The engrossing labors of the Department deprive me of the coveted pleasure of dwelling in detail on all these evidences of the valor of our troops and the skill and gallantry of their commanders. It is impossible, however, not to call special attention to the battle of Belmont as affording a splendid example of the qualities of both officers and men. Let the reports be read, and all will concur in the simple and emphatic praise of the commander-in-chief of the Western Department when he pronounces the work well done. Its telling effects are still visible upon the enemy, and the names of Polk Pillow, Cheatham, and McCown will remain identified with its history and will recur to the memory of men whenever mention shall be made of the battle of Belmont. I deeply regret that I am not able to give greater prominence in this report to the battle of Leesburg, one of the most important, as it certainly was the most decisive in its results, of the whole war. The terrible loss inflicted on the enemy, when compared with the numbers engaged, far exceeds that of any conflict since the commencement of hostilities, and I still hope that the transmission of the report to the Department prior to the adjournment of Congress may enable me to submit it to you in time to be communicated. You will also find annexed the reports of the engagement on Santa Rosa Island* and of the movements of our troops in the neighborhood of Cheat Mountain. #
The battle of Manassas, fought July 21, was not reported to the Department till nearly three months afterward, viz, on October 15, and belongs appropriately to the history of my predecessor's administration of this Department; and this last remark also applies to the battle of Oak Hills, fought August 10, the report of which arrived on the 26th of the same month, just before the adjournment of Congress. The reports of both these battles are appended,## and the history of these two eventful days, on which the large and well-appointed hosts of the foe were beaten back and put to rout by the unflinching courage of our volunteers, fighting for hearth and hone, and liberty and independence, will remain imperishable monuments to the gallant generals whose names have already been honored by the unanimous expression of the thanks of Congress, and to the officers and soldiers who proved themselves well worthy of such leaders.
This series of triumphant engagements has been somewhat checkered by the result of the recent bombardment at Port Royal, of which also no official report has been received. $ It is, however, known that some earth-works, unprovided with casemates or shelter of any kind, proved inadequate to defend the entrance of the harbor against an attacking fleet, formidably armed with more than tenfold the number of heavy guns that were mounted in the batteries on shore. The enemy has consequently obtained possession of a cluster of sea islands on the coast of South Carolina which it is impossible to defend without the aid of vessels of war. The results of this occupation, however, are confined to the infliction of such partial losses and sufferings by non-combatants as are attendant on the predatory warfare in which our enemies specially delight, as most congenial to their tastes and least menacing to their safety. They have not yet ventured beyond the protection of the heavy guns of their vessels, while their hopes of
*See Series I, VOL. VI.
#See Series I, VOL. V, p. 191.
##For reports of Manassas see Series I, VOL. II. pp. 439-574, and VOL. LI, Part I, pp. 24-35. . For Wilson's Creek or Oak Hills, see Series I, VOL. III, pp. 98-130, and VOL. LIII, pp. 422-434.
$But see Series I, VOL. VI, pp. 6-29.