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gunboats from Columbus were before the town, and threw shot and shell in the vicinity of the Union forces though with trifling effect, and in the afternoon General Pope gave the order to fall back. He sent a request to Cairo for four siege guns, twenty-four-pounders, and placed General Plummer, 11th Mo., with a battery, three regiments of infantry and three companies of cavalry at Mount Pleasant, twelve miles below, thus blockading the river and cutting off supplies and reinforcements. The enemy brought reinforcements from Island No. 10 until he had concentrated some nine thousand infantry, besides artillery, and nine gunboats under Commodore Hollins. The rebel land forces were under Generals McCown, Stewart and Gantt. On the 12th the seige guns arrived from Cairo, at sunset, and that night were placed in a battery within eight hundred yards of the rebel main works, so as to command it and the river above it, and within thirty-six hours from their reception at Cairo, they were thundering against the defences of McCown.
General Pope says in his official report:
"One brigade, consisting of the 10th and 16th Illinois, under Colonel Morgan of the 10th, was detailed to cover the construction of the battery, and to work in the trenches. They were supported by Stanley's division, consisting of the 27th, 39th, 43d and 63d Ohio. Capt. Mower of the 1st U. S. Infantry, with companies A and H of his regiment, was placed in charge of the siege guns.
"The enemy's pickets and grand guards were driven in by Col. Morgan from the ground selected for the battery, without firing a shot, although the enemy fired several volleys of musketry. The work was prosecuted in silence, and with the utmost rapidity until at 3 o'clock, A. M., two small redoubts, connected by a curtain and mounting the four heavy guns which had been sent me, were completed, together with rifle-pits in front and on the flanks, for two regiments of infantry. Our batteries opened as soon as the day dawned and were replied to in front and on the flanks by the whole of the enemy's heavy artillery on land and water."
Through the day the furious cannonading continued. General Paine, supported by General Palmer's division, was ordered to make a demonstration against the rebel entrenchments on the left of our forces, and did so, driving the pickets, his skirmishers forcing their way close to the main ditch.
That night, in a blinding thunder-storm, the rebel forces evacuated in haste, "leaving their dead unburied, their suppers untouched,
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standing on the tables, candles burning in the tents, and every other evidence of a disgraceful panic."—[Pope's report.] Thirty-three pieces of artillery, with magazines of fixed ammunition, several thousand stand of small arms, hundreds of boxes of cartridges, tents for an army of ten thousand men, with horses, mules, &c, were captured. The fall of New Madrid would "compel the evacuation of Island No. 10, as it could neither be reinforced nor supplied from below." General Pope made the following official notice:
"The 10th and 16th Illinois, commanded respectively by Colonels Morgan and J. R. Smith, were detailed as guards to the proposed trenches and to aid in constructing them. They marched from camp at sunset on the 12th inst., and drove in the pickets and grand guards of the enemy as they were ordered, at shouldered arms, without returning a shot; covered the front of the intrenching parties, and occupied the trenches and rifle pits during the whole day and night of the 13th, under furious and incessant cannonading from sixty pieces of heavy artillery. At the earnest request of their Colonels their regimental flags were kept flying over our trenches, though they offered a conspicuous mark to the enemy. The coolness, courage and cheerfulness of these troops, exposed for two nights and a day to the furious fire of the enemy at short range, and to the severe storm which raged during the whole night of the thirteenth are beyond all praise, and delighted and astonished every officer who witnessed it."
Here, as well as elsewhere, wherever brought into conflict, the gallant soldiers of Illinois met danger without flinching, and maintained the honor of the country and the flag.
"Island No. 10" next engrossed public attention. It is situated in the corner of the bend of the Mississippi River, which touches the border of Tennessee, and is above though southwest of New Madrid; it is 240 miles from St. Louis, and 950 from New Orleans. By the river, it is forty-five miles south of Columbus and about twenty-six from Hickman. The fortifications consisted of eleven earthworks, with seventy heavy cannon, varying from thirty-two to hundred pounders. The operations of General Pope were part of the campaign against this formidable Island, considered by the Confederate officers as of the highest importance to the new line of defence held by them, for on the ability to hold it depended the safety of Memphis and the entire lower Mississippi. The left of this line rested on the Mississippi, the center between Jackson, Tenn., and Corinth, Miss., and the right between Florence and Decatur.
On the 15th of March, Admiral Foote, with several gunboats and part of the mortar fleet left Hickman for the island, and on the next day the bombardment began. On the ISfch General Pope's batteries at New Madrid were attacked by the rebel gunboats, but repulsed them. In order to completely isolate the island and cut off retreat it was necessary to throw a portion of Pope's army across the Mississippi River to the Tennessee shore. At the suggestion of Gen. Schuyler Hamilton, a channel was made by Col. Bissel's engineer regiment, twelve miles in length, and six of them through heavy timber requiring to be cut off four feet below the surface of the water. The labor expended upon this work was immense and while it was progressing the bombardment continued.
