, nor Sigel
, nor Smith
, nor Lane
, would be enabled to reach that point in season to save Mulligan
; though the series of blunders and fatalities by which all succor was precluded, could not happen twice in a century.
Had he known that the Rebels
would not attack Louisville
, nor Cairo
, nor make a demonstration, by way of Cape Girardeau
, on St. Louis
, backed by an insurrection in that city, he might have stripped that vital point of troops, and rushed everything to the relief of Mulligan
He certainly had reason to believe that Pope
's promise to push 4,000 men to Lexington
by the 18th or 19th would be fulfilled; and that these, with the forces of Sturgis
, and those that Davis
might have sent at any time after he had learned that the Rebels
were concentrating on Lexington
, would be sufficient.
Had even the imperative call for five regiments to be dispatched to Washington
it is probable that Mulligan
would have been saved.
But none of his errors, if errors they were, can compare in magnitude with that which dictated a second abandonment of Springfield
and retreat to Rolla
by our army, five days after Hunter
had assumed command.
No doubt, this was ordered from Washington
; but that order was most mistaken and disastrous.
We had already once abandoned south-western Missouri
; and, even then, Lyon
had wisely and nobly decided that it were better to risk a probable defeat than to give up a Union-loving people to the mercy of their enemies, without making a determined effort to save them.
But now there was no such exigency.
We were too strong to be beaten; and might have routed Price
, chasing the wreck of has army into Arkansas
, thus insuring a dispersion of large numbers of the defeated Missourians
to their homes; and then 5,000 men, well intrenched, could have held Springfield
against all gainsayers, until the next Spring.
But our second retreat, so clearly wanton and unnecessary, disheartened the Unionists and elated the Secessionists of all southern Missouri
It made our predominance in any part of that State appear exotic and casual, not natural and permanent.
It revived all the elements of turbulence, anarchy, and rapine, which the uncontested ascendency of our cause, under Fremont
, had temporarily stilled.
The Secession strongholds along and even above the Missouri river
were galvanized into fresh activity in guerrilla outrages and murders, by the unexpected tidings that we had abandoned southern Missouri
without a blow, and were sneaking back to our fastnesses along the lines of completed railroads, and within striking distance of St. Louis
Gen. Henry W. Halleck
succeeded to the command of the Missouri department, November 12th.
But meantime, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant
, in command at Cairo
, had made a spirited demonstration on the little steamboat landing known as Belmont
, on the Missouri
side of the Mississippi
, opposite Columbus, Ky. Columbus
was then the Headquarters of the Secession force observing and threatening Cairo
, while the Rebellion
, protected by similar demonstrations of Confederate