On withdrawing his main force from this neighborhood, the enemy fell upon Fort Pillow, 160 miles below in the Memphis district. The sad termination of that affair has been doubtless fully reported by the proper officers. I had the honor, however, to transmit to Major-General Sherman and to the Secretary of War a mass of testimony on that subject to which, with my communication transmitting the same, dated April 28, I respectfully refer. I was enabled also to furnish Messrs. Wade and Gooch with information on that subject for the use of the committee they represented. All disclose a policy deliberately adopted, a premeditation well considered; the more than savage acts at Fort Pillow being but the natural and intended results.
I wish to state that during short period of service here, the navy has borne a conspicuous part in all operations. The Peosta, Captain Smith, and Paw Paw, Captain O'Neil joined Colonel Hicks at Paducah, and with gallantry equal to his own shelled the rebels out of the buildings from which their sharpshooters annoyed our troops. A large number took shelter in heavy warehouses near the river and maintained a furious fire upon the gunboats, inflicting some injury, but they were promptly dislodged and the buildings destroyed. Fleet Captain Pennock, of the Mississippi Squadron, representing Admiral Porter in his absence, and Lieutenant-Commander Shirk of the Seventh Division, who had charge above Cairo and on the Tennessee, were prompt, vigilant, and courageous, and co-operated in everything. That the river line was kept open, considering the inadequate force at my control, I regard as due in great degree to the co-operation of the navy.
Cairo, at the confluence of the two great rivers, and the gateway through which all military and naval supplies for operations in this portion of the Union must pass, will doubtless require military defense in future years. I recommend that suitable fortifications be made, none now existing worth the name. The work now standing is incapable of efficient use. The magazine was constructed in 1861, and is so damp as to destroy ammunition in a few days. It is safe to estimate the value of stores thus rendered useless at ten times the cost of a proper place for their storage.
The quantities of quartermaster and commissary stores and army and naval supplies which are handled here exceeded at but few points in the country, yet no buildings of adequate capacity or with any reference to security from fires and floods have been provided.
Thousands of our brave soldiers are frequently landed here, often at night and during storms; and it must continue to be so, for this must remain the great point of reshipment, yet no proper barracks are provided. Oftentimes during the past two months our regiment have spent the nights in the open air, deep in the mud, and assailed by storms. The Soldiers's Home, under the benevolent care of the Sanitary Commission, provides temporary food and shelter, but is inadequate to the demand. A Soldiers' Rest belonging to the Government, under military control, and provided for by uniform appropriations, is needed. Then, soldiers arriving and needing temporary accommodations while awaiting transportation, could be taken under military surveillance and at once made at home. Now, particularly when arriving without officers, they are left in the street to become the prey of sharpers and victims of the many temptations which beset them.
33 R R-VOL XXXII, PT I