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Admiral David D. Porter, The Naval History of the Civil War., Chapter 13: building a navy on the Western rivers.--battle of Belmont. (search)
ndeavored to preserve a neutral position between the contending sections. but the Confederate General Polk soon violated this neutrality, seizing Columbus, some twenty miles below Cairo, and threatening Paducah; whereupon Grant seized this latter place and garrisoned it. Thus the two armies were near each other. Grant had nothing but ordinary transports to operate with, and these were liable to be cut to pieces from the banks of the river by the Confederate light artillery. On the 14th of September Commander Henry Walke, in command of the Taylor, under orders from Flag-officer Foote, proceeded down the river towards Columbus to make reconnoissance, accompanied by officers of General Grant's staff. At Norfolk, six miles below Cairo, the Taylor took on board a hundred men of the Ninth Illinois Regiment, and then approached Columbus to ascertain the strength of the batteries. These batteries were built upon what was called the Iron Banks, at the first Chickasaw Bluff, which rose f