« PreviousContinue »
confident of the success of our cause, scientiousness. It is due from me to say
hope of relief from the vertigo with which
THE CAMP AT CAIRO AND BATTLE OF BELMONT, NOVEMBER 7, 1861.
The soldiers of Illinois, who were to mercial cities are the depots. Whichbear so conspicuous a part in the coming ever of the two parties in the national war, were early in the field. The State, conflict should first get possession of both by its geographical and political Cairo would hold an inestimable advanposition, was likely to exercise a most tage in carrying on the war.
Nor was important influence on the war. Bound the command of the State less important ed on the west and south by the Missis- in its moral influences. The sympathies sippi and Ohio rivers, it was in its power of its Southern portion might naturally to control the vast supplies furnished to be, as it was frequently stated they the South by those mighty channels of were, with its neighbors in Kentucky trade. Cairo, at the junction of these and Missouri. Next to the border slave two streams, was the key to the North- States, its voice on the principles and west. A military force stationed there conduct of the war was of the utmost might arrest the entire water communi- significance. Had Illinois wavered, Kencation of New Orleans and the interme- tucky and Tennessee would have been diate cities with St. Louis, on the one doubly resolute, and Missouri doubly side, and Cincinnati on the other, and hesitating. Happily, she had in the the regions beyond, of which these com- executive chair a man who saw clearly
the nature of the issue, and had the will to be allowed to accept the services of and spirit to lead the undoubted incli- ten regiments in addition to the quota nation and determination of her loyal called for by the General Government, population. No one stood forward, as This was the beginning of the army of the crisis approached, more firmly to Illinois. Previous to the war the entire arrest the downward course of rebellion uniformed militia of the State did not than her Governor, Richard Yates. By muster eight hundred men; before the his energetic patriotism, both the mili- close of the year more than seventy tary and political power and authority thousand of its citizens were in the army. of the State were promptly secured to Illinois, in her population of about a the Government. In advance of the million seven hundred thousand, had now imminent struggle, when there was four hundred thousand capable of bearbut a spec of war in the horizon, he had, ing arms, and more than double that in his Inaugural in January, consider- number of children in her free schools.* ately and firmly declared his conviction Simultaneously with the meeting of of the duty of the people of Illinois to the Illinois Legislature, at the end of the Union. Of the vexed question of April, Governor Yates, in obedience to
. slavery, it was an institution, he de- an order of the War Department, staclared, which could not exist for ever. tioned a portion of the Volunteer forces “ Die it must," was his language,” sooner which had been hastily mustered, as a or later ; die, that the philosophy of garrison at Cairo. An important seizure history may be demonstrated ; die, that of a cargo of seven hundred kegs of powman's most cherished hopes may not der and other war materials, on a boat wither; die, that God's eternal justice descending the Mississippi, was one of may be vindicated.”. But, he said at the the first fruits of the occupation. As same time, while the "outside territories troops were organized, the command was of the Union were not to be surrender- reinforced, and the natural defences of ed to a policy that would retard their the place strengthened by military art. settlement,” there was no reason why The embankment of the levees afforded this inevitable work of emancipation an advantageous position for heavy guns; should not be left to the discretion or and before the rebels were prepared for necessities of the slave-holding States. its assaụlt, Cairo was beyond the reach He demanded only obedience to the of capture. At the end of May BrigadierConstitution and the laws, and less than General Prentiss had under his comthis fidelity to the Union he would not mand, at Camp Defiance, some five accept. He could recognise but one thousand State volunteers, with a retheory of political action, that of "the spectable force of artillery. An entrenchperpetuity of the Constitution and the ed camp on the opposite station in MisGovernment organized under it.” souri, at Bird's Point, was occupied by
With these principles his course was Colonel Schuttner's regiment of St. Louis thenceforward simple and direct. The Volunteers, composed of Germans, Poles, call to arms found him ready and re- and Hungarians, rendering the control solved. He promptly called the Legis- of the Mississippi at this point complete. lature together in special session, and We have an interesting account of a clearly set before its members the de- visit to Cairo the following month, in a mands of the occasion. “Secession,” said letter of the London Times' correspondhe, "has brought about its inevitable ent, Mr. Russell. Just arrived from an results, and we must crush it and trea- examination of General Pillow's rival son wherever they raise their unsightly
* Inaugural Address of Governor Yates, Jan. 14, 1861, heads, or perish ourselves.” He asked Allen C. Fuller's, Adjutant-General, Report, Dec. 12 1561
works at Memphis, and its vicinity, he Among other military employments of sees the military value of the position, the force at Cairo, in its service in this and bears witness to the general excel- quarter, there was a spirited raid, on the lence of the defences. His sketch of the 19th of August, of a party of about two departure of an expedition on a guerrilla hundred of the Illinois troops, led by enterprise against a party of rebels at Colonel Dougherty and Lieutenant-ColCommerce, on the Mississippi, affords a onel Ranson, against a band of Secesvivid glimpse of the stalwart men, “ well sionists who were occupying Charleston, set up, stout, powerful, infantry-looking, Missouri. On reaching the spot where cheerful and full of confidence," who a the enemy were encamped in the courtfew months later were to secure the house, church and other buildings, a plaudits of the country in their brave charge was ordered, which resulted in a campaign in Tennessee. Nor were the hu- loss of forty killed and fifty or sixty mors of the camp forgotten by this lively wounded on the side of the rebels, and observer. Here is an evening scene, one killed and several wounded of the doubtless freely sketched, in which his attacking party. The rebels were fully countrymen bore a part: “An Irish routed and fifteen prisoners with eightgentleman, who had been evincing his een horses and other trophies were satisfaction at the receipt of his wages, brought in to Bird's Point. more Hibernico, just now attempted to Besides its embankments and their get past us. Who goes there ?' 