During the siege Col. Buford, of the 27th, and Col. Roberts, of the 42d Illinois, performed two of those daring acts which make up the romance of war. On the morning of March 31st, Col. Buford taking his own regiment, the 42d Illinois, and 400 hardy Scandinavians of the 15th Wisconsin, Col. Heg, with two companies 2d 111. cavalry and a battery, proceeded toward Union City by forced marches and surprised a large body of rebels, cavalry and infantry, under Clay King, a notorious desperado. The Union forces entered the town at full speed and the astonished rebels, panic-stricken, fled in all directions. About twenty were killed and one hundred captured, with 200 horses and a large lot of army stores, 500 stand of arms, several officers' swords and flags, and all without the loss of one Union soldier.
Scarcely returned, Col. Roberts was bent on another dash. Col. Buford was ordered to make a reconnoissance, and he selected his Union City associate for the work. On the night of April 1st, Col. Roberts, with forty picked men of his own regiment, took boat from the gunboat Benton, and with muffled oars, made for the island and crept cautiously along the bank. Owing to the violence of the storm and the thick darkness, they passed the bend unperceived, until within a few rods of the upper battery, and then a flash of lightning revealed to the sentinels some dark object approaching the island. They fired at random, the shots passing quite near the boats, but providentially doing no harm. The sentinels fell back to their tents, which were pitched some distance from the battery oa a
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dry ridge, evidently believing the entire Lincoln army was on them. The boats made no answer, but steadily pulled for shore. In twov or three minutes they touched the slope of the earthworks, and in less than as many more, the brave lads were over the parapet and among the guns. In less than three minutes all of them were spiked after the most approved and artistic style. There were six of them, two sixty-fours, three eighties, and one of them a superb nine-inch pivot gun, with cushion lock, had the honor of receiving Col. Robert's special attention. This was said to be the "Lady Davis," a boasted and noisy piece, from these, or other considerations, named for the wife of Jefferson Davis. A few moments and all were again on board, rowing through the boiling current and Cimmerian darkness for the shelter of the Benton. It was bravely, nobly done.
The beneficial results of this were seen when, on the night of the 3d, the Caronclelet, having protected her bulwarks with hay, etc., set out upon the hardy mission of running the blockade and going below to Gen. Pope. Had that battery been in condition, the daring boat had been inevitably sunk, but she laughed defiantly at the shower from small arms that pattered about her. She reported to Gen. Pope, and within a few days silenced eleven batteries in the twelve miles between Point Pleasant and New Madrid. The Pittsburg followed on the night of the 6th, and the fate of the Island was sealed. On the morning of the 7th, the transports were brought through the canal into the river, and while the division of Col. Paine was embarking, the gun-boats run down the river and silenced the battery. The passage of the river was completed at midnight. As soon as the loyal troops began to cross, the enemy began to evacuate the Island and his batteries along the Kentucky shore. The main-land force retreated disgracefully. Yet four generals, six colonels, with the corresponding number of subordinate officers, with about 5,000 men, one hundred and twenty-five cannon, eleven batteries with vast quantities of small arms and stores fell into our hands. When the forces crossed the river, the advance was led by Gen. Paine.
Thus closed another epoch of the war and the country again breathed more freely.
A paper lying upon the table where these lines are written, dated the 9th of April, says:
"From all accounts the impending battle near Corinth will be the most important of any that has been fought during the war. The fact that the Confederates are drawing their troops from all quarters to the North part of Mississippi and Alabama, where they intend to fall upon the Union advance under Grant is palpable. Beauregard is doubtless directing the effort at concentration. Bragg has already brought up his force from Pensacola, abandoning the siege of Fort Pickens; Van Dorn and Sterling Price are hurrying forward from Western Arkansas; even Virginia is being stripped of rebel soldiers to swell the grand army of the West. The intent evidently is to fall upon our Tennessee army with an immense force gathered from all quarters, and repeat the lessons of Wilson's Creek and Lexington."
This shows the public presentiment in reference to the storm which burst in awful terribleness upon the banks of the Tennessee River on the morning of April 6, 1862, where all was so nearly lost, and yet so bravely won.
Before narrating the events of that terrible field, we must follow a portion of our troops who have been in the thunders of battle under the lead of Curtis, Sigel, Asboth and Davis, where again Iowa, Missouri, Indiana and Illinois were to win imperishable renown.
Gen. S. R. Curtis was in command of "the army of the Southwest," confronted by Price with a superior and augmenting force, and early in March he saw a battle was inevitable. His army was divided into four divisions, commanded, in order, by Generals Sigel, Asboth, Davis and Col. Carr.
Gen. Curtis had been in pursuit of Price, and his winter campaign—from January 20th to March 1, 1862—had been one of much severity and positive hardship, his men skirmishing as they traveled; but he had steadily driven Price until he had chased his force across the Arkansas line, but there the rebel chieftain was reinforced by Van Dorn and McCulloch, increasing this army to more than 30,000 men, of whom Van Dorn assumed chief command, and determined to give the Federal General battle, not doubting but he could turn upon him and crush him by overwhelming superiority of numbers. Gen. Curtis reported his forces in February as 12,095, with fifty pieces of artillery, including four mountain howitzers. Curtis' divisions were separated. He selected Sugar Creek as the most favorable battle-ground to meet