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has become during the rebellion one of the most important positions in the loyal States. The enemy, at the time he assumed command, were actively engaged in fortifying Columbus, Hickman, and other points admirably situated for offensive operations on the Mississippi river; and as they appeared determined to extend their occupation to all the equally advantageous sites on that stream, and also on the Ohio river, General Grant made a strategic move, and on the sixth of September occupied Paducah, at the mouth of the Tennessee river, having arrived there before the rebels could secure possession. When his troops entered the town, the emblem of treason was floating from numerous flag-staffs, and the people openly expressed their disloyal sentiments. The railroad depot, post-office, telegraph office, and other public buildings were seized, and the following proclamation was issued:
“PADUCAH, KY., September 6th, 1861.
"To the Citizens of Paducah:
I have come among you not as an enemy, but as your fellowcitizen. Not to maltreat or annoy you, but to respect and enforce the rights of all loyal citizens. An enemy, in rebellion against our common Government, has taken possession of, and planted its guns on the soil of Kentucky, and fired upon you. Columbus and Hickman are in his hands. He is moving upon your city. I am here to defend you against this enemy, to assist the authority and sovereignty of your Government. I have nothing to do with opinions, and shall deal only with armed rebellion and its aiders and abettors. You can pursue your usual avocations without fear. The strong arm of the Government is here to protect its friends and punish its enemies. Whenever it is manifest that you are able to defend yourselves and maintain the authority of the Government and protect the rights of loyal citizens, I shall withdraw the forces under my command.
"U. S. GRANT, Brigadier-General Commanding."
This movement was one of the boldest which had up to that date been made in the West. The troops under General Grant, consisting of two Illinois regiments, with four pieces of artillery, left Cairo under the protection of two gunboats. The disembarkation at Paducah was rapidly
accomplished, and notwithstanding the offensive cheers for Jefferson Davis and other leading traitors, and the various insulting remarks which greeted the troops in the highways and byways, they marched steadily forward, perfecting the occupation, and seizing immense quantities of stores which were awaiting shipment to the South. A small force was then sent down the railroad some seven or eight miles, and destroyed an important bridge over which until that moment the enemy had expected to be transported within a few hours. The gunboat Conestoga was in the meantime sent up the Tennessee river and captured three steamers. General Paine was placed in command, and General Grant returned to Cairo. On the twenty-fifth of September, 1861, Smithland, Kentucky, at the mouth of the Cumberland, was also occupied, thus blockading two important streams, and securing two almost indispensable bases of operations for future movements.
PROPOSED EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS.
In the following October, the following correspondence passed between General Grant and Major-General Polk, formerly a much respected Bishop of the Episcopal Church, but subsequently one of the most bitter and unscrupulous officers of the rebel service :
"HEAD-QUARTERS, FIRST DIVISION,
“To the Commanding Officer at Cairo and Bird's Point:
"I have in my camp a number of prisoners of the Federal army, and am informed there are prisoners belonging to the Missouri State troops in yours. I propose an exchange of these prisoners, and for that purpose send Captain Polk, of the Artillery, and Lieutenant Smith, of the Infantry, both of the Confederate States Army, with a flag of truce, to deliver to you this communication, and to know your pleasure in regard to my proposition.
"The principles recognized in the exchange of prisoners effected on the third of September, between Brigadier-General Pillow. of the Confederate Army, and Colonel Wallace, of the
United States Army, are those I propose as the basis of that now contemplated.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
To this communication General Grant forwarded the
"SOUTHEAST MISSOURI, CAIRO, Oct. 14th, 1861. "GENERAL:-Yours of this date is just received. In regard to an exchange of prisoners, as proposed, I can of my own accordance make none. I recognize no Southern Confederacy' myself, but will communicate with higher authorities for their views. Should I not be sustained, I will find means of communicating with you.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
"U. S. GRANT, "Brigadier-General Commanding.
"TO MAJOR-GENERAL POLK, Columbus, Ky."
THE BATTLE OF FREDERICKTOWN, MISSOURI. About the middle of October, 1861, General Grant ordered Colonel Plummer, of the Eleventh Missouri volunteers, to proceed with a portion of the troops stationed at Cape Girardeau in pursuit of Jeff. Thompson, who was then reported to be at Fredericktown. On the eighteenth, that officer left his head-quarters with about fifteen hundred men, cavalry, infantry and artillery, and on the twentyfirst arrived at Fredericktown, where he found Colonel Carlin's command, and augmenting his strength by accessions from the ranks of his brother commander, he advanced about a mile beyond the town, and discovered the rebels drawn up in line. He immediately attacked him, and after a severe engagement of nearly three hours, compelled him to retire. On the following day he pursued Thompson twenty-two miles, but finding it impossible to overtake him, returned to Cape Girardeau, taking with him a number of prisoners and small arms, and one small piece of artillery captured upon the field.
