Between eleven and twelve o'clock at night, the troops began to move to their respective positions, whence to assault in the morning. General Fagan detached a regiment from his brigade, and sent it forward to the right, on the lower Little Rock road, to occupy the attention of the enemy in the rifle-pits below the city, and to protect his flank, in case of an attack from that quarter. Three detached companies of cavalry, under Captain Denson, were ordered to act as vedettes in the plain south of the city, and to transmit to General Fagan rapid information of any attempt to flank him. His artillery was also sent forward on this, the only practicable road, with the hope that it might assist in creating a diversion, and thereby aid the general movement. I took a position a little after daylight on the Graveyard Ridge, half a mile from the fortifications, a central point, there to await the development of the attack. Soon after daylight, Brigadier-General Marmaduke drove in the pickets of the enemy in his front and assaulted Righton Fort. It is believed that a strong, vigorous, and sudden attack on this fort would have been successful; but some delay occurring, a heavy force of the enemy appeared on his left flank and rear, and held him perfectly in check during the whole day. It was the peculiar duty of Brigadier-General Walker to have prevented this movement on the part of the enemy, and, as represented by General Marmaduke, the same could have been easily accomplished. No satisfactory reason has been given by General Walker why this service was not rendered. This attack, being most remote, was not under my personal supervision, and was too distant for me to give specific orders. The assault on the first line of rifle-pits, in front of Hindman Hill, was made at a few minutes after daylight. General Fagan, at the head of his brigade, charged gallantly over four lines, under a deadly fire from the rifle-pits and guns on his front, and most disastrous enfilading fire from Graveyard Hill on the left, previous to the attack by General Price. Having driven the enemy from, and carried the fifth and last line of rifle-pits, the brave men, who had followed him thus far, overcome by sheer exhaustion, resulting from the inordinate exertion of their difficult charge, and the intense heat of the day, were unable to proceed further. A charge upon the fort was nevertheless attempted, and failed. The brigade thereupon took shelter behind the inner line of breastworks, anxiously awaiting assistance. This assistance never arrived. Major-General Price did not make his attack till after sunrise, and more than an hour after the time named in the order. As an explanation of this delay, his report states that, finding when he had gotten within one and a half miles of the position he had been ordered to take, that his division would arrive upon the ground prematurely, he ordered a halt, and resumed his march at dawn of day. His troops, when brought into position and ordered forward, behaved magnificently, charging rifle-pits and breastworks without a falter, and taking the hill without a halt. As soon as the works were carried, I rode rapidly into them. Finding the guns in the fort had been rendered useless, by the enemy, before being abandoned, I at once dispatched one of my staff to the rear, to bring up some artillery. Owing to the impracticability of the roads, this could not be effected in time. Perceiving the position of the gallant Fagan and his command, I ordered Brigadier-General Parsons, the only General officer present, to proceed at once to attack the Hindman Fort in the rear. Everything was in confusion. Regiments and brigades mixed up indiscriminately, and the order was not attended to. Immediately afterwards I sent an order to General Price to the same effect, and then returned to my headquarters. Two or three hundred yards in the rear, I passed Brigadier-General McRae, who had not joined his brigade since the assault. I ordered him at once to the fort. It seems that General McRae was the officer designated by General Price to go to General Fagan's assistance. After much delay, he proceeded on this duty, but utterly failed to render the slightest aid, making no attempt to assault the hill. Not having been advised of this order for General McRae, and being impatient of the delay, I proceeded again to the fort on Graveyard Hill, where I found General Parsons, with only three hundred or four hundred men of his brigade. He informed me that General McRae had been ordered to the relief of General Fagan. That officer was nowhere to be seen, while General Fagan, with greatly reduced force, was being assaulted and driven back by the enemy largely reinforced. Under these circumstances, at ten and a half A. M., I ordered the troops to be withdrawn. My retreat from Helena was effected in the most perfect order, and without the slightest demoralization of any kind. My whole force engaged in this expedition amounted to seven thousand six hundred and forty-six (7,646). My loss, as near as is ascertained, is one hundred and seventy-three (173) killed; six hundred and eighty-seven (687) wounded; seven hundred and seventy-six (776) missing. Total, sixteen hundred and thirty-six (1,636). See reports of division and brigade commanders forwarded herewith. I write this report with a deep pain. I commanded brave, gallant, and willing troops, and should have succeeded in the capture of Helena; for, though the difficulties were very great, they were not insurmountable, and the misfortune of a failure was, in a very great measure, consequent on the men not being well in hand after success. Most of my loss in prisoners resulted in not restraining the men, after the capture of Graveyard Hill, from advancing into the town, where they were taken mainly without resistance.
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Doc . 62 .-Hoisting the Black flag — official correspondence and reports.
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