despatched a regiment of infantry to the same place. No rebel soldiers, however, made their appearance there. Their retreat was an inglorious and disgraceful flight. According to the accounts given by the prisoners themselves, the rebel soldiers were completely demoralized. The officers seem to have had no command over them, but rather to have shared their terrible fright. When our gunboats ran the blockade, and they found themselves unable to prevent it, both officers and men lost all confidence in each other or in themselves. They felt that their time was drawing nigh, and when, about seven o'clock last evening, they learned that Gen. Pope's army was crossing the river, they perceived that it had arrived. The men, somehow, had the information almost as soon as the officers. Had bedlam broken loose, the scene could not have rivalled that which I am told the flight of these rebellious wretches presented. Every man seized his gun and incontinently took to his heels. It was every man for himself, each striving on his own individual bottom to double the point of Reelfoot Lake before Gen. Pope's army should close up the only avenue of escape. The number of rebel troops on the mainland was about seven thousand, a considerable part of the force, which at one time reached fourteen thousand, having been withdrawn to reinforce Beauregard at Corinth. The commanding officer was Brig.-Gen. McCall. He was specially detailed by Beauregard to succeed Brig.-Gen. McCown, who was ordered to Richmond, in command of this “Key of the Mississippi,” as he is pleased to call it in his proclamation, dated April fifth, assuming command. The original of this proclamation was found in Brig.-Gen. McCall's late headquarters, that doughty commander having been too busy in taking care of himself to think of such trifling matters as important official papers — among them a plan of Fort Pillow. The proclamation is a somewhat curious document as showing how very valorous a rebel brigadier-general may be only two days before he ignominiously runs away. I sent the interesting document by telegraph, in advance of this letter. The value of captured property amounts to over a million of dollars. There are nine steamboats — the Yazoo, H. R. W. Hill, Grampus, Ohio Belle, Admiral, Champion, De Soto, Red Rover, and Mars — worth four hundred thousand dollars. The first four were scuttled and sunk, but will be raised easily. There are seventy heavy position-guns of the first class, some of them navy guns, stolen from Norfolk. There are four mortars — small affairs, nothing like our thirteen-inch fellows. There are over ten thousand pounds of powder; one single magazine contains seven thousand pounds. Why they did not destroy it is a mystery only to be solved upon the supposition that they were in too much of a hurry to save themselves. There are shot and shell in vast quantities. There are tents for seven thousand men. There is at least a warehouse full of commissary stores. The sunken steamers will be ready for use in three or four days. A messenger has already gone to Cairo to bring down one of the large submarine steam elevators there, which were built expressly for lifting sunken steamboats. So we shall soon add to our fleet of transports nine or ten first-class boats, whose owners will not be very apt to present their bills monthly. The fortifications are admirably constructed and of immense strength. The rebels commenced building them before they came up to Columbus; the breastworks are well settled and firm. Served by brave men in a better cause, they would have held the river much longer than three weeks. But these fellows could not stand our gunboats on both sides of them, and thirteen-inch bombshells in their midst. The effect of these shells upon the Island was truly terrific. The earth is ploughed and furrowed as with an earthquake. Small caverns were excavated by the tremendous explosions, and in one place an unexploded shell has penetrated the earth to the depth of sixteen feet, leaving a round hole like a wall. Huge cottonwood trees, two and three feet in diameter, were hit and blown to atoms. The rebels could not stand such missiles, and would not. They constructed “rat-holes,” by felling large trees and placing short logs slantingly against them, covering the whole with earth. Into these they crawled with the utmost agility whenever the voice of a mortar was heard. Every battery on the Island is provided with one of these rat-holes in convenient proximity for the gunners. It is difficult to conceive of an engine more terrible, in its destructive effects at the distance of three miles than these enormous shells. No rebel gunboats were captured, and it is probable they had none at the Island, except the Grampus, which they sunk. This was nothing but a common stern-wheel steamboat, mounted with two small guns. The floating battery, about which so much has been said, was discovered yesterday afternoon floating down the river toward New-Madrid. One of the batteries there fired upon it, but receiving no response, the machine was then boarded and found to be abandoned. It was navigated to the shore and secured at Point Pleasant, and it is to be added to the number of our trophies. Its guns, however, are alone valuable.
Letter of Secretary Welles.
Washington, April 9, 1862.The following congratulatory letter was sent to-day to Flag-Officer Foote by telegraph:
Navy Department, April 9, 1862.sir: A nation's thanks are due you and the brave officers and men of the flotilla on the Mississippi, whose labors and gallantry at Island No.10, which surrendered to you yesterday, have for weeks been watched with intense interest. Your triumph is not the less appreciated because it was protracted and finally bloodless. To that Being who has protected you through
Flag-Officer A. H. Foote, Commanding Gunboats of Western Waters: