We joined Grant in his attack on Belmont. Grant wisely used steamboats to rush the troops into the enemies’ camp, catching the Confederates unawares. He chased them out of camp and into a cornfield, where they quickly reorganized and chased us back through a cornfield and out of their camp! Grant passed just a few corn rows away from the Confederate troops. If they would have captured him in the early days of the war how that might have changed everything! As we were about to be surrounded and a few of the officers thought it was over, Grant said, “we cut our way in, we can cut our way out.” I was pleased when Grant put my boys at the head of the wedge doing that cutting. We were then in charge of holding the line as the Union re-boarded the steamboats. The Captain of the steamboat was anxious to pull away when he heard the Rebel guns draw nigh. But I drew a pistol and said, ‘Sir if you know what is good for you, you will stay ashore until the last of my boys and my artillery are safely on board!’ What would you do? Exactly as I wished. Both sides wanted to claim Belmont as a victory, but I was there, and at best, it was a draw.

Later, when we were back at Cairo, Grant gave me what was considered high praise when he said, “Sir, you handle your men well.” He then asked if I were educated at a military school. When I said no, he asked about my training. I said I was a lawyer and he said, “I am very sorry for that,” turned and walked away.


8. Fort Donaldson & Mary’s Grief