I observed the firing closely, as ordered, after it commenced on our side, and soon felt satisfied that the forces under the command of General Grant were forcing the enemy to retire; heard the cheering of the men as they entered the rebel camp, soon after which the firing of small-arms ceased for a while. In the mean time I had heard the noise of steamers a short distance below, and felt satisfied that the rebels were crossing immediately into Belmont or above it. The two gunboats moved down to the point, and almost under some of the rebel guns, and opened fire upon them; soon steamed back again toward the transports, which had moved a short distance up the river. Lieutenant Montague, of Company H, Twenty-second Regiment Illinois Volunteers, in command of the picket, I threw out down the river road, captured one of the artillery horses, and came to me and reported that he heard fores moving through the timber below and toward the right, which, with the movements of the gunboat, inclined me to the opinion that the enemy was moving up through the timber, back of some corn fields, in order to reach the transports unobserved. In the mean time the firing of small-arms commenced again. It was very rapid, and from the sound I judged that our forces encountered the fresh forces of the enemy, and were fighting their way back through them, which proved to be the case. I then failed in my pickets, and about 4 o'clock p.m. marched the detachment back to the place of debarkation through some corn fields, which screened it from the observation of the gunners at the batteries on the opposite side. There I formed the detachment on open ground, above the lane and below the point of timber where the steamer Memphis lay, and in which the enemy soon appeared, but kept out of range.
After our forces had about all been re-embarked, I received orders to march the detachment on board the transports, and directed the commanders of the two companies of the Seventh Iowa to march on board their transports, which had dropped down-the Memphis at the point of timber, to which place I then marched the three companies of the Twenty-second Illinois.
After all were on board, the enemy came within range on the bank and commenced firing, advancing up to the edge of the high bank where the steamer lay. The men, being fresh, hurried up on the hurricane deck, under command of their officers, a part remaining below, and spiritedly returned the fire of the rebels from the hurricane deck and forecastle of the boat, one of the engineers of which attracted attention by the cool manner in which he loaded a piece in his possession and fired upon the enemy at short intervals, as his duty permitted.
Six men out of the three companies from the Twenty-second Illinois, comprising a part of the detachment which had been placed under my and out of range-2 in Company A, 1 in Company H, and 3 in Company I; 3 of the 6 severely. The two Seventh Iowa companies were on another transport, and sustained no loss that I can learn.
Your obedient servant,
JOHN E. DETRICH,
Captain Company I, Twenty-second Regiment Ill. Vols.
Colonel HENRY DOUGHERTY,
Twenty-second Illinois Volunteers.