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Doc. 24.-the battle at Helena, Ark.

Official despatches.

headquarters Sixteenth army corps Memphis, Tenn., July 5.
Major-Gen. H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief:
General Prentiss was attacked in force by the rebels, under Holmes and Price, at Helena yesterday. He estimated the force at fifteen thousand. I think nine thousand will cover their strength. General Prentiss sustained their attack until three P. M., from daylight, when the rebels were repulsed at all points, leaving one thousand two hundred prisoners.

Their loss in killed and wounded is about from five to six hundred. General Prentiss lost about fifty. He has already sent me eight hundred and sixty prisoners, which I send to Alton today, (Sunday noon.)

S. A. Hurlbut, Major-General Commanding.

headquarters District East-Arkansas, Helena, July 4, three A. M.
To Major-General S. A. Hurlbut, Commanding Fifteenth Army Corps:
General: We have been hard pressed since daylight by the combined forces of Price, Holmes, Marmaduke, Parsons, Carter, Dobbins, and others. Thus far we have held our own, and have captured several hundred prisoners, whom I send to you by Major Wright, of the Twenty-fourth Iowa, on board the steamer Tycoon.

The enemy are now evidently preparing for a renewed attack in force.

Send another gunboat if possible. The Tyler has done good service to-day.

In great haste, your obedient servant,

B. M. Prentiss, Major-General

headquarters District East-Arkansas, Helena, July 4, three P. M.
Major-General S. A. Hurlbut, Commanding Sixteenth Army Corps:
General: We have repulsed the enemy at every point, and our soldiers are now collecting their wounded.

We have taken in all one thousand two hundred prisoners, and their loss in killed and wounded will reach five hundred or six hundred; but although the rebels are badly whipped, there is no doubt whatever they will renew the attack at an early moment, and that they are now massing their troops for that purpose. My force is inferior to the rebels. With the aid I expect from you and the gunboats, the rebel army may be severely [136] beaten. The Tyler has been to-day a valuable auxiliary. I remain, General,

Your obedient servant,

B. M. Prentiss, Major-General.

Colonel Benton's official report.

I send you herewith, for publication a copy of my official report of the part taken by the Twenty-ninth Iowa infantry, in their engagement of the fourth instant, at this place. I would also request that all the papers in our portion of the State, copy for the information of our friends.

I feel proud of the conduct of the Twenty-ninth. They came up to the work promptly and coolly, and stuck to it with unyielding fidelity. The enemy came upon us with a rush and a shout, followed by repeated volleys of small arms and occasionally a little grape, by which several of our men were killed and wounded. It was a critical moment. Had they faltered, serious disaster was inevitable. They stood firm and gave the enemy more than they bargained for, and soon had a portion of his dead and wounded within our lines. The sight of the wounded and dying seemed to inspire them with fresh courage. I advanced several times to the brow of the hills, where I could get a better view of the contending forces. I found our boys in various attitudes-standing, kneeling, half bent, and flat on the ground-loading and firing, and occasionally advancing as deliberately and systematically as a mountaineer after an antelope. Our fire was well aimed. The obstructions behind which the enemy were concealed, after they fell back, were thoroughly peppered with our Enfield balls. By making a sudden dash, we could have taken one of their guns, but prudence dictated that we should not risk an ambuscade for the sake of getting possession of a gun which was no longer doing us any harm.

The respective companies were disposed of as follows: Deployed as skirmishers, A, B, C, E, F, G, H, and K. Held as a reserve, D and I. The following officers were in the engagement: Lieutenant-Colonel Patterson, Major Shoemaker, and Adjutant Lyman; Captain Gardner and Second Lieutenant Kirkpatrick, of company A; Captain Andrews and Second Lieutenant Sheldon, of company B; Captain Bacon, First Lieutenant Hedge, and Second Lieutenant Stocker, of company C; First Lieutenant Stewart and Second Lieutenant Munn, of company D; First Lieutenant Mitchell and Second Lieutenant Ellifritz, of company E; First Lieutenant Turner, of company F; First Lieutenant Johnston and Second Lieutenant McFarland, of company G; Captain Myers and Second Lieutenant Elliott, of company H; First Lieutenant Lenon and Second Lieutenant Muxley, of company I; and First Lieutenant Dale and Second Lieutenant Chantry, of company K. Were I to attempt a eulogy on their conduct, I could not say more than that embraced in the truthful assertion, they did their whole duty. Captains Bower, of company E, and Davis, of company D, were absent on sick leave. Captains Huggins, of company G, and Nash, of company F, were sick and unable to leave their quarters. Time has shown that my selection of Adjutant was a happy one. In the office or in the field he is every inch a soldier, recognizing no deviation from the stern laws that govern a military organization.