Upon receiving Colonel Plummer's report of the engagement, General Grant addressed the following letter to the victor :
“HEAD-QUARTERS, DISTRICT SOUTHEAST MISSOURI, "CAIRO, October 27th, 1861.
"COLONEL J. B. PLUMMER, Commanding United States Forces, "Cape Girardeau, Mo.:
"COLONEL :-Your report of the expedition under your com. mand is received. I congratulate you, and the officers and soldiers of the expedition, upon the result.
"But little doubt can be entertained of the success of our arms, when not opposed by superior numbers; and in the action of Fredericktown they have given proof of courage and determination, which shows that they would undergo any fatigue or hardships to meet our rebellious brethren, even at great odds. "Our loss, small as it was, is to be regretted; but the friends and relatives of those who fell can congratulate themselves in the midst of their affliction, that they fell in maintaining the cause of constitutional freedom and the integrity of a flag erected in the first instance at a sacrifice of many of the noblest lives that ever graced a nation.
'In conclusion, say to your troops they have done nobly. It goes to prove that much more may be expected of them when the country and our great cause calls upon them.
66 Yours, etc.,
"U. S. GRANT,
THE MOVEMENT DOWN THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER-THE BATTLE OF BELMONT.
Early in November, 1861, General Grant received orders from the commanding-general of the Department, to make a formidable movement down the Mississippi towards Belmont and Columbus. The order was obeyed, but unfortunately with an unsuccessful result, the intelligence of which, when received in the loyal States, disheartened the timid, and, until the circumstances were fully known, provoked much invidious comment as to the ability and skill of the leader under whose command the repulsed troops had attacked the rebel works. The following official report, after the affair had been thoroughly investigated, was accepted as the true and correct account of the proceedings upon that eventful day:
'CAIRO, November 12th, 1861. "On the evening of the sixth inst. I left this place with two thousand eight hundred and fifty men of all arms, to make a reconnoissance toward Columbus. The object of the expedition was to prevent the enemy from sending out reinforcements to Price's army in Missouri, and also from cutting off columns that I had been directed to send out from this place and Cape Girardeau, in pursuit of Jeff. Thompson. Knowing that Columbus was strongly garrisoned, I asked General Smith, commanding at Paducah, Ky., to make demonstrations in the same direction. He did so by ordering a small force to Mayfield and another in the direction of Columbus, not to approach nearer, however, than twelve or fifteen miles. I also sent a small force on the Kentucky side with orders not to approach nearer than Ellicott's Mills, some twelve miles from Columbus. The expedition under my immediate command was stopped about nine miles below here on the Kentucky shore, and remained until morning. All this served to distract the enemy, and led him to think he was to be attacked in his strongly fortified position. At daylight we proceeded down the river to a point just out of range of the rebel guns, and debarked on the Missouri shore. From here the troops were marched by flank for about one mile toward Belmont, and then drawn up in line of battle, a battalion also having been left as a reserve near the transports. Two companies from each regiment, five skeletons in number, were then thrown out as skirmishers, to ascertain the position of the enemy. It was but a few moments before we met him, and a general engagement ensued.
"The balance of my forces, with the exception of the reserve, was then thrown forward-all as skirmishers-and the enemy driven foot by foot, and from tree to tree, back to their encampment on the river bank, a distance of two miles. Here they had strengthened their position by felling the timber for several hundred yards around their camp, and making a sort of abatis. Our men charged through this, driving the enemy over the bank into their transports in quick time, leaving us in possession of every thing not exceedingly portable. Belmont is on low ground, and every foot of it 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 their troops. Having no wagons, I could not move any of the captured property; consequently, I gave orders for its destruction. Their tents, blankets, etc., were set on fire, and we retired, taking their artillery with us, two pieces being drawn by hand; and one other, drawn by an inefficient team, we spiked and left in the woods, bringing the only two to this place. Before getting fairly under way the enemy made his appearance again, and attempted to surround us. Our troops were not in the least discouraged, but charged on the enemy again and defeated him.