2 o'clock I was informed by General Marmaduke
that he had already withdrawn his command.
I had hard fighting to protect my left flank, and when my right became exposed I commenced to get loose from the enemy, and retired.’
Rumors were circulated which reflected upon the conduct of Brig.-Gen. Dandridge McRae
, and that officer pursued the more regular method of silencing them by demanding a court of inquiry.
The proceedings by that court, at Shreveport
, resulted in a finding that ‘General McRae
's conduct at Helena
, on July 4, 1863, on the occasion of the attack upon the enemy at that place, was obnoxious to no charge of misbehavior before the enemy.’
That the student may consider this expedition and action from every standpoint in order to have a comprehensive understanding of the relative positions, and form an impartial judgment upon the merits of the opposing actors in the engagement, the report of the Federal
commander, Maj.-Gen. B. M. Prentiss
, should be referred to. He stated that he had been warned of the attack by vague rumors in the public press for several weeks previous, confirmed by the reports of his scouts of the concentration of Confederate forces.
Consequently, he spared no labor to strengthen his defenses, digging rifle-pits, throwing up breastworks, and erecting four outlying batteries on the bluffs west of the town.
On Saturday morning, July 4th, at 3 o'clock, my pickets were attacked by the enemy's skirmishers.
They made an obstinate resistance, holding the enemy well in check until 4 o'clock, when they reached over rifle-pits and breastworks and joined their respective regiments, which before this time had assumed their designated positions in the intrenchments.
The attack was now commenced in earnest, in front and on the right flank; but the enemy, though assured by his overwhelming numbers of a speedy victory, were driven back again and again.
For four hours the battle raged furiously, the enemy gaining little, if any, advantage.