The Battle of Belmont, Missouri - General Ulysses S. Grant...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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DescriptionThe Battle of Belmont, Missouri – General Ulysses S. Grant's first major Battle – November 7th, 1861. Written by Color Bearer of the 22nd Illinois Infantry, James C. Gosselin.
This graphic 4-page battle letter in ink is headed "Camp Lyon, Nov. 9th, 1861". James C. Gosselin enlisted on June 25th, 1861. He was a resident of Pocahontas, Illinois. He served in Company E of the 22nd Illinois Infantry. Here is the great content of the letter:
"Yours of the second came to hand on the 8th of this month, but it was the day after one of the most terrible battles that was ever recorded on the page of history. On the evening of the 6th of this month, 4 thousand men under command of General Grant embarked on board steamboats to go down to Columbus to attack the forces on the Missouri side, while 6 thousand went down the Kentucky side to attack the main fortifications."
"...on the morning of the 7th, our forces landed 3 miles above the enemies camp and marched down, and in the meantime two of our gun boats went ahead of the transports and engaged the Rebel batteries."
"The cannonading was very heavy and lasted three hours, and at about 9 o'clock we came in sight of the enemy's lines, five thousand strong, and they opened a tremendous fire of grape and canister on our men, but they fared it without flinching until Taylor's battery came to our relief."
"Then we drove the enemy before us and covered the ground with their slain. The enemy then made a stand on the edge of their camp, and we met them face to face within 100 yards of each other, but then Taylor's battery again came to our support and they retreated and scattered in every direction, and we marched in to their camp and as soon as we came to open ground in plain view of the batteries on the Kentucky side of the river and they sent a perfect storm of bomb shells and solid ball over us...but occasionally a ball would plow the ground near me or a bomb bust over my head"
"...While we were in their camp they sent seven thousand across the river and cut off our retreat and we did not know it until a retreat had been ordered. Then the roar of battle reached a pitch never equaled on that field."
" Taylor's battery again opened on their center and opened a passage for our men, and as we marched through we were exposed to a galling fire from both sides, but we reached our boats and before all were on board they came up and commenced a murderous fire upon us."
" Now the roar of cannon became perfectly deafening for the gun boats came to our aid and Taylor's battery who had all their guns on board one of the transports and two guns that we had taken from the enemy, opened a terrific fire upon the Rebels, and they were drove back with tremendous loss and we returned to camp, tired and worn out with about 5 hundred lost."
"The Rebel loss was as near as we can learn 5 hundred killed and one thousand wounded."
"We got near 2 hundred prisoners and two of their cannon which was of the celebrated Washington battery of New Orleans."
"One of the cannon was the renowned gun called the Lee. I carried the regimental flag through battle which lasted 8 hours and has six bullet holes in it, and I got a fine revolver on the battlefield. "
It was from the battle of Belmont that Grant earned the nickname "The Butcher". Unfortunately, Gosselin would be killed on September 19th, 1863 at the battle of Chickamauga, Ga. In fine condition. From the Calvin Packard Civil War Battlefield Letter Collection
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