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more or less skirmishing of the sharpshooters -with the enemy in their en
11 trenchments in front of the Union line. Heavy rain storms, unusual for the season, aggravated the ordinary difficulties of a campaign in a strange region ; and the ground, imperfectly drained, would have rendered an advance entirely impracticable, had not some Maine and Michigan regiments constructed, with great toil, a series of corduroy roads,
!' over which the artillery could be transported.
The rebel General Magruder had some 10,000 men at Yorktown, and i could be reinforced at any time directly from Richmond, and was reinforced largely so soon as our army appeared. It was, therefore, prudent, if not necessary, on McClellan's part, to take the course which he did; although there were many who held, that a bold dash at the outset would have given him possession of Yorktown.
The impatience of the public, demanding greater activity and speedy results, was shown in various ways. The president was deeply affected by it, and under date of April 9 th, closed an urgent letter to McClellan
as tollows :—" I suppose the whole force which has gone forward to you is with you by this time, and if so, I think it is the precise time for you to
strike a blow Let me tell you
that it is indispensable to you that you strike a blow. 7 am powerless to help
this The country will not fail
to note—is noting now—that the present hesitation to move upon an entrenched position is but the story of Manassas repeated. I beg to assure
you that I have never written you, or spoken to you, in greater kindness of feeling than now, nor with a fuller pur pose to sustain you, so far as in my most anxious judgment I consistently can. But you must act"*
Siege operations were pushed forward vigorously and as rapidly as possible ; batteries were erected to silence the enemy's guns, and drive them from the works at Wynn's and Lee's Mills; and active reconnaissances were kept up continually in every direction. On the 16th of April, Gen. W. F. Smith, with a brigade of Vermont troops, advanced to a point, thought to be the weakest of that part of the enemy's lines, about a mile above Lee's Mills, where there was a dam covered by a battery. The rebel fort was silenced in about two hours; and an attempt was made to carry the entrenchments; but without success. On the 18th of April, a portion of McDowell's corps, under Gen. Augur, made an advance upon Fredericksburg, and drove the ig63 enemy, some 3,000 in number, a running fight being kept up at the same time. The rebels burned two bridges and a number of vessels on the Rappahannock; and the authorities formally surrendered the town. The same day an advance was accomplished by some of Banks's force, who Took possession of New Market, neai Manassas.
* McClellan, in his report, is confident that the president, if he knew the actual position of affairs, would not deem an attack at all safe, at that time. Ho also says, " still'less could I forego the conclusions of my most instructed judgment for the mere sake of avoiding the personal consequences intimated in the president's dispatch."
The steady progress of the siege works, under the superintendence of Gen. Fitz John Porter, and the certainty that within a few days the assault would be made with success, led the rebels to the conclusion thatYorktown must be evacuated. With their usual skill in concealing their designs, keeping up a vigorous and noisy fire, during the early days of May, they made their preparations, and on the 3d and 4th of the month abandoned all their works. The next day McClellan purposed to assault Yorktown, which now became
needless. The advantage was on the enemy's side, they having stopped our progress a whole month, and having had the opportunity, meanwhile, of strengthening their position in and about Richmond.
Thu3 far, certainly, the president's earnest and peremptory injunction to McClellan, "you must act," had not resulted in the successes which the public voice called for, and which the government was exceedingly desirous to attain, at the earliest possible moment.
ISLAND NO. 10: SHILOH, OR PITTSBURG LANDING: CONGRESS IN SESSION.
Rebel fortifications on the Mississippi — Importance of the river — Island No. 10 — Strongly fortified — Gen Pope at New Madrid — Works there — Occupies Mount Pleasant — Attack on New Madrid — Rebels retreat— Commodore Foote and his flotilla — Begins bombardment of Island No. 10 — Pope's plans and operations—Canal made for crossing peninsula — Very toilsome work — Gunboat Carondelet runs the enemy's batteries — Bombardment continued — Pope's troops cross the Mississippi — Rebels give up in despair — Surrender — Chagrin of rebel authorities—Vast amount of supplies, etc., taken — Foote and Island No. 10 — Advance of Grant's army in Tennessee — Beauregard at Corinth, Mississippi — The two armies — Confederate line of defence—Grant's army at Pittsburg Landing — Beauregard and Johnston determine to attack him before Buell arrives — Battle of Shiloh, or Pittsburg Landing— First day's fight — Union army nearly ruined —Bnell arrives at night — The next day the rebels beaten and driven back to Corinth — Hugeness of the conflict and terrible slaughter— Thanks to the army — Halleck assumes command— His plans — Congress in session — Tone and spirit of the majority — Slavery abolished in District of Columbia — The bill and message of the president — Slavery abolished in the territories of the United States — Mr. Lincoln's views as to compensated emancipation — President authorized to take possession of roads, etc., in certain cases — Great financial measure — Legal tender question — Issue of treasury notes — Confederate Congress at Richmond—Its proceedings, views of its members, etc.
