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[175] and that with this view the defenders of Helena, Ark., had been reduced to the merest show of occupation. The demand to take Vicksburg was thoroughly impressed upon General Grant, who stated in his ‘Memoirs’ that it would have been far easier to fall back to Memphis after the failure of Sherman above Vicksburg, and undertake a new movement overland from Memphis; but the change would have been regarded as retreat and have greatly injured, if not defeated, the war party. This political importance of Vicksburg was well understood by the people of both sections. It justified the belief of the Confederate generals that Helena would be neglected. But the possibility of an attack had also the attention of the Federal leaders. Curtis referred to it and directed a movement from Cape Girardeau in aid of Helena. The hordes collected from all lands to fill the Union armies supplied such numbers of recruits, that with steam transports on the Mississippi it would be comparatively easy to reinforce the place if it should be assaulted from the land side, and the navy could blow any force out of water that might approach by the river. The strategy of the attack as a diversion in favor of Vicksburg was good, but in view of the resources of the enemy, a reverse was to be feared.

General Price was at Jacksonport, in the rich valley of White river, below Batesville, June 8th, when General Holmes addressed him a note asking ‘If we could with propriety attack Helena. Please inform me whether the condition of your troops will justify the attempt.’ To this General Price sent the following prompt and encouraging reply:

General: In regard to the condition of my troops, I am glad to say that they are all now fully rested and in excellent spirits. General Marmaduke also reports his command to be in efficient condition. He reports to me this morning the following number: Total present, Shelby's brigade, 1,561; Greene's brigade, 1,122; Burbridge's

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