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THE OPENING OF THE MISSISSIPPI.
With the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson came the abandonment of Columbus; with the Confederate defeat at Shiloh came the surrender of Island !No. 10; with the evacuation of Corinth came the abandonment of Fort Pillow. New Orleans and Vicksburg were the only places on the river that offered serious resistance to the Union forces. All other places above Vicksburg were weakened as the Confederate line of defense was pushed southward, and thus they were abandoned, or fell an easy prey to the assailing forces. The following pages in this chapter will narrate the events of the struggle for the opening of the " Father of Waters."
Columbus Abandoned, March 4, 1862.—Commodore Foote collected a flotilla at Cairo, apparently for use at Nashville. When all was ready, he drifted down the Mississippi to Columbus, followed by troops on transports under Gen. William T. Sherman, while a supporting force moved overland from Paducah, under Gen. Cullum.
Columbus, Ky., was a Confederate stronghold, commanding the navigation of the Mississippi. Gen. Leonidas Polk, Episcopal bishop of Louisiana, was in command. He abandoned the city before the Union troops arrived, and fell back to the stronger defenses of Island No. 10.
Fall Of New Madrid (march 14) And Island No. 10 (April 7).—The islands of the Mississippi are numbered from the mouth of the Ohio river down to the Gulf. Island No. 10 lay in a sharp bend in the Mississippi, about thirty miles below Columbus, Miss. New Madrid, on the Missouri side, is a few miles farther down-stream, though on account of the great bend in the river it lies northwest of the island.
The opening of the Mississippi was one of the objective points of the Federals. To resist this purpose the Confederates had strongly fortified Island No. 10. Forty guns had been mounted. Gen. Beauregard was in command, but he left for Corinth, April 5th, and transferred his command to Gen. Makall.
Gen. John Pope, who commanded in eastern Missouri, appeared before New Madrid with some 20,000 men, while Commodore Foote was preparing a fleet to assail Island No. 10 from the north. He intrenched three regiments at Point Pleasant, to command the passage of the river directly back of Island No. 10, and sent to Cairo for large siege guns to bombard New Madrid. Gen. McCown, seeing the danger of capture, abandoned the place at night during a heavy thunder-storm, and removed his troops to Island No. 10, leaving most of their equipage in camp.
About the time of the surrender of New Madrid, Commodore Foote left Cairo with a fleet of seven ironclads and other boats for the purpose of aiding Gen. Pope in his attack on Island No. 10. Commodore Foote bombarded the Confederate works many days without any damage to them. Gen. Pope wished to approach the enemy from the unprotected south. He could not take his troops across the river, as his boats were all above the island. He conceived the plan of digging a canal across the loop of the river, so as to be able to take his transports below the enemy's batteries and convey his troops across to the Kentucky side. The canal was dug through James bayou, a swampy peninsula formed by the bend of the river. It was twelve miles long and fifty feet wide. About ten miles was through a timber district, much of which had to be sawed under the surface of the water. The remarkable feat was accomplished in nineteen days.
The transports passed through the canal to a point below the island, while two of Foote's ironclads ran past the batteries. Pope's troops crossed the river, took Tiptonville, and closed the only avenue of escape for the beleaguered troops, as the swampy and flooded lands to the east precluded retreat in that direction. Entirely cut off from retreat or succor, the whole Confederate force on the mainland and on the island, 7,000 in number, surrendered April 7th,—the day on which the battle of Shiloh was fought.
The Civil War by Campaigns By Eli Greenawalt Foster
CAPTURE OF ISLAND NUMBER TEN.
After the evacuation of Columbus, the rebels retreated down the river, past the town of Hickman, to one of these islands, known as Island Number Ten. It is situated near the boundary-line between the States of Kentucky and Tennessee. The general course of the river, from Cairo to Napoleon, in Arkansas, is a little west of south. At Island Number Ten, however, it makes a sudden turn back upon itself, and flows, for six or eight miles, nearly due north. Then, turning as abruptly again, it continues in its former southerly direction.
