry, numbering about 500 men; and within the last few days I have added still a little further by retaining two and a half companies, together about 150 men, that were passing here. All these together, 1,240 men, being twelve-month's volunteers, with officers and men alike raw and inexperienced, poorly armed and equipped, and without an educated or experienced military man in the whole command. No cannon were left me, or what are no better than none; that is, six iron 6-pounders and two brass 4-pounders, all old, partly dismantled and dilapidated, and without equipment for transportation or active use, and all rejected as worthless and cast aside by General Hardee. Of the nominal force I have enumerated, making by no means an unfair allowance for sick, details, &c., 700 would fully cover the number I could count upon for the field.
Thus situated, on the 5th instant I found my position threatened by the enemy with some 400 cavalry and not less (I had some reason to believe much more) than 3,000 infantry and a battery of artillery, reported on good authority (since proved to be true) to be within 60 miles of me and marching rapidly in this direction. This has since proved to have been one of the several columns moved simultaneously from Cairo upon Columbus, from Cape Girardeau upon Bloomfield, and from Ironton upon this place.
As now ascertained, the fate of Columbus, upon the result of which doubtless the others depended, caused them to fall back, how far is not yet known with certainly, but supposed to be to their respective starting points; circumstances warranting the expectation that their southward movement will be repeated as soon as the terms of concert can be again arranged, unless forestalled by an early setting in of such winter weather as shall make the roads impracticable - a contingency too uncertain to be relied upon where intersects so vital are at stake.
Thus situated, and feeling that this position is the door into our State - which in turn is a large portion of the right bank of the Mississippi - and that in holding it I was holding the very door of our domiciles, within which were wives, children, and friends, I dared not think of abandoning it, although with the force then at my command it were little better than madness to expect to do more than sacrifice every man of us in a conflict so unequal. This I resolved upon and so announced to my men, and I have no reason to doubt that I had their unanimous and cordial concurrence.
But, not to be desperate as well as determined, I instantly called for the only help then possible in reach - the militia of the adjacent country. This call was promptly responded to with some spirit, but in a manner so hurried, inconsiderable, and tumultuous - throwing in upon me an unorganized and generally unarmed crowd of some 1,500 men within two or three days. Finding this crowd unavailable in the condition in which they came, and the result of the affair at Columbus having temporarily at least warded off the threatened attack upon me, I dispensed with the militia as such and called for volunteers, organized into companies, for thirty days' service, receiving none that are not properly organized, armed with serviceable guns, suitably equipped, clothed, &c. I fixed thirty days as the term of service, for the reason 1st, that it would bring me the largest amount of force in the shortest time; 2nd, that term would cover the period at which we would probably be attacked, if at all, as by the middle of December the weather,