The “BATTLE OF BELMONT” Civil War Steamboat History by John Bowman

The “BATTLE OF BELMONT”, General U.S. Grant’s first CIVIL WAR Battle. Civil War Steamboat History by John Bowman

November 7, 1861, in the Civil War’s “Battle of Belmont”, the following episode got quite a bit of notice (bad press). The Timberclads USS Tyler and USS Lexington escorted steamboat transports ferrying three thousand Federal troops to the “Battle of Belmont”. The battle came to a draw when three regiments of Confederate reinforcements arrived, causing Brigadier General Grant to hastily withdraw his forces. Heavy shelling by the Timberclads allowed the Federal troops to safely re-embark on their transports.

USS TYLER Timberclad and USS LEXINGTON Timberclad

USS Maria Denning


Following the fray at Belmont, Confederate Brigade Commander, Brigadier General Benjamin F. Cheatham, Army of Tennessee aboard the steamer Charm, tied up to Grants transport, the Maria Denning. For the next two hours, Union General Grant, aboard the Denning, hosted his old friend Confederate General Cheatham and his officers, serving drinks to the brass from both sides. Grant and Cheatham had served together in the U.S. Army in Mexico. Charm pulled away from the Maria Denning and about a half-hour later came steaming back, this time to sort out the inebriated officers and place them in their correct Armies. This was later noted as something of a scandal, those accusing General Grant of being a drunk. The “Battle of Belmont” was the first Civil War battle for both Grant and Cheatham. Charm later transported the Confederate dead and wounded from this battle site.

General Grant

General Cheatham


Source: Way’s Packet Directory, Way, Frederick, Jr. 1983 Maria Denning 3746 Pg. 307 Bowman, John