Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 16.djvu/85

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The Battle of Belmont. 79

when opposite the transports, and distant some two hundred yards, I gave the order to charge, which was most promptly and gallantly done; about one-half of the right wing being led in person by Lieu- tenant-Colonel Wright, who, finding the enemy hurrying on board, deployed those under his immediate command as skirmishers, and opened a galling fire on the enemy. The remainder of the right wing, by my order, deployed and fell on their centre, and also opened their fire on the crowded and confused mass of the flying enemy."

The fire was kept up with little cessation on both sides for about an hour. The enemy replied with volleys of musketry from the boats, and rapid discharges of grape, canister, and shell from the gunboats. At the expiration of this time the boats succeeded in cutting their cables and moved out under cover of their gunboats, and the flotilla began its return up the river, firing some farewell shots from their gunboats as they steamed up the stream.

When we arrived in sight of the gunboats there were unmistak- able signs of a precipitate flight. Large quantities of baggage, arms, overcoats, knapsacks, and other articles were strewn over the ground.

After the gunboats had moved out of range, I directed Adjutant W. H. Stovall and a detail of ten men to remain with me and look after the wounded. After this duty had been performed, we took pos- session of seven wagons, a lot of harness, blankets, trunks, knap- sacks, and clothing of all sorts. We also captured some muskets. Captain Fitzgerald had been successful with his scouting party, cap- turing eight prisoners and killing three in his skirmish.

The battle of Belmont was long and severe. It began at half past ten in the morning and did not finally close until five in the after- noon.

The Confederates had engaged, all told, ten regiments of infantry, a battalion of cavalry, and one battery of six pieces. The regiments had been wasted by the measles, and General Pillow estimated the five regiments, the cavalry, and the artillery, with which he began the fight, to be not over 2,500 men. He based this estimate on the morn- ing report. Five more regiments were sent to reinforce him, but the enemy were already routed before my own regiment and that of Colonel Blythe's arrived on the ground. Three regiments which fol- lowed General Pillow, and preceded us, could not have exceeded 1,500 men. This would have made the Confederate force 4,000 men before our arrival, and when we arrived the enemy were already in