A suggestion for Gen. Halleck.
It is said that the difficulty in capturing Island No. 10 is largely due to the fact that our gun and mortar boats have to fight with the river current instead of against it, as at Forts Henry and Donelson. If in attempting such close quarters as they did in Tennessee they should be disabled, they would drift at once to the rebels and be lost, instead of away from them, as was the case in the instances cited.
Now in case this obstacle promises to require too much time, and to involve too many risks, we venture on a suggestion, which might or might not be feasible. Island No. 10 stands in a great bend of the river, and we already possess New Madrid below it, and command the river there. Would it not be possible then — anything in this line is "possible" which is necessary or greatly advantageous — to cut a steamboat canal from the position now occupied by our boats North of the Island straight to New Madrid, or near it, and then to assail the rebels from below as well as above and repeat on them Forts Henry and Donelson, slightly enlarged? The country, we are assured is low, and the distance perhaps ten miles, more or less. Dow, Jr., said long ago that "faith and a few Irishmen would remove mountains," and if Irishmen are not plenty enough for the speedy completion of such a work, niggers are, and a bare hint of course from Gen. Halleck to the loyal (?) slaveholders of Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee would soon furnish the muscle with which either to turn the course of the Mississippi and attack the Island by land, as Cyrus tricked the Babylonians, or to leave it behind as helpless as a stranded ship, while we go "On to Memphis" and New Orleans. Or, we can attack and capture it from the South.
This suggestion, as applied to the case in hand, is original, but not patented, and Gen. Halleck can have it free gratis if he thinks it feasible!