HDQRS. FIRST MIL. DIST., MISSOURI STATE GUARD,
New Madrid, Mo., December 9, 1861.
Major General LEONIDAS POLK, C. S. A., Columbus, Ky.:
DEAR GENERAL: Governor Jackson reached here this evening, and will remain with me a few days before he goes up to see you. He wishes us to reorganize immediately, and I would be pleased if you would send us down a mustering officer immediately, as he will be able to answer the ten thousand questions with which I am now bothered and can receive the companies as they are formed.
It is proposed to christen Fort Thompson to-day, both for the purpose of trying the range of the guns and collecting our men, to be addressed by Governor Jackson. Should the guns be heard at Columbus you are notified that there is no fight down here.
Your, most respectfully,
M. JEFF. THOMPSON,
MEMPHIS, TENN., December 9, 1861.
Honorable E. C. CABELL:
MY DEAR SIR: Agreeably to your request, I beg leave to state that the following is the result of observation recently made by me whilst going to, remaining at, and returning from Saint Louis.
Saint Louis is surrounded by a single line of detached works of earth, which are well constructed, but so located as to admit of the passage of troops between them without coming under fire. This defect would have been remedied if the original plan of a second line of advanced works had been carried out. This intention has, however, been abandoned.
I learned from what I deemed good authority that a force of 30,000 or 35,000 men could be detached from Missouri for a southern expedition, and still leave a sufficient force in the State to hold that portion of it now in the possession of the Federal Government. It is generally understood to be the intention of Halleck to advance upon Columbus from Cairo in the latter part of this month or the first of the next with a force of from 75,000 to 100,000 men. Accompanying this land force will be a flotilla of some twenty or thirty gunboats, which are cased with 2 1/2-inch iron amidships, so as to protect the machinery, and some thirty mortar rafts, each carrying a 13-inch mortar, with a bulwark of iron plates 3/8-inch thick, to protect riflemen. These will be towed into position by diminutive tug-boats or propellers. The gunboats will generally carry eleven guns of large caliber. The whole expedition will be thoroughly equipped, and the flotilla will be manned by experienced sailors and officered by officers of the Navy. They will come with the full intention of taking the place at any cost, and declare that to be their determination, though it cost 20,000 men. I think the attack will be very formidable.
Columbus is tolerably well fortified, with the usual field works on the land side, while the steep bluff is a sufficient protection from assault on the river front. It strikes me, however, that there is a deficiency of guns in position for a horizontal fire, which of course is best for inexperienced gunners. The plunging fire from the high bluff is admirably fitted for the sloping of the gunboats, but will be quite uncertain. The large area of the field works will give a fine target for mortar prac-