August 23, 1861: Why Pillow can’t move (again)

Gideon J. Pillow
Gideon J. Pillow

While McClellan was back east developing a reputation for endless dithering and retreating, Pillow was playing his Confederate counterpart in the west. There was always something stopping him from moving north along the Mississippi.

Official Record, Series 1, Vol. 3, Part 1, p. 671:

New Madrid, August 23, 1861.
General POLK:

GENERAL: General Hardee has sent Colonel borland to se me relative to the co-operation of our commands in the work before us. He tells me that Hardee thinks he cannot advance to Jackson, Cape Girardeau, or any other point. In other words he thinks himself unable to co-operate at all, but proposes that two shall occupy our positions and await the maturity of the growing crop and the arrival of re-enforcements. This is against my judgment. My opinion is that we should move promptly on the enemy’s positions, and dislodge him before he has time to gather his forces and send them down upon us. I regard the success fa everything as depending upon our immediate advance.

My present position is very unsatisfactory if I do not at once advance. I must either go forward or fall back. My force is at Sikeston, benton, and this place. I was in the act of throwing the forces at this place forward, and would have left to-day with everything. Hardee proposes, if I do not concur in his views, that we refer the matter to you. This is all that I can do. I can see no military purpose to be accomplished by my going forward without the co-operation of Hardee; for I could not go beyond Cape Girardeau, and that position is within the line of the enemy, and valueless without advancing farther. I have, therefore, placed the Grampus under the orders of Colonel Borland, t proceed directly to your headquarters, that our policy be at once and as promptly as possible settled by you. I must go forward or fall back. I must better concentrate my forces. In other words, I cannot hold my command in a state of transition. Is it possible for you to come up?

With respect, your obedient servant,

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