Well, considering his two main superior officers were Fremont and Halleck, I think he managed pretty well. Better than both of them. If he exceeded orders, it was to do more and fight more.
Okay, now that I have some time, I'll let this be my final post on the subject:I think this Belmont debate has exhausted itself and some other posters are being triggered, so I'll make this my final post on the matter.
In summary, the action at Belmont failed to achieve Fremont's strategic objectives and was a tactical failure for Grant.
1) Fremont ordered Grant to demonstrate against Belmont to prevent Confederate troop movements from Tennessee and Kentucky into Missouri. However, Polk never had any intention to reinforce Price's army so Fremont's order was misguided. Grant's action at Belmont had no effect on the Confederates' ability to move troops from Tennessee and Kentucky into Missouri if so desired. Access through southeastern Missouri was not restricted to them in any way.
2) Fremont ordered Grant to drive Thompson into Arkansas. The action at Belmont failed in all respects. Only a week later Thompson was successfully attacking Union shipping and Grant scrambled to assemble men to chase him down... and failed.
3) Fremont ordered Grant to demonstrate against Columbus but not attack. Grant disregarded this order and suffered a bloody repulse.
1) Grant dispersed Pillow's poorly positioned troops and burnt Camp Johnston, but then his own forces were routed by Polk and Cheatham with heavy losses.
2) Grant lost most of his personal possessions in the rout and only the chivalry of Cheatham prevented him from being shot down.
Thanks for the debate and thanks for remaining civil in your responses.