Discussion of the Battle of New Madrid and Island No. 10

This discussion was held in WebAmerica's Civil War Chat Room on the evening of September 28, 1997. It was hosted by LB, a handle used by a historian who's specialty is the Western Theater of the American Civil war. LB is also the author of a book on the subject discussed. The amount of people actively involved in the discussion is not representative of all those present. As always, I received several Emails from those that were just observing. The following link was used by those of us not familiar with the subject to prepare for the discussion.


LB at [Sep 28 20:00:24]:

LB'S Opening Statement

On the same days that Generals Grant, Sheman and Buell were slugging it out with their counterparts in the west, Generals Johnston, Beauregard and Bragg, the Mississippi River Confederate stronghold of Island No. 10 surrendered to Union forces. The greatest American battle until that time in history was raging on the banks of the Tennessee River, and a rather bloodless affair on the Mississippi River came to a close-both were serious blows to the Confederacy's effort in the west.

The two are strangely interconnected. On the Confederate side they are both products of Gen. PG.T. Beauregard's strategy for holding the Mississippi River and stopping the push into the Confederate heartland. For the Union, General Henry Halleck devised the plan to push down the Mississippi and the Tennessee River simultaneously, this would decide the fate of the great artery joining and dividing the continent.

LB at [Sep 28 20:03:50]:

LB'S Opening Statement (Cont.)

Unlike the drive down the Tennessee, the Mississippi River Campaign was more methodical. There were fixed fortifications on the Mississippi: Columbus, Island No. 10, Fort Pillow, Fort Randolph and on south. Each had to be taken, or defended. Beauregard, who got a late start on the river defenses, adopted the strategy of small fixed fortifications that would be relieved when attacked. The fixed forts would stop the naval descent, and the infantry would come to the their aid when needed. This would give the Confederate Navy time to build itself to counter any threat offered by the North.

Xan at [Sep 28 20:05:22]: LB, I just noticed one thing you left out of the Opening Statement...the dates. Oops. I slap my editorial wrist here. ;)

Matt at [Sep 28 20:06:51]: Xan, SS Carondelet was named for Baron de Carondelet, the last Spanish governor of Louisiana.

fifer at [Sep 28 20:08:26]: Evening folks, fifer. I realize the CSA did not want to violate the neutrality of Ky. but it would have made better sense to build fortifications in Ky., especially at the strategic confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. By keeping their fortifications south of the Ky_Tenn line the put the CSA at a disadvantage.

Xan at [Sep 28 20:08:41]: Hi Matt, thanks, this would explain why the name came in both USS and CSS versions..;) *figured if I posted a silly guess the right answer would instantly materialize*

PHP at [Sep 28 20:10:44]: Evenin folks. Great opening LB. Greetings from a drying out SW Fla. island.

Xan at [Sep 28 20:12:54]: Heya PHP! Could you repost your story about the CSS Carondelet that you mentioned this afternoon? The story of the USS version will be forthcoming later in the discussion. Thanks

LB at [Sep 28 20:13:25]: Halleck's strategy was to use the Brown Water Fleet against the fixed Confederate positions in joint operations with the army on the Mississippi River. Fort Donelson had proven the effectiveness of the strategy. The second prong would be on the Tennessee River-flanking the Mississippi River defenses of the Confederacy and forcing their evacuation.

At the close of February of 1862 the conflicting strategies met at Island No. 10. Halleck had been successful in driving the Confederates from Southwest Missouri by beating back Van Dorn at Pea Ridge (Elk Horn Tavern) and pushing Johnston's army deep into Tennessee. At the top of the Confederate defensive line lay the lone outpost of Island No. 10.

LB at [Sep 28 20:14:50]: BTW--with all of this edit, copy, paste stuff, can't say too much right now--The Carondelet was named after the shipyard it was built at: Carondelet, Missouri.

Buford at [Sep 28 20:15:22]: The whole neutrality thing was something that was used by both sides to their advantage. In 1862, both sides entirely disregarded it, because it was to their advantage to do so.

