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Chapter 7:

Early in 1863 there was a formidable array of Federal forces confronting the Southern troops in Arkansas. The Federal troops in eastern Arkansas were put under the orders of General Grant in January. In this district alone, in February, there was a grand total of 14,144 present for duty, absent, 17,415. Of this menacing power the Confederate generals were, of course, informed. Yet the defenders of Arkansas continued with great energy, despite the weather, the want of equipments or supplies and the most ordinary facilities of war, to strike at the superior and well-equipped force at all points. Some brief mention of the incidents in the disordered and irregular warfare which disturbed Arkansas during this period will serve to show the disadvantages under which the Southern soldiery campaigned, and the suffering which the people were compelled to endure. Of these raids, battles and skirmishes only a few can be named, and the story of them cannot in the space of this volume be fully told.

While the Confederates in Tennessee were battling with Rosecrans, December 31, 1862, General Marmaduke was marching from Lewisburg, on the Arkansas river, with Shelby's brigade, MacDonald's and Porter's commands, for a raid into Missouri. Springfield was attacked, and the forts at Hartville and Hazlewood were burned. Among the killed in the action at Hartville were the [162] brave Col. Emmet MacDonald, Lieutenant-Colonel Weimer, Major Kirtley, and others. From Hazlewood the Confederates returned to Batesville, Ark., January 18, 1863. Carroll's Arkansas brigade, commanded by Col. J. C. Monroe, started under General Marmaduke upon this raid, but was detached by orders from General Hindman's headquarters, and directed to operate against the enemy at Van Buren creek, thus escaping an arduous campaign in sleet and snow over a rough region, in which there was scant food for man or horse.

After General Marmaduke had marched away, the Federal captain of militia, John Philips, surprised some citizens who had ‘hidden out,’ as was customary on the approach of Federals, armed with sporting guns only, as no one dared to go unarmed, and captured them with his force of 75 militiamen near Berryville, Carroll county, Ark., and 9 of these citizens were murdered. Philips reporting them as ‘bushwhackers,’ to excuse his brutality. On the 13th of January a force of 300 of the First Iowa cavalry seized a preacher, named Rodgers, took his horses, mules, wagons and portable property, near Kingston, then proceeded to the Confederate saltpeter works, on Buffalo river, captured 15 or 20 of the small force in charge under Lieutenant Kinkade, and destroyed the works, burning the buildings. The lieutenant and 7 of his men made their escape. On the same day, Captain Crawley and a small Confederate force met a detachment of Col. Powell Clayton's Fifth Kansas cavalry and of the Second Wisconsin cavalry; at the crossing of Lick creek, twelve miles from Helena, and routed it, taking 20 prisoners, besides killing and wounding many of the enemy.

Brigadier-General Gorman, having sent 1,200 Federal cavalry to Clarendon on White river, moved to St. Charles on White river, accompanied by the two gunboats St. Louis and Cincinnati, and finding the post evacuated by [163] the Confederates, garrisoned it with 800 infantry. He then proceeded on transport to Devall's Bluff, which he occupied January 17th, capturing on the cars, ready for shipment to Little Rock, two columbiads and some small-arms, and a part of the little force engaged in guarding them. From there, with the gunboats Romeo and Rose, he sent an expedition which occupied Des Arc, Major Chrisman, with his battalion, retiring to Cottonplant.

February 2d, Maj. Caleb Dorsey, with his squadron of Confederate cavalry, was escorting the steamboat Julia Roane down the Arkansas river, when at White Oak, seven miles west of Ozark, he was attacked by a band of Arkansas Federals, under Captain Galloway. Dorsey, with his Confederates, charged and routed them, killing horses and wounding several of the enemy, who retreated to Frog bayou. On February 3d, Capt. Peter Mankins, with a portion of his company, was surrounded in a house on Mulberry by a scouting party under Captain Travis, which Mankins repulsed, killing two men of the Tenth Illinois and wounding others.

