|Date(s):||February 28, 1862 to March 14, 1862|
|Location(s):||Lake County, Tennessee | NEW MADRID, Missouri|
|Tag(s):||War, Crime/Violence, Health/Death|
|Course:||“The Civil War and Reconstruction,” Juniata College|
|Rating:||5 (1 votes)|
On the cold, wintry day of February 28, 1862, the Union Army of the Mississippi began their march from the small village of Commerce, Missouri to capture New Madrid on the Mississippi River. They faced many struggles along the way including disease, thick mud, and broken roads, but the men pushed forward to the Confederate-held town. The Confederate General John McCown had caught wind of the movement of Pope’s divisions and decided to strengthen his defenses. McCown had a grand total of fifty-two pieces of artillery on his side, along with five foot thick bags of corn and dirt that could hold up to three regiments per fort. On March 3, Pope and his men set up their field guns in order to cut off Confederate communication, as well as to try to seal the fate of McCown’s remaining two forts.
On the night of March 11, the 10th and 16th Illinois moved heavy artillery into place, about 800 yards from the Confederates lines, without the enemy knowing. Pope commanded Captain Mower, the Union siege gun commander, to concentrate fire on the C.S.A gunboats until they were silenced and then to batter the fortresses, in order to save ammunition. Confederate General McCown went into complete panic. He demanded that Polk and Beauregard give him 20,000 more men to fight because he thought that Pope had constructed an army of 50,000 soldiers, when he only had 12,000. On the evening of March 13, McCown realized that the heavy artillery that Pope’s men had brought through the swamps would lead to failure for his army. McCown, in defeat, told his leading commander Stewart to evacuate New Madrid and head to Tiptonville, Tennessee.
According to Pope, “A few minutes after daylight a flag of truce approached our lines with information that the enemy had hurriedly abandoned the works both below and above New Madrid, and been carried to the other shore of the river by gunboats.” The Union Army of the Mississippi defeated the Confederates with perseverance and dedication due to their fearless general, John Pope. Being in command of this important stronghold on overlooking the river enabled the Union army to successfully take command of Island No. 10 and force the Confederates to surrender.