LB at [Sep 28 20:15:52]: With the successful reduction of Fort Donelson by Union forces, General Leonidas Polk was forced to evacuate Columbus, Kentucky-the Gibralter of the West -because it had been flanked. One of Polk's Divisions was sent to occupy the works at Island No. 10 and New Madrid, Missouri, while the remainder went to join General Albert Sidney Johnston's concentration of forces near Corinth, Mississippi.

Almost simultaneous with the movement of Polk's army, the Union Commander in the West, General Henry Halleck, ordered General John Pope to Commerce, Missouri, forty miles north of New Madrid. Halleck began assembling an army for Pope in order to move on New Madrid, which was viewed as the weak link in the Confederate defenses at Island No. 10.

PHP at [Sep 28 20:16:49]: CSS Carondelet was a side-wheeler, with 5 42pdrs and 1 32pdr, constructed in Bayou St. John, La, in 1861-62. Commissioned in Mar 62, cmd'd by Lt. Gwathney. Fought on 4 Apr 62 at Pass Christian against USN gunboats. Just before N.Orleans fell, she was destroyed by her own crew to escape capture by the USN....Thanks for the info Matt. We were wondering this afternoon.

LB at [Sep 28 20:18:23]: Not any good posts at the confluence fifer--which is why they chose Columbus--high banks offered plunging fire option--the best for knocking out boats, but the hardest to master for the gunners.

LB at [Sep 28 20:20:12]: General John P. McCown was placed in charge of the defenses at Island No. 10. He was, and still is, a relatively unknown quantity. His role during the Battle of Belmont (the previous November) had been passive, but he was a former Capt. in the U.S. Artillery and No. 10 was loaded with artillery. The big seacoast artillery was shipped down from Columbus and by mid-March 52 guns had been mounted on and around the Island. There were three batteries on the Island itself, and five more on the Tennessee shore. The land batteries were augmented by the floating battery New Orleans which mounted one rifled 32-pounder and eight 8-inch Columbiads. The two most important land batteries were the Redan Battery, the northernmost land battery, which was to be the first contact battery; and Island Battery No 1, which contained the massive Lady Polk, Jr.-a 128 pounder rifled gun.

Matt at [Sep 28 20:20:44]: Found the info on Carondelet in Clive Cussler's book about finding wrecks, he's a bit of a jerk but has a good nose for wrecks. (Carondete, MO was named after the afore mentioned LA Gov.)

JEB at [Sep 28 20:21:47]: Also, even if there was a good spot at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi, the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson would have made the position untenable, just like Columbus.

LB at [Sep 28 20:21:56]: Correcto! Matt. :-)

Xan at [Sep 28 20:23:12]: And the neutrality of Kentucky had been a moot point since Sept. 3 1861 when Polk ordered Pillow across the Tennessee border to take Hickman and then Columbus. (The reasoning for this was to "protect" Kentucky from Union invasion.)

LB at [Sep 28 20:24:38]: Then Sherman went ahead an occupied Paducah.

LB at [Sep 28 20:25:30]: General Pope left Commerce on February 28, 1862 with his army of 12,000. The Mississippi river was above flood stage and much of the surrounding country side was flooded, and the roads mired. By March 2 the advance of the column reached Sikeston, Missouri. As the head of the column broke into a field just south of town they encountered what appeared to be a company of Confederate artillery which had unlimbered across the road in their front.

In reality it was General M. Jeff Thompson of the Missouri State Guard and about 100 of his militia force. The "battery" was really four breech loading one-pounder cannon. Thomson thought he had just come up on a Federal patrol, but when the 7th Illinois Cavalry Regiment broke from the head of the column and formed in his front, he discovered he had "awoke the wrong party." The race was on to New Madrid! Thompson "escaped again."