The land and naval forces on the Mississippi burned Mound City, Ark., on the 15th of January. On the 24th, a scouting party from Fayetteville crossed the Boston mountains, and going down Frog bayou, entered Van Buren and captured the steamboat Julia Roane, with about 250 Confederates from the hospital, who were paroled, being sick; the steamer, which was only a hospital, being allowed to proceed.

March 5th, Col. Powell Clayton led an expedition to Madison on the St. Francis river, where, meeting but little resistance, he captured some Confederate stores and cotton, with about 46 citizens, whom he paroled as ‘prisoners of war.’ An expedition of 500 Federals from Bloomfield, Mo., under command of John McNeil, marched, on March 9th, against Chalk Bluff, compelling the Confederate force under Col. M. Jeff Thompson to retire to their dugouts on Varney's river, in which they retreated down [164] the St. Francis, leaving McNeil to parole the citizens and ravage that swampy region as usual. In April, James R. Vanderpool, of the Federal Missouri militia, made raids into Carroll and Marion counties, in which he killed some non-combatants, reporting them as bushwhackers, besides taking off their stock and household goods.

General Hindman has told how he conveyed information (such as he desired) to the enemy through deception practiced upon disloyal informers. A man calling himself Wm. R. Johnson was permitted to pass at will through the Confederate camps, as a Southern sympathizer going to Missouri, but who was really a Union refugee from Dallas county, Tex., going to Iowa. He passed up to Pilot Knob, where he opened his budget of information to the Federal commander of the post, who transmitted it to General Curtis. Johnson's statement was that he was stopped by Marmaduke at Batesville, February 1st, who admitted him to a conversation with Colonel Ponder and himself, in which Marmaduke said that General Price was to move up White river to Salem and to Rolla, and had about 14,000 men, one-third being mounted; that Marmaduke's intention was to march on Pilot Knob with a command of about 4,000 men, etc. General Curtis, desiring as usual to increase his force, sent the statement to the war department with this indorsement:

Price is no doubt going to move heaven and earth to raise or mass forces in Arkansas. He ought to be attacked from Helena before he gets far in this scheme; his popularity in Arkansas and Missouri will enable him to do much mischief. As now situated, eastern Arkansas is under Grant's command. I am obliged to stop sending more troops from southeastern Missouri, until I ascertain the whereabouts of Marmaduke.

The circumstance is mentioned to call attention to the effect of these movements, and rumors of movements, against Missouri, which were useful for the general [165] defense, and assisted our armies east of the river as effectually as if the troops had been actually fighting there.

April 15th, General Marmaduke marched on his second raid into Missouri, with a cavalry force composed of Carter's Texas brigade, Shelby's, Greene's and Burbridge's Missouri brigades, the latter including Col. Robert C. Newton's Arkansas cavalry regiment of State troops. Failing to capture the Palmyra assassin, McNeil, Carter and Shelby moved on Cape Girardeau, but found it unadvisable to attack. Colonel Newton was attacked in camp the night of April 26th, and lost several killed and wounded. Marmaduke retired before a strong Federal force in good order to Chalk Bluff, where he found the St. Francis river swollen and no boats. He formed line of battle and engaged the enemy until rafts could be constructed, and then crossed his artillery, wagons and horses safely, losing about 30 killed, 60 wounded, and 150 missing.

It was on this expedition that Colonel Newton's scouts captured in Missouri Hon. Elisha Baxter, a citizen of Batesville, brother of John Baxter of Knoxville, Tenn. Elisha Baxter had been a merchant at Batesville, but studied law and was elected as a Whig to the legislature. He favored all measures looking to the perpetuation of the Union, and upon the beginning of the conflict of arms, declared himself a Union man, but declined the appointment tendered him by General Curtis, at Batesville, of commander of the First Arkansas (Federal) regiment, there organized. On the departure of Curtis, being told that he was in personal danger, he took refuge in Missouri. There he was recognized by Newton and his men, captured and taken as a prisoner to Little Rock. He was part of the first reconstruction government of the State as a Supreme judge, and later as governor, then fell [166] out with his party and was instrumental in delivering Arkansas from carpet-bag rule, making a record as an upright, consistent officer and citizen.

