War of the Rebellion: Serial 003 Page 0315 Chapter X. ENGAGEMENT AT BELMONT, MO., ETC.

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at Belmont. I had just that morning returned from Bowling Green, where I had been ordered by him.

I obeyed the order as promptly as possible, crossed the river, and disposed my force to receive the enemy. I had barely time to get my troops in position when I was assailed by a very large force. I immediately dispatched an officer with this information to General Polk, and requested him to re-enforce me. Subsequently I dispatched another officer to General Polk, stating that I was engaged with a force three times the strength of my own, and that my ammunition was growing short, and requested him to re-enforce me promptly and send me ammunition.

The fight waxed on, but no re-enforcements or ammunition came. I ultimately sent a third officer, saying that if I was not promptly re-enforced and furnished with ammunition, I would be overwhelmed by the enemy. My battery was now silenced for want of ammunition, and one regiment and a battalion had expended their ammunition, still I got neither re-enforcements nor ammunition.

Being now without the means for keeping up a line of fire and pressed hard by the enemy, I had nothing left me but the bayonet and I ordered the charge, and drove back the enemy's line against his strong reserve; but I could not break his line, and was compelled to fall back to my original position. The enemy's line was then again advancing upon me; I repeated the charge the second and third time with like result, but still no support reached me.

After four hours' hard fighting against a force of three times my own, and after a loss of quite one-fourth the force engaged, to save my command from total destruction, I at last ordered the line to fall back to the river bank. There I met with Colonel Walker's regiment, the first support sent me.

This bloody battle was within three-fourths of a mile from the main army; the river interposing, I could not fall back upon it for support. There were not less than 10,000 well-armed and well-disciplined men looking on the conflict from the opposite shore, and this force was within a strong and well-constructed line of defensive works.

The reason given by General Polk for not supporting me more promptly was that he was apprehensive of an attack upon the Columbus side also. I am satisfied that an attack on that side was feared, but as my small force was thrown across the river, from whence there was no retreat, and as I was attacked by a greatly superior force, I ought, at any hazard, to have been promptly supported, and not abandoned to my fate for four long hours, and until so much blood and so many valuable lives were sacrificed.

Such a sacrifice cannot be excused by alleged fears of attack on the Columbus side, with the force there in hand and the position it occupied, and with the means to have known if any enemy was near except that which my command had engaged.

Under such circumstances I trust I shall be pardoned for distrusting the efficiency of the commanding general of that army, and for expressing apprehensions that a like occurrence or even a greater calamity awaits his want of fitness to command.

I need therefore only say that this needless sacrifice of so many brave men; the injustice received at his hands in being stripped of my staff; his cruel harshness to me for declining to issue an illegal order and against my convictions of duty, and his unjust censure for supplying to the army a pressing want which he had neglected (a want involving the loss of a large amount of the property of the Government), all en-