Xan at [Sep 28 20:26:04]: Everybody scroll back to the red parts and you can catch up quickly. Those who had the foresight to read the background on Shotgun's site earlier can skip this part. ;) *hi ks, 106, cob2mo, fifer and tiger

cob2mo at [Sep 28 20:28:05]: Ft Defiance was at Cairo which would have made any attempt by southern forces in Ky. or Mo. for that matter to occupy simply worthless at the confluence.

LB at [Sep 28 20:29:20]: The nucleus of Pope's army arrived in front of New Madrid on March 3. He probed the defenses and found more than he expected. The Confederates had constructed two forts on the riverbank on opposite ends of town. Both were well fortified positions with heavy gun emplacements. The positions were reinforced by the Confederate River Fleet-a rag tag operation under the command of Commodore George N. Hollins that did have some serious armament. The Mississippi River, still nearly out of its banks, elevated the boats enough to allow the guns on board to sweep the countryside in Pope's front.

cob2mo at [Sep 28 20:30:10]: When they chased Thompson (the swamp rat) to New Madrid it was a 40 miles running battle.

cob2mo at [Sep 28 20:32:25]: When you talk about Thompson you;re talking about our beloved leader.

LB at [Sep 28 20:33:20]: General A. P. Stewart commanded the New Madrid defenses. He and Pope had been roommates at West Point. Although he did have plenty of artillery at his disposal the infantry in the forts was barely armed. Most carried the re-bored "Memphis rifle" which usually burst upon discharge. Others had no arms at all. It was generally agreed on both sides that the only thing keeping Pope's army at bay was the Confederate gunboats.

LB at [Sep 28 20:35:16]: Pope probed the defenses for the next two days, and by the 7th thought he had found a weakness, or at least had come up with a plan. A force would move on Fort Thompson, the lower fort, to draw the fire of the gunboats, while a second force would move on the upper fort and occupy the trenches in its front. Stewart quickly discovered the feint and the force moving on Fort Bankhead was quickly caught in a cross fire. The 7,000 Federals, mostly green recruits, beat a hasty retreat back to camp-12 killed and wounded. Pope then telegraphed Halleck for siege artillery.

cob2mo at [Sep 28 20:36:29]: To my knowledge Thompson had under his command at that time were the 2nd 7th and 8th Cav.

LB at [Sep 28 20:38:41]: At the time of the Sikeston races, as they are known, most of the 1st Division of the Missouri State Guard, Thompson;s command had gone home, their 6 months up--thompson only had a remnant of his earlier command with him when he met up with the 7th Ill. Cav.

cob2mo at [Sep 28 20:39:02]: For you folks that's pronounced New Mad--Drid.

LB at [Sep 28 20:39:18]: The previous day Pope had sent Col. J.B. Plummer with four regiments to establish field battery positions at Point Pleasant, Missouri, about 5 miles south of New Madrid on the River. This would effectively cut off the river supply routes to New Madrid and the Island. The following three days Hollin's fleet attempted to dislodge the Federals, to no avail. The fleet was riddled with small arms fire-proving its inability to fight offensively.

cob2mo at [Sep 28 20:41:13]: Yes the enlistment's had expired however some units such as the 2nd were partisans which continued to serve.

LB at [Sep 28 20:41:17]: Pope's siege guns arrived on March 12. That night the Federals threw up an earthwork in front of the lower fort and on the morning of the 13th the ball opened. The confederate fleet was caught napping without any steam up. The Yanks immediately scored several hits to the boats. Pope, seeing an opportunity again tried the feint maneuver on the upper fort. General John Palmer's and General Eleazor Paine's Divisions were given the order to attack. Palmer refused after the Confederates again discovered the force in front of the upper fort. Pope did not press the issue since Palmer was well connected with Lincoln. The day ended with about 100 killed or wounded-primarily from artillery fire.

LB at [Sep 28 20:43:04]: That night Stewart, McCown and Hollins met on board the flagship McRae. A fragment from Pope's 8-inch siege howitzer had been recovered, which had an unnerving effect. It could also be seen that Pope was constructing regular approaches on the lower fort. An evacuation was agreed on and ordered. In the midst of a severe thunderstorm the Rebels evacuated, without their cannon, arms, blankets! It looked like a route, the pickets from the lower fort were left behind in the trenches. Pope's army formed up again in the morning to resume the battle-an assault was imminent-and lo, a flag of truce appeared and it was discovered that the Rebs had moved across the river to Madrid Bend.