By these turns in the river two promontories are formed, one on the Missouri or western shore, and one, a little lower down, on the opposite or Kentucky bank. Island Number Ten is situated in the first bend of the river. It commands the approach for miles in either direction. New Madrid is a small town on the Missouri shore, opposite the point of the Kentucky promontory, and below Island Number Ten. Some miles further down the river is Point Pleasant. A few miles below, on the Tennessee shore, is the hamlet of Tiptonville. The annexed diagram will afford the reader a clear conception of these localities, which, through the fortunes of war, have attained such celebrity.
From Island Number Three, across the neck of the peninsula to New Madrid, is a distance of six miles. By the river it is fifteen miles. From Island Number Ten to Tiptonville it is five miles by land, while it is twenty-seven miles by water. On both sides of the river the land is low and marshy. On the Kentucky shore an immense swamp commences nearly forty miles above Island Number Ten, and extends for many miles below, running nearly parallel with the river, with but a narrow strip of dry land between. Opposite the island this swamp becomes an unbroken body of water, called Reelfoot Lake. The outlet of this lake into the Mississippi is forty miles below, at Tiptonville. Thus the whole eastern bank of the river is here, in effect, an island, cut off from the mainland by impassable swamps. There is, however, a good road along the western bank of Reelfoot Lake from Tiptonville to Island Number Ten.
The western or Missouri bank of the river here, is also low and swampy. It was the scene, in 1811, of a terrible earthquake. Large tracts of land were sunk and converted into lakes or swamps, while other portions of the land were elevated several feet. The effects of this earthquake arc still to be seen in the singularly wild and broken aspect of the region. It lias, indeed, neither lulls nor ravines, but it is very manifest that large tracts of land have suddenly fallen below their natural level. The entire peninsula of which we have spoken is flat and marshy, intersected by creeks and bayous.
Island Number Ten is about a mile long and half a mile wide. The channel, on either side, affords depth of water for vessels of the largest class. It will be remembered that during General Fremont's campaign in Missouri, rebel General Pillow ... occupied New Madrid, making it the base of operations against St. Louis. At the same time ... occupied and threw up a few intrenchments on Island Number Ten. As has been stated in the history of that campaign, it was a part of General Fremont's plan, for the descent of the Mississippi, to occupy New Madrid at the same time that he advanced on Nashville by the way of Bowling Green and the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. This part of the plan General Ilalleck did not execute. The events recorded in this chapter will enable the reader to see the importance of this plan of General Fremont, and the unfortunate results to the Mississippi expedition from its omission. If the National troops had taken possession of New Madrid, when they could easily have done so, Island Number Ten could net have been occupied by the rebels. Consequently, upon the evacuation of Columbus, the gunboat fleet could have swept almost unopposed down the river, along its whole length to New Orleans, and could have kept the stream clear by shelling out any parties who should have attempted to throw up obstructions upon its banks.
...as the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson rendered it evident that Columbus was no longer tenable, the rebels commenced the work of strengthening and rendering as impregnable as possible the fortifications on Island Number Ten. Their ablest engineer, General Beauregard, was ordered to the command of the Western Department, and ho personally directed the construction of these fortifications. The heavy ordnance and military stores were, as far as possible, removed from Columbus to this island. Siege-guns were brought up from below. River-batteries were planted at the water's edge. The whole island frowned with batteries, guarding every possible approach.
Cooperating batteries were abo planted on the Kentucky side of the river. They were so arranged that any gunboat, coming within short ran^c to attack any one of these batteries-, would be exposed to the concentrated fire of them all. A number of rebel gunboats was also ordered up from the river below, Commodore Ilollins commanding, to prevent the passage of the river by the patriot fleet, which was being collected in the waters above. Immense stores of provisions and munitions of war were deposited upon the island, and every preparation which the most unrelenting energies of rebellion and treason could contribute was made to repel a sudden attack or to maintain a long siege. "While these works were in progress at Island Number Ten, a rebel force of five or six thousand men under Major-General McCown occupied New Madrid. This place was also situated in the midst of vast morasses, and was approached only by a single plank-road. As this was commanded by the rebel gunboats, and also by the strong intrenchments which they had reared, New Madrid was deemed by the rebels unapproachable by any patriot force.