'A defenders Cairo and the region under friend-shure you know I'm .a friend ! her guardianship had a more powerful · Advance three paces and give the coun- means of protection and annoyance to tersign. The gentleman approached, "the foe, in the little flotilla of gunboats and was brought up by the bayonet. destined to such signal service on the Send for the captain, and he'll give you western waters. The construction of the word, bedad. The intercession was
The intercession was these vessels was commenced at Cincinunnecessary, for two policemen came up nati in May, when Commander John in hot pursuit, and the general, who was Rodgers was sent by the Navy Departsitting by, ordered the guard to deliver ment to superintend the work. Under their prisoner to the civil power. For his direction three stern-wheel steamers, some extraordinary reason, this act the Tyler, Lexington and Conestoga, moved the prisoner to the greatest grat- were purchased and prepared for miliitude, and taking off his cap, he ex- tary service. They were heavily cased claimed, “Thank you, general ; long life with oak and severally armed with seven, to you.
Indeed, general, I'm greatly six, and four guns. They reached Cairo obliged to you, on this account !' Anoth- in August, and henceforth we find them er sentry who challenged an officer in constantly enployed in checking the adthe usual way, was asked by him, 'Do vances of the enemy and supporting the you know the countersign yourself? movements of the National troops.
Indeed, I don't, sir ; it's not nine o'clock Their first active employment was on and they hav'n't given it out yet.' A the 9th of September, when, by order of very tolerable military band had played General Grant, Lieutenant Phelps comoutside the hotel in the evening, and I manding the Conestoga and Lieutenant was pleased to see the quiet manner in Stembel commanding the Lexington, were which the bystanders, of all ranks, sat sent down the river to Norfolk, eight down in the chairs as they were vacant, miles below Cairo on the Missouri shore, close to the general, without any intru- to coöperate with a land movement of sivn, or any sense of impropriety arising Colonel Wagner upon the enemy at that from their difference in rank.”
place. The Conestoga led the way, and
came in contact with a rebel battery at The most considerable movement froin Lucas's Bend on the Missouri side, when Cairo previous to the great expeditions a skirmishing fire was kept up for some to the Tennessee and the Cumberland time, the enemy following the movement was the armed reconnoissance of Genof the steamers as they ascended the eral Ulysses S. Grant, then commanding stream by advancing their flying rified the district of South Eastern Missouri, in artillery along the shore. The fire was the direction of Columbus, which resultpromptly returned, when the foe retreat- ed in the battle of Belmont. This offiing, they were pursued by the steamers cer, destined to distinguished service in till the latter came up with two rebel the war, was a native of Ohio, and envessels out of Columbus. One of these tered the Military Academy from that was the gunboat Yankee, upon which State in 1839. Graduating from that Lieutenant Stembel, at the distance of institution in due course, he was apabout two miles and a half, tried the pointed brevet 2d Lieutenant to the force of one of his 8-inch guus charged 4th Infantry. He served with distinwith a 15-second shell. Giving the gun guished honor in the Mexican campaigns its greatest possible elevation, he fired, of both General Taylor and General and “ had the satisfaction of seeing the Scott,' and was brevetted Captain for shell explode in the star-board wheel- gallant and meritorious conduct at the house of the Yankee, careening her battle of Chapultepec. He attained the smoke-stack and otherwise crippling her, full rank of Captain in the 4th Infantry when both rebel steamers retreated to in 1853. The following year he resigned wards Columbus, the batteries on the his rank in the service, and settled in bluff alone preventing their capture."* St. Louis county, Missouri, whence he
: , , One man only was injured on the Union removed to Galena, Illinois, in 1860. side. In September Captain Andrew H. At the breaking out of the war of the Foote, an officer of the United States rebellion he offered his services to GovNavy, presently to acquire great dis- ernor Yates and entered at once on actinction in the service on the Mississippi, tive employment as Colonel of the 21st was assigned to the command of the regiment of volunteers, serving in that Western Flotilla, for which a number of capacity until he was promoted among . iron-clad gunboats and mortar boats the earliest appointments of the kind at were in active preparation. On 'the Washington, to the rank which he held 30th of October he reported to the at Belmont, of Brigadier-General of Department the ascent of the Conestoga, Volunteers. Lieutenant Phelps, with three companies
The object of the expedition from of Major Philips' Illinois regiment, to Cairo, as we learn from General Grant's Eddyville, sixty-two miles above Padu- Report, was to prevent the enemy in cah on the Tennessee river. “ Conjointly that quarter sending out reinforcements they had a handsome and successful skir- to Price's army in South-western Missoumish, in which the rebels broke and fled ri, and also from cutting off two small in every direction, leaving seven dead on columns that had been sent from Cairo the field.” Two of the Union party were and Cape Girardeau in pursuit of Jeff
. severely and several slightly wounded. Thompson, who was in command of a The spoils were forty-four prisoners, sev- body of insurgents on St. Francis river. en negroes, thirty-one horses, eleven As the rebel force was known to be mules and a fair quantity of military large, General Charles F. Smith, an offiequipments.