Matt at [Sep 28 20:43:23]: Shucks, cob2mo, any geology student who could pronounce, correctly, the fault line near there, could surely pronounce the name of the town :>)

Xan at [Sep 28 20:44:44]: Pope's level of alertness can be estimated by a note he sent at about this time to Col. Bissell, suggesting that he dig a little ditch in the riverbank, about a foot deep, which the river would then "wash out" and do all the work of creating a canal through to Wilson's Bayou. Bissell never got the letter which is just as well, because the point where Pope wanted this "trench" dug was under 10 feet of water...;)

cob2mo at [Sep 28 20:45:32]: You're probably right Matt I guess I'm so used to hearing it that I presume if you're not from here you don't know --Sorry.

LB at [Sep 28 20:45:52]: Have to pause here and tell a story--two of the Confederate transports who were to haul them across the River were from Memphis and privately owned--The Ohio Bell and the Winchester. the Capt. of the Winchester took off before the troops could get on--his boat was later seized and scuttled up at No. 10 to block a wash channel.

LB at [Sep 28 20:47:48]: That same day Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote left Cairo with the Federal Gunboat fleet bound for No. 10. The seven ironclad gunboats arrived before the Island on the morning of the 15th and probed the defenses. Foote was hesitant about the operation. Unlike Fort Donelson, where he was fighting upstream, at No. 10 his boats were fighting downstream, and if one became disabled it would float down into Confederate hands. On the 17th he attempted an attack on the Redan Fort on the Tennessee mainland by lashing three of the ironclads together and attacking bows on; however, the Redan defenders put up a stubborn resistance and Foote retired at the end of the day. For the next two weeks the Federals shelled the Island with the 13-inch mortars that accompanied the fleet-lots of powder and iron was thrown at the Confederates, but with little effect.

Matt at [Sep 28 20:48:07]: Xan, I thought they did dig a canal, but as they got through digging, the river fell and only skiffs could use it. Or am I thinking of another part of the battle?

LB at [Sep 28 20:48:54]: During the protracted siege at the Island Pope wanted Foote to join him at New Madrid so he could get his army across the river. Foote continually refused. Someone said something about a canal to Pope. Take it away Xan.

Matt at [Sep 28 20:50:31]: Cob2mo, not to worry, I used to live not real far from one end of the fault, got a shakin' in 82-83..did some serious research on that fault line and planned several ways out.

PHP at [Sep 28 20:51:34]: LB, I have discovered some info on Foote that may shed some light. May I share it? I promise to be brief.

LB at [Sep 28 20:52:16]: Absolutely PHP. Please do.

Xan at [Sep 28 20:54:09]: We will hereby pretend that the Missouri shore here is a scale model of the coast of Florida, since the river makes a big loop there in that shape. Island No. 10 is right off the southern tip of our Florida, and New Madrid would be about the position of Tallahassee.The project was to dig a canal starting around Jacksonville and heading towards Valdosta, Ga.where it would connect with a bayou looping around behind Tallahassee. Does this make sense to everybody?

LBt at [Sep 28 20:55:09]: Hmm, good help is hard to find! Xan, that was your cue for the canal stuff.

LB at [Sep 28 20:56:27]: Good analogy *assistant forgiven*

Xan at [Sep 28 20:56:53]: Keep yer shirt on, LB, I did not have the foresight to type this up ahead of time and am winging it. Take this as an opportunity to get a fresh drink, or Prozac, or whatever. ;) *next installment momentarily*

PHP at [Sep 28 20:58:26]: In outline form: 1)Foote had experience in attacking forts in rivers. He fought in China on the Pearl River on 16Nov56. Fought against two forts on the banks and one fort on an island. Fought his way through and won the battle. Was commended. 2) His ships were badly damaged in the Ft Donelson fight 3 wks earlier. St. Louis(flagship)had 59 hits. Louisville and St. Louis had drifted down stream during that battle due to Damage. 3)The river pilots refused to go further until the damage was fixed. 4)Foote explained to Halleck the difficulties of anchoring by the stern. Wouldn't work due to the faulty design of the gunboats. I have the supporting dates and sources for this info. Thought it would help to know where he was coming from in his situation and experience.