This position was chosen by the rebels as their next stand, after the evacuation of Columbus, for the command of the Mississippi Rïiver; it might well be deemed impregnable. There seemed but little prospect of carrying these works by a direct attack from the river, and from no other direction could they apparently be approached. Indeed, it seemed very hazardous to make the attempt to carry them ; for should the gunboats, by which alone the attempt could be made, be disabled in the fight, the rebel fleet, lurking at the foot of the island, could easily ascend the river and levy contributions upon, or utterly lay in waste, all the rich towns which lie along the shores of the Northern Mississippi and the Ohio.
The difficult and dangerous task of reducing this position was intrusted to Brigadier-General John Pope* and Admiral, then Commodore, A. H. Foote, with both of whom our readers are already somewhat acquainted. The general, in command of a land force, was to dislodge the rebels, if possible, from New Madrid, so as to move upon Island Number Ten from the rear, while a fleet of gunboats and mortar-boats were to commence the - bombardment in front. Though the rebels awaited the attack with some anxiety, still they felt very confident of their ability to hold the place against any force which could be brought to assail it.
" Nothing," said the Memphis " Argus" of March 6th, " but an overwhelming force can ever succeed in whipping us at New Madrid. The approach to that place by land can only be effected by the plank-road, which leads into the place from the west, and which the enemy have to pass. The road is through a swamp which is too muddy even for General Thompson's command. As the Federals will be compelled to march in the road, on their approach to the town, our gunboats, under the command of the veteran Commodore Ilollins, will be the death of many a Hessian. The largest guns which the enemy can bring to bear upon our forces are six and twelve pounders, while we can play upon them with heavier ordnance. For the enemy to get possession of Memphis and the Mississippi
The History of the Civil War in America By John Stevens Cabot Abbott
MISSISSIPPI RIVER. CAIRO TO ISLAND 10.
...constructed rampart of seven pieces of heavy artillery guarded all approaches to the upper part of the town. These two formidable forts were connected by lines of intrenchment. Six rebel gunboats were anchored along the shore, each carrying from four to eight heavy guns. The river was so high, swollen by the spring floods, and the country around so low, that from the docks of the gunboats one could look directly over the bank, the marshes which spread around for miles, and were lower than the river. There could be no secret or protected advance upon the city, no approaches by parallels, and no advance whatever without exposure to til« concentrated fire of forts, intrenchments, and gunboats.
General Pope had only infantry and light pieces of field artillery, which he had painfully dragged through the miry roads of Missouri. It was evident that nothing could be accomplished towards reducing the place without the aid of heavy siege-guns. lie sent back to Cairo for such guns to be immediately forwarded to him. While waiting for them he held his army back out of the range of the gunboats, and harassed the enemy by continual skirmishes and reconnoissances. At the same time lie seized upon and strongly occupied Point Pleasant, twelve miles below New Madrid. Very speedily- and skilfully he so intrenched himself here that he could not be annoyed by the rebel gunboats, while he effectually blockaded the river to prevent approaches from below. Colonel Plummer, with several regiments of infantry, some cavalry, and a field-battery, held this important place,. An immense advantage was thus gained, since no transports or supplies could be sent up the river to Island Number Ten.
The occupation of this point was a very hazardous enterprise, but it was achieved with admirable skill The bank along which it was necessary that the troops should pass was commanded by the rebel gunboats, which patrolled the river night and day. There was a good road running along on the ridge of the bank, but Colonel Plummer could not avail himself of it, because the rumbling of his artillery-wheels would have betrayed him to the enemy. He was compelled to traverse a low, moist, soft road, which passed along the edge of the morass, where he was slightly sheltered by the bank or natural levee which, rising a few feet high, separated the river from the marsh.
