War of the Rebellion: Serial 003 Page 0325 Chapter X. ENGAGEMENT AT BELMONT, MO., ETC.

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tained a severe loss for the forces engaged, about 400. The enemy's double ours. We fought 2,000 men for four hours against 7,450. My object, however, is to say that I presume I will be ordered to move by General Polk as soon as it is possible to relieve the command of dead and wounded on hand. Please inform me of the general's wishes. Am I to remain until ordered to move from here by General Polk or come forward at once without?



Colonel MACKALL, Assistant Adjutant-General.


November 10, 1861.

Under instructions delivered in person by Major-General Polk, on the morning of the 7th instant I crossed to the village of Belmont, on the Missouri shore, four regiments of my division, and rapidly as possible placed them in position about 400 yards from the river bank, in line with Colonel Tappan's regiment and Colonel Beltzhoover's battery, to receive the large force of the enemy advancing on the small encampment at that place. These regiments, for measles and diseases incident the Mississippi bottom and absentees, had been reduced to below 500 men for duty, as shown by the daily morning report. They were formed into line of battle with Colonel Wright's regiment on the left of Colonel Beltzhoover's battery, and with Colonels Pickett's, Freeman's, Tappan's, and Russell's regiments on the right, the last now under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Bell, of the battery. These regiments, all told, numbered about 2,500 men.

Before the line of battle was formed I advanced three companies of skirmishers, taken from the regiments of Colonels Tappan, Pickett, and Freeman, under the command of Adjutant Smith, of Freeman's regiment, to check the advancing column so as to give me time to make the necessary dispositions for battle, using the utmost possible dispatch. I had barely got the forces in position when the skirmishers were driven in and the shock took place between the opposing forces. Had I been less pressed for time to make the necessary disposition of my small force, my imperfect knowledge of the surroundings of the field would of itself have embarrassed me; but I had no choice of position, nor time to make any reconnaissance, nor even satisfactory disposition for occupying the field left me.

When the conflict commenced and both lines were fairly engaged I soon observed the enemy's cavalry turning my left flank and hovering around me, closing the field nearly to the river. Having no cavalry at hand, I was under the necessity of ordering a portion of my force engaged with the enemy in front, weak as was that force, to protect me from that body of cavalry, said to be 450 strong. For this purpose orders were given to Colonel Wright to detach one company of his regiment. He accordingly assigned this duty to Company A, then commanded by Lieutenant Rhea. Several attempts were made by the enemy's infantry to flank my right and left wings, but the attempt on the right was defeated by the deadly fire and firm attitude of that wing, comprised of the regiments of Colonels Russell and Tappan, commanded by Colonel Russell, as brigade commander. The attempt to turn the left wing was defeated by the destructive fire of Beltzhoover's battery and Colonel Wright's regiments, aided by a line of felled timber extend-