In the spring of 1861 General Grant commanded 20,000 men around Cairo, Illinois, the southern most loyal city in the Union. Its strategic position on the Mississippi allowed newly minted General Grant the ability to quickly strike south – but where, neutral Kentucky or risky Missouri?
Confederate commander in the west, General Leonidas W. Polk, recognizing the importance of the Mississippi, invaded Kentucky without President Davis’ authority. He fortified a position on the river called the Iron Banks near the city of Columbus, Kentucky. There, he assembled more than 17,000 troops from Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. He also built a three tiered artillery bastion along the river totaling 140 cannons, including the largest piece in the Confederacy. The monster cannon was nicknamed “Lady Polk” after the General’s wife.
Always chaffing during periods of inactivity, Grant frequently requested combat assignments as he dearly wanted to blood his green troops . Eventually, his commander, “Pathfinder” John C. Fremont, ordered Grant to move against an active guerrilla leader in South eastern Missouri, General Jeff Thompson. No sooner had the operation begun than Fremont ordered Grant to make a demonstration around Columbus to disrupt the Confederate transfer of troops from Polk in Columbus to Price in Missouri. Grant acted immediately, sending seven columns to the region, an army 15,000 strong. He believed the columns would be able to support each other.
On November 6th rebels in Columbus celebrated the election of President Jefferson Davis. That same day in Columbus, knowing that Albert Sydney Johnston was to take command in the West, Polk attempted to resign his commission – this just as General Grant moved against him.
Belmont is a two player game simulation of the American Civil War battle that occurred on November 7, 1861 at Belmont, Missouri. One player controls the forces of the United States (Union) and the other player controls the forces of the Confederate States (Confederate).