A dark and tempestuous night was chosen, when the rain was falling in torrents, and when the roar of the gale drowned all ordinary pounds. The mud was deep, yet the wheels of the ponderous artillery were dragged noiselessly, almost hub deep, through the mire. Every man comprehended the situation, and with alacrity sprang to his work. In all ware, exhaustion and exposure are more rapacious than the bullet. Many a brave soldier was, by the toil of that terrible night, sent to his grave.
But when the march of twelve miles was completed, and Point Pleasant reached, the night's work was but just commenced. Hundreds of spades were instantly at work throwing up entrenchments. Before the morning dawned a sufficient number of rifle-pits were dug to accommodate two hundred and eighty men. Sunk batteries were constructed, where the guns were planted in single pieces, so ?? to present as small a mark as possible to the enemy. While the storm of that black night was howling ever the rebel encampments and flooding their tents, they had no suspicion of the storm of war which was gathering, soon to fall upon them with fury far more unrelenting than the tempest of wind and rain.
The morning was gloomy and dark ; the gale continued unabated ; the rain still fell in floods. In the distance, the patriot troops discerned two rebel transports approaching, struggling up the swift current of the river, which here rushed to the ocean with the combined flood of three majestic streams—the Mississippi, the Missouri, and the Ohio. The rebel transports, unsuspicious of any danger, were conveying supplies to Island Number Ten. As soon as they arrived opposite Point Pleasant, to their unutterable surprise there suddenly was opened upon them volley after volley of twelve-pound shot, while a hail-storm of musket-balls, directed with unerring aim, swept their decks. Crippled, and threatened with immediate and entire destruction, they fled back out of the range of the guns. This was the first announcement to the rebels that the river was blockaded. It was emphatic and effectual. No transports, after this, attempted to pass by this point up the Mississippi. All troops and supplies for Island Number Ten were henceforth landed below at Tiptonville, on the Tennessee shore, and were transported across the country to the island.
On Tuesday, the llth of March, the siege-guns from Cairo arrived, under the conduct of Colonel Bissell's engineer regiment. The battery consisted of three thirty-two-pounders and one eight-inch mortar. Colonel Bissell transported these pieces across the river from Cairo to Bird's Point, thence conveyed them by rail twenty miles to Sykestown ; from which place they were dragged, twenty miles farther, upon carriages, over rough, muddy, and almost impassable roads, to the patriot encampment in the rear of New Madrid. They arrived late hi the night.
It so happened that the next night, Wednesday, the 12th, was dark and stormy. The rebel pickets were driven in, and, under cover of its gloom, these guns were placed in battery, within eight hundred yards of the main works of the enemy, so as to command both them and the river for some distance above. The battery consisted of two small redoubts, connected by a curtain. The works were protected by rifle-pits in front and on the flanks, and were occupied by two regiments of infantry. The parapets of the two redoubts, which were eighteen hundred feet apart, were eighteen feet thick and five feet high. The connecting curtain was twelve feet thick. The rifle-pits, along the front and flanks, extended in a line, curved at the ends, three hundred feet in length. The energy displayed throughout this whole department is worthy of great commendation. Within thirty-six hours from the time when these massive guns were in storage at Cairo, they were in position and ready to open upon the enemy at New Madrid. Our commanders in these Western campaigns seemed all Aspired with the desire to achieve such military " impossibilities." This is not the only " impossibility " which Colonel Bissell performed in the reduction of Island Number Ten. This great achievement was accomplished only by that indomitable audacity which allowed no obstacle to be insurmountable.
