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[356] batteries, along the river bank, connected together by rifle-pits; and so accurate was the fire of the sharpshooters there stationed that the gunners on the Confederate gunboats could no longer keep their posts. This compelled the fleet to retire, and the transports to stop at Tiptonville, some eight miles farther down the river.

General McCown must have considered himself in a critical condition from the very outset, for on the 6th General Beauregard received from him the following telegram:

New Madrid, March 5th, 1862, Via Memphis, March 6th.
General Beauregard:
The force in my front is, say fifteen thousand; between here and Sykeston fifteen thousand, and large number of guns. Sigel is marching on Point Pleasant with ten thousand. My position is eminently dangerous.

J. P. Mccown, Comdg. New Madrid.

This somewhat alarmed General Beauregard, although he could not well believe that the forces under General Pope amounted to more than twenty or twenty-five thousand men; and he had good reason to know that General Sigel was then operating in southwestern Missouri, against Van Dorn's army. It was clear to him, however, that he could not place much reliance in a subordinate commander who was thus timorous under responsibility, and who apparently gave way to nervous apprehension as to the strength of his adversary. This was another and still stronger proof of the absolute need of trustworthy commanders in General Beauregard's military district. Acting under that impression, he, on the same day, telegraphed General Cooper as follows:

Jackson, Tenn., March 6th, 1862.
For the sake of our cause and country, send at once Mackall as Major-General, and three brigadier-generals recommended by me. Colonel Ransom to command cavalry. Organization here much needed.

On the 9th came another despatch from General McCown, dated the day previous. In it he said that he had not yet placed the salient ordered by General Beauregard, in advance of the works, as the position it was to occupy would be raked by our gunboats, and that he had no force to place there; that he would erect it as soon as possible. [This, however, he never did.] In the same telegram, which was a long one, he also said:

The least estimate of the force of the enemy on Madrid plain is thirty

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