The Situation – State of the War – November 9, 1861

The naval expedition has evidently made the first bold stroke in its career. We learn from Fortress Monroe the intelligence, which arrived there under a flag of truce from Norfolk on Tuesday, that the fleet was engaging the rebel batteries at Beaufort; that one of our gunboats had been disabled, and two of the transports had gone ashore. It is said that the crews of these vessels, numbering 73, had been taken prisoners and conveyed to Raleigh, N.C.

It is remarkable that the news of this transaction and the story of Hollins’ famous battle at New Orleans come to us from precisely the same source – by flag of truce from Norfolk – and thus we find the accidental loss of two transports by running ashore, long before the bombardment of Port Royal commenced, magnified into something which is intended to bear the appearance of a success on the part of the rebels.

Nothing of importance occurred along our lines of the Potomac yesterday. A reconnoissance by General Smith division to Vienna, on Thursday, elicited the fact that the rebels had strong pickets for two miles beyond that place, and that a number of regiments were in reserve.

There has been some sharp work in Missouri . An expedition of the Union forces, under Generals Grant and McClernand, left Cairo on Wednesday night on four steamers, accompanied by two gunboats for Belmont , a town directly opposite Columbus, Kentucky. They made a landing at Belmont – three thousand strong – at eight o’clock yesterday morning, and there encountered a force of seven thousand rebels, under General Cheatham encamped.

They fought their way gallantly to the enemy camp, planted the flag of the Union there, captured a battery of twelve pieces, destroyed the camp, taking possession of the horses, wagons, mules and baggage. But a reinforcement of the rebels having crossed the river from Columbus, the retreat to the boats was ordered, and the Union troops withdrew, engaging the reinforcements in their passage and, it is said, suffering pretty heavily. Further details of the engagement have not reached us.

Collection: The Civil War
Publication: The New York Herald
Date: November 9, 1861
Title: The Situation

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