Operation at New Madrid and Island No. 10.
NEW MADRID, MO., April 9, 1862.
Major-General H. W. Halleck:
The canal across the peninsula opposite Island No. 10 — and for the idea of which I am indebted to Gen. Schuyler Hamilton — was completed by Col. Bissell's engineer regiment, and four steamers were brought through on the night of the 6th. The heavy batteries I had thrown up below Tiptonville completely commanded the lowest point of the high ground on the Tennessee shore entirely cutting off the enemy's retreat by water; his retreat by land has never been possible through the swamps. On the night of the 4th Captain Walke, of the navy, ran the enemy's batteries at Island No. 10, with the gunboat Carondelet, and reported to me here. On the night of the sixth the gunboat Pittsburg also ran the blockade. Our transports were brought into the river from the bayou, where they had been kept concealed, at daylight on the seventh, and Paine's division loaded. The canal has been a prodigiously laborious work. It was twelve miles long, six miles of which were through heavy timber which had to be sawed off by hand four feet under water.
The enemy has lined the opposite shore with batteries, extending from Island No. 10 to Tiptonville, Merriweather Landing, to prevent the passage of the river by this army.
I directed Capt. Walke to run down with the two gunboats at daylight on the 7th to the point selected for crossing, and silence the enemy's batteries near it. He performed the service gallantly, and I here bear testimony to the thorough and brilliant manner in which this officer discharged his difficult duties with me, and to the hearty and earnest zeal with which, at all hazards, he cooperated with me.
As soon as he signalled me, the boats containing Paine's division, moved out from the landing and began to cross the river. The passage of this wide, furious river, by our large force, was one of the most magnificent spectacles I ever witnessed. By 12 o'clock that night, the 7th, all the forces designed to cross the river were over, without delay or accident.
As soon as we commenced to cross, the enemy began to evacuate Island No. 10, and his batteries along the shore. The divisions were pushed forward to Tiptonville as fast as they landed, Paine's leading. The enemy was driven before him, and although they made several attempts to form in line of battle and make a stand, Paine did not once deploy his [unknown]. The enemy was pushed all night vigorously, until at 4 o'clock a. m., he was driven back upon the swamps and forced to surrender. Three generals, seven colonels, seven regiments, several battallions of infantry, five companies of artillery, over one hundred heavy siege guns, twenty-four pieces of field artillery, an immense quantity of ammunition and supplies, several thousand stand of small arms, a great number of tents, horses, wagons, etc., etc., etc., have fallen into our hands.
Before abandoning Island No. 10, the enemy sunk the gunboat Grampus, and six of his transports. These last I am raising and expect to have ready for service in a few days. The famous floating battery was scuttled and turned adrift with all her guns aboard, she was captured and run aground in shoal water by our forces at New Madrid.
Our success is complete and overwhelming. Our troops, as I expected, behaved gloriously. I will in my full report endeavor to do full justice to all. Brigadiers Gen. Paine, Stanley and Hamilton crossed the river and conducted their divisions with untiring activity and skill. I am especially indebted to them. Gen. Paine, fortunate in having the advance, exhibited unusual vigor and courage, and had the satisfaction to receive the surrender of the enemy. Of Col. Bissell, of the engineer regiment, I can hardly say too much. Full of resource, untiring and determined, he labored night and day, and completed a work which will be a monument of enterprise and skill.
We have crossed this great river with a large army, the banks of which are lined with batteries of the enemy to oppose our passage; have pursued and captured all his forces and material of war, and have not lost a man, nor met with an accident.
JOHN POPE, Major General.