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Kentucky had been invaded and the rights of her citizens grossly infringed “by the so-called Confederate forces," demanded that the Governor call out the militia to expel the invaders, and asked the Government of the United States for the aid guaranteed in such cases by the Constitution. It was also requested that General Robert Anderson, who had been prospectively assigned to the command in that military district, but was seeking much needed rest and recuperation, should immediately enter upon the active discharge of his duties. Governor Magoffin vetoed the resolutions, which were carried over his veto.
At an earlier date the Union leaders, lightly regarding the Governor's “neutrality,” had taken measures for the enlistment of loyal soldiers, and for organizing two encampments: Camp Holt, near Louisville, under General Lovell H. Rousseau, and Camp Dick Robinson, in Garrard County, under General William Nelson. The Department of the Cumberland was created on the 6th of August, under the command of General Anderson, with Generals W. T. Sherman and George H. Thomas as subordinates next in rank. Anderson's name was of great value to the Union cause in his native State, yet he felt his health to be inadequate for assuming active command, and was presently relieved at his own request. Sherman succeeded him temporarily, but declined the permanent command, and was absent for some time on sick leave. The chief command of the department was then given to General Don Carlos Buell.
Hunter's assignment to succeed Fremont was not meant to be permanent. The real successor was called from California — General Henry W. Halleck, a West Point graduate, who had resigned his army commission several years before, and was in lucrative practice as a lawyer. Both Halleck and Buell were assigned to their respective department commands on the ioth of November, and very soon entered on duty.
While Fremont was preparing to cross the Osage, a movement intended to restrain Polk from reinforcing Price was ordered to be made by Grant, with the aid of transports and two of Foote's gunboats, against Belmont, where there was a Confederate camp across the river from Columbus. Disembarking at Hunter's Point, two or three miles above Belmont, on the morning of the 7th, Grant's force rapidly advanced with little resistance until quite up to the outer works of the enemy. The place was soon carried, the tents and equipage burned, and the guns taken. While the men were resting and refreshing themselves, their way back to Hunter's Point was obstructed by superior numbers sent across the river above, and by the fire of Polk's batteries on the heights of Columbus. Grant, with thirtyfive hundred men, contended for several hours with three regments under Pillow, as many under Cheatham, and a reinforcement of two regiments more brought over by Polk in person. The bayonet was used again and again; it was an engagement at seemingly hopeless odds; yet Grant fought his way through, bringing off not only his own guns, but two of those captured at Belmont. Material assistance was rendered by the gunboats — an arm of the naval service that was to prove formidable henceforward on the Western rivers. While the Confederates were fairly entitled to add Belmont to their list of victories, there was yet something in the
conduct of Grant and his men in this engagement which relieved the result from the color of disaster.
In Western Virginia, General Rosecrans succeeded McClellan, with headquarters at Clarksburg during the month of August. General J. D. Cox had advanced from Guyandotte up the Kanawha Valley, when McClellan moved on Beverly. Cox occupied Charleston on the 25th of July, and Gauley Bridge on the 29th, exGovernor Wise's command retreating into Greenbrier County. Here reinforcements reached him early in August - ex-Secretary Floyd included, who outranked Wise and was zealous for aggressive action. Rosecrans moved rapidly to the support of Cox at Carnifex Ferry, and after a sharp collision (September ioth), Floyd and Wise retired to Sewell's Mountain. General Robert E. Lee here joined them, assuming chief command, and, though he had superior numbers, waited to be attacked. Rosecrans finally withdrew (October 16th) without being pursued, and went into camp on New River. Lee returned to Richmond, with his reputation for the moment in a haze.
Preparations to enforce the blockade were pushed with vigor from the moment it was decided upon. Many steamers were bought or chartered and speedily made ready for naval service. Including water-craft of all sorts then used in naval operations, there were hundreds of new constructions. Captain Fox, as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, had a full share of credit for the efficiency of the department in this work. The large demand for volunteer seamen was so promptly met that the newly equipped vessels were adequately manned as fast as they were ready — generally by men inured to
marine life. Two blockading squadrons were organized: the Atlantic, under Flag-officer Silas H. Stringham, and the Gulf, under Flag-officer William Mervine. By the ist of July, Stringham had twenty-two vessels, with a total of 296 guns and 3,300 men; and Mervine, twenty-one vessels, 282 guns, and 3,500 men.
A combined military and naval expedition under General Butler and Commodore Stringham left Hampton Roads on the 26th of August, and next day arrived off Hatteras Inlet, the entrance to Pamlico Sound. The place was defended by two forts, garrisoned by a force of seven hundred men, under the command of Commodore S. Barron, a seceder from the United States Navy. Fire was opened on the enemy's works on the morning of the 28th, and on the 29th the place was surrendered, with its garrison, guns, and stores. Here was one of the favorite haunts of blockade-runners, a number of which vessels, unaware of the change of command in the harbor, ran in and were welcomed as prizes. The prompt success of this expedition gave great satisfaction at the North, as the first severe return blow after the day at Manassas.
Another like enterprise, under General Thomas W. Sherman and Commodore S. F. Dupont, destined for Port Royal harbor, encountered a severe storm, soon after starting on the 29th of October, causing some losses and delay. The harbor was defended by works at Hilton Head and Phillips Island, opposite. Dupont began his attack on the forts in the morning of November 7th, and after five hours' fighting, the enemy took to Alight. Permanent possession of this important harbor was now secure. Had the army pressed forward at
once, it was maintained at the time,- and this is fully confirmed by the opinion of General R. E. Lee, published after the war,— Charleston and Savannah were at the mercy of Sherman. Either his orders were at fault, or this was not the right Sherman. He paused, and only occupied Beaufort, on Port Royal Island, on the 8th of December — a month after Dupont had captured the two forts on Tybee Island, below Savannah, insuring the speedy “repossession” of Fort Pulaski, which was within shelling distance.
The Sea Islands, famous for their cotton, were at once brought under Government control. The plantations on fifteen islands, large and small, numbered two hundred, and there were about eight thousand negroes left behind by the whites in their flight. Several thousand colored fugitives came into the camp at Hilton Head, who were taken care of under instructions similar to those given to General Butler the previous summer.
Two other military-naval expeditions had also been for some time in preparation, with concealed destination,- one, in fact, to Roanoke Island, the other to New Orleans,— which did not get under way until after the close of the year.
The most exciting naval incident of the season was the arrest of ex-Senators Mason and Slidell on their way to Europe as Confederate ambassadors. Embarking at Charleston on the Theodora, a blockade-runner, they had safely reached Havana, where they took passage on the British mail-steamer Trent. Captain (later RearAdmiral) Charles Wilkes, of the San Jacinto, cruising in Cuban waters, stopped the Trent while proceeding on her voyage, and forcibly transferred the two emissaries