Report of Maj. Gen. John P. McCown, C. S. Army, Commanding at Madrid Bend.
FEBRUARY 28--APRIL 8, 1862
Operations at New Madrid, Mo., and Island No. 10, and descent upon Union City, Tenn.
Madrid Bend, March 31, 1862.
COLONEL: At midnight on the night of February 25 I was directed by Major-General Polk to proceed to this point. I arrived here early on the morning of February 26 and proceeded to examine the position, including New Madrid and Island No. 10.
I found no guns or works on the island. On the main-land, opposite the island, Batteries Nos. 1 and 5 were constructed and partially armed. No magazine constructed for No. 5, and the one for No. 1 was over-flowed.
New Madrid was defended by Fort Thompson, a small work, and well armed with cannon. This work was garrisoned by the Eleventh and Twelfth Arkansas Regiments and Captains Stewart's and Upton's companies of artillery, under the command of Col. E. W. Gantt, of the Twelfth Arkansas.
Learning that the enemy was advancing on the place in force, I ordered Col. L. M. Walker, with two regiments, from Fort Pillow. On the arrival of these two regiments I occupied the position on the shore of the mouth of the Bayou Saint John.
On the night of the 26th I returned to Columbus and reported the condition of affairs to Major-General Polk. I returned to Madrid Bend on the 27th.
The enemy appeared before New Madrid on the 1st instant, having the day previous driven in our scouts, capturing from General M. Jeff. Thompson several of his small cannon.
The work being constructed at the mouth of the bayou was garrisoned by Colonel Travis' Fifth Tennessee Regiment, Colonel Walker's Fortieth Regiment, and Colonel Baker's First Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi Regiment, and Capt. Smith P. Bankhead's field battery, under command of Colonel Travis. Brig. Gen. A. P. Stewart was assigned to the command of the forces at New Madrid.
March 4, the enemy advanced with artillery and infantry., and were promptly repulsed by the fire from Commander Hollins' fleet of gun-boats and our artillery.
March 5, picket skirmishing all day.
March 6, the enemy planted a battery at Point Pleasant, and by a white flag induced Captain Dunnington (Pontchartrain) to near the shore, when she was fired into by musketry, killing and wounding several. Picket skirmishing all day.
March 7, a strong advance of the enemy was driven back by the fire from our gunboats, Captain Bankhead's battery, and Capt. R. A. Stewart's Parrott guns. The gunboats failed to silence the battery at Point Pleasant, which attempt was renewed on the 8th and 9th with a like result, Capt. R. A. Stewart driving the enemy's infantry from the shore at that point with his Parrott guns.
March 10, heavy picket skirmishing all day.
March 11, I placed two 24-pounder siege pieces opposite Point Pleasant.
March 13, the enemy planted some batteries during the night, with rifle pits supporting the batteries. They opened fire upon our transports, hitting all that approached Fort Thompson. The enemy's guns were 24-pounders and one 8-inch gun. Commander Hollins, from his gunboats, and we with our guns from the works, returned the fire, repulsing one heavy advance upon the fort at the mouth of the bayou.
By a careful examination of their works I became satisfied that they were making regular approaches to cut off communication with the lower fort (Fort Thompson). I was also convinced that our gunboats could not stand against their land batteries, and that unless the fleet dropped below Point Pleasant it would be cut off. Commander Hollins and General Stewart concurring in this opinion, I ordered the evacuation of New Madrid.
I directed General Stewart to take the immediate direction of the evacuation of Fort Thompson, placing at his disposal the steamer Louisville, a large wharf-boat lying at the fort, and two gunboats; and to General L. M. Walker that of the work at the mouth of the bayou, placing at his disposal the steamer De Soto and one gunboat, and I ordered the steamers Winchester and Ohio Belle to report to General Walker. The captain of the Winchester did not obey the order.