Assistant-Surgeons Nicholson and Eakin were on the field, and were active and vigilant in their attentions to the wounded.

A section of the Third Iowa battery (from Dubuque) commanded by Lieutenant Wright, was posted on our right, and did good service, and rendered the position of the enemy very uncomfortable.

I would like to give you the details of the general engagement, but have not time, and you will doubtless see them elsewhere. Suffice it to say that the battle was hotly contested on both sides. The rebels fought well, and yielded only to the superior force of our arms. Our entire effective force, according to the official reports of the day previous, was three thousand eight hundred. That of the enemy, according to their own statement, was between fifteen and twenty thousand, which corroborates the estimates made from our own observation. Our entire loss in killed, wounded, and missing is less than two hundred and fifty. That of the enemy not less than two thousand five hundred. In estimating their loss we have the facts to govern us. We took over one thousand prisoners during the action and a good many stragglers since. We buried some two hundred and seventy-five of their dead on the field, and found the graves of over one hundred buried by themselves. We have had possession of about four hundred of their wounded, some of whom were left at farm-houses a few miles west of the town on their retreat. From the nature of the wounds our surgeons assure us that their dead will not fall short of six hundred. It is fair to presume that they had the usual proportion of slightly wounded, who were taken with them. The rebels were under the leadership of Holmes, Price, and Marmaduke, the former in command. Our forces were commanded by Brigadier-General F. Salomon, brother of Governor Salomon, of Wisconsin.

The limited number of our killed and wounded in a contest against such fearful odds, seems almost incredible. The secret is, that we were not surprised. For the last six weeks we had been vigilant day and night, patrolling the country with scouts, constructing fortifications and digging intrenchments. The hills in the vicinity of our batteries were literally covered with rifle-pits, and the principal roads blockaded with fallen timber. General Salomon deserves great credit for these precautionary steps. The enemy had doubtless ascertained with considerable accuracy our numerical strength, but he was badly deceived as to the extent of our preparations-one of the most important items in modern warfare. They doubtless expected to find us engrossed with a Fourth [137] of July celebration, and totally unprepared for their approach; but for once they were caught in a trap, and did not realize their mistake until the deadly volleys from our rifle-pits began to mow them down. Our little army was drawn up in line of battle at daylight in the respective camps, an hour before the enemy attacked our pickets, awaiting orders from the General Commanding, and in a few minutes after the signal gun was fired, each detachment was in the position assigned it, and a general fire was opened upon the invading foe. Our pickets behaved gallantly. They fell back steadily, loading and firing until they reached our intrenchments. The gunboat Tyler, the lucky boat of the war, was at anchor in front of the town and joined in the action.

The battle, though overshadowed by the brilliant achievements at Vicksburgh, is nevertheless an important one. I think it has given a final quietus to “Price's army,” about which we have heard so much during the war. It is to be regretted that our force was too limited to admit of pursuit. We could have wiped out the whole concern. The rebel wounded were treated with the greatest kindness. They were brought into our hospitals during the engagement, and every facility was afforded by our surgeons, assisted by their own, to make them comfortable. We started six hundred and fifty prisoners up the river on the steamer Tycoon before the engagement closed. They left the landing amid the incessant roar of artillery and small arms, laughing, cheering, and swearing. The enemy were well armed, and provided with ammunition of an excellent quality.

Our brigade was commanded by Colonel Rice, of the Thirty-third Iowa. He acquitted himself, well. Most of our wounded have been sent North, and it is painful to add that some of them cannot recover, even with the most favorable treatment.

Yours truly,

Official report.

headquarters twenty-Ninth regiment Iowa volunteer infantry, Helena, Ark., July 6, 1863.
Colonel: I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken in the engagement of the fourth instant, by my regiment. My men were drawn up in line of battle at daylight, in obedience to a standing order of Brig.--Gen. F. Salomon, commanding forces in the field, and at half-past 4 o'clock A. M., in pursuance of orders from Col. Samuel A. Rice, of the Thirty-third Iowa infantry, commanding Second brigade, we marched westward across the bottom at double-quick, to a position on the Sterling road. Upon reaching the point designated, I found that the enemy occupied the crests of the hills with their skirmishers north of “battery A,” commanding my position. I immediately sent forward two companies of skirmishers to dislodge and drive them back; but finding them too strongly posted, and being directed by Col. Rice to hold the position at all hazards, I continued to reenforce the line until eight companies were deployed.