Jasper, the seat of Newton county, Ark., situated at the head of Buffalo fork of the White river, near the foot of Mount Judea (or Juda), the highest cone of the Boston mountains, had long been the rendezvous of Unionists and Federal recruiting officers. Vanderpool, Worthington, and other mountaineers made it headquarters, from which they terrorized Southern sympathizers of the adjoining counties. Its leading citizens were Unionists, who kept Hudson's mill under their protection for their own use and those of such Southerners as they admitted to use it. Harrell's battalion resolved to endeavor to capture Vanderpool and bring out some of these leaders. Capt. John Sissell, former sheriff of that county, commanding Company E in Harrell's battalion, on May 10th guided the battalion through the mountains in an attack upon the town, surprising it and capturing the leaders, but missing Vanderpool. Vanderpool had been informed of the movement, and with a large force was posted in ambush on the highway by which he expected the Confederates to enter the town. In fact, his force was larger than the battalion and armed with the latest-improved arms, as the Confederates found when they moved out against him in his position. The Confederates were therefore content to retire from the town by the way they came, with their captured horses and arms and their eight or ten prisoners, some of whom were badly wounded in their desperate resistance. The battalion joined Cabell's brigade at Fort Smith in May.

Maj. W. L. Cabell, who had been sent to inspect the accounts of quartermasters in the department, having well acquitted himself of this duty, was, in March, 1863, commissioned brigadier-general and requested to collect absentees from the service in northwestern Arkansas. Given Carroll's and Monroe's regiments, he was directed [167] to perfect such organizations as he could, and take command in northwest Arkansas. He issued his proclamation in accordance with these instructions, and soon organized Hill's battalion into a fine regiment; Gordon's and Morgan's regiments were added. He also organized Gunter's, Witherspoon's and Ousley's battalions, Hughey's battery, and the companies of Palmer, Ingraham and Wm. Brown. Crawford's battalion, organized under the order of General Holmes, of which J. M. Harrell was elected commanding officer, was ordered to Cabell, and it was not long before he had a command numbering about 4,000 men. This rapidly organized body redeemed that part of the State from the despondency into which it had been plunged by the retreat from Prairie Grove and other Confederate misfortunes.

Federal scouts—Missouri and Arkansas Federals, the latter organized under Col. M. La Rue Harrison—made constant forays into the border counties. Other bands of men, moving out of Missouri as State militia, made raids to plunder and kill the inhabitants. A merciless butcher, known as Captain Worthington, returned to Fayetteville from Carroll county, reporting that he had killed 22 men on the trip, and captured 7 ‘prisoners.’ The men killed were old citizens, or youths not subject to enlistment, and who therefore ventured to remain at home for the protection of the helpless women and children from violence at the hands of either side. If the grown men had gone away, no matter to which army, the raiders held their families to be Southern sympathizers, and as such shot them down, some of them in their own doors or front yards; and others, who had fled to the woods to conceal themselves, when discovered were condemned as bushwhackers. Less frequently, those under military age were captured as prisoners, by men who called themselves ‘Federal Arkansas soldiers.’

Col. John F. Philips, who commanded the Seventh Missouri State militia, which murdered the nine citizens [168] near Berryville, Carroll county, had set the example for these atrocities. There was another Phillips (W. A.), commanding a brigade of Cherokees (Federal enlistments), known as Pin Indians, who guarded Blunt's transportation over the mountain at the battle of Prairie Grove, and burned Fort Davies on the 25th or 27th of December. Though representing the Indian race, he was a knight of chivalry compared with his militia namesake. Col. M. La Rue Harrison emulated the ferocity of the militia commander in words and on paper, but not in deeds. He conducted his operations from the ‘Post,’ only encouraging cruelty by giving commissions to unworthy men who abused his authority. The country north of the Arkansas was now at the mercy of irresponsible banditti, claiming to be authorized by J. F. Philips or Harrison, and bearing the Union flag whenever they did not deem it more useful to their purposes to carry no flag at all, and to pretend to be Confederates. Houses were broken open, horses and cattle driven off, fences burned to make fires, women and children terrorized and insulted if suspected of being Confederate ‘widows’ and ‘orphans.’ Implements for making clothing were destroyed or taken away—especially cards for carding wool or cotton. These latter were hidden and guarded as precious treasures by the women of north Arkansas, and for these the valiant militia made diligent and rude search. From burning fences they proceeded to burning barns and outhouses, but as yet generally spared the humble dwellings which sheltered the families.

