cut them off would require only a haversack to where the enemy would require a wagon. There might be a column pass from Cape Girardeau down to the end of the plank road and across here, to endeavor to cut me off; but unless Columbus was taken at the same time and the boats of the United States assist them here they would be assuredly cut off themselves.
Demonstration of parties of Home Guards, and such like, may be made between Black and Saint Francis Rivers; but I doubt it very much if a column will attempt it before spring. A party of gentlemen came in this evening from Fredericktown, and report that the troops are nearly all gone from Ironton, and that it is proposed to entirely evacuated that post. I do not believe this latter part, although I think there is no doubt about the former, as immense forces are being concentrated on the Ohio and near Cairo. If the Iron Mountain Railroad is not destroyed Ironton can easily be held; but if I can take another foray up there while the troops are below Saint Louis I can completely destroy it, and thus Ironton must be abandoned. If the winter is open I intend to keep the field with my cavalry and harm them all I can. Our terms of enlistment expire in a few days, and the most of our troops will be mustered into the service of the Southern Confederacy. What will become of me in the change I do not know. If I am held as a brigadier I intend to raise a regiment of dragoons, which I can do in ten days, and then, if not held back by some old fogy, the enemy will have to "stand from under;" for I worked up this time, and will fight up, if it has to be done over.
We are building a fort here that will hold 10,000 men, and will build redans and redoubts enough to effectually defend the place if we have time enough. We had 500 negroes at work and will increase the number to 700 to-morrow.
Immense works have been built at Columbus and constant labor is still employed. It will soon be a perfect Gibraltar, and if the enemy do not start soon it will be too late. Rumor says the whole force of the enemy is to be concentrated upon East Tennessee before the river move is made. This will certainly be good policy, if the transportation is safe enough to bring them back in time for the march down the valley. I think, however, that a good snow will cool their ardor and give us rest until spring and probably give us peace. I am very anxious to get back to Stoddard County, but cannot leave here yet. If the movement is made toward East Tennessee I will immediate go across the swamps; and, if you will help me, we will give the railroad another trial, or I will make a dash at Cape Girardeau to capture a few blankets, &c. I would be placed to hear from you often, and, as our preparations lie in the same direction, I hope we can have a perfect understanding and concert of action.
Hoping I have not exceeded the limits of your invitation and written too long a letter, I remain, yours, most respectfully,
M. JEFF. THOMPSON,
HDQRS. FIRST MIL. DIST., MISSOURI STATE GUARD,
Camp New Madrid, Mo., November 24, 1861 - 9 p. m.
Brigadier General GIDEON J. PILLOW, Columbus, Ky.:
DEAR GENERAL: You will find inclosed a note from Major Chalets,*
* Not found.