November 7, 2011
On this date 150 years ago, Cairo, Illinois, saw the departure of a force of 3500 Union soldiers under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant, which left for a point near Columbus, Kentucky, on the Mississippi. The troops travelled in two gunboats and four other vessels, disembarking at Belmont, Missouri, opposite Confederate defenses at Columbus. Rebel General Leonidas Polk quickly crossed the river with a force of Confederates and pushed the Union troops back to their boats which carried them northward again. This inconclusive raid was accompanied by another reconnaissance from Paducah, Kentucky, to Columbus, but neither one of these two actions result in gain for the North. There were casualties however; Federal losses tally at 120 killed and 383 wounded. The Rebels lose 105, with 494 wounded.