A citizen of Fayetteville, Ark., soon after the war, pointed out to a visitor on the public square, a man seated in a wagon drawn by a horse and a mule, accompanied by a woman who delivered the produce he had for sale. The man wore a brown jeans homespun coat, and the woman a homemade worsted skirt ‘You see those people?’ he asked of the visitor. ‘I used to think they were the salt of the earth; and their homemade [169] woolens had a sanctity in my eyes as true emblems of honesty and innocence. But during the war that man manifested his true nature, and but for the general amnesty, could be indicted for a dozen murders, for robbery, arson and larceny. He used to ride through the country and strip the beds of the poor women in these hills, until he piled quilts in his lap so high he could not see his horses' ears. They say the women shot at him, but the quilts proved a protection against their bullets. He is known as “Bed-quilt Blank.” ’

The raids of these forces under Philips, Harrison and Vanderpool, who left their bloody trail through the counties on the border, from Forsyth on White river to the Dutch mills on the Indian line, demanded a movement for defense and redress. But the veteran soldiers of the region were called away again, this time to defend other parts of the State. The forces remaining were only the cavalry, ill armed, newly organized, without any system for providing subsistence or clothing, and as for ammunition, relying with uncertain dependence upon the efforts of General Magruder in Texas.

Although scantily equipped for such an expedition, General Cabell, in response to appeals for protection to the once populous and bountiful plateau north of the Boston mountains, of which Fayetteville and Bentonville are the principal towns, prepared his little force in and around Ozark (on the Arkansas river below Van Buren), to make a dash against Fayetteville, 70 or 80 miles distant, where the enemy was in greater force. His contemplated movement was considered opportune by General Steele at Fort Smith, who believed that Colonel Phillips, the Cherokee commander, was preparing to march from Fort Gibson southward through the Indian country, and that his force would be recruited from the enemy's troops at Fayetteville, so that the garrison would be reduced to the minimum and unprepared for Cabell's attack. The latter resolved to make a demonstration, [170] whatever the result, hoping at least to ‘round up’ the prowlers who had too long been suffered to perpetrate their enormities with impunity.

Col. John F. Hill's battalion was practically unarmed, with horses not shod to stand the stony roads, and was left out of the movement. With Monroe's, Gordon's and Carroll's regiments (the latter commanded by Lieut.-Col. L. L. Thompson), Dorsey's squadron, commanded by Col. John Scott, and Capt. W. M. Hughey's artillery, consisting of two formerly discarded 6-pounders—900 of all arms—General Cabell left Ozark at 3 o'clock a. m. on April 16, 1863. Moving with all possible dispatch by the Mulberry and Frog bayou road in the direction of Fayetteville, he opened his attack upon the rifle-pits and fortifications of the place at 5 o'clock a. m. on the 18th. The enemy had full knowledge of his march and were prepared to resist his attack, not only with the entire garrison which was retained, but with such additional troops as had been summoned from adjacent stations. Cabell's force charged the rifle-pits along the edge of the hill south and east of the town, drove in the men defending them, and entered the streets of the town, aided by Hughey's guns; but on gaining the town they could not use artillery without injury to houses and their occupants, some of whom were families of men in the Confederate armies. In the streets Cabell's men met with effectual resistance from the windows, doorways and corners of the houses, and after three hours spent in a vain effort to draw out the forces so protected, they fell back to the artillery. The enemy was armed with Springfield and Whitney rifles; had a force numbering about 2,000, and had the advantage of a position forbidding the destruction or shelling of the defenses. The attacking party awaited and invited an attack from the garrison outside the works, but none was offered. The Confederates [171] then returned to Ozark at their leisure, unmolested on the march. The following extracts from General Cabell's report will be of interest:

Col. J. C. Monroe made two splendid charges with his command, one on foot and the other mounted. Col. L. L. Thompson, with his regiment, and Colonel Dorsey, with his squadron, under Colonel Scott, made a dashing charge and drove the enemy to their rifle-pits and to the houses, where they rallied and poured in a dreadful fire with their long-range guns. The artillery, managed by Captain Hughey, under my immediate command, did frightful execution in the enemy's camp [outside of the town], driving them out and completely scattering their cavalry for a while. Captain Hughey was wounded in the arm by a sharpshooter at the commencement of the action, but continued in charge of his pieces under a heavy fire from the enemy's sharpshooters during the whole of the fight. His men were all taken from a camp of instruction at Dardanelle, a little over a month ago, and with one or two exceptions did well. Two horses were killed and 2 wounded in the battery, 1 man killed and several wounded. Our loss is not positively known, but will not exceed 20 killed, 30 wounded and 20 missing. The enemy's loss in killed fully equals our total killed and wounded. The number of his wounded was very great. We captured and paroled 26 prisoners, 1 lieutenant, i non-commissioned officer and 24 privates; also destroyed a train of 10 or 15 wagons. I could have burned a large part of the town, but every house was filled with women and children, a great number of whom were relatives of the officers and soldiers in our service.

The enemy's force consisted (notwithstanding all previous reports from persons living in Fayetteville to the contrary) of . . . total 1,850, besides four squadrons of cavalry . . . from Springfield. . . Had I had 500 long-range rifles with good cartridges, I could have taken the place in an hour. As it was, I could not advance my battery, as I had nothing to cover the pieces, and the enemy's guns were equal in range to the artillery. The Arkadelphia rifles, with the cartridges sent with them, are no better than shotguns. . . . The officers and men, with a few exceptions, acted well. Colonel Monroe and his whole regiment deserve particular mention. Colonels [172] Scott, Noble, Thompson and Major Dorsey acted with great gallantry. Capt. Fen Rieff, Lieutenant Ferguson, Captain Jefferson and Private Sublett, of Rieff's company, deserve to be particularly mentioned. My staff officers, Lieut. Ben J. Field, Surg. J. H. Carroll, Maj. Hugh Wilson, commissary, Capt. J. H. Crawford, quartermaster, and Lieutenant Roberts, acted with great gallantry. Major Wilson, I am sorry to add, was badly wounded. I sent an officer back with a flag of truce to have my wounded properly cared for, leaving surgeons to attend upon them.

Colonel Harrison, commanding the garrison at Fayetteville, replied to Cabell's request to care for his men who were wounded, that he had buried the dead decently in coffins, and removed the wounded to his general hospital, where they were in charge of Surgeons Russell and Holden, of the Confederate command, who were supplied with everything needed. ‘Rest assured, General, that your wounded shall receive the best of care, such as we would hope to have from you, were we placed in a like situation.’ Colonel Harrison issued a congratulatory address, April 19th, in which he indulged in the unobjectionable and natural effusions of a grateful heart, as follows:

Let April 18, 1863, ever be remembered! The battle of Fayetteville has been fought and won. Today, the brave and victorious sons of Arkansas stand proudly upon the soil which their blood and their bravery have rendered sacred to every true-hearted American, but doubly sacred to them. In the light of this holy Sabbath sun, we are permitted through God's mercy to gather together in His name and in the name of our common country to offer up our heartfelt thanks to the ‘Giver of every good and perfect gift’; for the triumph of our arms, and for the blessings which we enjoy.

The address was framed upon a high and familiar precedent, and was altogether in a tone honorable to the piety and patriotism of its author. It may have been the restraining influence of these sacred feelings, and not [173] the march of Cabell, which caused the cessation of the pillage and murder that had been indulged in by the triumphant defenders of Fayetteville, or by their agents. The fact is, thenceforth they were discontinued, and comparative quietude resumed its sway among these romantic valleys. The old men mended their plows, and women and children began the cheerful preparation for the cultivation of their little fields.