Xan at [Sep 28 20:59:32]: From the river to the bayou (Wilson's) was about 2 miles and the problem was the trees. Couldn't just hop out and cut them down as they were under 10 feet of water due to the river flooding. What was needed was a device that could cut the trees off 8 feet under water, that being the depth the boats required.

LB at [Sep 28 21:00:25]: Also PHP he had been wounded in the foot at Donelson and the telegram of his son's death reached him during the attack of March 17--he went into deep depression afterwards.

PHP at [Sep 28 21:01:29]: You're right LB...Foote was a good sailor and commander. Sorry for the typos---drinking Mint Julips my wife just made.

Xan at [Sep 28 21:02:58]: And by da*m if they didn't come up with just such a device. It was essentially a bow saw which attached to arms about 10 ft. long. The arms were attached to each other with two bars in the shape of an X. Where the bars crossed was attached to a bar mounted on a 40-ft long raft. Each end of the saw had a rope attached which led to a group of men on each end. They anchored by each tree, snuggled the saw up to the tree 8 ft down, and commenced taking turns pulling. Amazing end of story in a moment..;)

JEB at [Sep 28 21:03:39]: Nice addition, PHP. (Your buddy, Clive Cussler is on the Discovery Channel going after a Confederate submarine wreck). Good stuff, LB. Go, Xan!

PHP at [Sep 28 21:05:47]: Thank you JEB. It is an honor hearing that from you. Good story Xan.

Xan at [Sep 28 21:06:55]: *Aforementioned amazing end of story* They actually, with this bizzaro device, cut the required canal, of 2 miles, in eight days. Tree cutting was not the only work required as snags also had to be pulled clear, but this was done with winches from the gunboats. And this is not the end of the entire project, as they also had to make the bayou navigable. One more amazing fact I forgot.

LB at [Sep 28 21:08:01]: whole thing was about nine miles long--hellava project.

PHP at [Sep 28 21:08:26]: Huzzah for the USN!...and the Army Engineers!

Xan at [Sep 28 21:10:43]: *Amazing fact #2*--during the entire project, including the efforts down the bayou which was probably more like 5 miles judging from the scale in B&L, not one man was killed, injured or taken sick. Bissell required them to wear safety lines while doing all this sawing, chopping, snag-pulling, etc. This is all from the account of Col. Bissell, BTW, in aforementioned B&L, Vol. 1 p. 460-462 for those who would like to dig up more details.

Xan at [Sep 28 21:12:32]: *Unamazing final fact: The canal project worked so well that after the war Pope tried to take credit for it and there was various undignified wrangling. ;)

Xan at [Sep 28 21:12:32]: *Unamazing final fact: The canal project worked so well that after the war Pope tried to take credit for it and there was various undignified wrangling. ;)

LB at [Sep 28 21:14:48]: Not just Pope, either; Maj. Gen. Schuyler Hamilton tried to horn in on credit for the canal. This is particularly remarkable because the whole thing turned out to be pointless...but that's later in the story. ;) Xan Back over to you!

Coy at [Sep 28 21:14:51]: Didn't Grant try some canals during the Vicksburg siege? Was this because the Island 10 canal was a success?

