“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Tiptonville in Lake County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)

Capture of Island No. 10

Capture of Island No. 10 Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, March 17, 2009
1. Capture of Island No. 10 Marker

An incident in the systematic process of opening the great rivers which served the heart of the Confederacy to Federal control, this was performed by Pope's Army of the Mississippi, assisted by a naval task force under Commo. Andrew H. Foote.

Federal troops present in reduction of Island No. 10 were over 20,000, all arms being represented including the "flotilla brigade," attached to the naval task force.

Naval units present were six gunboats, mounting 15 guns each, except the flagship, 16 guns; 11 mortar boats, each mounting a 13-inch cohorn, or mortar, but without their own power, and several tenders and transports.

Confederate forces in the area were originally commanded by Maj. Gen. John P. McCown and numbered about 7500. Later changes reduced this number to about 4000, all arms being represented. Confederate naval units present under Commo. G. N. Hollins included his flagship, the yacht, McRae, and six gunboats, several steamboats and tenders, and a naval floating battery of 14 guns under Lt. S. W. Averett, CSN.

Following the taking of Forts Henry and Donelson, on the Tennessee River, by Grant, Lt. Gen.
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Polk, Confederate area commander, evacuated his base at Columbus, Ky., and commenced fortifying New Madrid, Mo., and Island No. 10. Grant moved his army to Pittsburg Landing, later to fight the battle of Shiloh; Pope with the mission of clearing the upper Mississippi, marched from New Commerce, Mos., to invest New Madrid.

On March 15, McCown evacuated New Madrid after some skirmishing. The bulk of his force went to Fort Pillow, about 50 miles downriver; a number of guns and artillery personnel went to Island No. 10.

Pope now had units above and below the island. To capture it, he needed water transportation for ferrying his troops into Tennessee. Accordingly, his engineers cut a passage through the trees at the head of Bayou St. John to the river, thus making a passage for light-draft vessels. This passage was in use by Apr. 1.

The Confederate defenses of the island, still incomplete by the time of the attack, are shown on the map. Troops not quartered directly in the various batteries were camped on the island itself, and round-the-clock reliefs detailed from infantry regiments. There was considerable sickness among the garrison.

On March 16, Brig. Gen. L.M. Walker succeeded Gen. McCown in command. The latter returned on March 22, but left again for Ft. Pillow on March 31, leaving Brig. Gen. William W. Mackall in command.

About March 15, Federal
Close Up of Map image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, March 17, 2009
2. Close Up of Map
naval units commenced daily bombardment of Island No. 10 and the Tennessee shore, but without too much effect. Attempts to pass westward through a chute to the north of the island were thwarted by the sinking of the CSS Winchester there. The Confederate defenders suffered more from high water, particularly in the area around Battery No. 1. Magazine storage of ammunition was almost impossible, due to water. Some effective force came from Federal batteries along the west bank of the river south of New Madrid.

The Confederate defenses received heavy bombardment on March 18 and 19, but effective counter-battery fire caused a slackening of this fire by March 20. But, by Apr. 2, flood waters had forced the virtual abandonment of Battery No. 1. That night, a Federal landing party from USS Benton rushed the position and spiked the guns.

On Apr. 5, USS Benton, Cincinnati and Pittsburg each with a mortar boat in tow, shelled Confederate positions on both sides of the river, cutting adrift the floating battery.

On the night of Apr. 4-5, Commander Henry Walke took the Carondelet downstream past the island, anchoring at New Madrid at dawn. The Pittsburg duplicated the maneuver the following night.

On Apr. 7, these two vessels steamed downstream and attacked and silenced Confederate batteries along the river as far south as Tiptonville.

Gen. Mackall, forseeing
Battle of Island No. 10 Display Area image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, March 17, 2009
3. Battle of Island No. 10 Display Area
Pope's crossing, began assembling about 2500 of his troops in a central position west of the island. Pope, ferrying his troops to Watson's Landing, fanned them out south and east. His 4th Division leading, marched directly on Tiptonville to cut off Mackall, then withdrawing southward. The two forces met north of Tiptonville at daylight Apr. 8. Here Mackall, after some fighting, reported by Pope in a dispatch on that day to be "about 2000."

The remaining defenders on the island, finding themselves about to be overrun, attempted escape by boat across the then flooded river, in a snowstorm. Upward of 500 go away; they were mostly members of the 12th Arkansas Infantry. The floating battery was scuttled, but drifted to the Missouri shore, where it was captured. About 500 were captured when the island was overrun by the Federal naval task force.

(Caption under Map):
Federal Operations
At New Madrid Pope's Army of the Mississippi. On river, above Island No. 10 - Federal fleet, USS Benton, flagship, Carondelet, Cincinnati, Mound City, Pittsburg, St. Louis, USAT Silver Wave, USS Conestoga, (armed steamer), ferryboat Rob Roy & towboats W.I. Wilson, Wisconsin No. 2 & Rike.