cer of the regular army, who was sta* Commander Stembel's Report to Commodore Foote,
tioned at Paducah, was requested to September 13, 1861.
coöperate by demonstrations on the
MILITARY EXPEDITION FROM CAIRO.
Kentucky side, which he did by advanc- forward the cavalry with a skirmising ing small bodies of men toward Colum- party to clear the way, while carefully bus. These arrangements having been reconnoitering the position of the enemy, made General Grant having also sent a he brought up his regiments within striksmall force into Kentucky in the same ing distance of the enemy's camp. direction, embarked with nearly three sharp firing,” says he in his vivid report thousand men on the evening of the to General Grant of the action which sixth of November, from Cairo. He had ensued, “having immediately commenced with him five incomplete regiments; between the skirmishing parties of the Colonel Dougherty's 22d, Colonel Bu- Thirtieth and Thirty-first and the eneford's 27th, Colonel Foukes' 30th, Col- my, I ordered forward another party to onel Logan's 31st Illinois, Colonel Lan- their support, rode forward, selected a man's 7th Iowa, with Captain Ezra new position, and ordered up the balance Taylor's Chicago Light Battery of four of my command—the Twenty-seventh6-pounder field guns, and two 12-poun- to pass around the head of a pond, the der howitzers and two companies of Thirtieth and Thirty-first, with the artilIllinois cavalry, commanded by Captains lery, crossing the dry bed of the same Dollins and Delano. This force was slough in their front.
was slough in their front. On their arrival, transported on five steamers and was I re-formed the line of battle in the same accompanied by the gunboats H. O. Ty- order as before. It was my expectation ler and Lexington, heavily armed, and that the Twenty-second Illinois and the cominanded by Captains Walke and Seventh Iowa-would resume their former Stembel, of the United States Navy. positions on the left wing, which would The vessels stopped for the night about have perfected a line suficient to enclose nine miles below Cairo, leaving the ene- the enemy's camp, on all sides accessible my to suppose from the operations on to us, thus enabling us to command the the Kentucky shore, that the immediate river above and below them, and preobject was Columbus. It was really the vent the crossing of reinforcements from camp opposite at Belmont, where several Columbus, insuring his capture as well regiments of the enemy had been sta- as defeat. The Thirtieth and Thirtytioned. At daylight the next day the first and the artillery, moving forward, voyage was resumed to a point of the promptly relieved the skirmishing parriver just out of the range of the rebel ties, and soon became engaged with a guns, about two and a half miles distant, heavy body of the enemy's infantry and and the disembarkation from the trans- cavalry. The struggle, which was conports there safely accomplished on the tinued for half an hour with great severMissouri shore, about half-past eight ity, threw our ranks into temporary o'clock. The heavy batteries of the ene- disorder ; but the men promptly rallied my at Columbus, which had been direc- under the gallant example of Colonels ted at the gunboats, were turned against Fouke and Logan, assisted by Major the advancing column, but without effect. Berryman, Acting Assistant AdjutantBrigadier-General John A. McClernand, General of my brigade ; also by Captain an eminent political leader in Illinois, a Schwartz, Acting Chief of Artillery, Capfriend and supporter of the late Senator tain Dresser, of the artillery, Lieutenant Douglass, who had passed, from his ear- Babcock, of the Second Cavalry, and nest advocacy of the cause of the Union Lieutenant Eddy, of the Twenty-ninth in the recent Congress to serve the same Illinois regiment, who had, upon my. ingreat interest in the field, had immediate vitation, kindly joined my staff
Our charge of the movement under the direc- men pressed vigorously upon the enemy tion of General Grant. He now sent and drove him back, their cavalry leav