Visitors Guide to
New Madrid and the Civil
Locations throughout town
New Madrid, MO
New Madrid has a rich history when it comes to the
Civil War. With strong ties to the South, it was in New Madrid on August 5,
1861, that exiled Governor Claiborne F. Jackson, who had wanted Missouri in
the Confederacy since taking office that year, issued a proclamation
declaring Missouri a free republic and dissolving all ties with the Union.
New Madrid was also home to members of Company I, 1st MO Infantry, known as
the "shock troops" that had the distinction of being the first Missouri unit
of any type to enter Confederate service.
The biggest involvement during the Civil War for the community was the
battles for New Madrid and Island No. 10 in the Mississippi River from
February 28 to April 8, 1862. Island No. 10 was situated at the first sharp
bend of a double band in the Mississippi River just south of New Madrid. The
island was heavily fortified and reinforced by a floating battery of guns
and a short battery on the Tennessee side. Island No. 10 blocked all river
traffic while remaining protected on the north and east by swamps and on the
west by New Madrid. New Madrid was the last major Confederate stronghold in
Missouri at the time and its guns complemented those of Island No. 10. In
keeping with federal civil war policy to gain control of the Mississippi
River, Brigadier General John Pope, commander of the Union Army of the
Mississippi, and Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote were ordered to attack Island
No. 10 but first New Madrid had to be captured.
Pope’s forces reached the outskirts of New Madrid on March 3, and laid siege
to the city. Since it did not appear possible to defend New Madrid, the
Confederate gunboats and troops evacuated to Island No. 10 and Tiptonville,
Tennessee. On March 14, Pope's army discovered that New Madrid was deserted
and moved in to occupy it. A Union Navy flotilla, under the command of
Foote, arrived on March 15, upstream from Island No. 10. Foote thought it
would be suicide to run ironclads past Island No. 10 so Pope ordered a
shallow canal dug to bypass the hairpin curve of Island No. 10 and come out
just east of New Madrid thus bypassing the batteries. The canal was 50 feet
wide and 12 miles long. This remarkable feat was completed in 19 days while
Island No. 10 Confederate soldiers endured day and night shelling. By April
4, it was possible to ferry shallow-draft troop transports down to Pope at
On the night of April 4, during a thunderstorm the ironclad Carondelet ran
the Island No. 10 batteries and anchored at New Madrid at dawn. The ironclad
Pittsburg followed on the night of April 6.These ironclads helped to
overthrow the Confederate batteries and guns, enabling Pope's men to cross
the river and block the Confederate escape route. On the morning of April 8
Confederate Brigadier General William W. Mackall surrendered Island No. 10
to Foote. Pope reported an incredible haul of prisoners and equipment that
included the capture of three generals, 273 field and company officers,
6,700 privates, 123 pieces of heavy artillery and an immense supply of
ammunition and small arms. All this had been accomplished with fewer than
hundred causalities on the Union side.
The capture of Island No. 10 opened the Mississippi River for Union gunboats
another 50 miles downriver to the next Confederate strongpoint at Fort Pillow, Tennessee. New Madrid and Island
No. 10 were the Confederate’s last stronghold in Missouri.
In addition to exhibits on the Civil War that can be found in the
Historical Museum, New Madrid and local historians have joined together to
produce a brochure featuring a driving tour through the community pointing
out the community’s Civil War-related sites.
Visiting New Madrid's Civil War
Most sites are can be
accessed from dawn till dusk
See the New Madrid
Historical Museum page for hours and admission
There is no charge to visit most sites.
Directions: New Madrid's Civil War Sites are located at various
locations throughout the town.
Learn more about the
The official website of the
community of New Madrid's page on the Civil War with link's to the
PDFs on the driving tour.