With the earliest light of the morning of Thursday, the 13th, the rebels discovered, to their surprise, and not a little to their alarm, the earthworks which had so suddenly and quietly been thrown up 'during the night. At first they supposed that the redoubt was a simple breastwork for the protection of infantry. Their pickets opened fire upon it They were answered by the boom of thirty-two-pounders, hurling shot and shell far within their lines. Amazed, alarmed, they immediately concentrated upon the menacing works the fire of their heaviest artillery. The gunboats also drew as near as possible, and cooperated in the attack. But the forty-two-pounders appalled them. Every boat, if exposed continuously to the fire, would soon be destroyed. They, therefore, steamed down the river until out of the range of the guns, then loaded, and steaming back again, discharged their broadsides at the breastwork while still ir motion, and then turning, sought again a place of safety. But, notwithstanding all their precautions, in a few hours several of the gunboats were disabled, and three of the heaviest guns in the rebel fort were dismounted. The cannonade was continued with great vigor all day. Though the rebels had the advantage both in the number and the size of their guns, they only disabled one of the National pieces. At the close of the day they found the result of the engagement so disastrous to them, that the rebel commander was satisfied that he could not hold the town. One desperate attempt at a sortie was made to destroy the patriot works, but it proved a disastrous failure.
The morning of the 13th, ushering in this eventful conflict, had dawned clear and beautiful. But as night came on, Nature seemed to assume a spirit of sympathy with the scene of violence, passion, and ruin which the day had witnessed. Vapors gathered in the sky. The air became close and sultry. As the sun went down, black clouds, like a marshalled army, came rolling up from the west, and the distant rumblings of heaven's heavy artillery were heard, indicative of an elemental battle in the skies. Just before midnight the storm broke in the full fury of one of the most extraordinary of southwestern tempests. As the rain fell in floods, through the blackened air, the darkness was only rendered more intense by vivid flashes of lightning, followed by an incessant roar of thunder. The patriot soldiers, muffled in their dripping blankets, stood like statues guarding their works against any attack the enemy might make under cover of the night.
But the rebels had been so roughly handled during the day, that, instead of planning an attack, they were thinking only of escape by flight. In the darkness and the storm, the rebel troops were transported silently and with great celerity across the river to the Kentucky shore. Had the rebel general, McCown, exhibited as much sagacity and energy in holding New Madrid as he did rapidity of execution in evacuating it, the reduction of Island Number Ten would have been far more difficult.
At length the storm passed away, and with it the night. With the earliest dawn of the morning the National troops were all at their post?, prepared for the renewal of the combat. They opened a vigorous fire upon the rebel fortifications. The fire was not returned, and no evidence could be perceived of the presence of the foe. Much surprised, a reconnoissance was ordered, but the reconnoitring party were directed to approach the rebel lines with extreme caution, lest they should fall into an ambuscade. They marched over the intervening ground, until, with their bayonets, they could touch the rebel intrenchments, and yet they met only silence and solitude, as of the tomb. They clambered over the ramparts. Not a living being was to be seen. The forts and the town were all. deserted. Soldiers, citizens, negroes, all were gone. The town was left without an inhabitant.
Two men, indeed, were found soundly asleep. The evacuation had been conducted in such stealthy silence as not to awake them. New Madrid was a city where many men of opulence resided. In its suburbs were many mansions of great architectural elegance, and very splendidly furnished. Large mirrors and costly painijngs still hung upon the walls, and rosewood furniture, of Parisian manufacture, embellished the saloons. All these multiplied comforts and luxuries were accumulated under the blessings of that Government which these men, with parricidal hands, were now striving to destroy. Their crime was great. Severe as had been their punishment, they deserved it all. General Pope could, perhaps, have taken the place by storm, immediately upon the arrival of his guns. Humanely he said, " I can take the place at once, but it will cost the lives of a thousand men. I will take it and lose but few. My conscience will not permit me to sacrifice uselessly the lives of men intrusted to my care."
The Stars and Stripes were instantly planted upon the ramparts, and the three-times-three hearty cheers of our victorious soldier» announced to the patriot army that they had captured New Madrid. The troops, who were at that moment at breakfast, sprang to their feet, and echoed back the cheer, in a volume of sound which floated over the river, and sent dismay to the hearts of the discomfited and retiring foe. The flight of the rebels had been so precipitate that their dead were left unburied. Large stores of provisions and ammunition were abandoned to the victors. Sup- ???? were left upon the tables untouched. The private baggage of the officers and the knapsacks of the men encumbered the tents. Candles were found burning. A few of the lighter guns were thrown into the river, but they were easily raised again. The larger guns were spiked, but so imperfectly, in the hurry of the evacuation, that the spikes were removed in a few hours. As the Union soldiers exultantly explored the deserted encampment, they found that they had indeed taken a rich prize. Thirty- three cannon, several thousand stands of arms, magazines stored with the materiel of war, tents for an army of ten thousand men, and a large number of horses, mules, and wagons, fell into the hands of the victors. This achievement was gained with a loss, by the Union troops, of but fifty-one in killed and wounded. The rebel loss is unknown.
