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OPERATIONS ON THE MISSISSIPPI.
sympathy with suffering, and his indig- figure so striking, a nature so noble, nation at cruelty and wrong, constituted and a career so gallant. him a representative of true chivalry. ing this public tribute of respect, the He has died in the flower of his manly General commanding feels most deeply prime, and in the full bloom of his heroic that, in the death of this brave and virtues, but history will preserve the distinguished soldier, he has personally record of his life and character, and lost one of the truest and dearest of romance will delight in portraying a friends."
CHAPTER L VI.
EVACUATION OF COLUMBUS, KY., AND CAPTURE OF ISLAND No. 10.—MARCH--APRIL, 1862.
COMMODORE FOOTE, with his flotilla, sample resources of the country supply, .having rendered to his country the ef- to obstruct the advance of the armies of fective services, which we have de- the Union. To open the Mississippi was scribed, at Forts Henry and Donelson, a prime necessity of the war ; it was dein opening the Tennessee and Cumber- manded by the interests of the great land rivers to the victorious progress of West, dependent upon its commerce for the army of the Union, lost no time in support, and its value in a strategic point entering upon operations on the Missis- of view to the belligerents, was obvious sippi, where the enemy, at the most im- at a glance. To gain control of its naviportant points, had from the commence- gation would be to divide the confederment of the war been engaged in erect- acy, to deprive it of a most important ing the most formidable defences. Along immediate means of subsistence for its a distance of over nine hundred miles, armies in the resources of Arkansas and from the mouth of the Ohio to the wa- Texas, and to cut it off effectually from ters of the Gulf, the river, at the great its great hopes of future advancement strategic points, bristled with fortifica- and the extension of its “ peculiar institions. Beginning with Columbus in Ken- tution ” in the vast territory of the tucky, at Island No. 10, dividing the Southwest. stream at the northern border of Ten- The first step in this great work of nessee, at Memphis and its vicinity, at opening the Mississippi, was in reality Vicksburg, and elsewhere, to New Or- made in the movement which resulted leans, above and below that city, where in the possession of Nashville. When ever there was a line of railway com- General Mitchel, on the 19th of Februmunication to be guarded, where there ary, congratulated the soldiers of his was the greatest necessity for protec- division on their triumphant entrance of tion or the best opportunity of resisting Bowling Green, in sight of a retreatan enemy, the confederates had been at ing enemy, the fate of Columbus, “ the work, excavating the hill-sides for bat- northern key to the Mississippi delta,” teries, throwing up trenches, mounting was sealed. Outflanked, it was open on cannon on the heights, preparing minès all sides to attack, its communications by on the banks and torpedoes for the chan- land and river could readily be cut off ; nel, equipping gunboats for annoyance or as an isolated position in Kentucky, defence : in fine, employing every means when the whole of that State and a which ingenuity could suggest and the large portion of Tennessee were under the authority of the Union, it was of ate. The question was soon decided, little value if it could be maintained, and however, by a dashing reconnoissance of its continued maintenance, beset as it was General Sherman and Captain Phelps by assailants, was no longer possible. Its with thirty soldiers, steaming directly military occupants, strongly as the place under the water batteries. The party, was fortified, did not wait for the attack. satisfied that their friends were in posThe fall of Nashville was a hint not to be session, landed, scaled the heights, and mistaken. Immediately upon that event raised the federal flag “amid the heartithe evacuation of Columbus was ordered est cheers of our brave tars and solby General Polk. Nashville was aban- diers.” A body of four hundred of the doned on the 27th of February. On the 2d Illinois cavalry, sent out by General 1st of March, Lieutenant-Commanding Sherman from Paducah, had reached the Phelps, sent by flag-officer Foote from place the day before, and occupied a porCairo with a flag of truce to Columbus, tion of the works on the retreat of the returned with the report that the enemy enemy, and it was their flag which had were about leaving the place. “He saw been descried by the flotilla. General the rebels burning their winter quarters, Cullum, leaving a sick bed to go ashore, and removing their heavy guns on the discovered what appeared a large magabluffs, but the guns in the water batter- zine smoking from both extremities, which ies remained intact. He also saw a large he saved from explosion by ordering the force of cavalry drawn up ostentatiously train to be cut. He found the works of on the bluffs, but no infantry were to be immense strength, consisting of tiers upon seen as heretofore, and the encampment tiers of batteries on the river front, and seen in an armed reconnoissance, a few a strong parapet and ditch, crossed by a days before, had been removed. Large thick abatis, on the land side. The forfires were visible in the town of Colum- tifications appeared to have been evacubus, and upon the river banks below, in- ated hastily, considering the quantities of dicating the destruction of the town, mil- ordnance and ordnance stores, and numitary stores and equipments.”