Colonel Harrison was soon ordered to evacuate Fayetteville and go to the assistance of Colonel Phillips and his army in the Indian Territory. Phillips had crossed the Arkansas on the night of the 24th and made an attack on Stand Watie's Confederate Cherokees, at Webber's Falls, and prevented the assemblage of the Cherokee legislature there on the 25th. He then sent a heavy scout, with howitzers, to the Lee's creek road, between Fayetteville and Van Buren, to prevent any force moving up east of his position, until Colonel Harrison should move.

Lieut.-Gen. E. Kirby Smith had been assigned, January 14, to the command of the ‘Southwestern army,’ embracing the troops in west Louisiana and Texas, and on February 9th his command was extended to embrace the Trans-Mississippi department. He issued his general orders, No. 1, March 7th, assuming command of the forces west of the Mississippi. Gen. Sterling Price was at last transferred to the Trans-Mississippi, February 27th, and a month later was assigned to the command of the division lately commanded by General Hindman, who had been relieved from duty in the TransMissis-sippi, January 30th.

On March 18th, the secretary of war advised General Smith that a pressing necessity would require the latter's presence at an early day in Arkansas. The secretary wrote: ‘From a variety of sources, many of which I cannot doubt, the most deplorable accounts reach the department of the disorder, confusion and demoralization everywhere [174] prevalent, both with the armies and the people of the State.’ On the date of this letter, Lieut.-Gen. T. H. Holmes was relieved from the command of the Trans-Mississippi department and assigned to the district of Arkansas, including also Indian Territory and Missouri.

The abstract from returns of the district of Arkansas for April 30, 1863, shows the following present for duty: Price's division, headquarters Little Rock, 529 officers, 6,656 men; Steele's division, Fort Smith, 317 officers, 4,082 men; Marmaduke's division, Jacksonport, 352 officers, 4,o18 men; Frost's division, Pine Bluff, 153 officers, 2,107 men; Dobbin's regiment, near Helena, 38 officers, 605 men; Hill's artillery battalion, Little Rock, 17 officers, 251 men; Dawson's cavalry, Little Rock, 1 officer, 52 men. Total, 1,407 officers, 17,771 men; aggregate present, 22,249; aggregate present and absent, 34,431.

Price's division at that date embraced the Arkansas brigades of Fagan, McRae and Tappan (formerly Shaver's), and M. M. Parsons' Missouri brigade. Steele's division included the brigades of Cooper and Cabell. Marmaduke's division at that time was composed of the brigades of Carter, Burbridge, Shelby and Greene, but on June 2d was limited to his own brigade and Shelby's. Gen. L. M. Walker, on June 2d, was given command of a brigade composed of Dobbin's and Newton's Arkansas cavalry.

In his report covering this period, General Halleck said: ‘The main body of our troops in the department of the Missouri had, in the early part of the season, been sent to reinforce General Grant before Vicksburg.’ It was considered by the Confederate leaders that the impatience of the war party at the North to take Vicksburg, as an achievement that would give promise of success to their policy and a speedy termination of the war, was stimulating the Union commanders to strain every energy to its accomplishment, regardless of minor successes or disasters, [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 [176] brigade, 1,089; Kitchen's battalion, 286. In all, 4,058. Of these, many are out on outpost duty. Carter's (Texas) brigade, now attached to General Walker's command, is reported 1,170, total present. From the most reliable information General Marmaduke can obtain, the enemy have not more than from 4,000 to 5,000 at Helena; and were a movement conducted with celerity and secrecy, by which you could concentrate the commands of Generals Frost and Fagan with this column, I entertain no doubt of your being able to crush the foe at that point.

The raids into Missouri, arduous as they were, could not be compared with the march on Helena from Little Rock and Jacksonport with infantry, artillery and trains. The line of march was across the Grand prairie, a treeless level, whose heavy, wet flats are easily cut into miry roads. At the season of this march, millions of prairie-flies and black gnats swarmed everywhere, distressing the mules and horses. White river was to cross, and the low, swampy bottoms of Cache river, and the soft bottom land of Bayou de View and Caney creek. Other watercourses, all more or less difficult, were to be passed and, to increase the distress, a four days rain commenced about the 22d and caused a rise in all these Stygian waters.

