Bird's Point, November 20, 1861
Part of Pitt's (Col. W. Pitt Kellogg's) cavalry are here. We are glad to see them as it will relieve us of considerable picket duty. But otherwise cavalry are of not much service in this brushy, swampy country. That fox of a Jeff Thompson that we chased down to New Madrid last week, had the impudence to follow us right back and we had hardly got our tents pitched here at the Point before he passed within 12 miles of us to the river above, and captured a steamboat. Report says that there were nearly a dozen officers on the boat, and a paymaster, with money to pay off the Cape Girardeau troops. Jeff is a shrewd one, and the man that captures him will do a big thing. Back in the country where we were, he made the natives believe that he whipped Ross and company at Fredericktown, and killed 400 federals with a loss of only ten of his men. Don't it almost make you sick the way that 17th brag and blow about themselves? That affair at Fredericktown didn't amount to a thing. From the best information I can get, there was not to exceed 50 Rebels killed, and I'm sure not that many. Thompson is stronger to-day than ever. This thing of sending infantry after him is all bosh, although we tried it again yesterday. It failed of course. The boys came back through the rain last night about 10, tired and mad as the deuce. A thousand cavalry may possibly get him some day, but they will be sharp ones, sure. In this fight at Belmont 1,200 of our men at first completely whipped 2,400 of theirs, four regiments, then the whole of ours, 2,600 ran like the devil before and through 5,600 of theirs. These are the true figures.
SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 43-4