ber of anchors and the remnant of the Thus informed of the situation of af- chain which was once stretched over fairs, Commodore Foote immediately pre- the river, and a large supply of torpepared to gain possession of the town. A does remaining. Desolation was visible flotilla, under his command, of six gun- everywhere, huts, tents, and barricades, boats, commanded by Captains Dove, presenting but their blackened remains, Walke, Stemble, Paulding, Thompson, though the town was spared.” The reand Shirk, and four mortar-boats, in sult to the Union arms was thus ancharge of Captain Phelps, U. S. N., with nounced in the same dispatch' of General three transports, carrying General Sher- Cullum to Major-General McClellan at man's brigade, composed of Colonel Bu- Washington : “ Columbus, the Gibraltar ford's 27th Illinois regiment, and a bat- of the West, is ours, and Kentucky is talion of Ohio and Illinois troops, on the free, thanks to the brilliant strategy of 4th of March advanced cautiously to the the campaign, by which the enemy's cenlong contemplated enterprise of planting tre was pierced at Forts Henry and the stars and stripes on the rebel works. Donelson, bis wings isolated from each On approaching Columbus a flag was dis- other, and turned, compelling thus the covered on the summit of the bluffs, the evacuation of his stronghold of Bowling true character of which it was difficult to Green first, and now Columbus." * determine, whether national or confeder- If the abandonment of Columbus by
* Flag Officer Foote to the Hon. Gideon Welles. Cairo, March 1, 1862.
* General Cullum to Major-General McClellan. Colum. bus, Kentucky, March 4, 1862.
GENERAL POPE AT NEW MADRID.
General Polk and his forces freed Ken- General Pope. Indeed the movement of tucky from the presence of the confeder- the latter was an essential preliminary to ates, the advantage gained by the Union the attack by the river fleet upon Island army was but a step in its onward pro- No. 10. gress on the Mississippi. As one “Ġib- On the 3d of March, the very day the raltar” was silenced another stronger national flag was raised on the deserted rose in the way. To the threatened ob- rebel works at Columbus, General Pope, stacles of Columbus in the way of the who had been moving down the right flotilla, Commodore Foote and the coöp- bank of the Mississippi with his comerating army on land, succeeded the for- mand, chiefly of Ohio and Illinois troops, midable obstacles at Island No. 10, and with an efficient artillery and engineerits vicinity, on the Tennessee shore, ing force, presented himself before New whither the rebels had transported their Madrid, the key to Island No. 10 on that forces and artillery. Island No. 10- side of the river. Once in possession of the numbering of the islands of the river that point, he could effectually cut off beginning at its junction with the Ohio the retreat of the rebels. His overland -is situated some forty miles below march from Commerce, above Cairo on *Cairo, at the bottom of a great bend of the right bank of the Mississippi, which the Mississippi, where the stream, in a he left on the 22d of February, to New sharp curve, sweeps around a tongue of Madrid, at this season, a distance in a land projecting from the Missouri shore, straight line of some forty miles, was one and pursuing thence a north-westerly of extraordinary difficulty. The roads, course to New Madrid, on the western as usual in the spring in this region, bank, descends past a similar narrow were deep and heavy. Artillery and promontory of Tennessee soil, on its wagons were drawn through the mud great southerly track. An enemy there- and sloughs ; the men “waded in mud,