At 11 o'clock a heavy rain-storm, that lasted all night, impeded the work. All the field guns were brought off; the heavy guns were spiked and some of the carriages injured; the ammunition all saved, except a few shot and the ammunition in caissons and limbers of Captain Bankhead's battery. These caissons and limbers, with their contents, were thrown into the river. No commissary stores were left that I am aware of. Several wagons were left at Fort Thompson. The remaining wagons and artillery horses were removed to Madrid Bend.
I send inclosed Colonel Gantt's report of the evacuation of Fort Thompson, and as soon as I can procure reports from Generals Stewart and Walker I shall forward them. The gunboat fleet and transports dropped down to Tiptonville, retaining only such as were necessary for water boats, transports, and hospitals. The bad weather and exposure had increased our sick to an alarming extent.
So harassing was the duty at New Madrid, that I on several occasions ordered Colonel Neely, Fourth Tennessee, and Colonel Scott's Twelfth Louisiana Regiments to that point for twenty-four hours to do guard and picket duty. Several men and one officer were left at Fort Thompson, having hid themselves to avoid work or to shelter themselves from rain.
Dr. W. S. Bell, medical director, Lieutenant Robinson, Captain West, provost-marshal, and one man lost their lives in defense of New Madrid. Captain Hallum, of the Fifth Tennessee Regiment, was dangerously wounded.
The principal object I had in holding New Madrid was to possess a landing for re-enforcements to fight the enemy, should I receive them. March 14, disposed my force so as to prevent a crossing of the enemy. March 15, the Federal fleet, gunboats, mortar floats, and transports appeared and opened fire upon us. Our batteries did not reply.
March 16, the Federal fleet advanced in line of battle and remained at long range.
March 17, this day the enemy lashed three of their iron-clad boats together and dropped down within range of Battery No. 1 and opened fire upon it at 11 a.. m. The remainder of the enemy's gunboats and their mortar floats were placed in position and joined in the conflict. Their fire was principally directed at Battery No. 1, under command of Captain Rucker. The enemy's transports were near by, loaded with troops. Three guns from Captain Rucker's battery as would reach the enemy returned the fire. The conflict was terribly severe and long-continued. The gallant Captain Rucker fired the last shot at 7 p.m.
I refer you to subordinate reports for a more detailed report of the conflict. I directed the battery to be repaired during the night. The enemy were repulsed.
In obedience to the inclosed instructions I turned the command over to Brig. Gen. L. M. Walker, and left Island No. 10 for Fort Pillow at 11 p.m., taking with me Colonel Marks' Eleventh Louisiana Regiment; Colonel Scott's Twelfth Louisiana Regiment; Colonel Kennedy's "Me-Gown" Louisiana Regiment; Colonel Neely's Fourth Tennessee Regiment; Colonel Bradford's Thirty-first Tennessee Regiment; Colonel Travis' Fifth Tennessee Regiment; Captain Bankhead's and six pieces of Captain Stewart's (Point Coupee)field batteries, and Captains Neely's and Haywood's cavalry, leaving at Madrid Bend five guns of Captain Stewart's field battery; Captains Hudson's and Wheeler's cavalry; <ar8_129> Colonel Henderson's Fortieth Tennessee Regiment; Colonel Baker's Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi Regiment; Colonel Gantt's Twelfth Arkansas Regiment; Colonel Smith's Eleventh Arkansas Regiment; Colonels Brown's and Clark's Tennessee Regiments; Colonel Steedman's First Alabama Regiment, and Colonel Terry's Arkansas Battalion.
March 18, I arrived at Fort Pillow.
March 19, received orders to return to Madrid Bend.
March 20, arrived below Tiptonville.
March 21, established my headquarters at Madrid Bend. The enemy has continued the bombardment up to this date.
March 31, turned the command over to Brig. Gen. W. W. Mackall. The enemy's gunboats still above Island No. 10.
After the evacuation of New Madrid I retained at the island a number of transports, for watch boats, hospitals, and other purposes, as a last resort, had I been compelled to abandon my position, to have carried my command below.
