the various points of attack was immediately made by the Lieutenant-General commanding the army, and the Major-General commanding this division. The assault and capture of the enemy's works on Graveyard Hill was assigned by the Major-General commanding to Brigadier-General McRae's brigade (Arkansas), and my brigade (Missouri volunteers). This position was, by the Lieutenant-General commanding, believed to be the strongest of all the enemy's works, and the key to all his defences. He was particularly solicitous that it should be carried and held at all hazards. It was represented to contain six heavy pieces, protected by earthworks and a line of rifle-pits on its front, and extremely inaccessible on account of the numerous sharp ridges, steep ravines, and felled timber, in its front and flank. These works were situated between Fort Hindman on the right, and another fort on the left, both being within rifle range of the position to be assailed by my command, and supported in its rear by another fort between it and the town of Helena, and Fort Curtis obliquely to the right and rear of the work to be assaulted. All these fortifications were situated upon high, steep hills, with deep ravines and felled timber between, rendering the rapid and orderly movement of the troops very difficult. At twelve o'clock on the night of the third, the division was put in motion, my brigade in advance, which moved in the following order, viz.: first, battalion of sharpshooters, Major Pindall commanding, in front; second, the Ninth regiment, Colonel White; third, the Eighth regiment, Colonel Burns commanding; fourth, the Seventh regiment, Colonel Lewis commanding; fifth, the Tenth regiment, Colonel Pickett commanding. After moving on the main road about two miles, the column diverged to the left, along an obscure path for two miles further, and then left this path to the left, and followed up a rivulet, until arriving within about one and a half miles of Graveyard Hill. Day having not yet dawned, a halt was ordered, to await sufficient light, during which time my command was ordered to “load.” I had previously thrown out well to the front, as skirmishers, Major Pindall's battalion of sharpshooters, to which command was attached Captain Biscoe's company of sharpshooters, from McRae's brigade. Taking advantage of this halt, I particularly instructed in person the commandants of regiments as to the plan of attack, and charged them that, in the event if any of their division should become disordered in carrying the works, they should be promptly re-formed, and, as the orders of my superiors extended only to the capture of Graveyard Hill, that no further movement should be made without orders. I deemed this precaution absolutely necessary, as it was impossible for either myself or staff to ride over the rough ground on which we moved, and consequently orders could not be transmitted with the usual rapidity. At daylight the march was resumed, and in a short time we encountered the steep ridges and deep ravines, which rendered the movement very slow and fatiguing. At five o'clock A. M., Major Pindall encountered the enemy's pickets, about half a mile from the fortifications. Sharp skirmishing ensued, and finally they were driven in. I ordered the column to form divisions at half distance, and moved steadily forward in that order. The enemy now commenced throwing shells and grape upon the column, killing and wounding about twenty men; but no signs of disorder or fear were apparent — they moved steadily and firmly forward. By this time Pindall's sharpshooters had arrived within musket range of the enemy's works, and from behind stumps and logs, and the branches of felled trees, were delivering an effective fire upon the gunners of the enemy's artillery. Upon arriving within three hundred yards of the line of rifle-pits, I again halted the columns, to allow rest, and to enable Brigadier-General McRae to move upon my left and take position, as previously agreed upon between that officer and myself, for the purpose of making a combined assault upon the works. So soon as it was announced to me that he was in position, I ordered the “forward” at double-quick, to which officers and men responded with alacrity. Just at this moment a heavy fire was opened on my right flank from a rifle-pit, distant about one hundred and fifty yards; also the shell and grape from Fort Hindman were showered down upon the column. This was the critical moment. I watched with an anxious eye to see whether my battalions would falter or break under this flank attack, but they moved gallantly on, unheeding the murderous missiles now being hurled on them both from front and flank. Turning my attention to the front, the head of the two columns (McRae's and mine) were beyond the rifle-pits, and in an instant White's battle-flag, waving over the works, announced that Graveyard Hill was won. Thirty men of Tilden's battery having been armed and sent forward with Colonel White's regiment, under command of Lieutenant Lessneur, for the purpose of working the enemy's guns, upon their capture, this officer immediately took them in charge, but finding shot wedged in the bore, and the enemy having taken away the worms, he could not work them. He and his men resumed their muskets, and fought as infantry throughout the battle. As previously ordered, the commandants of regiments proceeded to restore order in their commands, wherever confusion had occurred. Just at this time the Lieutenant-General commanding arrived upon the hill, and gave orders directly to one of my Colonels to attack and carry the fort in the direction of the town, and he proceeding to execute the order, the other commandants, understanding it to be a general movement towards the town, advanced in that direction, some portions of regiments rushing into town, and even to the river's bank. All the way from Graveyard Hill to the town, and
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Doc . 62 .-Hoisting the Black flag — official correspondence and reports.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.