It is n»t easy to account for this sudden and apparently cowardly evacuation of New Madrid. It was so strongly and skilfully fortified, and all its approaches were so carefully guarded, that it was by no means an empty boast of the rebels that the place was impregnable. At the time it was evacuated it was occupied by over nine thousand troops, so advantageously posted that but few commanders would have ventured the attempt to carry it by storm. It was also so thoroughly supplied with provisions that a siege must have been of long duration and of doubtful result. The rebels knew, as well as General Pope, that New Madrid was the key to Island Number Ten. Why they should have surrendered it, with so slight a struggle, remains a mystery.
With alacrity the Union troops wheeled the captured guns around and turned them upon the river. Not a rebel gunboat below could ascend. The post which the rebels had fortified with so much care became a National fortress, and the all-important base for future operations in the reduction of th island.
While these operations were taking place at New Madrid, Admiral Foote was preparing his flotilla of gunboats for the bombardment of the island, and for the descent of the Mississippi, to sweep rebellion from the banks below. On Saturday, the 15th of March, the day after the evacuation, he left Hickman, where his fleet had been rendezvoused, with eight gunboats, ten mortar-boats, and an uncounted number of steam-tugs, advance-boats, and transport steamers. The eyes of the nation were fixed upon the movements of this flotilla. It was then supposed that the great battle for the possession of the Mississippi was to be fought at Island Number Ten. The enemy being driven from that stronghold, it was thought that the fleet could sweep the river, almost unimpeded, to New Orleans. Many, however, doubted whether it would be possible for the gunboats to silence the immense batteries on the island and the adjacent shore.
The fortifications on the island and the mainland were, as we have stated, formidable both in the number of their guns and the weight of metal which they threw. They were also well posted to protect each other. The National fleet could not come within short range of battery A, as may be seen by the diagram, without being subject to the concentrated fire of the other batteries. The gunboats were also compelled to fire from anchorage, otherwise the rapid current of the river would sweep them down into the enemy's hands. They could not, Thk Attack ov Island ??. 10. by keeping up steam,
ISLAND No 1O.
breast the current, so as to fire from the stern, since, with but one exception, they were only iron-plated on the bows and the sides.
After a careful reconnoissance, the gunboats were anchored just above the point of the promontory which was opposite the land batteries. The land of this promontory, which here creates so remarkable a bend in the river, is so low that the batteries on Island Number Ten, two miles and a half distant, could be distinctly seen across the point from the decks of the gunboats. On the morning of the 16th of March the bombardment was commenced by throwing shells over the promontory into the rebel works. It was opened simultaneously by the gunboats and the mortar- boats upon the island batteries, and upon battery A on the mainland. In a bombardment conducted at a distance of from two to three miles a vast amount of shot and shell are necessarily wasted. Whatever the damage caused by so remote a fire by day, can generally be repaired at night. Day after day of incessant bombardment continued, while the shores of the Mississippi resounded with the unintermitted roar of these enormous guns. Three weeks were thus occupied in hurling tons of iron over the promontory into the rebel works, and yet no apparent impression was produced. The^fleet remained immovable at its anchorage, emitting, hour after hour, its sullen, deafening roar, while nothing occurred to interrupt the monotony of the scene. The country grew impatient and the rebels jubilant over this ineffective firing. Much exultation was manifested by rebel- sympathizers, over the apparent failure of the much-vaunted flotilla, in this its first engagement of any magnitude on the Mississippi River. The fact was carefully concealed by the Union officers in command of the flotilla, that this apparent waste of powder was but a cover for other and far more effective operations.*
