the progress of the battle. On arriving on the Missouri shore I found our troops retreating in some disorder up the river, the enemy having driven them back. I asked an officer the cause of this, and he replied that the men were out of ammunition. I directed him to supply himself from a quantity lying in boxes under the bank. I proceed up the river, sending the men back who were under the bank for a supply, but found, upon an examination of the cartridge-boxes of several, both above and below the bank, that they had a good supply. Finding that the confusion was becoming worse, and the men inclined to rush upon the transports, I endeavored by expostulation and entreaties to halt them, but in vain. I then rode to the head of the column, and applying the saber to the leading files it had the desired effect. By this time I had arrived in the vicinity of General Pillow, who had a regiment, or part of one, halted and in line, and to whom, being without staff officers, I volunteered my services for a time. I told him of your wish to know how the battle was going, to which he replied the men were falling back, and that he wished to make a flank movement upon the enemy. I reported to him there was plenty of ammunition on the bank of the river, and what I had done, stating to him that I had heard there was a scarcity, but that it was not so, and I asked him if the men could not be got to try the cold steel, to which he replied he had tried that, but could not get the men to stand it. I asked him for permission to make a trial myself, but he said he thought his present movement the best.
After remaining for some time with him I told him I must report to you the condition of things, and asked him if he had any communications to send to you, to which he replied to inform you of his intended flank movement.
I crossed the river on the Prince about 2 o'clock and stated to you his message, and also that my opinion was that the battle was lost unless re-enforcements were sent across; that the troops were in retreat and appeared to have lost all confidence in their officers, and that I thought your presence alone would restore order and save the day. These re-enforcements were sent across and were followed by yourself. When, after executing some orders given me by you, I joined you on the Missouri side the enemy were in full retreat.
I am, very respectfully,
Major General L. POLK,
Commanding First Division, Western Department, Columbus, Ky.
No. 39. Report of Captain B. J. Butler, steamer Prince.
CORINTH, MISS., April 2, 1862.
I was present at the battle of Belmont; was in command of the Prince as captain. Went over to the battle-field about 9.30 o'clock with a part of General Pillow's staff and staid upon the battle-field until about 11.30 or 12 o'clock, when I left, having been sent over to General Polk by General Pillow. I was sent to General Polk with a message from General Pillow to the effect that he must have ammunition and re-enforcements or he must withdraw his forces from the field. Ammunition had been sent for and brought over to the battle-field by