Promptly at the hour designated, we proceeded down the river to a point just out of the range of the rebel batteries at Columbus, and debarked on the Missouri shore. From here the troops were marched, with skirmishers well in advance, by flank, about one mile toward Belmont and there formed in line of battle. One battalion had been left as a reserve near the transports. Two companies from each regiment were thrown forward as skirmishers, to ascertain the position of the enemy, and about nine o'clock met and engaged him. The balance of my force, with the exception of the reserve,was promptly thrown forward, and drove the enemy foot by foot, and from tree to tree, back to his encampment on the river bank, a distance of over two miles. Here he had strengthened his position by felling the timber for several hundred yards around his camp, making a sort of prattis. Our men charged through this, driving the enemy under cover of the bank, and many of them into their transports in quick time, leaving us in possession of everything not exceedingly portable. Belmont is situated on low ground, and every foot is commanded by the guns on the opposite shore, and of course could not be held for a single hour after the enemy became aware of the withdrawal of his troops. Having no wagons with me, I could move but little of the captured property, consequently gave orders for the destruction of everything that could not be moved, and an immediate return to our transports. Tents, blankets, &c., were set on fire and destroyed, and our return march commenced, taking his artillery and a large number of captured horses with us. Three pieces of artillery being drawn by hand, and one by an inefficient team, were spiked and left on the road; two were brought to this place. We had but fairly got under way, when the enemy, having received reinforcements rallied under cover of the river bank, and the woods on the point of land in the bend of the river above us, and made his appearance between us and our transports, evidently with a design of cutting off our return to them. Our troops were not in the least discouraged, but charged the enemy and again defeated him. We then, with the exception of the Twenty-seventh Illinois, Colonel N. B. Buford commanding, reached our transports and embarked without further molestation. While waiting for the arrival of this regiment, and to get some of our wounded from a field hospital near-by, the enemy, having crossed fresh troops from Columbus, again made his appearance on the river bank, and commenced firing upon our transports. The fire was returned by our men from the decks of the steamers, and also from the gunboats, with terrible effect, compelling him to retire in the direction of Belmont. In the meantime, Colonel Buford, although he had received orders to return with the main force, took the Charleston road from Belmont and came in on the road leading to Bird's Point, where he had formed a line of battle in the morning. At this point, to avoid the effects of the shells from the gunboats that were beginning to fall among his men, he took a blind path direct to the river, and followed a wood road up its bank, and thereby avoided meeting tho enemy, who were retiring by the main road. On his appearance on the river bank, a steamer was dropped down and took his command on board, without his having participated or lost a man in the enemy's attempt to cut us off from our transports. Notwithstanding the crowded state of our transports, the only loss we sustained from the enemy's fire upon them was three men wounded, one of whom belonged to one of the boats. Our loss in killed on the field was eighty-five, three hundred and one wounded (many of them, however, slightly), and ninety-nine missing. Of the wounded, one hundred and twenty-five fell into the hands of the enemy. Nearly all the missing were from the Seventh Iowa regiment, which suffered more severely than any other. All the troops behaved with great gallantry, which was in a great degree attributable to the coolness and presence of mind of their officers, particularly the Colonels commanding. General McClernand was in the midst of danger throughout the engagement, and displayed both coolness and judgment. His horse was three times shot under him. Colonel Dougherty, Twenty-second Illinois volunteers, commanding the second brigade, by his coolness and bravery, entitles himself to be named among the most competent of officers for command of troops in battle. In our second engagement he was three times wounded, and fell a prisoner into the hands of the enemy. Among the killed was Lieutenant-Colonel A. Wentz, Seventh Iowa volunteers, and among the wounded were Colonel J. G. Lauman, and Major E. W. Rice of the Seventh Iowa. The reports of sub-commanders will detail more fully particulars of the engagement, and the conduct of both officers and men. To my staff, Captain John A. Rawlins Assistant Adjutant-General; Lieutenants C. B. Lagow and William S. Hillyer, Aides-de-Camp; and Captain R. B. Hatch, Assistant Quarter-master, I am much indebted for the promptitude with which they discharged their several duties. the remainder of the troops of the expedition, commanded by Colonel John Dougherty, will follow. The entire force will debark at the lowest point on the Missouri shore, where a landing can be effected in security from the rebel batteries. The point of debarkation will be designated by Captain Walke, commanding naval forces. By order of Brigadier-General U. S. Grant.John A. Rawlins, Assistant Adjutant-General.
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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