On the morning of the day on which the bombardment commenced, General Halleck directed General Pope to ascertain if it were possible to construct a road from New Madrid, along the western bank of the river, through the swamps to the end ef the- promontory opposite the island, there to erect batteries to cooperate with the fleet in the bombardment. Colonel Bissell's engineer regiment was deputed to perform this task. He made the needed examination, and pronounced the plan to be impracticable. The ground was so marshy as to forbid the building of a road, and so low opposite the island as to afford no good position for a battery. By the careful exploration of this immense morass, it was found that it was intersected with many creeks and bayous, which could perhaps be so connected and cleared of obstructions, that boats could be floated across from the anchorage of the fleet to a point in the river below the island. If General Pope, at New Madrid, could get a few transports, or even a tugboat, to tow his army across the river to the Tennessee shore, he could cut off entirely the retreat of the rebels from the island, and also effect so perfect an investment of the place that the rebels could obtain no further supplies. A Union citizen of New Madrid, familiar with the country, suggested this idea to General Schuyler Hamilton. He accepted the thought, revolved it in his own mind into definite shape, and proposed to General Pope to cut ft steamboat canal across the promontory. Colonel Bissell, to whom as an engineer the plan was presented, pronounced it to be quite practicable. General Pope directed him to prosecute the enterprise with the utmost possible vigor, investing him with almost unlimited authority to procure materials for his difficult undertaking.
The History of the Civil War in America By John Stevens Cabot Abbott
274 NEW MADRID.
At the time of the evacuation of Columbus, preparations had been made to capture it by an attack from the river, under Commodore Foote and General W. T. Sherman. On this expedition appearing before the works, it was ascertained that they had been abandoned, and that in very great haste. The cannon had been spiked and pushed over the bluff into the river. The garrison had retreated to New Madrid and Island No. 10.
The Mississippi, approaching that island, leaves its southerly course, and, making a bend to the northwest, reaches New Madrid, which is on the Missouri bank. Following the course of the river, New Madrid is therefore below the island. .
Strong works had been established at New Madrid. The portion at It was also defended by six gun-boats, the... cannon of which commanded the adjacent country; for the river at the time was very high.
Halleck dispatched General Pope from St. Louis to make an attack -on New Madrid. The troops were landed on the Missouri bank from transports on February 24th, and found great difficulty in approaching the town March of General On account of the swampy state of the coun-
Pope to that place. dedared that they " waded in mud, slept in mud, ate in mud, and were as completely surrounded by mud as St. Helena is by. the ocean." They reached their destination, however, on the 3d of March. Finding the place stronger than he expected, Pope was obliged to send to Cairo for siege guns. To prevent the Confederates being re-enforced from below, he established a sunken battery at Point Pleasant. The siege guns were
EVACUATION OF NEW MADRID.
placed in position before the town immediately on their arrival. Three of the Confederate gun-boats were speedily disabled, and it was soon apparent that the place must be evacuated. The garrison fled at midnight to Island No. 10, leaving their supper untouched and candles burning in their tents. They abandoned thirty-three cannon, several thousand stand of small- arms, hundreds of boxes of musket cartridges, and tents for an army of 10,000 men.
276 CANAL OF ISLAND No. 10. [sect. X.
On the 15th of March, Commodore Foote, who had brought down from Cairo seven armored gun-boats, one not armored, and ten mortar-boats capable of throwing 13-inch shell, appeared before Island No. 10, and at once Bombardment of commenced its siege. Though the bombard- isiand No. 10 ... ment Was vigorously maintained and continued for nearly three weeks, it proved to be very ineffective. Beauregard reported that the enemy's guns had thrown into the works three thousand shells and burned fifty tons of gunpowder without doing any damage to the batteries, and only killing one of the men. On the other hand, Commodore Foote reported to his government that " Island No. 10 is harder to conquer than Columbus, its shores being lined with forts, each fort commanding the one above it."