As has been already pointed out, the confederate leaders clearly perceived the importance of the Mississippi to their plans, and, as rapidly as possible, they had carefully and skilfully fortified all the principal strategic points
from the Ohio to the Gulf, a distance of nearly 1,000 miles. Beginning with Columbus in Kentucky, at Island No. 10, dividing the stream at the northern border of Tennessee, at Memphis and its vicinity, at Vicksburg and
elsewhere, to New Orleans, above and below that city, the rebels had been at work, excavating the hill-sides for batteries, throwing up trenches, mounting cannon on the heights, preparing mines on the banks and torpedoes for the channel; and using every possible means to obstruct the advance of our armies. It was, therefore, a matter of necessity on our part to open the Mississippi, as well for the commercial interests of the great West, as to cripple most effectually the purposes of the leaders in rebellion.
The energy and activity of our military and naval forces under Buell, Grant, Foote, etc., had driven the rebels to abandon not only Nashville and Bowling Green, but also Columbus, "the northern key to the Mississippi delta," as it was called. Still, our success, great as it had been, was only a step in the onward progress down the Mississippi. Island No. 10 was the next formidable obstacle in the way of further advance; and the rebels were determined to make here a bold stand. This Island No. 10, about forty miles below Cairo, is situated at the bottom of a great bend of the Mississippi, where the stream, in a sharp curve, sweeps around a tongue of land projecting from the Missouri shore, and, pursuing thence a north-westerly course to New Madrid, on the western bank, descends past a similar narrow promoutory of Tennessee soil, on its great southerly track. The distance across the upper end of the first promontory, four miles above the island, to New Madrid is six miles, and by the river is fifteen. The passage across the second promontory is five miles, while by
water it is twenty-seven. On the Tennessee shore was a great swamp, cutting off communication with the interior, so that the garrison at the island had to depend mainly, if not wholly, for its supplies, reinforcements, and way of escape, if necessary, upon the river. All help from the Missouri shore was cut off by our troops, under Pope, hav. ing occupied and secured it.
Pope began his march, Feb. 2 2d, from Commerce above Cairo, on the west bank of the Mississippi, and after a slow and painful advance, owing to the deep mud and sloughs, arrived at New Madrid on the 3d of March. He found the place occupied by regiments of infantry and several companies of artillery. The fortifications consisted of earthworks mounting over twenty guns, with lines of entrenchments. Six gun boats, carrying from four to eight heavy guns each, were anchored along the shore between the upper and lower redoubts. As the country was level for miles around, and the river so high that the guns of the boats looked directly over the banks, Pope found the approaches to the town commanded for some seven miles by direct and cross fire from at least sixty guns of heavy calibre.
Point Pleasant, twelve miles below, was first occupied by direction of Pope, so as to blockade the river from below. This was accomplished by Col. Plummer, despite the cannonading of the enemy's gun boats. The rebels made great efforts to strengthen New Madrid, in order to hold Island No. 10; but so soon as Pope got his heavy siege guns, (March 12th), they were placed in position, and in the course of a day's cannonading proved that the town must be given up. The rebels hastily retreated during the night, leaving behind a large auantity of stores, artillery, etc.
On the same day, March 13th, that New Madrid was captured, Commodore Foote left Cairo with a fleet, including seven iron clads and ten mortar boats, and having been joined at Columbus by Col. Buford with his regiment and other troops, some 1,500 in all, he moved down the river, and took possession of Hickman, on the Kentucky shore. The next day, the expedition approached Island No. 10; reconnaissances were made along the shores; the mortar vessels were placed in position; and everything was prepared for the attack. A bombardment was begun, on Sunday the 16th; but with no particular result, except trying the range of the guns on both sides. The next day, another vigorous attempt was made by the. gun boats and mortar vessels, which kept up a continuous fire all the afternoon upon the island and water batteries of the rebels. The day's work, however, was not encouraging, and it became quite evident that Island No. 10, and its bulwarks, could not easily be taken by assault from the gun boats; other help was needed from another quarter before the place could be captured.
