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BATTLE OF BELMOOT. 183
"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 5*7th 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 ears 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 the 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 expressed 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 a scouting duty, that heavy reinforcements 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 the 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."
In his official report General Grant says: "Our loss was about 84 killed, 150 wounded,—many of them slightly—and about an equal number missing. The Brigade reports show losses as follows:
First Brigade, General McClernand commanding:
KILLED. WOUNDED. MISSING. TOTAL.
21th. Regiment Illinois 11 42 28 81
30th Regiment Illinois 9 27 8 44
31st Regiment Illinois 10 61 18 89
Dollin's cavalry , 1 2 3
Taylor's battery 5 5
31 13? 54 222
Second Brigade, Col. Dougherty commanding:
22d Regiment Illinois 23 74 97
7th Regiment Iowa 26 80 106
49 154 203
Total 80 391 54 525
The seventh Iowa fought gallantly. Its Colonel was severely wounded and its brave Lieut.-Col. Wentz was killed. The Illinois troops maintained the honor of their State. "Gen. McClernand," says Gen. Grant, "was in the midst of danger throughout the engagement, and displayed both coolness and judgment. His horse was three times shot under him." Col. Dougherty, at the head of his brigade, was three times wounded and taken prisoner. Col. John A. Logan gave promise of the military ability which has made him prominent among the double-starred Generals of the West. Major McCluzken, of the 30th, was mortally wounded. Captains Brolaski and Markle and Lieut. Dougherty were killed. Col. Buford's conduct was unexceptionable and accomplishing a difficult circuit, was the first, says Gen. McClernand, to throw his men within the enemy's defences. Col. Fouke bore himself gallantly. His men were confronted during the engagement with those of Col. John V. Wright, of the 13th Tennessee. The two Colonels had served together in Congress, members of the same political party.
BATTLE OF BELMONT. 185
When they separated at the close of the session of 1860-1, Wright said to his friend, "Phil., I expect the next time we meet will be on the battle field." Wright was mortally wounded, and sixty of his men were captured by the regiment of his former friend! Such are the results of civil war! Friend against friend—aye, brother against brother, for among the rebel dead on the field of Belmont a Union surgeon discovered his own brother!
Lieut.-Col. Hart commanded the 22d Illinois, and led his men gallantly and skillfully. Taylor's battery gave both friends and foes prophecy of what it would yet accomplish, and Captain Taylor especially mentions Lieut. P. H. White and his immediate command. Of this battery, 1st Lieut. Charles M. Everett was wounded mortally.
The additional killed and wounded Illinois officers, reported by the brigade commanders are, killed—Captain Thomas G. Markley, Co. D, 30th Regiment. Wounded—Lieut. Wm. Shipley, Co. A, 27th Regiment, mortally; Capt. John W. Rigby, Co. F, 31st Regiment, and Capt. W. A. Looney, Co. C; Captains Challenor, Abbott and Hubbard, with Lieut. Adams, of the 27th Regiment.
Gen. Grant makes the following reference to the gun-boats which were then just beginning to be understood: "The gun-boats Tyler and Lexington, Captains Walker and Stemble, IT. S. N"., commanding, conveyed the expedition and rendered most efficient service. Immediately upon our landing they engaged the enemy's batteries and protected our transports throughout."
The result of the conflict may be stated as twofold. First, accomplishing the desired diversion, and preventing the marching of a strong rebel force to the reinforcement of Price and Thompson. Second, showing the enemy and our own people the coolness and bravery of our men under circumstances of peril. They fairly won a brilliant victory though compelled by overwhelming numbers to abandon the field they did not purpose to hold.
The rebel loss is conceded by their authorities to have been about one thousand.
Gen. Hunter, who succeeded Gen. Fremont, held the command only temporarily, and Maj.-Gen. H. W. Halleck was assigned to the Department, and organized it into Military Districts. Gen. Grant was appointed commander of the "District of Cairo, including all the southern part of Illinois, that part of Kentucky westv of the Cumberland River and the southern part of Missouri, south of Cape Girardeau." He arranged the commands of his subordinates, assigning to Col. T. H. Cavanaugh, of the 6th 111. cavalry, command of the force at Shawneetown, including troops stationed along the Ohio River on both sides east of Caledonia, and to the mouth of the Cumberland, head-quarters to be at Paducah, Ky. Brig.-Gen. E. A. Paine was assigned to the command of the force at Bird's Point. His men were carefully drilled and distributed in readiness for the grand campaign about to be inaugurated.
On the 10th of January the forces under the direct command of Gen. McClernand left Cairo in transports and disembarked at Fort Jefferson.
And now began the campaign which resulted in the reduction of Forts Henry and Donelson, and rescued the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers from the enemy, and thus modified the movements of later campaigns and other leaders. These remain for other chapters.
The victory of Fort Henry followed by the capture of Fort Donelson turned the eyes of the nation upon the rising military man of the west. He had been assailed, his private habits had been discussed, but he was successful, and that too under circumstances requiring more than fortune.
On the 14th of February Gen. Halleck issued an order creating the District of West Tennessee, to include the country between the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers to the Mississippi state line, and Cairo, making head-quarters temporarily at Fort Donelson, or wherever the General might be. Gen. Grant received the rank of Major-General of Volunteers, by act of Congress, his commission fitly dating from the surrender of Donelson.
The fearful three-days' battle of Pittsburg Landing followed; a fight in which, through one dark dreary day, the advantage appeared to be with the rebels, and when the life of the Government hung trembling upon the issue. It was in this that his power to organize victory in the midst of defeat, to retrieve disaster, to conquer by the force of persistent effort came out. The victory was complete and the name of Grant was at once written among those of great capGRANT AS A GENERAL. 187
tains. Henceforward his sphere of duty was to widen until it should include all the armies of the United States. His promotion was rapid from grade to grade, until, in view of the splendid achievements of Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain, and Mission Ridge he received the grade of Lieutenant-General, revived by act of Congress.
The characteristics of this eminent soldier can be but seen by the careful study of his campaigns and reports, and that too when they shall be fully developed. But enough has been done to warrant some generalization of character. What has given him success?
I. A thorough knowledge of military science. There is much in genius, but for the management of a great campaign, with its different armies, there must be the scientific knowledge of details. Not merely the studies of the academy, but the careful study of military history as made by great leaders. This he has, and, added to this was fifteen years in service with active participation in the triumphal marches in Mexico.
II. The knowledge of men. The General must have subordinates. He must be brain, they must be hands. He must will, they must act. In wielding a hundred thousand men the separate corps are almost distinct armies. Woe to the General who miscalculates the power of his subordinates! The brain may be clear, but the arm palsied; the will may decide quickly and clearly, but they who should concrete that will in heroic acts may fail. Gen. Grant saw at the outset the ability of C. F. Smith, and trusted him in spite of popular clamor. He would trust Sherman, though not a few persisted that he lacked every element of a General. Atlanta and Savannah are sufficient answers. He saw in the lamented McPherson the power to lead, and trusted him. "Give the best man in your army for the Shenandoah Valley," said Secretary Stanton. He gave him Phil. Sheridan, and the result is history.
III. Clearness of judgment. He does not become perplexed. His perceptive powers are remarkable and nothing confuses them. He reasons coolly in the most tumultuous excitement, and failing at one point he turns to another, and can scarcely be baffled. With this, is fertile invention never at want for expedients to carry out a purpose.