General Davies is easily frightened. He has withdrawn his force from Hickman; has destroyed all the guns and ammunition at Island Numbers 10; has ordered Colonel Scott, of the Thirty-second Iowa, to roll his guns into the river at New Madrid, burn carriages, blow up magazines, abandon his post, and remove his force to Fort Pillow. You will hardly indorse all this. Colonel Scott was advised by me of your wishes to hold New Madrid at all hazards. I fear that he has carried out the orders of General Davies. The Thirty-sixth Iowa did nor remain here-was gone when I arrived. The general thinks they behaved badly to leave him in trouble.
Forces from your department on duty here are as follows: Twenty-ninth and Thirty-third Iowa, Thirty-third and Thirty-fifth Missouri, Schofield's battery, Colonel Bowen, with three companies and four howitzers, cavalry all excellent, vigilant troops. I forgot to name the Twenty-first Missouri, Colonel Moore. It was very fortunate that you were able to respond so quickly and in such force.
I have been busy day and night organizing my forces, planting guns, and scouting. Cheatham and Forrest have a force of about 15,000 very near us. I don't believe they will advance. They cannot take us if they do. They may make a dash on Paducah. If so, I fear they will capture it. I am quite convinced that your plan of giving up the long line of railroads an opening and holding the river is the true one.
The gunboat has not yet arrived; all are anxiously waiting for it. We have one small one, which has run down to Fort Pillow, where an attack is also expected. All the gunboats and most of General Grant's army have gone southward, leaving Cairo, Paducah, Columbus, and vicinity as a prey t the marauding chieftains, Forrest and Cheatham. I am using for my headquarters the best secesh house in town, formerly occupied by the Right Rev. Major General Bishop Polk, C. S. Army.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CLINTON B. FISK,
COLUMBUS, KY., December 27, 1862.
ADJUTANT-GENERAL U. S. ARMY,
Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: I have the honor to inform you that a rebel force of mounted infantry (having some ten cannons) have for the last eight or ten days held possession of the United States military (Mobile and Ohio) railroad. Said rebel force is variously estimated at from 2,000 to 6,000 or even 8,000 men, under command of General Forrest. Parties who were taken prisoners, held two days, and then paroled assure me that the force is fully 6,000. They have injured the road very much, and it must of necessity take some time to repair it after said force has been driven away.
My object in writing this is to bring to your knowledge the fact that the rebel general in command has taken as prisoners not only the troops along the road, but all the civilians have to a great extent been paroled, being sworn first not to enter Tennessee or Kentucky, again during the war, &c.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Captain and Assistant Quartermaster.