On the 18th of June it was ordered that Cottonplant should be the place of rendezvous, June 26th, and on that day the following marching orders were issued by Lieutenant-General Holmes:

1. The movement against Helena will be under the immediate direction of the lieutenant-general commanding the district.

2. Major-General Price, with the forces now under his command, will constitute the first column, and will march from Switzer's, on the direct road to Helena, keeping his cavalry well in advance. He will communicate with headquarters at the close of each day's march. Brigadier-Generals Fagan's and L. M. Walker's brigades will constitute the second column, of which Walker's brigade [177] will be the advance, and will rendezvous at a point hereafter to be designated. Fagan's brigade will march on the lower Little Rock road. . . .

Neither Tappan's, Cooper's, Cabell's nor Frost's brigade was engaged in the attack on Helena. General Holmes, who now assumed command in the field, had hitherto remained at headquarters at Little Rock, charging himself with the general interests of the district. Unfortunately, there was no general system managed by a common head, each district acting independently. The vast extent of country to be governed and protected, and the absorbing interest of Missouri affairs, probably bewildered the department commander, while the hope of advancing into that State, no doubt, controlled him in the policy he pursued.

During the concentration against Helena, the commanding general was in receipt of dispatches from subordinate commanders, giving glimpses of stirring events taking place along the Mississippi river, on his front, attendant upon the movements of the Federal army against Vicksburg. From General Marmaduke a dispatch June 14th, read: ‘A scout from the Mississippi river, 30 miles above Memphis, reports ten transports passed two days ago, going south, loaded with negro troops. I am firmly of the opinion that all the troops that can be spared are being sent to reinforce Grant; that New Madrid, Memphis and Helena are very weak.’ Major McLean, adjutant-general of Price's division, forwarded the following, June 13th: ‘A pilot who has been running the river from Memphis, says that if he can get protection from our side, we can capture from one to fifteen boats at Island No.63, where Dobbin has been firing on transports while passing.’ From General Price, June 15th: ‘Two hundred and fifty men, with small howitzers, have been sent to a point on the river north of Memphis, and 400 men with a section of Collins' battery (one piece rifled) to a point on the river below Memphis, with [178] instructions to harass the enemy's transportation of supplies and troops.’ From Col. Colton Greene, June 17th: ‘It is estimated that over 40,000 men went down to Vicksburg during the past ten days, consisting of Burnside's troops from Kentucky, and Herron's division from Missouri.’ From the express agent, June 18th: ‘Yesterday five boats passed down with troops. The boats going up this evening are either hospitals or empty. There is more activity to-day than usual. No gunboats have passed. On all transports, I am told, are one or two pieces of artillery; very few troops visible. What fine service for a regiment of cavalry, with a battery, or even a section of artillery. We could render-our hard-pressed friends at Vicksburg great service.’ From the same, June 21st: ‘Seven passed up last night. The steamer Dove went down last night, came up to-day, with one piece of artillery and the horses harnessed. They reported heavy fighting at Vicksburg. Dobbin and Gary (cavalry) within 12 miles of Helena.’

As to the advance of his troops on Helena, Holmes was hourly in receipt of dispatches. From General Price, June 27th: ‘Crossed Cache river with my cavalry, on Thursday morning. . . . The infantry, in consequence of the rapid rise of Cache river, was unable to finish the crossing of that stream with their trains before 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon, having fasted from daybreak of the previous day. I had meanwhile caused Bayou de View to be bridged, and the bottom on each side of it to be causewayed, as also Caney creek. But the very heavy rains of yesterday and last night raised both the bayou and the creek so as to sweep away the bridges and render the bottoms utterly impassable.’ From General Marmaduke, June 28th, on Flat creek bayou: ‘Reached this point this morning and find the bayou here a quarter of a mile wide, 50 yards of which is swimming water.’ From Maj. Thomas L. Snead, Price's adjutant-general: ‘Parsons and McRae have encountered greater difficulties [179] in passing their trains over Big creek bottom than were anticipated, and they will hardly get beyond this point to-morrow.’ From Gen. M. M. Parsons to Major Snead, July 1st: ‘I finished crossing this evening at 5:30; worked the men in the water to their waists last night until 10; again this morning from daylight. Men much worried; mules more so—they are without forage; not a grain to be had without pressing.’ From Jo O. Shelby, at Gordon's plantation, July 1st: ‘I have the river road from Helena to St. Francis river well guarded. My command is 8 miles in advance of General Holmes.’

