CAMP NEW MADRID,
December 13, 1861-10 a. m.
Major General LEONIDAS POLK, Columbus, Ky.:
DEAR GENERAL: I inclose you a letter from the captain of my scout near Charleston, which is rather discouraging, compared with the events of the evening before. My men attacked them, the enemy, before, and brought in 2 men, 5 muskets, 15 blankets, &c.; but they paid me for it last night. Unless something unexpected transpires between now and night, I intend to take a moonlight ride after them myself and hope then to give a good account of them.
Governor Jackson will go on the first boat to Memphis to get his family, and will probably go direct from there to see General Johnston.
I sent you also a letter taken from one of the prisoners. It is rumored here that Colonel Bowen is having a fight. As soon as my little cannon arrive I will test their virtue on the enemy.
Yours, most respectfully,
M. JEFF. THOMPSON,
EAST PRAIRIE, December 12, 1861.
General JEFF. THOMPSON:
DEAR GENERAL: I received yours of the 11th, and in reply can say that we are still keeping a sharp lookout. The Northerners were out yesterday scouting the country west of Charleston as far as Bertrand. They took 12 citizens prisoners in that vicinity, and they came in contact with our pickets, in number; 4 at one place, which they captured, the other at another place, and made fight, and succeeded in killing 1 Northerner, slightly wounding another, and killing 1 horse, and made their escape into the swamp. Their forces amounted to 200 cavalry and about the same of infantry. The infantry was left at Charleston whilst the cavalry scouted. They say they know that Jeff. Thompson is in the neighborhood with at least 150 men, and tell the citizens if they don't tell where they are that they will burn the town (Charleston) and destroy the property of all who harbor them. They say they are going to scout the country out or run us out of it. They all went back to the Point last evening except one company of cavalry, which fed their horses at Charleston and started, with orders to go to Shelly's Bridge and thence to East Prairie. I have not heard of them since.
I send you a man who says he lives at Cook's farm, below Belmont, and was taken on the Madrid and Charleston road, 8 miles south of Charleston, and inquiring for some mill, where he could get to work. Having no pass, telling a crooked story, I thought best to send him to camp.
Yours, truly, &c.,
CHARLES P. PRICE,
Captain Co. D, First Reg. Cav., First Div., Mo. S. G.
SIR: I have just returned from Saint Louis, and I learned that they have chartered 40 steamboats, to be at Cairo on the 10th of this month; but the river is so low that they cannot get all of their gunboats down. They will have some twelve or thirteen gunboats and three hundred guns, and they say they can take Columbus with 40,000 men most easy.