Rebel accounts of the battle.
Memphis appeal narrative.
Memphis avalanche account.
We have received from our highly intelligent military friend, Major Bledsoe Harmon
, who has just returned from a visit to Columbus
, the following particulars of the late engagement:
From ten to twelve regiments of the enemy effected a landing on the Missouri
side, about five miles above Columbus
Information of it was immediately brought in by the pickets of Tappan
's regiment, encamped opposite Columbus
, and communicated to General Polk
, who immediately began preparations to send reinforcements to Tappan
, steam having to be raised for the transportation of the troops across the river.
In the mean time the enemy came down at double-quick, and attacked Tappan
's regiment, which had to fall back; when Pillow
arrived with Pickett
's, and Freeman
's regiments, and gave the enemy battle in an open square of about 700 acres, on which the trees had been felled, the Federals
being concealed in the surrounding woods and brushes.
Our troops fought here at a great disadvantage, being exposed to the fire of the skulking Federals without having a fair chance at them, but yet they made a gallant struggle, until, their ammunition running out, they were compelled to return to the river.
The Federals then fell upon Tappan
's camp, plundering and burning, and turned Watson
's battery, which they had taken from us and posted below them, on the steamers which were transporting our troops across.
But a battery on the Kentucky
side silenced its fire while the one hundred and twenty-eight-pounder on the hill above Columbus
, sending a few shots among the main body of the Federals
, sent them howling back to the woods.
These shots, it is said, were found several miles distant.
In the meanwhile, General Cheatham
brought over Marks', Russell
's, and Carroll
's regiments, and, with Pillow
, renewed the fight.
A flank movement was executed by Cheatham
, in which Marks
' Louisiana regiment did good service, which threw the enemy into disorder, and a disorderly rout ensued, the Federals
flying to their boats, four or five miles distant.
's regiment, with Col. Blythe
's, having also gotten over, the former was despatched in pursuit of the enemy, while Blythe
's was afterward to follow to support it. Captains Taylor
's and White
's companies of cavalry, of Logwood
's battalion, also joined in the pursuit, which was led by Generals Polk
, and Cheatham
, the slaughter of the flying Federals being great.
But it was when they reached their boats and embarked on the L. M. Kennett
, supported by their gunboats, that the butchery was most terrific.
Packed together on the boat, lying at
the shore, in dense masses, Smith
's regiment poured on them for half an hour, from a distance of only eighty yards, an incessant fire.
An immense number were killed and wounded, the gutters around the boat filled with torrents of blood, which crimsoned the river around for a considerable distance, and the decks so slippery that the men could scarcely stand.
Those who approached the wheel were shot down as fast as they appeared, so that they were compelled to move the boat into the stream without guidance.
The guns of the gunboats, lying close to the shore, shooting too high, were inefficient, until they got into the river, when Col. Smith
withdrew his men. So hasty was the retreat of the boats that all the cables were cut, leaving us a full supply of them.
The battle throughout was exceedingly fierce.
The fire on Pillow
's force in the first instance was tremendous.
The Federals fought with unusual bravery.
They were picked men — the very flower of the forces on the Mississippi
— their best marksmen.
Only our superior generalship and the desperate courage of our men gave us the victory.
Captain John Morgan
estimates the loss of our entire army at about one hundred killed and less than two hundred wounded. The enemy lost about four hundred killed and seven hundred wounded. We have ninety-one prisoners and over one hundred of their wounded in our hands.
He says that McClernand
's haversack was found upon the battle-field, and his nice snack eaten by our men. It was well understood that the plan of the enemy was to take the Missouri
side and erect fortifications, while seventeen
regiments were to move upon Columbus
from the other side, and, making a simultaneous attack, take the place and capture the Confederate army.
From some cause the enemy did not approach from the Kentucky
side, and to this fact the enemy attribute their discomfiture.