Xan at [Sep 28 21:20:08]: Coy, the history of canals in the CW is long and remarkable..Grant tried one to bypass Vicksburg, Butler tried one to bypass a loop of the James to get to Richmond...all miserable failures which cost much life and money. This is one of the very few which worked at all. And Matt, I asked the same question so don't feel too bad. Evidence is lacking..but the guy was a heck of an engineer. ;)

LB at [Sep 28 21:20:09]: Halleck finally intervened and Foote agreed to ask for a volunteer to gun the gauntlet. Capt. Henry Walke of the city-class gunboat Carondelet was chosen, and on the night of the 4th of April, in the middle of another storm, attempted to sneak past the island. The ship was discovered when its flue caught fire(the second time!). The Confederate cannoneers, caught off guard, had depressed the muzzles of their guns to keep the rain from the powder. By the time the guns could be elevated the boat had passed. It reached New Madrid the following morning and was put to work dislodging the Rebel batteries opposite New Madrid and Point Pleasant.

LB at [Sep 28 21:22:16]: Due primarily to the botched evacuation of New Madrid McCown had been relieved of command and replaced by Gen. William w. MacKall, a member of Beauregard's anti-Davis clique. MacKall at first did not believe the ironclad had run past the island-however the news of the quick work it had made of this counter batteries convinced him otherwise. MacKall prepared for the crossing of Pope's army. He had a force of about 3500 effectives to defend the entire Madrid Bend, and he did not know where the landing would take place. He put most of his infantry in the center of the bend, hoping to march it to the landing that Pope chooses. The strategy failed.

Coy at [Sep 28 21:22:22]: Xan, thank you.

LB at [Sep 28 21:23:50]: Pope effected his landing and MacKall took off for the only means of escape through Tiptonville, Tennessee. Pope's force enveloped MacKall and he surrendered at 2 AM the morning of April 8th. The island itself surrendered later in the morning after the troops there attempted to block the channel by sinking most of the transport fleet in the river. Pope reported to Halleck he had captured over 7,000 men, etc. Inflated figures at best. But the news of the relatively bloodless capture of No. 10, on the heels of the staggering losses at Shiloh, thrust Pope into the national limelight-and ultimately his encounter with Lee at Second Bull Run (Manassas).

Xan at [Sep 28 21:25:14]: *Meanwhile, back in the canal*..The ships had gone through the canal, through the excavated bayou, and were sitting back in behind New Madrid for two days, waiting for orders to charge out and land the troops. After Carondelet ran past the island, to be followed with equal success by the USS Pittsburg, the whole plan was changed and only the troop transports were ever used in the battle. ;)

Matt at [Sep 28 21:25:25]: Walke was no slouch himself, he had camels lashed to his boat with cotton bales and hay, the Reb Arty beat the hay and cotton to death and Walke scooted by virtually unscathed. (Xan, Bissell was a good engineer and to have had no casualties during the work is hard to believe, even by today's standards).

LB at [Sep 28 21:26:06]: *feels like I ran a marathon* I will field questions, as if anyone in here doesn't know now more that they ever wanted to know about Island No. 10.

LB at [Sep 28 21:28:13]: Matt--Walke says only one 12 pound ball found in hay bales, no cotton in this part of the country in 1860's--REbs shot a bunch of iron at the ship, but no hits.

PHP at [Sep 28 21:28:58]: LB,...Where and exactly how did Pope cross his troops? Matt...are you a naval enthusiast? Very few folks know about "camels".

Coy at [Sep 28 21:29:24]: LB..good job.

Xan at [Sep 28 21:29:54]: Bissell again: "Several of the captured officers told me that after the gun-boats had run their batteries, nearly their whole force was withdrawn from Island No. 10 and kept concealed in the woods back of the practicable landing-places...but when they saw the four transports loaded with troops steam out from the bayou, the word was given for each man to take care of himself."

cob2mo at [Sep 28 21:30:22]: LB concerning M Jeff Thompson, Do you know what happened to him after the war I am a student of his and am trying to find out about his career ;later in life thanx.

Matt at [Sep 28 21:30:45]: On the surface, the battle sounded minor, but it did give the Union control of a large part of the river. One wonders had the CSS Arkansas been ready earlier, with better engines, would the battles gone differently?...(the saga of the Arkansas in of itself is a tale).

