Battle of Belmont
The Battle of Belmont was fought on November 7, 1861, in Mississippi County, Missouri.
It was the first combat test in the American Civil War for Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, the future Union Army general in chief and eventual U.S. president.
On November 6, Grant sailed from Cairo, Illinois, to attack the Confederate fortress at Columbus, Kentucky. The next morning, he learned that Confederate troops had crossed the Mississippi River to Belmont, Missouri. He landed his men on the Missouri side and marched to Belmont. Grant's troops overran the Confederate camp and destroyed it. However, the scattered Confederate forces quickly reorganized and were reinforced from Columbus. They then counterattacked, supported by heavy artillery fire from across the river. Grant retreated to his riverboats and took his men to Paducah, Kentucky. The battle was minor, but with little happening elsewhere at the time, it received considerable attention in the press.
Description: On November 6, 1861, Brig. Gen. U.S. Grant left Cairo, Illinois, by steamers, in conjunction with two gunboats, to make a demonstration against Columbus, Kentucky. The next morning, Grant learned that Confederate troops had crossed the Mississippi River from Columbus to Belmont, Missouri, to intercept two detachments sent in pursuit of Brig. Gen. M. Jeff Thompson and, possibly, to reinforce Maj. Gen. Sterling Price’s force. He landed on the Missouri shore, out of the range of Confederate artillery at Columbus, and started marching the mile to Belmont. At 9:00 in the morning, an engagement began. The Federals routed the Confederates out of their Belmont cantonment and destroyed the Rebel supplies and equipment they found because they did not have the means to carry them off. The scattered Confederate forces reorganized and received reinforcements from Columbus. Counterattacked by the Confederates, the Union force withdrew, reembarked, and returned to Cairo. Grant did not accomplish much in this operation, but, at a time when little Union action occurred anywhere, many were heartened by any activity.
Well, we must cut our way out as we cut our way in.”— Ulysses S. Grant