, fore in command of the river would have ate in it, slept in it, were surrounded by the opportunity, not only of making a it, as St. Helena is by the ocean. For direct attack by water, but of landing days the column could advance, and that troops above or below the island, on in imperfect order, but five miles from the outer side of the two narrow prom- morning to night. ontories which enclosed it, and attacking On approaching New Madrid, General it from the opposite shores. The dis- Pope found the place occupied by five tance across the upper end of the first regiments of rebel infantry and several promontory, four miles above the island, companies of artillery. One bastioned to New Madrid is six miles, and by the earthwork, mounting fourteen heavy guns, river is fisteen. The passage across the about half a mile below the town, and ansecond promontory from Tiptonville, the other irregular work at the upper end of first station on the left bank of the river the town, mounting seven pieces of heavy below, is five miles, while by water it is artillery, together with lines of entrenchtwenty-seven. On the Tennessee shore ment between them, constituted the dea great swamp extended, cutting of com- fensive works. Six gunboats, carrying munication with the interior, so that the from four to eight heavy guns each, were garrison at the island had to depend anchored along the shore, between the mainly, if not altogether, for its supplies, upper and lower redoubts. The country reinforcements, and way of escape, if was perfectly level for miles around, and necessary, upon the river. The Mis- as the river was so high, that the guns of souri shore might have afforded a refuge the gunboats looked directly over the had it not been promptly occupied and
* Cairo correspondent of the New York Times, March firmly held by the national forces under 13, 1862.
banks, the approaches to the town for the flanks with the whole of their heavy seven miles were commanded by direct artillery on land and water. General and cross fire from at least sixty guns of Pope ordered his fire concentrated on heavy calibre. “It would not have been the gunboats, and in a few hours several difficult,” continues General Pope in his of them were disabled, while three of the official report, “ to carry the intrench- heavy guns in the enemy's main work ments, but it would have been attended were dismounted. “The cannonading," with heavy loss, and we should not have says General Pope, in the report from been able to hold the place half an hour, which we condense this narrative, was exposed to the destructive fire of the continued furiously all day by the gungunboats.” As the enemy were not dis- boats and land-batteries of the enemy, posed to come out of their entrench- but without producing any impression ments, it was necessary to reduce the upon us. Meantime, during the whole place by siege, and heavy guns were or- day, our trenches were being extended dered for the purpose from Cairo. In and advanced, as it was my purpose the meantime, General Pope sent Col- to push forward our heavy batteries in onel Plummer, of the 11th Missouri, with the course of the night to the bank of three regiments of infantry, three com- the river. Whilst the cannonading was panies of cavalry, and a field battery of thus going on on our right, I instructed 10-pound Parrot and rifled guns, to Point General Paine to make demonstrations Pleasant, on the river, twelve miles be- against intrenchments on our left, and low, with orders to make a lodgment on supported his movements by Palmer's dithe river bank, to line the bank with vision. The enemy's pickets and grand rifle pits for a thousand men, and to es- guards were driven into his intrenchtablish his artillery in sunk batteries of ments, and the skirmishers forced their single pieces between the rifle pits. The way close to the main ditch. A furious position was taken and held in spite of thunder-storm began to rage about eleven the cannonading of the enemy's gunboats, o'clock that night, and continued almost thus maintaining an effective blockade without interruption until morning. Just of the river to transports from below. before daylight, General Stanley was reAs the possession of New Madrid would lieved in his trenches, with his division, involve the loss of Island No. 10, the by General Hamilton. A few minutes enemy made every effort to strengthen after daylight, a flag of truce approached the position. They sent reinforcements our batteries, with information that the from the island until, on the 12th, when enemy had evacuated his works. Small the siege guns, sent for by General Pope, parties were at once advanced by Genarrived, they had nine thousand infantry, eral Hamilton to ascertain whether such besides their artillery force and nine gun- was the fact, and Captain Mower, 1st boats, to resist the assailants at New United States infantry, with companies Madrid.