JEB at [Sep 28 21:30:57]: BRAVO! BRAVO! Good job, LB and Xan.

LB at [Sep 28 21:31:19]: The troops crossed the river on the four transports that passed through the canal, together with the ones they loaded onto the ironclads themselves. They crossed from Point Pleasant over to Watson's Landing, which is technically in Kentucky--but that is another story all together.

Xan at [Sep 28 21:32:07]: Thanks, PHP, I saw that about "camels" and blinked several times and decided I was hallucinating, or Matt was..;)

PHP at [Sep 28 21:33:11]: LB...Xan...as the Navy says, "BRAVO ZULU!"

JEB at [Sep 28 21:33:13]: LB - What, in your opinion, could the South have done differently to have held New Madrid and Island #10 longer?

Coy at [Sep 28 21:33:24]: Xan, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to slight you. Good Job. ***feeling like a jerk***

LB at [Sep 28 21:33:41]: M Jeff Thompson died in New Orleans about 20 years after the war, family problems pretty much broke him in spirit--which he had a lot of in the 60's.

Matt at [Sep 28 21:34:33]: PHP, I've read some naval history and a lot of naval fiction where various practices were discussed. LB, might very well be my source(s)on Walke's trip are bad, I'm working from memory and I've learned when the hair goes, so does the memory.

cob2mo at [Sep 28 21:35:56]: LB do you know what the letter M stood for in his name???

Coy at [Sep 28 21:36:40]: LB.. to go along with JEB's question, After Donelson why didn't CSA (Beauregard) take the threat of the Mississippi River serious?

PHP at [Sep 28 21:38:07]: *whispering to Xan so he won't interrupt the main discussion* "camels" are vessels lashed alongside a vessel in the middle to keep it afloat , or raise it up a bit to go over a shoal (they take in the lines which lower the camels but raise the middle vessel)...Also acts as protection.Term comes from the camels needing very little water to accomplish their task.

Xan at [Sep 28 21:38:21]: Oh bosh, folks, LB did all the work here. I just threw in a couple of side stories at his suggestion. Thank you on his behalf. ;)

LB at [Sep 28 21:38:24]: Several things. First McCown should have made an attempt to attack Plummer at Point Pleasant--he had the troops, transports and all to effect it, and a means of escape if it failed. Second, there should have been earthworks placed at Tiptonville, it was the only way out--everyone knew it, and a successful rear guard action at such a point would have been a possibility. Given Beauregard's abandonment of the position the only other thing would have been a Port Hudson type of defense, which they didn't have the arms to pull off. Surprising it lasted as long as it did.

Matt at [Sep 28 21:38:41]: Did a quick look up, one source says cotton and coal another says cotton and hay, I don't know, any way he had a thick shield around the port side of the Carondelet and it worked.

shotgun at [Sep 28 21:38:55]: LB, excellent job. After the last few weeks I am just eat up with knowledge about the Western theater! Heck of a bunch of guys out there. Xan, you make an excellent "vice." Congrats to both of you.

ks at [Sep 28 21:39:39]: Thanks PHP...I didn't have a clue on the camels.

LB at [Sep 28 21:39:57]: Meriweather (sp?) the Jeff came from a slave that he hung out with as a boy.

Xan at [Sep 28 21:43:35]: *Thanks PHP!* JEB, if I may be so bold as to take a crack at your question as to what the CSA could have done to hold New Madrid and the river at that point...not a durn thing. Only way to have done it would have been to take firm hold of southern Missouri and even such parts of S. Illinois, and western KY as were loaded with secessionist feelings anyway. Not politically possible for a Confederacy devoted to states rights to go around chopping up parts of states. IMHO of course.

PHP at [Sep 28 21:43:39]: Official Navy version: cord wood around the boilers, extra deck planking, and anchor chain wrapped around.

LB at [Sep 28 21:46:21]: Matt--I'd have to go back and check--but think my source on the hay and coal, rather that cotton , was from several newspaper accounts.

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