five field and line-officers alone. The enemy retired at two o'clock and thirty minutes, simultaneously with the arrival of reenforcements, who doubtless were seen by them descending the river. General McNeil having determined to maintain the post to the last extremity, and fearing that the overwhelming force of the rebels might force him to his last resort, that is, retiring his whole force into Fort C, and battering the town down about their ears, the several steamboats arriving were seized and the large amount of public stores, teams, wagons, etc., were carried over to Illinois, so that if the town fell, its loss should be as harmless to the Government as possible. The women and children were also removed, and the little garrison then seemed as one man, resolved to do or die. All that caused any apprehension in the minds of the leading officers for the result, was the weakness of our left, and many a fervent prayer went up for the arrival of a gunboat to strengthen that point. At ten o'clock Saturday night, our pickets reported the arrival at their post of a flag of truce. General McNeil despatched Colonel William R. Strachan with instructions to act for him in the premises. Accompanying the flag of truce were Colonel Watson, three majors and two captains, with an escort. They were not allowed to come nearer town than three miles, and were the bearers of the following letter:
On reading this interesting demand, Colonel Strachan requested Watson to tell Carter he must credit General McNeil with twenty-nine minutes, as one was sufficient for reply, and at once wrote the following:headquarters Fourth division, near Cape Girardeau, April 25, 1863.Sir: By order Major-General Sterling Price, commanding, I formally demand of you the immediate surrender, unconditionally, of the troops in Cape Girardeau and the adjoining forts, together with all the ammunition, stores and other property, belonging to the United States, in the same. If the surrender is made, I pledge myself to treat the troops as prisoners of war, and to parole and exchange them as soon as practicable. I shall scrupulously protect private property; no difference will be made in this particular between parties, whether Union or Southern sentiment. One half-hour is allowed for your decision. Colonel Watson, commanding Second Texas cavalry brigade, who bears the flag of truce, will present this demand and wait for your reply. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
To the Officer Commanding U. S. Forces in and around Cape Girardeau:G. W. Carter, Colonel Commanding Fourth Division, First Army Corps, Trans-Mississippi Department.
That night the little garrison lay on their arms, and the next morning, Sunday, twenty-sixth April, the enemy opened fire from two batteries, one posted on the Jackson road, the other near the Bloomfield road, at ten o'clock and fifteen minutes. Shortly after the engagement had commenced, another flag of truce was announced, and the following was brought in:To G. W. Carter, Colonel Commanding, First Army Corps, Trans-Mississippi Department:Sir: I am instructed by General John McNeil to decline your demand for a surrender of the post of Cape Girardeau. He thinks himself able to maintain its possession. I have the honor to be, etc.,William R. Strachan, Colonel and Chief of Staff.
General McNeil, to this insulting demand after the first answer, simply informed the rebel General that he had taken the precaution to remove the women and children, and so far from surrendering the place, he should defend it to the last extremity. Pending this flag of truce the firing was not discontinued, the General being determined that the rebels should not, under the palpable hypocrisy of a flag of truce, steal a march on him. Major Henry Ewing appeared somewhat disconcerted at not being allowed to see the preparations for Sir Marmaduke's reception, and remonstrated against the non-cessation of hostilities, pending the reception of his contemptible mission. The General coolly told him he was not engaged just then in exchanging compliments or cultivating the amenities of war. The rebels had his answer last night, and further discussion was superfluous. So the rebel Major had perforce to retire to his command, amid the thunder of artillery and the sharp rattle of musketry. At two o'clock and thirty minutes, Marmaduke realized the empty arrogance of his boast of taking the town by storm, ceased firing and withdrew his troops with heavy loss. A proud day it was for the brave and determined McNeil. The gratitude of hundreds of citizens was freely poured out; they recognizedColonel Carter has demanded the surrender of the forces in Cape Girardeau — the fortifications and Government property, which demand you have declined. With my combined forces now surrounding Cape Girardeau, I deem it an easy task to storm and capture the town, and I therefore reiterate the demand, that you immediately surrender to me unconditionally your command. In case the demand is not immediately complied with, I request that you will inform all non-combatants in the town to provide for their safety, as I will immediately proceed to attack your position and storm the works. Major Henry Ewing, Adjutant-General, is intrusted as the bearer of this flag of truce. I am, General, very respectfully,