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[227] been thrown from a high bluff on the bank of a river. But in their descent they had been stopped by the trees which overhang the stream below. It is as yet impossible to ascertain how many cannon the rebels have thrown into the Mississippi, supposing that in so doing they would render them useless to us.

Lieut.-Col. Hogg, of the Second Illinois cavalry, from Paducah, in company with two hundred and fifty men, was the first to enter the enemy's works at five o'clock yesterday afternoon.

Our gunboats and transports reached this place at eight o'clock to-day; but the officers not knowing that the position had been evacuated and occupied by our troops, the gunboats were cleared for action and moved down the river in line of battle. Although there were no guns in the water-batteries, still the gun-carriages which remained presented a similar appearance to mounted guns. As soon as the Stars and Stripes were discovered on the rebel works the crews of the different gunboats gave hearty cheers, which were answered with a will from the fortifications. The transports were then signaled to come down the river, and our troops were soon in the works.

The fortified works are very extensive, as they reach from the iron-banks above the town round to the chalk bluffs below, probably four miles in extent. Every prominent bluff on the river and around the town is fortified.

The rebels entirely destroyed their barracks, commissary and quartermaster's stores, and in one lot burned six thousand bushels of corn. One building, containing a large quantity of bacon, being very much soaked with water, would not burn, and a lady told me that when the rebels found they could not destroy this bacon by fire, they sprinkled poison over it.

The massive chain which the enemy had stretched across the Mississippi still remains, although the Missouri end is in the bottom of the river. The shore is strewn with the greatest quantity of torpedoes and anchors. The large magazine is still on fire, but whether or not all the powder has been removed, is not known.

But few persons remain in the town, and those only who have not heretofore taken sides in favor or against secession. The remainder, from three to five hundred in number, have fled, leaving their houses and stores, where not destroyed, open.

There were, at the time of the evacuation, nineteen thousand troops in and around the place, the entire force commanded by Gen. (Bishop) Polk. Gens. Cheatham and Pillow were in command of brigades. Gen. Beauregard was not here, but was hourly expected, having been delayed by sickness.

The rebels, when they evacuated Columbus, not only went by railroad, but also availed themselves of the facilities offered by twenty transports.

The railroad-track was torn up for six miles, and the bridges burned. Where the railroad crosses the Ohio River the bridge was burnt, but what other destruction was accomplished is not yet known.

A lady resident informs me that the troops who left by the river were destined for Island Number10, thirty miles below, and for New-Madrid, forty miles distant. The capture of Fort Donelson and occupation of Nashville had disheartened them; and the men, becoming demoralized and reckless, said they would soon be surrounded and starved out, and they would no longer obey the commands of their superiors. Gen. Polk and the officers generally had become unpopular, because, as the troops remarked, they had done nothing but fortify. The town had been fired several times, and was only saved by the untiring exertions and the constant vigilance of the officers, who feared that their demoralized condition would thus be made known to the Union troops.

Ex-Mayor Sharpe was suspected of treason to the so — called Southern confederacy, and was seized before they left and carried off a prisoner, without being allowed even to address a parting word to his wife. Yesterday morning a force of rebel cavalry returned and captured twenty Union men, who had come to town, knowing it to have been evacuated by the rebels, and expecting to find our troops in possession.

Strong guards have been detailed, and private property — under which head may be mentioned large quantities of sugar, molasses, flour, and grain, etc.--will be protected. It is suspected this property belongs to the rebel army, and if it proves true, will be seized by the Government.


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James K. Polk (2)
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P. G. T. Beauregard (1)
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