tion it would occupy is raked by the gunboats. I have not force to occupy it. I shall erect it as soon as I can.
From what I learn I fear the enemy can get guns down as low as Tiptonville, on the Missouri shore. The railroad to Sikeston is being rapidly repaired-can soon be laid to New Madrid, as no grading is required. The least estimate of the force of the enemy on Madrid Plain is 30,000, with sixty guns.
Your express confidence in my holding the place. With my present force I can only hold Island 10 and the bend by holding New Madrid. How long I can hld New Madrid with my small force against such odds is a question. I believe the enemy will soon be 50,000 strong. He occupies a position from which he can't retreat. In my humble opinion it is the place to inflict a great overthrow upon the enemy. If this falls the river is open.
I place the facts before you. I am determined to hold my position at every hazard. Shall engage in no wild risks. I see my danger. My men are confident and in good spirits. We have fifty guns, all told, mounted. Some of our best guns have no carriages.
I will dispatch as often as possible.
J. P. McCOWN,
(Copy sent to Generals Bragg and Beauregard.)
JACKSON, TENN., March 8, 1862.
New Madrid (via Union City), Tenn.:
Use gunboats in keeping river open below New Madrid in case of necessity.
G. T. BEAUREGARD.
HDQRS. FIRST GRAND DIVISION, ARMY OF THE MISS.,
Humboldt, Tenn., March 9, 1862.
GENERAL: I send to you the bearer, Captain Bradford, with a dispatch from General Beauregard, to which you are referred.
Yours informing me that enemy had succeeded in placing a battery of small rifle guns at Point Pleasant has been received, as also of the skirmishing of the 5th and 6th, and of the wounding of certain men on the Polk, and so forth. I hope you may be able to silence that battery by your gunboat or drive them away, so as to keep the river open below you.
I have directed Captain Bradford to examine the ferries across the lake, so as to see what might be done in the use of them either to re-enforce you from this side or to retire your force this ay in case you could not do so by the river, that is supposing, what I do not anticipate, such a move should become expedient.
A large force of negroes has been directed to go to you by way of Tiptonville, which you may use in any way you may think best. I have directed rat-tail files to be sent to you in case of emergency.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,