Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

from headquarters created the most intense excitement in Washington. It was supposed to be the last of passes, and that the review was intended as the preliminary step to a forward movement. Did not a grand review with Bonaparte always precede a great battle? The time of decision and of fate had certainly come.

The review itself was a grand display, such as was never before witnessed on this continent, and may never be agai... Nearly a hundred thousand men-infantry, artillery, and cavalry—were drawn up in an open field, near Bailey's cross roads, and were reviewed by McClellan, the President, and a portion of the Cabinet. As the

As the young commander galloped up and down the long lines, thunderous cheers rolled after him, and countless sabers gleamed and shook in the air. There seemed to be no end to the marching columns as they afterwards defiled past him. It was a grand display of power; and as one looked upon it, it seemed that nothing could resist that mighty host when once set in motion. But it passed away like the reviews which had

preçeded it, and quiet once more settled on the Potomac.

CHAPTER XIV.

NOVEMBER, 1861

EXPEDITION FROM CAIRO-BATTLE OF BELMONT-CRITICISM UPON IT-NEL

SON'S EXPEDITION TO PIKETON-A LONG MARCH-THE BATTLE-ROUT OF THE ENEMY-NELSON'S ORDER- ADJUTANT-GENERAL THOMAS SENT WEST TO

INVESTIGATE THE CHARGES AGAINST FREMONT-HIS REPORT-ITS INJUSTICE

CONDUCT OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR-REMOVAL OF FREMONT-HUNTER

APPOINTED IN HIS PLACE-SUPERSEDED BY HALLECK AND SENT TO KANSAS

RECONSTRUCTION OF THE WESTERN AND SOUTH-WESTERN DEPARTMENTS

DIX SENDS AN EXPEDITION INTO EASTERN VIRGINIA-CAPTURE OF MASON AND

GLIDELL-EXULTATION OF THE PEOPLECREATES A STORM OF INDIGNATION

IN ENGLAND-WAR THREATENED-THEIR SURRENDER DEMANDED-IS COM

PLIED

WITH-WILKES'

COURSE

CLEARLY

UNJUSTIFIABLE-THE TUSCA

RORA AND NASHVILLE IN AN ENGLISH PORT-CONDUCT OF THE BRITISH AUTHORITIES—MC CLELLAN'S STRINGENT ORDERS TO THE ARMY—THE NE

GROES AND COTTON OF PORT ROYAL-BOMBARDMENT OF FORT PICKENS

BURNING OF THE ROYAL YACHT.

[ocr errors]

the mean time, Grant at Cairo plavned an expedition

against Belmont in Missouri, nearly opposite Columbus, where the enemy had established a camp with the intention, as he was informed, of sending off reinforcements from it to Price, who was being pushed by a superior force. To prevent this, and at the same time to protect some colamns that he had sent out against Jeff. Thompson, Grant de termined to drive the rebels from the place. With two thousand eight hundred men, he started from Cairo in transports, and moving nine miles down the Kentucky shore, (as though his destination was Columbus,) tied up for the night.

. Two other columns had been sent forward from Paducah across the country to complete the deception. At daylight next morning, (the seventh,) Grant proceeded down the river, till almost within range of the enemy's guns, when he sud

BATTLE OF BELMONT.

201

denly landed his troops on the Missouri shore, about two miles and a half above Belmont, where the enemy were er camped.

BATTLE OF BELMONT,

The enemy

Leaving a detachment in charge of the transports, he moved up the bank, and going a mile drew up in a corn field. Skirmishers were thrown o'it, and soon the dropping fire in the surrounding woods showed that the enemy was aware of his purpose and prepared to receive him. After a short halt, the whole column was ordered forward in line of battle, with the exception of Colonel Buford's regiment, which was directed to make a detour inland to the right, so as to come upon the camp in that direction. soon appeared in force, and the fight commenced. Pushing on through the timber, floundering through the underbrush, the gallant men of Illinois and Iowa steadily forced the rebels back, though they contested every inch of ground bravely. Shell and shot from their artillery, and a storm of bullets from their infantry, fell without cessation into our ranks, sometimes so terrifically as to occasion temporary disorder, but never a backward movement. At length the enemy fell back for a quarter of a mile, when being heavily reinforced, they made another determined stand. Again our troops rushed forward with cheers, passing on a run over the rebel dead and wounded; the latter appealing in the uproar most piteously for mercy, evidently expecting no quarter. Now and then, a soldier, moved with pity, would stop to give a sufferer a drink from his canteen, and then press forward after his comrades. The enemy made their last stand behind a natural bank, and being somevbat protected, maintained their position for half an hour. In the face of a tremendous fire, our troops steadily advanced, led by officers worthy to command them, and who by their

202

QAPTURE OF THE OAMP,

dauntless bearing and reckless exposure of life, won the un. bounded admiration of their Commander-in-Chief. He and McClernand rode forward into the fire, with their staffs, offering conspicuous marks to the enemy's sharp shooters. The horse of the former soon fell under him, but he mounted another, amid the cheers of his men. A bullet pierced one of McClernand's holsters, while horse after horse of the staff officers went down. Colonels Logan and Fouke cheered on their men with heroic words that rung over the din of battle. Answering with cheers, the soldiers dashed on, and drove the enemy back to the camp. Trees had been felled all around this, making a rude abatis, through which our troops saw it would require a desperate effort to force their way. But closing steadily up on three sides at once-Colo nel Buford having reached his point of destination—they poured in a wasting fire, and leaping over the abattis bounded with a shout into the open space around the camp:

The Twenty-seventh Illinois was first within, and the shout they sent up made the whole line spring forward as one man. The camp was won, the rebel flag hauled down, and the stars and stripes hoisted in its place, while the bands struck up national airs, and cheer after cheer shook the shores of the Mississippi. The tents and all the camp equipage were set on fire, and soon became a mass of flame. The garrison in Columbus, seeing the camp in our possession, opened a brisk fire with their heavy guns, and shot and shell went hurtling and shrieking through the air, making it evident that the position which had been só gallantly won, must be abandoned. At this juncture, it was reported to Grant, that a heavy force was crossing the river between them and their transports

, so as to cut off their retreat. The wearied troops had fought their way, inch by inch, into the enemy's camp, and now, they saw, must fight their way back to the boats. The bugles 'sounded the recall

, and gathering up their

« PreviousContinue »