Illinois Regiments in the Engagement at Belmont

(Belmont, Missouri)
(November 7, 1861)


Early in the war, the young Brigadier General Ulysses S Grant was in charge of the District of Cairo (Illinois). In September 1861, Confederates siezed the town of Columbus, Kentucky. In response, Grant occupied the towns of Paducah and Smithfield, Kentucky.

While the reasons for Grant's attack on Belmont have been debated for decades, the facts of the matter are clear. Grant loaded transports with troops and took them down the Mississippi River. He landed the troops just north of Belmont, Missouri, which was across the river from the heavily armed Columbus, Ky. The Union troops surprised the Confederates in camp at Belmont and drove them from the field. While his troops paused to loot the camp, reinforcements from Columbus were sent across the river. Also, the artillery in Columbus began firing upon the Union troops. The Union troops then fought their way back to the transports, reboarded and returned to base.

As the final troops were reboarding, Grant went to retrieve 2 companies that had been ordered to guard the landing site only to find that they had already gotten on the transports. Grant returned to the boats and he and his horse were the last to reboard.

The battle was small and had little strategic value. However, it did provide some combat experience to the troops involved at relatively low cost, it let the troops see that Grant was unafraid under fire, and it got Grant recognition in Washington as a fighter.

The Illinois regiments which took part in the engagement at Belmont are listed below. The links will take you to the regimental pages.
Source: Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Dyer's Compendium

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