Confederate Operations
Confederate naval units present were a task force, which included the yacht McRae, six gunboats, including the Grampus, General
Mississippi River at Kentucky Bend Today image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, March 17, 2009
4. Mississippi River at Kentucky Bend Today
Looking across the Mississippi River on a misty morning. This photo was taken from the levee next to the river, at a point northwest of the marker location. The bend of the river has moved south with time, locking part of Island No. 10 into the Missouri shore (on the far left). The site of the batteries is now mostly submerged in the river.
Polk, Ivy & Manassas, several steamboats & tenders, & a naval floating battery of 14 guns.

On Island No. 10
Btry. No. 1 Belmont Battery
Capt. William Y. C. Humes, who was also designated as artillery commander for the island - two 8 in. Columbiads, four smooth-bore 32-pounders, one of these replaced the "Belmont Gun," 32-pounder rifle, which blew up during the siege.

Bty. No. 2 Capt. Humes. One 32-pounder rifle, three smooth-bore 32-pounders.

Bty. No. 3 Capt. Fisher. Two rifled 24-pounder Dahlgrens, one 8-in. Columbiad, 2 smooth-bore 32-pounders, Btry. No. 4 Capt. Johnston - three 24-pounder siege guns, one 12-pounder, four 64-pounder howitzers.

Btry. No. 5 The floating battery - Lt. S.W. Averett, CSN - nine 8 in. Columbiads, one 32-pounder rifle mounted in a converted drydock which could be towed into position.

On Tennessee Shore
Btry. No.1 Capt. Edmund W. Rucker - three 8-in. Columbiads, three smooth-bore 32-pounders.

Btry. No. 2 Capt. Robert Sterling - three rifled 32-pounders, one smooth-bore 32-pounder.

Btry. No. 3 Capt. J.W. Noadley - three rifled 32-pounders.

Btry. No. 4 Capt. Andrew Jackson, Jr. - one 8-in, Columbiad, three rifled 32-pounders.

Btry. No. 5 Capts. Jones, Caruthers, & Dismukes - three 8-in. Columbiads, one rifled 32-pounder, three smoothbore 32-pounders.

Passage to St. John's Bayou image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, March 17, 2009
5. Passage to St. John's Bayou
Looking across the fields on the Missouri side of the river. This photo was taken from Route WW, east of New Madrid. The "cut" made by Pope's engineers created a navigable path through the swamp to St. John's Bayou. This allowed the passage of transports, bypassing the Island No. 10 batteries. The exact location of the "cut" is not known. The land was drained in the early 20th century and made into farmland. The woods to the left cover the ditch which drained this section of swamp into the Mississippi, and was later used by the drainage project. As such, it is a good candidate for the "cut" location.
- four smooth-bore 32-pounders.

(Lower Marker):
Island No. 10
This installation was made with the cooperation of Hon. C.U. Cochran, County Judge, Hon. R.C. Donaldson and the Lake Co. Highway Dept. Topography by Wyatt R. Algee, Co. Surveyor. Battle map furnished by Tennessee Historical Commission. Dan M. Robinson, Chm., Francis B. Warfield Chm. Committee on Historic Plances, Col. Campbell H. Brown, Director of Highway Marking.
Erected 1966 by Tennessee Historical Commission. (Marker Number 4B 28.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. A significant historical month for this entry is March 1760.
Location. 36° 26.608′ N, 89° 28.663′ W. Marker is near Tiptonville, Tennessee, in Lake County. Marker is at the intersection of New Markham Road and Tennessee Route 22, on the right when traveling west on New Markham Road. Located at the town of Cates, north of Tiptonville. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Tiptonville TN 38079, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Confederate Forts & Batteries (a few steps from this marker); Confederate Burials (approx. 0.6 miles away); Tiptonville Presbyterian Church (approx. 4˝ miles away); a different marker also named Capture of Island No. 10 (approx.
New Madrid Floodway image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, March 17, 2009
6. New Madrid Floodway
In the early part of the 20th century, the swamps north of New Madrid were drained. A floodway system replaced St. John's Bayou in the watershed. Thus the route taken by Pope's transports today is a man-made ditch.
4˝ miles away); General Clifton Bledsoe Cates (approx. 4.6 miles away); a different marker also named General Clifton Bledsoe Cates (approx. 5.9 miles away); Civilian Conservation Corps and Reelfoot Lake State Park (approx. 6.1 miles away); Reelfoot Lake (approx. 6.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Tiptonville.
Mississippi River at New Madrid image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, March 17, 2009
7. Mississippi River at New Madrid
The passage used by Pope's transports re-entered the Mississippi just north of New Madrid. However, the river has shifted since the war, covering some of the town.
Old River Course at Point Pleasant image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, March 17, 2009
8. Old River Course at Point Pleasant
Looking from the levee at Point Pleasant across the old river course. Point Pleasant is today a small landlocked community with the Mississippi channel several miles east. At the time of the war, the main river channel passed here. On April 7, Pope ferried forces across the river from Point Pleasant to Tiptonville, Tennessee, which effectively cut off the garrison at Island No. 10.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 15, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 22, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 4,727 times since then and 276 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on April 22, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on April 24, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.

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Jul. 21, 2024