of Brig. Gen. Schuyler Hamilton, U. S. Army,
Commanding Second Division.
FEBRUARY 28--APRIL 8, 1862.
Operations at New Madrid, Mo., and Island No. 10,
and descent upon Union City, Tenn.
HDQRS. SECOND DIVISION,
ARMY OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Pittsburg Landing, April 22, 1862.
Capt. GEORGE A. WILLIAMS,
Chief of Staff.
SIR: I have to report that February 27, 1862, at Commerce, Mo., I received orders to organize the First Division of this army. The First Brigade, under Col. John Groesbeck, was composed of the Thirty-ninth Ohio, Major Noyes commanding; Forty-third Ohio, Colonel Smith commanding, and Twenty-seventh Ohio, Colonel Fuller. The Second Brigade, Col. J. B. Plummer commanding, was composed of the Sixty-third Ohio, Colonel Sprague; Twenty-sixth Illinois, Colonel Loomis, and Eleventh Missouri, Lieutenant-Colonel Panabaker commanding. The Seventh Illinois Cavalry, under Colonel Kellogg; a detachment of the First United States Infantry, under Captain Williams; two companies of Engineer troops, volunteers, under Major Hasie, and Captain Sands' Eleventh Ohio Battery were also attached to the First Division.
The division marched from Commerce on the morning of the 28th of February, and reached Hunter's farm at midnight, the roads being almost impassable. The troops bivouacked that night in the mud and rain without a murmur. By order of General Pope, Colonel Kellogg's Seventh Illinois Cavalry was dispatched in pursuit of Jeff. Thompson and his band. After a running fight three light pieces of his artillery were captured and several prisoners taken, among them Capt. James T. Hogane and Lieut. D. B. Griswold, Engineers, C. S. Army. No official report of this affair, which was highly creditable to the Seventh Illinois Cavalry, was made to me.
Proceeding by easy stages, we reached New Madrid March 3, 1862. On the 2d of March, Col. J. L. Kirby Smith, Forty-third Ohio, escorted by Colonel Kellogg's Seventh Illinois Cavalry, made a daring reconnaissance, penetrating into the town of New Madrid to within three-quarters of a mile of the enemy's intrenchments. On the 3d the First Division advanced upon the town, Kellogg's cavalry forming the advance guard and covering the flanks. Colonel Fuller's Twenty-seventh Ohio deployed as skirmishers, supported by a section of Sands' Eleventh Ohio Battery and closely followed by the whole division. The enemy's pickets were gallantly driven in by Colonel Fuller's regiment. The orders to the division were to feel the enemy, seizing any advantage which might offer. To this end the Thirty-ninth Ohio was advanced, by order of General Pope, as skirmishers on the right flank, and were pushed forward on a line with Colonel Fuller's Twenty-seventh Ohio to within 1 miles of the enemy's principal works. Colonel Smith's Forty-third Ohio, in line of battle, supported Colonel Fuller, and protected the left flank of the division, supported by Sands' battery in the center, while Col. J. B. Plummer's brigade supported the right. The enemy withdrew to their intrenchments, but kept up an unremitting fire of solid shot and shell from five gunboats and their works, 24-pounder shot, shell from 32-pounders and 64-pounders, besides missiles from guns of smaller caliber. The troops, unable to reply, evinced a calmness and steadiness worthy of veterans.
Reconnaissances having demonstrated that an assault of the enemy's works with the bayonet must have involved an unnecessary loss of life to our troops, it was most prudently not resorted to, though the bearing of the troops was such as to give reasonable hopes of success. On the other hand, it seemed doubtful whether, if taken, the works could be held against the fire of the enemy's gunboats.
Brigadier-General Stanley arrived in camp on the evening of the 3d. On the 4th a reorganization of division, &c., was made. General Stanley being from Ohio, the Ohio regiments passed from under my command. Having had evidence of their gallantry and coolness under fire, and feeling grateful for the cheerfulness with which both officers and men had responded to my efforts to enforce discipline and excite their ardor, I parted with them with regret. Their place, however, in the reorganization of brigades and divisions was well filled by the Fifth Iowa, Lieutenant-Colonel Matthies, and Fifty-ninth Indiana, Col. J. I. Alexander, Colonel Worthington commanding the brigade thus constituted.
On the night of the 4th Colonel Worthington; with four guns, and Colonel Smith's command from the Forty-third Ohio, five companies of the Fifth Iowa, and two companies of the Fifty-ninth Indiana, drove in the enemy's pickets and opened a brisk fire on his position. (See his report herewith.) The general commanding having decided to occupy Point Pleasant, 7 miles below New Madrid, I cheerfully proposed Col. J. B. Plummer and the Second Brigade of my now Second Division for this service. This brigade consisted of the Eleventh Missouri, Lieutenant-Colonel Panabaker, and Twenty-sixth Illinois, Colonel Loomis. He proceeded on it on the 5th instant. At his request, my aide-de-camp, Lieut. William B. Caw, accompanied him. The success which crowned Colonel Plummer's efforts reflected honor on the Second Division.
On the 6th, by direction of the commanding general, I detailed Major Robertson, in command of two companies of the Fifth Iowa, and Forty-sixth Indiana, Colonel Fitch, of General Palmer's division, temporarily attached to my division, to report to Col. Gordon Granger, who pressed the enemy on our left vigorously, driving in his skirmishers, but was unable, from want of heavy artillery, to make any serious impression, on account of the heavy fire of the enemy's gunboats and the exposed character of the position, without undue exposure of our troops. Colonel Granger speaks in the following terms of the officers and men engaged in this affair:
CAMP IN FRONT OF NEW MADRID,
March 6, 1862.