In the mean time the enemy had placed a battery of two guns in position, with which they opened a brisk fire of shell and grape, and moved rapidly upon us, cheering and exulting as they advanced, being partially shielded from view by a fog which covered the hills at that moment. Our skirmishers met them with a galling and incessant fire, under which they gradually fell back, resolutely contesting every inch of ground as they retired. Our skirmishers advanced steadily and cautiously, and having gained the crest of the hill previously occupied by the enemy, compelled him to abandon his guns, which, after several ineffectual attempts, he subsequently recovered and withdrew, leaving one caisson on the field.

My men were under a severe fire for more than five hours, and it affords me the greatest pleasure to speak of both officers and men in terms of the highest commendation for their coolness and bravery during the entire action. I saw no flinching or wavering during the day. It is proper to add that several of my officers and quite a number of my men, who were excused from duty in consequence of physical debility, left their quarters and joined their respective companies when the signal gun was fired.

Any invidious distinctions among the members of my command would not be admissible in this report, but I would not do justice to an accomplished officer should I fail to acknowledge the efficient services of Lieut.--Col. R. F. Patterson during the action, and the special obligations I am under for the thorough instruction previously given by him to both officers and men in the responsible duties and obligations of the soldier, the importance of which was so forcibly illustrated on the fourth instant.

My regiment was promptly supported by the Thirty-sixth Iowa infantry, commanded by Col. C. W. Kittridge, and was relieved by him a short time before the enemy left the field. The enemy's force in front of our line, so far as I have been able to ascertain, from the most reliable information within my reach, was one brigade of five regiments of infantry, one battery and two regiments of cavalry in reserve, under command of Colonel McCrea.

I regret to have to report that during the engagement the loss in my regiment was seven killed and twenty-four wounded--some of them mortally (two of whom have since died) and many of them severely-among the number some of my best and bravest men. The enemy's loss it is not possible to state definitely, as he succeeded in removing many of them from the field. We buried fourteen of his dead and found the graves of seventeen more buried by himself, and brought one of his wounded from the field.

I have the honor to be, Colonel,

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas H. Benton, Jr., Colonel Twenty-ninth Iowa Infantry. To Colonel Samuel A. Rice, Commanding Second Brigade, Thirteenth Division of Thirteenth Army Corps.

Lieut.--Colonel Pase's report.

headquarters First Indiana cavalry, Helena, July 6, 1863.
M. W. Benjamin, A. A. A. G., Headquarters Colonel Clayton, Commanding Cavalry Brigade, Helena, Arkansas:
sir: In obedience to orders, I herewith transmit a list of killed and wounded of my command, First Indiana cavalry, together with a statement of the part the regiment took in the attack on Helena on the fourth of July, 1863.

A little before four o'clock on the morning of the fourth of July, two messengers came in from the picket-post on the Little Rock road, bringing word that the enemy were advancing, driving in the pickets before them. I immediately ordered the bugle to sound to horse, and, forming the regiment, moved up the levee near town, and awaited orders.

Soon received orders from you, through your Adjutant, to move tents and baggage within the line of fortifications as rapidly as possible, leaving part of the command to guard the train, and with the rest to form line of battle behind the Fifth Kansas, which was already drawn up in the open flats just above town. I immediately ordered Major Owen to take two companies, with one piece of our small rifled guns, and cover the rear of the train, and with the balance of my command I took positions as ordered.

General Prentiss then ordered our guns some distance in front up the levee, and companies M and L were dismounted and sent forward as a support. Our battery was commanded by Lieut. Leffier, of company B. For the bravery shown and the terrible execution done by them, you are best able to judge, they having been under your immediate command.

By this time Major Owen came up with his detachment, and fell in line with the regiment.

Captain Wethers, Aid to General Salomon, now came up with word that the enemy had captured a battery on the heights in the rear of General Salomon's headquarters, driving our infantry from their rifle-pits, and were rapidly advancing into town; and I was ordered to take my regiment under the walls of Fort Curtis, dismount them, and check their further advance. I did so, taking the regiment on the top of the hill to the left of General Salomon's headquarters.

