for the efficiency of his command; carefully explaining that no suitable subdivision of the troops had yet been made, or could be practicable, without their assistance.
His request, however, remained unheeded, or, rather, after much controversy, was only partly complied with at the last hour, and not according to his desires, nor in the manner promised.
We shall again refer to this subject as we proceed with the present chapter.
Meanwhile, General Polk
was making preparations for the evacuation of Columbus
, which began on the 25th of February.
The next day he requested General Beauregard
to join him there, but this the latter was unable to do, being yet too unwell to undertake the journey.
He continued, however, to send directions to General Polk
, as the necessity arose respecting certain main points of the evacuation, and particularly as to the occupation of New Madrid.
So imminent was the danger of an attack upon that place, that he had telegraphed General Johnston
for a brigade to be sent there, as soon as possible, by railroad; a request which, it seems, could not be complied with.
On the 28th, his Adjutant-General
was sent to Columbus
, to suggest the establishment of a telegraphic line between Humboldt
or Union City
and Island No.10
, by means of which that now important position—the left of his new defensive line—should be brought into immediate communication with his headquarters.
was also commissioned to advise General Polk
in person as to the evacuation then in process of execution, which he did. He then returned without delay to Jackson
The evacuation of Columbus
was completed on the 2d of March, owing, in no small degree, to a lack of watchfulness and daring on the part of the enemy.
So cautious in their reconnoitring had the Federal
gunboats been, that the fact that Columbus
was unoccupied was only discovered by them on the 4th, and then by mere accident.
While slowly advancing down the river, they were much surprised at the sight of a United States
' flag flying over the place.
It had been hoisted there on the afternoon of the 3d, by a troop of Federal cavalry, who, attracted by a cloud of smoke rising from the quarters and storehouses, and prudently creeping up to the works, had thus discovered the real state of the case.
These buildings had been set on fire by injudicious orders, the day before the appearance of the reconnoitring party.
In the hurry of final departure, some ordnance and a quantity of ordnance