no case wherein promotion would be more worthily bestowed than in the case of Commander Pritchett, and it will afford me much pleasure to learn that his services have received a proper reward, I write this communication, sir, quite unsolicited and without the knowledge of Commander Pritchett. I have the honor to be, sir, with much respect, your obedient servant.
St. Louis Democrat account.
Helena, Ark., July 12, 1863.At last we have been attacked by Missouri's favorite general, under the direction of the laggard Holmes. At four o'clock A. M., on the fourth day of July, the siege-gun, which was to give the signal of attack, belched forth its startling alarm to the little garrison, and immediately infantry, cavalry, and artillery were in motion to take up the various positions assigned them. For two nights we had been under arms at two o'clock A. M., and it was but a few moments' work to place all in readiness. To give some idea of the position, let us say that Helena lies upon flat ground, upon the western bank of the Mississippi River. About a quarter of a mile from the river, and running parallel to it, high ridges command the city and approaches, ravines, opening toward the river, and raked by the guns of Fort Curtis, (which is lower than all the ridges, and centrally located,) being between these ridges. Before the departure of General Gorman, Fort Curtis was readily commanded from all the ridges about the city. Generals Ross and Salomon conceived the plan of placing strong batteries upon these hills as an advanced line, and connecting each battery by rifle-pits. This plan was executed by Lieutenant James G. Patton, of the Thirty-third Missouri, and results have demonstrated the correctness of his judgment, and the wisdom of the general plan. Making the city our base, battery A is upon our right running on next to B, C, and D, (which is on the left.) Between the ridges (above and below the town) and the river there is low, flat ground, protected by rifle and cavalrypits, and flanking batteries of ten-pounder Parrotts, and six and twelve-pounder brass pieces. “The enemy are in force on the old town road,” was the first intimation of the plan of attack. This was on the left of our line, and a strong force of cavalry, with a brigade of infantry and four pieces of artillery, was there. Next came word that the old St. Francis road was occupied in force, and that an assault was being attempted upon battery A. Scarcely was this report in, when news came that batteries C and D were annoyed by sharp-shooters, who were supported by heavy columns, in which could be distinguished the rumbling of wheels, supposed to be artillery moving into position. Cavalry could be seen in front of battery B. So much for the dispositions of the enemy. They were planned and timed by a master-mind, the pickets being driven at all points at almost the same moment. On both flanks the enemy's artillery opened with some spirit but no effect, being replied to rapidly with good success. The exchanges were principally at long-range for light pieces, and the design was evidently to make a diversion simply, while the centre was attacked in strong force, thus driving through our long line of defences and falling simultaneously upon the rear of both flanks. The success of this plan would have given them Fort Curtis and the whole wharf, entirely cutting off our retreat by means of the transports. It will be seen that their plan entirely ignored the presence of the gunboat, which they were not expecting to find at our landing. No batteries were opened upon our centre, as they failed, on account of ravines, to obtain favorable positions. Their infantry was relied upon for this work. Lieutenant-General Holmes personally directed the attack upon battery D, which was made by Fagan's Arkansas brigade, while Major-General Price directed that upon battery C. At half-past 4 A.., a regiment moved from cover to attack D, advancing in four ranks upon a bridge perpendicular to the line of that work and flanked by the guns of C,.which opened upon them with shell as soon as the full length of their line was exposed. The guns of D opened upon them at the same moment, the guns of both batteries having excellent range, and creating a panic among the enemy, which soon increased to a rout, the regiment drawing off in great disorder. At once they were reinforced, their sharp-shooters pressing closer and annoying the gunners of C so much that the guns had to be turned upon them with canister. One gun of this battery, however, was used to assist D. and again the enemy were checked, taking cover in the ravines and fallen timber. At this time a heavy fog fell upon the ridges and batteries, lasting some three quarters of an hour and causing a cessation of hostilities for that time. When the fog raised, the force in front of battery D appeared to have been weakened; while crossing low ridges between that and battery C, appeared a brigade of three distinct regiments. When discovered, this brigade (Parsons's) was entirely concealed from the range of guns of C, but exposed to that of D, which accordingly opened upon them with shell from both guns, frequently breaking the column, but only to see it closed again and pressing forward. The first line of pits in front of C was flanked and the company compelled to retreat upon the battery, where they again stood. In front and upon both flanks the enemy charged this work, not in regular lines, but swarming upon our gallant fellows like locusts. Two companies in the pits upon the left of the guns broke and fled in the greatest confusion; two companies with the guns, and two in the pits to the right of them, held their ground steadily, firing double charges of canister and pouring Minie balls into the assailants