As commander of the column mentioned within, which moved upon New Madrid yesterday, it affords me much satisfaction to more than corroborate every statement of the modest but gallant Major Robertson. His officers and men, under a terrific fire of round shot and shell for some two hours, behaved like veterans, and quite surprised me by their coolness and indifference to the danger which surrounded them. Major Robertson was especially conspicuous, never dismounting from his horse, although their sharpshooters tried their best to pick him off. Lieutenant Gordon, Fourth United States Cavalry, aide-de-camp, displayed rare courage with the skirmishers, and deserves especial notice.
On the 7th instant a demonstration was made by the First Brigade of the Second Division, in conjunction with General Stanley's division. (See report herewith.) Colonel Plummer having received promotion as brigadier-general, a reorganization again took place on the 11th instant, and the Tenth Iowa and Twenty-sixth Missouri were constituted the Second Brigade of the Second Division, under Colonel Perczel.
On the 13th the Second Division was held in reserve as the support of the First Division. On the 14th, at 2 o'clock a.m., with Colonel Slack's brigade of General Palmer's Third Division, composed of the Forty-sixth and Forty-seventh Indiana, the Second Division was formed to march to the relief of General Stanley's First Division and the guards of the trenches. The darkness was palpable. The rain poured down in torrents. The men were obliged to wade through pools knee-deep. Silence having been strictly enjoined, the division, hoping to have the honor of leading in the assault on the enemy's works, moved steadily forward with cheerful alacrity, those assigned to that duty taking post in the rifle pits, half full of water, without a murmur. A heavy fog shrouded everything from view as the day dawned, and we waited anxiously its lifting, in order to open fire on the enemy from our batteries. At 6 a.m. the evacuation of the place was reported, as stated in my report of the 14th instant, as general of the trenches.
Under very considerable privations and hardships, under the severe ordeal of long exposure to the shot and shell of the enemy without power to reply, all the various regiments, both officers and men, who have been under my orders, have deserved commendation.
Transports having reached us through a channel cut with enormous labor under the direction of Colonel Bissell, on a suggestion advanced by the subscriber, March 17, 1862, the Second Division embarked on them April 7, to cross the Mississippi, which was accomplished in gallant style, but without opposition, the gunboats Carondelet and Pittsburgh, under Captain Walke, having in dashing style silenced the enemy's shore batteries. The division marched 4 miles in the direction of Tiptonville and bivouacked, lying upon their arms. At dawn, April 8, 1862, we pushed forward, and learned as we advanced of the evacuation of Island No. 10, and subsequently of the surrender of the whole force of the enemy. Arrived at Tiptonville, the Second Division was detailed as guard for the prisoners of war. The deportment of the officers and men towards them was worthy of the highest praise. It was that of brave and generous men toward a discomfited enemy, and produced upon the minds of the prisoners of war a marked effect. After exposure of no ordinary kind, without tents and only partial rations, having accomplished the service assigned to the Second Division, it returned to New Madrid.
Col. G. W. Cumming, Fifty-first Illinois, and the troops under his command, deserve marked commendation for the energy and devotion exhibited in caring for the prisoners of war and securing the captured property. Col. William H. Worthington, Fifth Iowa, commanding First Brigade, and Col. Nicholas Perczel, Tenth Iowa, commanding Second Brigade, showed on all occasions so much promptitude, so much attention to the health and welfare as well as instruction of the brigades under their respective commands--the camp of the Second Division exciting the emulation of the whole army--as to prove them well fitted for their responsible positions, and inspiring the men and officers under their orders with a confidence which could not fail to prove of the highest value in an engagement.
April 12 the division embarked on transports and proceeded down the Mississippi River toward Fort Pillow, reaching a point 5 miles above it Sunday, April 13. Here reconnaissances on the Arkansas shore were pushed by Lieut. William B. Gaw, Volunteer Engineers, with great boldness and entire success, during the 14th, 15th, and 16th, when orders were received to proceed to Pittsburg Landing, Tenn.
The general commanding will have himself observed the creditable and zealous devotion and unflinching readiness in discharge of duty evinced by the officers composing my staff, especially First Lieut. William C. Russell, Eighth Missouri Volunteers, aide-de-camp and acting assistant adjutant-general, who to close attention to his office duties added coolness and gallantry under fire; Lieut. William B. Gaw, Volunteer Engineers; Brigade Surg. Will? Varian, who, in addition to his medical duties, intelligently and efficiently performed, has at all times cheerfully volunteered his services as an aide-de-camp; First Lieut. H. Seymour Burt, Sixty-third Ohio, acting aide-de camp, has distinguished himself by his promptitude and gallantry; First Lieut. Charles A. Nazro, Twenty-sixth Illinois, as division quartermaster, has greatly assisted me by his attention and efficiency in the discharge of his arduous duties; Second Lieut. James E. Merriman, Twenty-sixth Illinois, acting aide-de-camp, also deserves mention for his active efforts until thrown out of activity by indisposition. I am informed by General Plummer that Lieut. William B. Gaw, aide-de camp on my staff, rendered to him very important services in the construction of the batteries at Point Pleasant and in making reconnaissances of the vicinity. In justice to the Second Michigan Cavalry. I should mention the cool and soldierly bearing of a portion of it detailed by the commanding general as an escort to myself on a reconnaissance ordered by him March 3, 1862. From their ranks the first blood was drawn on that day, and though, to their chagrin, early ordered back by me, I am satisfied they would unhesitatingly have advanced wherever ordered. Captain Sands, Eleventh Ohio Battery, has on all occasions exhibited fine soldierly conduct, as the accompanying report exhibits.
I inclose the reports of Colonel Worthington and Colonel Perczel; also that of Major Robertson; to all of which your attention is invited.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brig. Gen. Vols., U.S. Army, Comdg. Second Division.
RETURN TO NEW MADRID OFFICIAL RECORDS PAGE