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[495] of the battery close to the river-bank, and were constantly occupied. The gunboats ran up within three hundred yards, and a furious cannonade was kept up for an hour and a half, when they were repulsed, with the loss of one gunboat sunk, several badly damaged, and many men shot down at their guns by our sharpshooters from the rifle-pits. Our loss was one man killed. From that time no attempt against the battery was made, and all communication from below with the forces near Island No.10 was cut off. One of the gunboats would occasionally, during a dark night, steal up close along the opposite shore to Tiptonville, but always at such great risk that it was seldom undertaken. Neither supplies nor men could be taken up or carried off in this way.

Such was the condition of affairs on the six-teenth of March. The object for which the land-forces had been moved on New — Madrid was accomplished in the capture of that place and the blockade of the river to any supplies and reeforcements for the enemy at and around Island No.10.

Meantime the flotilla had been firing at long range, both from the gun and mortar-boats, at the batteries of the enemy in and opposite the Island, for seven consecutive days, without any apparent effect, and without any advance whatever toward their reduction. This result was doubtless due to the defective construction of the boats.

On the sixteenth of March I received your despatch directing me, if possible, to construct a road through the swamps to a point on the Missouri shore opposite Island No.10, and transfer a portion of my force, sufficient to erect batteries at that point, to assist in the artillery practice on the enemy's batteries. I accordingly despatched Col. J. W. Bissell's Engineer regiment to examine the country with this view, directing him at the same time, if he found it impracticable to build a road through the swamps and overflow of the river, to ascertain whether it were possible to dig or cut a canal across the peninsula from some point above Island No.10 to New-Madrid, in order that steam-transports might be brought to me, which would enable my command to cross the river. The idea of the canal was suggested to me by Gen. Schuyler Hamilton, in a conversation upon the necessity of crossing the river and assailing the enemy's batteries, near Island No.10, in the rear.

On the seventeenth of March I suggested to Com. Foote, by letter, that he should run the enemy's batteries with one of his gunboats, and thus enable me to cross the river with my command — assuring him that by this means I could throw into the rear of the enemy men enough to deal with any force he might have. This request the Commodore declined, on the ground of impracticability.

Col. Bissell having reported a road impracticable, but that a route could be found for a channel sufficient for small steamers, I immediately directed him to commence the canal, with the whole regiment, and to call on Col. Buford, commanding the land — forces temporarily on duty with the flotilla, (which had been placed under my command,) for any assistance in men or material necessary for the work. Supplies of such articles as were needed, and four steamers of light draught, were sent for to Cairo, and the work begun. It was my purpose to make the canal deep enough for the gunboats ; but it was not found practicable to do so within any reasonable period. The work performed by Col. Bissell and his regiment of Engineers was, beyond measure, difficult; and its completion was delayed much beyond my expectations. The canal is twelve miles long, six miles of which are through very heavy timber. An avenue fifty feet wide was made through it, by sawing off trees of large size four and a half feet under water. For nine-teen days the work was prosecuted with untiring energy and determination, under exposures and privations very unusual, even in the history of warfare. It was completed on the fourth of April, and will long remain a monument of enterprise and skill.

During all this time the flotilla had kept up its fire upon the batteries of the enemy, but without making any progress toward their reduction. It had by this time become very apparent that the capture of Island No.10 could not be made unless the land-forces could be thrown across the river, and their works carried from the rear ; but during this long delay the enemy, anticipating such a movement, had erected batteries along the shore from Island No.10 entirely round to Tiptonville, at every point where troops could be landed. The difficulty of crossing the river in force had, therefore, been greatly increased; and what would have been a comparatively safe undertaking three weeks before had become one full of peril.

It is not necessary to state to you that the passage of a great river lined with batteries, and in the face of the enemy, is one of the most difficult and hazardous operations of war, and cannot be justified except in a case of urgent necessity. Such a case seemed presented for my action.

Without this movement operations against Island No.10 must have been abandoned, and the land-forces at least withdrawn. It is but bare justice to say, that although the full peril of the moment was, thoroughly understood by my whole command, there was not an officer or a man who was not anxious to be placed in the advance.

There seemed little hope of any assistance from the gunboats. I therefore had several heavy coalbarges brought into the upper end of the canal, which, during the progress of the work, were made into floating batteries.

Each battery consisted of three heavy barges lashed together, and bolted with iron. The middle barge was bulkheaded all around, so as to give four feet of thickness of solid timber both at the sides and on the ends. The heavy guns, three in number, were mounted on it, and protected by traverses of sand-bags. It also carried


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