Pope, who was on the Missouri side of the river, could give but little assistance unless he should cross over to the Tennessee side and come upon the rear of the island. It was impossible for him to do this unless some of the gunboats could be brought down to New Madrid, as the opposite shore was crowned with batteries. To accomplish this, General Schuyler Hamilton proposed that a canal should be cut across Donaldson's Point, between Island No. 8 and New Madrid. This work was actually accomplished in nineteen days. The canal was twelve miles long; for a part of the distance, however, it passed through two ponds. The width was about fifty feet. To make the cut, it was necessary to remove about a thousand trees varying from six inches to three feet in diameter. They had to be sawn off by hand in many places four feet under water. When the river was admitted into the canal it flowed through with great force.
By the aid of this canal, transports could be passed below the island, and Pope's troops taken across the Missis-
Chap. XLDC.] POPE'S PASSAGE OF THE MISSISSIPPI. 277
Tub gun-boatB ran sippi to the Tennessee side. To cover the passage when it should be made, the gunboat Carondelet ran down the river, past the island, during a thunder-storm on the night of the 4th of April: she was protected on her exposed side by a barge laden with hay. Though the soot in her chimney caught fire as she approached the batteries, and, revealing her, brought on her a hail of cannon-shot, she escaped safely. On the 6th, another gun-boat in like manner ran past. The bombardment was now vigorously kept up; the transports were brought out of their concealment through the canal; the Carondelet and her consort silenced the batteries at the proposed place of landing, and in a furious rain-storm Pope's troops accomplished the brilliant op - eration of a forced passage across the Mississippi. The Fortification- defenders of the batteries fled in confusion- federates. They were pursued so vigorously by Pope
that during the following night they were driven back on the swamps, and compelled to surrender before daylight (April 8th). The garrison in the island, learning what had taken place, sent a flag of truce to Commodore surrender of the Foote, offering to surrender. Nearly seven island. thousand prisoners (6700), including three
generals, 273 field and company officers, were taken. The spoils were a floating battery, 100 heavy siege-guns, 24 pieces of field artillery, an immense quantity of ammunition and supplies, several thousand stand of small-arms, and a great number of tents, horses, and wagons. The surrender was conducted with so much confusion that many important papers and documents were left; among others, drawings of the works of Fort Pillow. On the national side not a single life was lost. .
The fall of the island was like a thunderbolt in Richmond. "We have saved none of our can- Moral effect on the confederacy. non or munitions; we have lost our boats;
278 SURRENDER OF ISLAND No. 10. [sect. X.
our sick have been abandoned; there can be no excuse for the wretched mismanagement and infamous scenes that attended the evacuation; our transports have been scattered ; the floating battery, formerly the Pelican dock at New Orleans, with sixteen heavy guns, has been sent adrift. In one of the hospital boats were a hundred poor wretches, half dead with disease and neglect. On the shore are crowds of our men wandering about, some trying to construct rafts with which to float down the river; some lost in the cane-brakes, and without food. No single battle-field has yet afforded to the North such visible fruits of victory as have been gathered at Island No. 10."
The capture of Island No. 10 opened the river as far as Fort pillow-its Fort Pillow. This work was a short distance above Memphis; it had 40 heavy guns
in position, nine gun-boats, and about 6000 troops. General Pope's army of 20,000 reached its vicinity on April 13th, and preparations were immediately made for an attack. Unexpectedly, however (April 17th), Pope's troops were withdrawn, and ordered to join Halleck's army, then advancing on Corinth.
The Confederates, having a fleet, of which eight vessels Destruction or the were iron-clads, came out from under the
of surprising some of the national mortar-boats which lay above. In less than an hour half the Confederate flotilla had been disabled or destroyed. Some had their boilers shot through; others had been butted and sunk. None of them, however, were captured. The steam power of the national gun-boats was too small to stem the stream of the river. It was feared that if they grappled the disabled vessels, they might be dragged under the guns of the batteries. Their victory was due to the superiority of their construction—for they were more heavily
History of the American Civil War By John William Draper