Visitors Guide to the
New Madrid and the Civil War
Locations throughout town
New Madrid, MO

Missouri Historic Sites Attractions

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 New Madrid.

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 New Madrid 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 Sites
Most sites are can be accessed from dawn till dusk
the New Madrid Historical Museum page for hours and admission
There is no charge to visit most sites.

New Madrid's Civil War Sites are located at various locations throughout the town.

Learn more about the New Madrid area.
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.

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