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[241] other. With the enemy in command of the Tennessee River, the position at Columbus is so endangered from a land approach from that river by a greatly superior force, that its fall must be regarded as certain, unless some extraordinary efforts are made to reinforce its present small army of occupation. I need not dwell upon the consequences of such a disaster. Suffice it to say, it would involve the immediate loss to the Confederate States of the Mississippi River and Valley.

In view of the palpable situation, I am instructed to evacuate Columbus and take up less vulnerable positions on and in the vicinity of Island No.10, and at New Madrid. In the execution of this measure, however, much will depend on the energy with which our enemy may follow up his late successes, and whether he will give us time to withdraw and receive his onset elsewhere.

Coming to the command at such a crisis, I have been filled with profound anxiety and sense of the necessity for a prompt, resolute encounter with the exigency, in time to prevent an irrevocable defeat. Columbus is now occupied by but about twelve thousand men of all arms. At Island No.10 and New Madrid are some four thousand men, to which add Ruggles's brigade and one under General Chalmers at Iuka, say five thousand more; thus you will perceive I have a force at my disposition of but twenty-one thousand. If we remain supine and unaroused to the dangers accumulating day by day, awaiting the advance of the enemy, he will assemble such a force as to insure his success and a repetition of the late disasters, only with more desolating consequences.

Hence, I have thought I would submit, for the consideration of the governors of the Mississippi Valley States,1 a plan which I deem most practicable for the recovery of our losses and the defence of this river, and call upon them for the means of execution.

I propose that the governors of the States of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, and your Excellency, shall each furnish me with from five thousand to ten thousand men, armed and equipped, with the utmost possible celerity; for time is precious, and despatch essential to success. I shall call on General Van Dorn to unite his forces with mine, and, leaving a suitable garrison at Columbus, with troops to guard and hold my rear at Island No.10, I would then take the field with at least forty thousand men, march on Paducah, seize and close the mouths of the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers; aided by gun-boats, I would also successfully assail Cairo, and threaten, if not, indeed, take, St. Louis itself.

In this way, be assured, we may most certainly and speedily recover our losses and insure the defence of the Valley of the Mississippi, and every man


1 This confidential circular was sent by special messengers to the governors of Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana—the rendezvous of the troops furnished to be as follows: those from Tennessee, at Jackson, Tenn.; from Alabama, at Corinth; from Mississippi, at Grand Junction; from Louisiana, at Jackson, Tenn., if by railroad, and at Columbus, Ky., if by water.

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Daniel Ruggles (1)
E. Dorn (1)
James R. Chalmers (1)
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