HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, WESTERN DEPARTMENT,
Columbus, February 17, 1862.
Colonel PICKETT, Twenty-first Tennessee Volunteers:
The truth of history may require certain facts to be fixed by the testimony of parties best qualified to fix them. I have no ask, therefore, that you would at your earliest convenience reply to the following inquiries:
1st. Did your regiment receive an order to charge the enemy during the battle of Belmont? If so, how many times was that order given and how many times did you charge?
2nd. How many rounds had you fired before you were ordered to charge the first time?
3rd. Did your regiment, when it charged, reach the position occupied by the enemy, or did it for any reason halt before reaching it?
4th. Did your regiment get out of ammunition during the battle?
HDQRS. TWENTY-FIRST REGIMENT TENN., VOLS.,
Near Tupelo, Miss., July 10, 1862.
Your note of the 8th instant,* making interrogatories in reference to the action of my regiment in the battle of Belmont, was received yesterday. I have to reply as follows:
1. I received but one order to charge, and charged once only.
2. My regiment had fired some seven or eight rounds before the order to charge was received.
3. My regiment reached the skirt of the woods held by the enemy when the charge began, who fell back some 40 or 60 yards. I halted my regiment in the edge of the woods, because I was considerably in advance of my support on my right or left, believing the odds too great to proceed until supported. This position I held for a length of time estimated from three-quarters of an hour to an hour and a half under a galling fire, hoping that our line on my right and left would advance. It did not do so, and, the enemy beginning to turn my left, I fell back to a small ravine a short distance in rear of our original line of battle.
4. My regiment got out of ammunition about 2 o'clock, as I suppose, having no time-piece. We got our supply near the river bank where you landed. I had sent my orderly to Columbus for it, and it was brought here by Captain T. V. Hyde, my quartermaster.
Allow me, general, in this connection, to say that when your official report of the battle was published there was a universal feeling of mortification and sense of injustice felt in my command, both by the officers and the men. We were barely mentioned as having been in the original line of battle, but no notice was made of their gallant unsupported charge made through an open field for 150 or 200 yards under a galling fire against a concealed foe, and of their holding the enemy in check for so long a space of time considerably in advance of the rest of our line.
We would be obliged to you, general, for placing us right on the
*No note of that date found; it may have been a repetition of the inquiries made in that of February 17, to which the above letter of Colonel Pickett is evidently an answer.