Doc. 75.-engagement near New-Madrid, Mo.
General Halleck's despatch.
St. Louis, March 3.it is officially reported that Jeff. Thompson, with a large force of cavalry and artillery, came North from New-Madrid. Our forces advanced from Bird's Point, and met his force at Sykestown. He was pursued into the swamps by the cavalry of Gen. Hamilton and Col. Morgan's brigade, and three pieces of artillery captured. Gen. Pope pursued another detachment south, capturing three more pieces of artillery, one captain, one lieutenant, and a number of privates.
H. W. Halleck, Major-General Commanding.
Cincinnati Commercial account.
army of the Mississippi in the field, near New-Madrid, Mo., Tuesday, March 4, 1862.Marching orders were issued on Thursday night, and on Friday morning, February twenty-eighth, the division was on its way for New-Madrid. The roads were in fine order for the infantry, and there was no great difficulty in moving the baggage-train. We encamped the first night some twelve miles from Commerce. The second, had the interesting feature of a skirmish of our cavalry and some rebel cavalry, near Sykestown, in which we took four prisoners and three small rifled cannon, one of our men being slightly wounded. We encamped at night at Sykestown, on the Bird's Point and Fulton (Ark.) Railroad. About two o'clock on Sunday morning we had a terrific storm of thunder, lightning, and rain, and gained a rough experience of camp-life. The camp was flooded, but the men continued in good spirits, especially as there was expectation of a fight before night. The roads were bad and the day cold, such weather as March usually brings to us in Ohio. At night we encamped in order of battle not more than nine miles from New-Madrid. The night was cold, ice forming near an inch thick. We were moving early in the morning, the men eager to see the enemy, and growing more impatient at every step. At one o'clock P. M. we had approached within about two and a half miles of the town, and the tops of the houses, and the smoke and steam from the steam and gunboats were plainly visible. At this point Sands' battery and the Twenty-seventh Ohio were sent forward, the infantry in and on either side of the road as skirmishers. Having advanced about one mile, the line of battle was formed, the Seventh Illinois cavalry, and some companies of the Second Michigan cavalry, on the right and left flanks. The Forty-third Ohio was on the left, west of the road, the Thirty-ninth Ohio on the right of the road, across a lane cut by the enemy to defend themselves in case of an attack on their fort. Immediately in the rear of the Thirty-ninth were the Sixty-third Ohio on the extreme right; the Twenty-sixth Illinois and the Eleventh Missouri was on the left, in the rear of the Forty-third Ohio. The report was that there were five gunboats  at the river-wharf, and about five thousand troops in and about the fort, just beyond the southern part of the town. There had been some earth-works thrown up on the road by which we approached the town, but they were not defended. We learned also that Columbus was evacuated and that the force had moved to an island about ten miles above the town, which was strongly fortified, and accounted for the presence of the gunboats at New-Madrid. As the line of battle was being formed, a gunboat from the upper part of the town threw a shell which burst at a short range in mid-air. They fired at intervals, but the range was short. Soon, however, they began to play more accurately on the right wing, and the cannonading was as brisk as we could desire. The shot and shell fell in and around the Thirty-ninth and Sixty-third in a style that few of us had ever seen before, and the courage of the men was fully tested. They stood firm, and gave indications of as much unconcern as if they were veterans. We occupied our position near two hours, during which the infantry and cavalry did not fire a shot, and only a few guns of our artillery were heard. It was reported that one of our artillery shots smashed the wheel-house of a gunboat. At about four o'clock, Gen. Pope gave orders for the force to fall back three quarters of a mile and prepare for the night. The order was obeyed without any confusion, and the men rested well in their tents, and talked over the wonders of the day. The casualties of the day were as follows: Killed--Louis Nine, company B, Thirty-ninth Ohio; a shell struck him in the lower part of the bowels, killing him instantly. Wounded--Wm. Van Horn, company G, Thirty-ninth Ohio; a piece of shell struck him on the shoulder; the wound is not serious. One of the Michigan cavalry, company I, whose name I have not heard, is reported to have his arm torn off. I hear, also, that an artillerist was wounded in the leg slightly. L. Besse, Seventh Illinois cavalry, company M, was shot in the foot by a comrade in dismounting. To-day we remained in position of last night till two o'clock P. M., when the whole force fell back in line of battle, and are now encamped principally in corn-fields north of the town.