On the crest of the hill opposite was the battery the enemy had just captured, and oven the breastworks from which our infantry had been driven, they were pouring one dark, continuous stream. The boys wheeled into line, and with loud yells, commenced firing, pouring in such a storm of bullets that they soon retreated, with the exception of their sharp-shooters, which, to the number of several hundred, took possession of a ravine running up the side of the hill, which was filled with fallen timber and stumps, from behind which they poured a continuous and deadly fire. Soon ten or twelve daring spirits now rushed down the hill-side and up the steep ascent in front, getting a position on the enemy's left flank, just above them, occupying ground from which we had driven them. They held their position for some time, doing terrible execution, but were finally compelled to fall back, bringing with them quite a number of splendid English rifles which they had captured from the enemy's sharp-shooters. Another detachment of our men soon went over, accompanied by some infantry, a company of which had come up on the hill where my regiment was stationed. (It may be proper to state here, that several companies of infantry were at the foot of the hill to our right, around General Salomon's headquarters, who did good service, acting in concert with us.)

The enemy, finding himself flanked, and having no chance of escape, as every one attempting to run up the hill-side was sure to fall, raised the white flag, and about one hundred surrendered.

Quite a number still held out, seemingly determined to die before they would become prisoners.

Here more than half the regiment threw away their carbines, (many of them being unserviceable, having been condemned by a U. S. inspecting officer some time since,) and supplied themselves with Enfield rifles captured from the enemy.

General Salomon now sent orders for us to charge and retake the battery. Two hills more had to be crossed before reaching it, the sides of which were covered with logs and brush. The hills were several hundred feet steep, almost perpendicular; but, at the word “forward,” they were accompanied by two companies of infantry, and where it was too step to walk the boys would crawl on their hands and knees. The enemy did not wait to receive us, but left their works.

I was now compelled to beat a hasty retreat in consequence of the shells from the gunboat Tyler dropping in all around us, and we fell back and resumed our former position.

The men were now much exhausted from charging over the hills and back. The sun was shining out intensely hot, and I ordered the regiment to the foot of the hill, under the trees around headquarters, (the fighting was now over, with the exception of some occasional shots)--after being engaged for five hours under a continued and severe fire.

My killed, wounded, and missing number as follow: Killed — A. Brokan, company A, shot in head; William Stark, company H, shot in breast. Wounded mortally — Robert Smith, company D, shot in abdomen; James Carter, company F, shot in the breast. Wounded severely — Frank Bennett, company F, shot in knee; Thomas Adams, company F, right arm shot off; Frederick Lewis, company F, shot through hand and wrist; Geo. Barter, company H, right thumb shot off. Wounded slightly-John Carter, company B, in head; James H. Campbell, in leg. Missing — Benjamin Happy, company M.

The officers and men all conducted themselves so as to meet my highest approbation. Such being the case, I find it impossible to name particular ones as deserving of notice for their brayery, [139] without doing injustice to the rest. To Major Brewer, however, I am particularly indebted for the valuable aid and assistance he rendered me in carrying out the different orders I received, and for his coolness and bravery. Lieutenant Kelso, Commissary, deserves notice for his timely aid in furnishing food and water to the men while they were engaged. Lieutenant Craig, Quartermaster, also did his whole duty in his department, and B. J. Kilpatrick, Ordnance Sergeant, was always on hand with ammunition for the regiment and battery. Many of the men fired over one hundred rounds.

Yours, etc.,

Thos. N. Pase, Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding First Indiana Cavalry.

Naval reports.

United States Mississippi Squadron, flag-ship Black Hawk, off Vicksburgh, July 11, 1863.
sir: I have the honor to inclose you a full report of the late affair at Helena, where the gunboat Tyler saved the day, and enabled our little band of soldiers to capture a number of the enemy.

I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

David D. Porter, A. R. Admiral Commanding Mississippi Squadron. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington.

U. S. Iron-clad ram Eastport, Helena, Arkansas, July 8, 1863.
A. R. Admiral David D. Porter, U. S. Navy, Commanding Mississippi Squadron:
sir: General Holmes, with a reported force of eighteen thousand rebels, attacked this place at daylight on the morning of the fourth instant, and was repulsed, after a hard contested fight of several hours' duration.