A and H of that regiment was sent forGeneral Pope moved vigorously to the ward to plant the United States flag over attack. The four siege guns, which had the abandoned works. A brief examibeen forwarded with extraordinary effort nation of them showed how hasty and and alacrity, were received in the even- precipitate had been the flight of the ing; before the next morning they were enemy.
Their dead were found unplaced in battery, well protected, within buried, their suppers untouched, standeight hundred yards of the enemy's main ing on the tables, candles burning in the work, so as to command that and the tents, and every other evidence of a disriver above it, and at daylight opened graceful panic. Private baggage of offifire. The enemy replied in front and on cers and knapsacks of men were left be
COMMODORE FOOTE OPENS FIRE.
hind. Neither provisions nor ammuni- ford, of the 27th Illinois, with his regition were carried off. Some attempt ment and other troops to the number was made to carry ammunition, as boxes of fifteen hundred in all, at Columbus, without number were found on the bank moved down the river and took possesof the river where the steamers had been sion of Hickman on the Kentucky shore. landed. It is almost impossible to give The next day, the 15th, the expedition any exact account of the immense quan- approached Island No. 10; reconnoistities of property and supplies left in our sances were made along the shores ; the hands. All their artillery, field-batter- mortar vessels were placed in position, ies, and siege guns, amounting to thirty- and every preparation made for the atthree pieces, magazines full of fixed am- tack. The siege commenced on the munition of the best character, several morning of Sunday the 16th, with a thousand stand of inferior small arms, bombardment from the rifle guns of the with hundreds of boxes of musket cart- Benton. The mortar-boats followed, and ridges, tents for an army of ten thousand kept up the firing during the day, the men, horses, mules, wagons, intrenching enemy replying in the afternoon ; but littools, etc., are among the spoils. Noth- tle was effected beyond trying the range •ing except the men escaped, and they of the guns upon the upper battery of with only what they wore. They landed the rebels on the Tennessee shore, two on the opposite side of the river, and are miles above their island fortifications, scattered in the wide bottoms. I imme- and upon the island itself. In the midst diately advanced Hamilton's division into of this bombardment a touching incident the place, and had the guns of the enemy occurred—a message was brought to turned upon the river, which they com- Commodore Foote, by a tug from Cairo, pletely command. The flight of the enemy acquainting him with the death of his was so hasty that they abandoned their second son at New Haven-a promising pickets, and gave no intimation to the youth of thirteen. “He received the sad forces at Island No. 10. The conse- intelligence on the deck," writes a corquence is, that one gunboat and ten respondent on board the Benton, the large steamers which were there, are cut flag-ship, "amid the smoke of our guns off from below, and must either be des- and the booming of the great mortars, troyed or fall into our hands. Island and though quite overwhelmed for the No. 10 must necessarily be evacuated, as time, with the sudden sorrow, was soon it can neither be reinforced nor supplied recalled from it, by his imperative duties, from below."*
to the exciting scenes around him."* The entire Union loss during this op- A battery of the 2d Illinois artillery cration was fifty-one killed and wound was landed on the Missouri shore, and ed. The enemy's loss could not be as opened fire upon the rebel fleet near the certained, but a number of his dead left island, suffering a loss of three men unburied and over one hundred new wounded by a shot from the enemygraves showed that he must have suf- the only Union casualties of the day. fered severely.
• The rebels are very strong,” said a The same day that New Madrid sur- dispatch from the squadron to Cairo, rendered to General Pope, Commodore " and it is hard for us to get at them. ” Foote left Cairo with a fleet, including It was satisfactory, at the same time, to seven iron-clads and ten mortar boats, add, that “General Pope's guns at New and having been joined by Colonel Bu- Madrid command the river, preventing
the passage of the rebel gunboats and John Pope, Brigadier-General commanding, to Brigadier-General G. w. Cullum, Chief of Staff, etc. Head- transports, which are between New Madquarters District of the Mississippi, New Madrid, March
* New York Tribune, March 24, 1862.