War of the Rebellion: Serial 033 Page 0792 MO., ARK., KANS., IND. T., AND DEPT. N. W. Chapter XXXIV.

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the enemy $50,000, and captured the steamer Belle Memphis; but on account of Lieutenant Thom being mortally wounded, and 6 of the 12 men selected to board her not having courage and incentive enough to board her at the same time with the others, she regained the use of her engines, and pulled up the tree to which she was tied; and made her escape before we could get to their relief with the balance of the command, to assist the 5 brave and daring men who sustained Lieutenant Thom in boarding the boat. The boat was loaded with cotton, some 15 Federal officers, and 150 passengers, as we learned from the 7 men we captured with the pilot. Captain McGehee's men have captured one large steam tow-boat and seven large coal barges, and burned them immediately, at Hopefield, under the guns of Memphis, and the gunboat which caused them to burn Hopefield, which will have to be paid for by their Government, as all of the citizens had taken the Federal oath, and since then have gone to Memphis [sic]. Now, in all of our operations on the river, I find we lack one grand thing in order to enable us to destroy the entire fleet of transports upon the river, and, if we have that, we can procure men and money to break up the passing with steamboats on the river, unless they have a gunboat to accompany them, which will take all their gunboats to supply their army with food and ammunition. The thing we lack is incentive and motive to induce men to risk their lives and their all to accomplish the end, and the way to secure that end is to have procured for my company and Captain McGehee's letters of marque and reprisal, and I will guarantee to you and the Government that we can organize two companies, of 200 men each, who will break up the navigation of the river, except with gunboats, and, if they are now watchful, we will get some of them. Now, the point I want your action on is this, as I know your inventive and fruitful mind will not and cannot fail to see it in its full force and all of its bearings at once: To give us such letters of recommendations as will secure to each of us letters of marque and reprisal. I want, or would suggest, that you appoint Colonel Asa Hodges, of this county, to go immediately to Richmond and have them procure for us. He is a man, if you want any business done there, I would suggest, as he is capable, reliable, and honest, and truly loyal, and is an executive man in every sense of the word. Now, general, this, I conceive, is no small matter, and requires the promptest action to enable us to help our brave army at Vicksburg in the death struggle. Please have Colonel Hodges appointed, and send him, by Captain McGehee, such letters and transportations there and back as will enable him to procure the letters at once and return, without difficulty, to operate on the Mississippi River, with 200 men in each company. General give this your prompt and immediate attention, as you will see the Government, in a pecuniary view, will make $10,000 by this where she does not make $1 now. You know, as for myself and Captain McGehee, that such incentives are not entirely necessary to induce us to display our whole strength and courage, but with all these men it is entirely necessary to secure their aid and prompt action. You see, in boarding the Belle Memphis, if all the men had got on her, we would have gotten $10,000 worth of cotton, together with a million of money, besides the fastest transport they had on the river, and her crew, and by their cowardice we lost the whole.

Captain McGehee's men, before I came here, made some other captures of steamboats, which did not come under my observation, far more daring and desperate than anything since I have been here. His company cannot be too highly praised and extolled, as I doubt whether