War of the Rebellion: Serial 033 Page 0143 Chapter XXXIV. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.- UNION.

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CAMP OF 2nd Regiment MISSOURI STATE MILITIA CAVALRY,

Bloomfield, Mo., March 4, 1863.

Brigadier- General DAVIDSON,

Commanding District of Saint Louis:

GENERAL: I have the honor to report a cursory reconnaissance of the surroundings of this place, and respectfully to make such suggestions as occur to me for the fortifying it for permanent occupation. This ridge of firm earth between the swamps varies in breadth from 4 to 10 miles, being widest at this place. The town is situated on the comb of the ridge, with only two or three hills, within range of cannon, that command it, but these could be occupied by outworks. Neither of these hills would do for the location of a principal work, on account of water. The public square of the town could be fortified with as earthwork, so as to include water for stock and men, either in the work or in its rear within musket range. For armament, at least from six to ten heavy guns should be sent to this place via Cape Girardeau. The addition of an infantry regiment and an artillery battery to this command would, on the completion of these works, make this great gateway of the southeast secure against any probable attempt. A work might be constructed and a garrison posted at or about Chalk Bluff, and another near the Arkansas line, to render the matter entirely secure. The infantry regiment could be immediately employed in the construction of works, thus relieving so much of the cavalry as will be required for scouring the several counties, suppressing guerrillas and protecting the few Union people now left here, as well as returning fugitives.

The disloyal, who have property, will have to be put under oath and bond, and when a rule of exacting the extreme penalty for the violation of parole shall have been adopted by our Government, we may hope that this class of disturbers will be effectually disposed of. But few examples will be needed to point and emphasize the meaning and extent of parole obligation. Humanity and sound policy alike demand them.

I have required of the quartermaster at Cape Girardeau shovels, picks, and wheelbarrows. As soon as they are received, I shall begin the work on the public square. To render it as permanent as possible, I shall endeavor to reset it all with sod. A few houses will have to be removed, but they are in a ruined condition from a former attack on the town, when it was surrounded by Captain Hyde. Some trees will have to be felled in front of our outworks; the timber will be required for fuel, stockades, &c.

I intended to move last night against Thompson, who, I am informed, is at Clarkston with from 300 to 500 men. He has a lot of dug- outs, from which I hope to cut him off and bag his command. My command will move to- night if my scouts and spies report in time.

There is an unaccountable detention of my howitzers, which I left Captain McClanahan, with one company at the Knob, to bring up. This has embarrassed and delayed me. At Chalk Bluff, even against 20 men on the bluff, I must have them to enable me to seize the boat, the opposite bluff commanding all approach from this direction.

I have the honor to inclose report of Lieutenant Poole, of operations in taking possession of this place and breaking up a small camp yesterday.* We are scouring the country in every direction.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

JOHN McNEIL,

Colonel, Commanding.

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*See capture of Bloomfield, Mo., March 1, 1863,

Poole to McNeil, Part I, p. 235

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