The enemy attacked the centre of the defences and carried the rifle-pits, and a battery upon the crest of the hills in the rear, which commanded not only Helena itself, but also all the other defensive works, including Fort Curtis. After possessing himself of that position, he pushed large forces down the slope of the ridge into the gorges, and his sharp-shooters began the work of driving the artillerists from the guns in the main fort. Rebel guns, both above and below the town, had been planted upon commanding positions, and opened fire upon the lines of defensive works across the river-bottom, about one thousand yards in width, and his troops were in force near them to secure the advantages the capture of the works upon the hills would offer for closing upon the town from both directions along the river-bottom. The Tyler had been covering the approach by the old town road; but Captain Pritchett discovered the enemy pressing down the hill-side after the capture of the battery in the centre, and took up such a position that, while his broadside guns poured a destructive fire upon the slopes and enfiladed the ravines, his stern guns effectually silenced the rebel battery below, and his bow guns played simultaneously upon the upper one. The slaughter of the enemy at this time was terrible, and all unite in describing the horrors of that hillside and the ravines after the battle as baffling description, the killed being literally torn to pieces by shell, and the avenging fire of the gunboat pursued the enemy two or three miles to his reserve forces, creating a panic there which added not a little to the end of victory.

The enemy's loss is very heavy. Our forces have buried three hundred and eighty of his killed, and many places have been found where he had himself buried his dead. His wounded number one thousand one hundred, and the prisoners also are one thousand one hundred. Our cavalry forces are hourly discovering dead and wounded in the surrounding country, and are bringing in stragglers and deserters. Boats passing up the river for two days after the battle were continually hailed by deserters from the rebel ranks wishing to get on board to escape.

An examination of the field and the reports I hear convince me that the Tyler contributed greatly to the defeat of the enemy, and the terrible slaughter in his ranks is largely hers. It is due to Captain Pritchett to add that he took up an admirable position, and used his battery in a manner alike creditable to himself and to his officers and men.

First at Belmont, then at Pittsburgh Landing, and now here, the Tyler has been of inestimable value, and has saved the fortunes of the day. The garrison, numbering but three thousand three hundred men, with lines entirely too extensive for such a force, evidently fought with a courage and determination without superior example in this war.

Our loss in killed and wounded is about one hundred and eighty.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,

S. L. Phelps, Lieutenant Commander Commanding Second Division, Mississippi Squadron. To Acting Rear-Admiral David D. Porter, Commanding Mississippi Squadron.

headquarters District of eastern Arkansas, Helena, Ark., July 9, 1863.
Admiral: I take pleasure in transmitting to you my testimony concerning the valuable assistance rendered me during the battle at this place on the fourth instant, by Lieutenant Commander James M. Pritchett, of the gunboat Tyler. I assure you, sir, that he not only acquitted himself with honor and distinction during the engagement proper, but, with a zeal and patience as rare as they are commendable, when informed of the probabilities of an attack on this place, he lost no time and spared no labor to make himself thoroughly acquainted with the topography of the surrounding country. And I attribute not a little of our success in the late battle to his full knowledge of the situation, and his skill in adapting the means within his command to the end to be obtained. Nor can I refrain from mentioning that after the engagement, and while we were expecting a renewal of the attack, Commander Pritchett, commanding a division of your fleet, was unusually efficient in procuring timely reenforcements.

Permit me to add, sir, that I can conceive of [140] 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.

B. M. Prentiss, Major-General, To David D. Porter, Rear-Admiral, Commanding Mississippi Squadron.

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 [141] with the most terrible effect. They were over-matched, however, and the guns could not be saved. The captain of the battery spiked one of his guns as the enemy reached his parapet, and his gunners, with rare presence of mind, secured all the friction-primers, so rendering the battery utterly useless to the enemy. Part of the stragglers rallied at the foot of the hill, between batteries C and D, and made a firm stand, where they were promptly supported by parts of two regiments, and the remainder retired to Fort Curtis to act as sharp-shooters in protecting the gunners.

In possession of battery C, and flushed with apparent certain victory, the enemy turned the captured guns upon our main fort, and loaded them with shell. Then gathering together his scattered companies, who were pillaging the camp of the two companies that garrisoned the battery, with one wild, self-confident yell he charged down the hill immediately in front of Fort Curtis; charged, not in line or in column, not with fixed bayonet showing a glittering line of polished steel, not as the Old guard charged at Waterloo, but charged en masse, or worse yet, en mobbe, every man being in himself a small host with a leader of its own.

