|Battle of Belmont.|
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The design was to reach Belmont just before daylight; but, owing to unavoidable delays in embarking, it was 8 o'clock before the fleet reached <*>ucas Bend, the point fixed upon for debarkation. This is about three miles north of Columbus, Ky., on the Missouri side. The enemy were encamped on the high ground back from the river, and about two and a half miles from the landing. From their position, they could casily see our landing, and had ample time to dispose of their forces to receive us, which they did with all dispatch. They also sent a detachment of light artillery and infantry out to retard our march, and annoy us as much as possible. A line of battle was formed at once on the levee, Col. Fouke taking command of the center, Col. Buford of the right, and Col. Logan of the left. The advance from the river bank to the Rebel encampment was a running fight the entire distance, the Rebels firing and falling back all the way; while our troops gallantly received their fire without flinching, and bravely held on their course, regardless of the missiles of death that were flying thick and fast about them. The way was of the most indifferent character, lying through woods with thick underbrush, and only here and there a path or a rough country road. The three divisions kept within close distance of each other, pressing over all obstacles and overcoming all opposition; each striving for the honor of being first in the enemy's camp. This honor fell to the right division, led by Col. Buford. It was the gallant 27th Illinois, who, with deafening cheers, first waved the Stars and Stripes in the midst of the Rebels' camping-ground. The scene was a terribly exciting one-musketry and cannon dealing death and destruction on all sides; men grappling with men in a fearful death-struggle; column after column rushing eagerly up, ambitious to obtain a post of danger; officers riding hither and thither in the thickest of the fight, urging their men on, and encouraging them to greater exertions; regiments charging into the very jaws of death with frightful yells and shouts, more effective, as they fell upon the cars of the enemy, than a thousand rifle-balls — and, in the midst of all, is heard one long, loud, continuous round of cheering as the Star-Spangled Banner is unfurled in the face of the foe, and defiantly supplants the mongrel colors that had, but a moment before, designated <*> spot as Rebel ground. The 22d boys have the honor of having silenced and captured a battery of twelve pieces, which had been dealing destruction with marked success. The 30th had been badly cut up by this battery, and were straining every nerve to capture it. They express considerable disappointment that the prize was snatched from them. They turned away in search of new laurels; and, in charging into the very midst of the camp, were drawn into an ambuscade, where they were again suffering terribly, though maintaining their ground unflinchingly, when the 31st came to their assistance. An impetuous and irresistible charge was then made, that drove the Rebels in all directions, and left the field in possession of the Federal forces. The Rebel camps were fired, and, with all their supplies, ammunition, baggage, etc., were totally destroyed. The discovery, on the Kentucky side, that we were in possession of their camp, led to an opening of the Rebel batteries from that direction upon us. Their fire was very annoying; the more so as we were not in a position to return it. Just at this juncture, the report was brought to Gen. Grant, by Lieut. Pittman, of the 30th Illinois, who had, with his company (F), been on scouting duty, that heavy reenforcements were coming up to the Rebels from the opposite side of the river. Indeed, the report was also made that the enemy were pouring over the river in immense numbers, and the danger was imminent that our retreat would be cut off. The order to fall back to the boats was therefore given, but not a moment too soon. The way was already filled with Rebel troops; and, as we had fought our way up to tile encampment, so we were obliged to fight back to our boats, and against desperate odds. But the men were not lacking in courage, and fought like veterans, giving ample evidence of their determination. Every regiment of Federal troops suffered more or less severely in their return march; but the general opinion prevails that the Rebels suffered far greater losses than we. Wherever they made a stand, we put them to flight; and, although we lost many brave men, either killed, wounded, or taken prisoners, we made at least two of their men bite the dust for every one that fell from our ranks. Our regiments all reached their boats, though with considerably thinned ranks.
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