War of the Rebellion: Serial 003 Page 0337 Chapter X. ENGAGEMENT AT BELMONT, MO., ETC.

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having opened a sharp fire upon us apparently along the whole line. When we had fired some seven or eight rounds, believing the firing to be ineffectual, I ordered it to cease, and remained in position. A few minutes elapsed, when, in obedience to an order from General Pillow, I ordered a charge. The order was obeyed with the greatest gallantry and spirit, in double-quick time, for some 200 yards, through open ground to the edge of the woods, the latter portion of the distance under fire. Upon reaching the woods a tremendous fire of musketry suddenly opened upon my line from the concealed enemy at very short distance, when, seeing myself apparently unsupported in the charge on my right, I ordered a halt, and ordered my command to load and fire kneeling. The fire of the enemy was one continuous roar, showing the force immediately opposed to my regiment to be at least double its numbers and excellently armed. My command loaded and fired kneeling for some three-quarters of an hour with perfect coolness and determination, and during this time we sustained nearly all of our heavy loss, the enemy in front of us seeming to be re-enforced. The firing from our lines ceased on the right of my regiment, but did not abate in front of me, and learning that the center of our brigade had fallen back, the battery retiring, and that the enemy were outflanking us on the right and left, I ordered my command to withdraw, and form behind the first elevation in the rear of our position, and the color to be planted there. In this position I remained for some time awaiting orders, when, seeing a demonstration of the enemy on our front and left, I fired three or four rounds. At that time, our ammunition being nearly exhausted and no support being in sight, I ordered my command to retire and form at the levee, where, however, I succeeded in rallying but a portion of the regiment. While in this position the enemy's flag was run up some 300 yards to our left, and we fired upon it our last cartridges-three rounds. At that time, having been engaged some hours, and our ammunition being exhausted the first re-enforcement arrived which I understood to be the Second Tennessee, and that they were ordered to the left, relieving my men, and our batteries opened from the east side of the river, in consequence of which I moved my command by the right flank farther up the river bank to refresh the men, collect the scattered, and get ammunition.

We were there when General Polk arrived, and I was ordered by him to remain there for orders. The only order which I afterwards received was to embark on the Prince for Columbus.

I may add that a more gallant charge was never made than that of the Twenty-first Regiment, nor was ever displayed greater heroism under a more galling fire for so long a period, under greater relative disadvantages of position. For particulars of casualties I refer to the report made by my adjutant this morning. I will only add in general that we had 78 killed and wounded, and of the latter were 4 captains out of 8 in the action and 5 lieutenants. Every mounted officer had his horse shot.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,,


Colonel Twenty-first Regiment Tennessee Volunteers.

Colonel R. M. RUSSELL, Commanding Brigade.