Prisoners from the battle of Fort Hindman arrive at Cairo. The New York Times correspondent has a pretty low opinion of them.
From Our Own Correspondent.
CAIRO, Ill., Thursday, Jan. 22, 1863.
The advance guard of the rebel prisoners lately captured at Arkansas Post arrived here yesterday evening, including Gen. CHURCHILL, the commander of all the defences of the Arkansas, and the line officers attached to the various regiments. They came up on three steamers — the Nebraska, Sam Gatz and John J. Roe. Gen. CHURCHILL was aboard the Nebraska. He lakes his captivity very coolly, chats fluently of the events through which he has lately passed, and in common with the other officers, attributes their final defeat and capture to the destructive effect of the gunboat fleet upon their fortifications, which they had deemed almost impregnable. Our heavy calibres, however, were too much for their casemates of oak and railroad iron, penetrating them like so much pasteboard. Their guns were dismounted or broken by our accurate rifle practice, and the gunners killed by our shot and the flying splinters of wood and iron which were scattered in showers among the rebel troops inside the fort. Two feet of one rebel 9-inch casemate gun was knocked off by a 64-pound shot from one of the Union gunboats, but the enemy continued to load and fire the piece several times, even in its shattered condition.
The rebel troops are in a very miserable condition for clothing, shoes and blankets; and must have suffered much during the eight days of cold weather that they have been on the Mississippi. They will be two days more in getting to St. Louis.
I encountered with some of them, and found them generally disgusted with fighting, and anxious to be at home attending to
their legitimate business. As a general thing they can give no intelligible explanation of their conduct, or tell what they are in arms against the Government for. It would be safe to assert that not one in five of the whole party ever read a newspaper or wrote his own name.
There are in this batch of prisoners one General;ten Colonels; ten Lieut.-Colonels; ten Majors; one hundred Captains; two hundred Lieutenants, and some thirty or forty Adjutants, Staff officers, Quartermasters, Surgeons, &c., making a total of about five thousand — the largest haul of prisoners since Fort Donaldson. There was no manifestation of mutiny on the part of the prisoners, and they were generally quiet and civil in their behavior. They were treated with all the kindness which the crowded condition of the boats permitted, and were supplied with full regular army rations until the day before the boats reached this place, when the provisions gave out, owing to the prolongation of the trip, caused by the heavy current against which they had to contend. A fresh supply of commissary stores was laid in here, and after allowing some portion of the prisoners to lay in a few luxuries, and purchase a little whisky “for a very sick man,” in some part of the boat, they again started for St. Louis. The gunboat Lexington convoyed the steamers to their destination. A dozen or so died coming up, and the boats stopped and buried the poor fellows on the banks of the river. One attempted to effect his escape by running away at one of these landings, and refusing to halt and return, was fired upon and killed. These troops are all from Texas, and a considerable proportion are conscripts.
The Ohio and Mississippi Rivers during the last 24 hours have fallen slightly. DE SOTO.