In this long conflict I beg to express my obligations to Brig. Gens. A. P. Stewart and L. M. Walker and Colonel Travis, who at different times commanded the force at the mouth of the bayou. I express my thanks for valuable services rendered in that capacity. Lieutenant-Colonel Avery has my thanks and admiration for the gallantry exhibited hi repelling a strong picket force of the enemy and remaining at his post under the most galling fire.
I would recommend to your consideration Captain Bankhead, commanding artillery in the upper fort, and Capt. J. W. Stewart, commanding artillery in Fort Thompson, for the energy and ability displayed during the occupation of New Madrid.
Colonel Gantt, who commanded Fort Thompson, and afterwards troops to prevent a crossing from the Missouri side, acted with energy, gallantry, and intelligence. Colonel Neely's Fourth Tennessee and Colonel Scott's Twelfth Louisiana Regiments at different times went to Madrid and did picket duty, rendering valuable services. The services rendered by Brig. Gen. James Trudeau were invaluable, and he deserves reward.
Colonel Steedman's First Alabama Regiment rendered gallant and efficient service in Battery No. 1 on the 17th instant.
Col. A. J. Brown, of the Fifty-fifth Tennessee, assisted the exhausted cannoneers with a detachment of his men on the 17th, rendering valuable service, and at all times has displayed great zeal and energy.
Captain Rucker, commanding BatteryNo. 1, defended his battery under adverse circumstances with an obstinate courage worthy of praise, and was gallantly sustained by his lieutenant (Saunders) and Lieut. T. J. Finnie, who volunteered and went to his battery.
Captain Humes, commanding artillery on the island, deserves commendation for his energy and proper bearing at times. Captain Harris, Engineers; Captain Gray, Topographical Engineers; and Captain Cummings, signal officer, rendered gallant and valuable services. Captain Wintter, Sappers and Miners, and Lieutenant Tidmarsh, of Ordnance, aside from their valuable services in their respective; departments, rendered good service in gallantly supplying Battery No. 1 with ammunition under a terrific fire from the gunboats. Capt. Thomas Johnston, commanding Southern Guards (artillery), has rendered efficient service, and has at all times acted with great vigilance and energy. Capt. R. A. Stewart, commanding Point Coupee Artillery, a gallant and watchful soldier, rendered valuable services. Lieutenant-Colonel Cook, commanding Twelfth Arkansas, and Major McKay, commanding Fourth Arkansas Battalion, have been active and vigilant in the discharge of their duties. Colonel Kennedy and his regiment, and Captain Flemming, with a portion of his company, labored hard and untiringly in getting the batteries in position. Colonel Marks, for a while in command of the troops opposite Island No. 10, labored assiduously in discharge of his duties.
I wish here to express my gratitude to Commander G. N. Hollins, flag-officer, commanding fleet, for his gallant and cordial co-operation.
To my staff, Maj. H. S. Bradford, assistant adjutant-general; Lieut. B. N. Mathews, acting assistant adjutant-general; Capts. H. S. Foote, jr., and G. P. Smoote, aides-de-camp; Lieut. Em. Ross, acting aide-de-camp; Maj. W. E. Dyer, division quartermaster; Maj. P. T. Glass, division commissary; and Dr. Q. B. Thornton, attached to headquarters, rendered valuable and efficient services; and, in fact, to each and every officer and soldier I feel grateful for the willing discipline with which they labored, watched, and fought in the presence of and with an overpowering force for over thirty days.
For further information I inclose document A, Captain Rucker's report [No. 34] ; document B, Captain Wintter's [No. 31] ; document C, Col. E. W. Gantt's [No. 36] ; document D, Colonel Steedman's [No. 39] ; document E, Colonel Brown's [No. 42] ; document F, Captain Gray's [No. 29] ; and document G, General J. Trudeau's [No. 32].
No reports received from either General A. P. Stewart or General Walker, who were charged with the evacuation of New Madrid.
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