This island lies in a sharp bend of the Mississippi River
, about 40 miles below Columbus
, and within the limits of Kentucky
At the beginning of the Civil War
it was considered the key to the navigation of the lower Mississippi
To this island some of the troops and munitions of war were transferred when General Polk
, and all the troops there were in charge of Beauregard
On March 8, 1862, he sent forth a proclamation in which he called for bells with which to
make cannon, and there was a liberal response.
“In some cities,” wrote a Confederate soldier, “every church gave up its bells.
Court-houses, public institutions, and plantations sent them.
And the people furnished large quantities of old brass—andirons, candlesticks, gasfixtures, and even door-knobs.”
These were all sent to New Orleans to be used in cannon foundries.
There they were found by General Butler
, sent to Boston
, and sold at auction.
had thoroughly fortified the island, and, after the capture of New Madrid, it became an object of great interest to both parties, for it was besieged by the Nationals.
For this purpose Commodore Foote
, March 14, 1862, with a powerful fleet of gun and mortar-boats.
There were seven of the former iron-clad and one not armored, and ten of the latter.
On the night of the 15th Foote
was at Island Number10
, and the next morning (Sunday) he began the siege with a bombardment by the rifled cannon of his flag-ship, the Boston
This was followed by the mortar-boats, moored at proper points along the river shore, from which tons of iron were hurled upon the island and the batteries on the Kentucky
All day long the artillery duel was kept up without much injury to either party.
Meanwhile a battery of Illlinois artillery had been landed on the Missouri
shore, in a position to assail the Confederate
flotilla near the island.
The next day a tremendous attack on the Confederate
works was made by a floating battery of ten guns, formed of three gunboats lashed together, side by side, followed by three others separately.
The day's work was barren of any decisive result.
The island shores were lined with
So the siege went on, with varying fortunes, until the first week in April, when Beauregard
telegraphed to Richmond
that the “Federal guns” had “thrown 3,000 shells and burned 50 tons of gunpowder” without damaging his batteries or killing one of his men.
The public began to be impatient; but victory was near.
was chafing with impatience at New Madrid.
He wished to cross the river to the peninsula and attack the island in the rear, a movement that would insure its capture.
The opposite shore was lined with Confederate batteries, and it would be madness to attempt a crossing until these were silenced.
Gen. Schuyler Ham
ilton proposed the construction of a canal across the neck of a swampy peninsula of sufficient capacity to allow the passage of gunboats and transports, so as to effectually flank Island Number10
and insure its capture.
It was undertaken under the supervision of Colonel Bissell
, and was successfully performed.
In the mean time daring feats against the shore batteries had been performed; and during a terrible thunder-storm on the night of April 3, Captain Walke
ran by the Confederate batteries with the gunboat Carondelet
, assailed by all of them, her position being revealed by the flashes of lightning.
It was the first vessel that ran by Confederate batteries on the Mississippi River
She had not fired a gun during her passage, but the discharge of three assured anxious Commodore Foote
of the safety of the Carondelet
after the dangerous voyage.
Perceiving the perilous fate that awaited them after the completion of the canal, the Confederates
sank steamboats in the channel of the river to prevent the gunboats descending it, and they unsuccessfully attempted to escape from the island.
After the Carondelet
had passed the batteries, Beauregard was satisfied that the siege must speedily end in disaster to his command; so, after turning over the command on the island to General McCall
, and leaving the troops on the Kentucky
shores in charge of General McCown
, he, with a considerable number of his best soldiers, departed for Corinth
to check a formidable movement of National troops through middle Tennessee
towards Northern Alabama
The vigorous operations of Pope
after he passed through the wonderful canal
hastened the crisis.
and his troops, in their efforts to escape from the island, were intercepted by Pope
's forces under Generals Stanley
, and Paine
; and on April 8, 1862, Island
Number Ten, with the troops, batteries, and supports on the main, was surrendered.
Over 7,000 men became prisoners of war; and the spoils of victory were 123 cannon and mortars, 7,000 small-arms, many hundred horses and mules, four steamboats afloat, and a very large amount of ammunition.
The fall of Island Number10
was a calamity to the Confederates which they never retrieved.
It caused widespread alarm in the Mississippi Valley
, for it appeared probable that Memphis
, one of the strongholds of the Confederates
, where they had immense work-shops and armories, would soon share the fate of Columbus
, and that National gunboats would speedily patrol the great river from Cairo
to New Orleans.
Martial law was proclaimed at Memphis
, and only by the wisdom and firmness of the mayor were the troops and panicstricken citizens prevented from laying the town in ashes.
Preparations for flight were made at Vicksburg
, and intense alarm prevailed at New Orleans among the disloyal population.
It seemed as if the plan devised by Fremont
, and now partially executed, was about to be successfully carried out. Curtis
had already broken the military power of the Confederates
west of the Mississippi
, and a heavy National force, pressing on towards Alabama
, had just achieved a triumph on the banks of the
, a score of miles from Corinth
See Fremont, John Charles