Pope's operations were expected to render this aid. His object was to cut off the escape of the rebels by the only way left to them, viz., across the Tennessee peninsula, a few miles to Tiptonville, below New Madrid, whence they might readily reach Memphis or its
vicinity. To accomplish his object, Pope needed only the means of crossing the river, and bringing his forces face to face with the enemy from below. At first, a road was thought of through j the swamps to a point on the Missouri shore opposite Island No. 10. This being impracticable, a canal was projected, by which steam transports could be brought from above across the Missouri peninsula to New Madrid below.
The canal was a serious piece of work- | and occupied a much longer time than was expected; but Colonel Bissel and his regiment of engineers overcame all difficulties, and finally succeeded. It was twelve miles long, six of which were through very heavy timber, requiring great exposure and privation in cutting the way through. It was com pleted April 4th, and was highly prais ed as a monument of enterprise and skill.
Foote, meanwhile, was not idle or in efficient. The firing was regularly kept up, and on the night of April 1st, in the midst of a furious storm, battery No. 1 of the enemy, which had been particularly annoying to our boats, was taken by assault. The rebels, however, retreated without contesting the possession of the fort. On consideration, Foote determined to allow one of the gun boats to run the batteries. On the night of the 3d of April, in a furious storm of lightning and thunder, the gun boat Carondelet, Captain Walke, , passed the entire series of rebel batteries, without returning a shot, and receiving their concentrated fire. Strange ■ to tell, the Carondelet passed in safety, t i and was received with much enthusiasm i j
by our troops at New Madrid. Three days afterwards, another gun boat accomplished the same feat in safety. On the morning of the 4th of April, the heavy floating battery of the rebels at Island No. 10, having been fired upon for more than an hour by three of our boats, cut loose from its mooring, and drifted two or three miles down the I river.
On the 7th of April, Paine's division, in the steam transports, preceded by the srun boats, crossed the Mississipi. The rebels, finding the case hopeless, attempted to retreat during the afternoon and night; but early on the 8 th, ascertaining that they were completely cut off, they laid down their arms, and surrendered at discretion. Colonel Elliott proceeded at once to take possession of the works on the Tennessee shore, opposite Island No. 10, and to save, if possible, several steamers belonging to the rebels. This he accomplished, and brought in besides some 200 prisoners.
Pope, in his report, dilates upon the greatness of his success. "Three generals, 273 field and company officers, 6,700 prisoners, 123 pieces of heavy artillery, all of the very best character and latest patterns, 7,000 stand of small arms, an immense quantity of ammunition of all kinds, etc., are among the spoils. The conduct of the troops was splendid throughout, as the results of this operation and its whole progress very clearly exhibit. We have crossed the great river, the banks of which were lined with batteries and defended by 7,000 men; we have pursued and captured the whole force of the enemy, and all
his supplies and material of war; and have again recrossed and occupied the camp at New Madrid, without losing a man or meeting with an accident."
Foote, on his part, was, on the 7th of April, visited by some rebel officers, who surrendered Island No. 10 to the commander of the fleet. Immediate possession was taken of the island Communication was then had with Pope, and a safe opportunity was afforded for investigating the extent of the military preparations of the enemy, the forts and batteries, which it had required twenty-three days of persistent efforts, on land and water, effectually to overcome.*
In pushing forward operations in the South-west, it was of prime importance j to effect a junction of the forces under Gens. Grant and Buell, on the upper waters of the "1
Tennessee River, so as to cut off the I rebel communications with the South j and East. Nashville had been occupied as we have seen, (p. 116), Columbus had been evacuated, and Island No. 10 was certain to be captured in a short! time; hence, by advancing our forces to Corinth, in Mississippi, where was
* Pollard states that Beauregard was charged with j preparing the defences for Island No. 10, and tho Mis- I sissippi River generally. He, and the South everywhere, were sure that the position was impregnable, and ths daily bulletins respecting the progress of affairs a the island confirmed that notion. When the news of its fall did come, it came upon the southern people from northern sources, and the mortification, astonish ment and keen appreciation of th< lr loss are forcibly , depicted by Pollard. "There coulr be no excuse for the wretched management and infamous scenes that attend.
ed the evacuation No single battle field
had yet afforded to the North such visible fruit of victory I as had been gathered at Island No. 10." Pollard states that the total number of prisoners taken was not moie than 2,000.—" First Tear of theWar," pp. 291-394.