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[361] western shore of Reelfoot Lake, until he reached a ferry landing, near Tiptonville, where General Beauregard had had collected, through the activity and energy of Colonel Pickett, commanding at Union City, quite a number of canoes, skiffs, and other small boats, for such an emergency. With these Colonel Cook succeeded in saving, not only his own command, but several hundred stragglers who had gathered there during the night. Meanwhile, towards midnight on the 7th, General Pope's entire army had crossed the river and was advancing on Tiptonville, General Paine's division leading the march. With such overwhelming odds against him, General Mackall was compelled to surrender with his small force, aggregating about three thousand men. It follows, as a matter of course, that General Pope's official report of the number of Confederate prisoners taken on that occasion, namely, ‘six thousand seven hundred,’ was a greatly exaggerated statement.

The enemy had now full control of the river as far down as Fort Pillow, one hundred and ten miles below Island No.10.

That fort, contrary to the general opinion about it, was not so strong as its natural position indicated, nor as it had been represented to be to General Beauregard. It was situated on the east bank of the river, near the mouth of Coal Creek, and some ten miles above the Hatchie River. A little over three miles east of it, the two streams just mentioned, with their banks partially overflowed and, therefore, almost impracticable, came within a mile and a half of each other. Yet the engineers who planned the works before General Beauregard's arrival in the West had not availed themselves of this natural advantage, and, strangely enough, instead of erecting the land defenses at the point mentioned, had placed them nearer the fort, thereby lengthening their lines more than three miles, and necessitating a garrison of nearly ten thousand men. A similar error, as we have already pointed out, had been committed at Columbus. General Beauregard, upon assuming command of his new military district, and, in fact, before he had done so, used every endeavor to introduce a new and entirely different system, in the defensive works of the Mississippi River. He caused them to be almost entirely reconstructed for minimum garrisons, which he knew would be amply adequate, under efficient commanders, to resist a siege of several weeks, or until assistance could be afforded them, thus increasing, to a maximum, the troops available for operations in the field.

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