The crest of the hill was six hundred yards from Fort Curtis, and the base five hundred. Five twenty-four pounder siege-guns, and one thirty-two pounder columbiad swept the entire base of the hill, from crest to base. Although the enemy had loaded our captured guns with shell, he could not use them; there were no slow matches, no friction-tubes, and the guns were so much useless brass. Without well-posted artillery, how could they hope to live upon the hill with the light guns of A, B, and D, playing upon their flanks and rear, and the big guns playing upon their front?

Nothing but madness could have driven them on; nothing short of omnipotence could have saved them from destruction. Yet, with the howl of demons, the last mad, defiant, impotent howl of baffled but still determined traitors, exposed to history, to nations, and to themselves; whipped, naked and hungry, on they came, cursing, firing, rushing, like the “Light brigade,” “into the gates of death, into the mouth of hell.”

No hurrying, no excitement, and yet no hesitation in the Fort and batteries, but steadily the shell, case, grape, and canister flew, with the swiftness of lightning and the precision of fate, straight in the faces of the infuriate mob. Heads, trunks and limbs hurled asunder by bursting iron, flew into the air, nauseating and sickening all who must witness the horrible sight. No body of men on earth could long endure such a tornado of iron as was hurled upon them. Their shots all fell short, or passed harmlessly over the gunners of the Fort. Not a man was even wounded. Slow to receive convictions, but at last satisfied of the hopelessness of their assault, the mob turned about, as if by common consent, and broke into squads of twenty, ten, two, and at least each man for himself, “and devil get the hindmost.”

Grape-shot and canister, round-shot and shell, followed them mercilessly, bore them down and battered them to pieces. Still they had not enough, but once more sought to approach through a ravine, protected by flanking sides from artillery fire. As they passed from the battery to this ravine, one point which the line must cross was exposed to fire. The guns succeeded shortly in getting such perfect range of this point that nothing could pass it. The regiment, and more, that had passed into the ravine, could not return, and the brigade could not pass in to its support. A Federal regiment of infantry was so posted at the mouth of the ravine as to rake its length, another took a position on a ridge on the enemy's right flank, and the two poured in their fire. Cross-fires from the Fort and batteries, aided by the gunboat, broke and scattered what of the brigade remained upon the ridges, compelling them in their precipitation to leave the guns they had captured uninjured, and the gallant regiment that had led the second charge, with their arms, officers and colors, prisoners of war.

Not less than three hundred killed and wounded, besides nearly four hundred prisoners, were left by the enemy in the vicinity of this battery.

Shortly after the attack was commenced upon battery C, a second and similar one was made by Fagan's brigade in strong force upon battery D. As at the first battery, only a portion of the brigade succeeded in passing through our lines. The remainder were driven back by a murderous fire from the guns of the work, and also from our sharp-shooters, who were in greater force than at C, and well protected by rifle-pits, which almost entirely concealed them from the enemy. Those who succeeded in getting through, took position in a ravine to the left of the battery, out of range of its guns, but raked from the mouth by part of another battery and the reserve of an infantry regiment.

They made a short fight, when they threw down their arms and were formally surrendered. While they were still fighting, a Lieutenant-Colonel, who commanded the rebels, was standing upon a log waving his sword and cheering his men. The captain of battery D called out to him: “What in — do you keep swinging that sword for? Why don't you surrender?” “By what authority do you demand my surrender?” asked the confederate officer. “By authority of my twelve-pound howitzer,” replied the Captain. The confederate looked about him, and could see no chance of escape, so passing his sabre-blade into his right hand, he held it out, humbly saying: “Very well, sir I surrender.” Perhaps at that moment it would have been very difficult to cite a more competent authority upon the question of surrenders than that under which the cool captain claimed to act.

The enemy lost at this battery nearly two hundred and fifty killed and wounded, and between [142] three and four hundred prisoners, with arms, officers, and colors.

At half-past 10 o'clock A. M., the enemy had drawn off entirely, and the firing ceased as the white flag was run up at Vicksburgh.

Our total loss in killed, wounded, and missing, has been two hundred and thirty; that of the enemy at least two thousand. They estimate their own loss at two thousand two hundred, among them the entire field and staff of two or three regiments.

1 Council Bluffs (Iowa) Nonpareil, August 1, 1863.

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