War of the Rebellion: Serial 008 Page 0762 OPERATIONS IN MO., ARK., KANS., AND IND. T. Chapter XVIII.

Search Civil War Official Records

ISLAND No. 10, February 28, 1862.

[Major-General POLK:]

GENERAL: Will you at the proper time order the companies of Colonel Clark's regiment to report here for duty. From all the information I can get between 20,000 and 30,000 men are at Benton and Commerce and will advance upon New Madrid. I have five regiments at New Madrid. The work thrown up there is for 2,000 men. I am pushing forward another work. To hold the place I have to depend much upon the assistance of the gunboats. I wish much that General Beauregard would pay me a short visit. This place must be held fast or that falls; that must also be held or this falls. I shall act with all the energy I have.

Please send this to General Beauregard.

Yours, sincerely,

J. P. McCOWN,

Brigadier-General.

ISLAND No. 10, February 28, 1862.

Major General LEONIDAS POLK, Commanding:

GENERAL: I received yours of this date. It was upon reflection and consultation with the commodore and Colonel Gantt that I placed the troops under my command as I have. I so disposed of them for the following reasons:

1st. The work constructed at New Madrid can only contain two regiments. The work that I am having constructed near the bayou is about the same capacity; both are near the bank of the river and can be flanked by gunboats, the plain being level. All extra troops only mask the fire of the gunboats. So strongly am I impressed with this view of the case that I shall only leave four regiments there unless differently instructed.

2nd. Should this place fall or should the enemy's gunboats pass this point, New Madrid could not be held six hours unless Commodore Hollins could defeat them.

3rd. I can re-enforce New Madrid promptly from this place.

Commodore Hollins has five gunboats here and at New Madrid.

Now, as to the condition of this place, only one gun was mounted when Colonel Kennedy arrived here. We now have five in the upper battery is on the island. I shall move it to New Madrid as soon as I can get two guns on the point of the island. I send you information that leads me to suppose that they intend to shell the field works out. The enemy is in force at Benton and I believe will advance.

I could not leave our small intrenchments and fight without a much larger force, nor can I stop the gunboats with certainty without time to prepare. The guns, ammunition, &c., have been brought down without any person knowing what was on each boat.

The Price sank just above New Madrid about three hours since. The flat with Captain Stewart's battery sank; all except ammunition saved.

The boat that brought up the laborers from Fort Pillow brought no tools. I have but few tools to work with.

If the river rises much more the battery (upper) will be under water; but one magazine here, that one with water in it, built below the river level.