These reports are enough to present the picture of an army struggling through the mud, water and rain, without forage for mules or battery horses, in order to ‘surprise’ an enemy who had every facility for reinforcement or retreat. The movement of the Western army, however, was suggested by an exigency which could not wait on weather. A diversion must be made in favor of Vicksburg. The energies of this faithful army must be exerted in favor of the common cause, even looking to the maintenance of the conflict in the East, although its own borders be left for a time defenseless.

The secretary of war had suggested it, May 23d, in a dispatch to Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, commanding in Mississippi. ‘I venture with diffidence,’ he said, ‘only one suggestion. It is, that should opportunity to communicate with Generals Holmes or Price occur, it might be well to urge they should make diversion for you, or in the case of the fall of Vicksburg, secure a great future advantage to the Confederacy, by the attack on and seizure of Helena, while all the available forces of the enemy are being pushed to Grant's aid.’ This letter forwarded to Gen. Kirby Smith, at Shreveport, was sent on by him, with the indorsement, ‘To Lieutenant-General Holmes, to act as circumstances may justify.’ To which General Holmes replied from Little Rock, after consulting Price, ‘I believe we can take Helena. Please let me attack it.’ [180] General Smith gave his assert in a Caesarian dispatch, dated June 16, 1863: ‘Most certainly do it.’

General Holmes believed he could take it. Like another noble visionary, he would have accepted any challenge of emulation. He made investigations and based his opinion upon ‘information considered reliable,’ but he afterward confessed, ‘The place was very much more difficult of access and the fortification much stronger than I had supposed before undertaking the expedition, the features of the country being peculiarly adapted to defense, and all that the art of engineering could do having been brought to bear to strengthen it. The fortification consisted of one regular work heavily armed with siege guns, and four strong redoubts mounted with field pieces and protected by rifle-pits on suburban hills.’ This latter information he did not have when it might have been useful. He does not mention the gunboat Tyler, which lay in the Mississippi, opposite Hindman hill, the commander of which had surveyed the works and calculated his range to assist in defending them.

The Mississippi river, the main channel of which is more than two miles wide at Helena, runs south in front of the place, originally built on the west brink of the river. The town had grown gradually to extend back upon the uneven and elevated ridge of land known as Crowley's ridge, which, at its southern extremity, the great river cuts here, and was easily fortified against a force coming from the west. The ridge is broken into many elevations (with deep ravines between), and upon these had been constructed the breastworks and fort described by General Holmes. The heavy timber of the western slope of the ridge had been cut down to blockade the road and form an impregnable abattis for miles. A road, called the Sterling road, ran from the north, a little back from the river, into town, upon a lower plateau, above which frowned Fort Curtis. A little southwest of this fort was Graveyard hill, upon which the [181] enemy had constructed their Battery C, protected by rifle-pits and abattis in front. To the south of Battery C was Hindman hill, Battery D, commanding the road to Little Rock, called the ‘upper Little Rock road’ to distinguish it from a road from Little Rock leading in from the south on the river levels. On a headland north of the city, Rightor hill, on Sterling road, was Battery A, which also commanded the old St. Francis road, running northwest; and upon the upper St. Francis road, a little farther south, on a commanding headland, was Battery B. Batteries C and D, a quarter and a half mile south, under the guns of Fort Curtis, were the keys to the capture of Helena from the west.

It was July 3, 1863, when the disposition for the attack was made under the following order:

The attack on Helena will be made tomorrow morning at daylight, and as follows: 1. Major-General Price, in command of McRae's and Parsons' brigades, will proceed by the best route, assume position, assault and take Graveyard hill [Battery C] at daylight. 2. Brigadier-General Walker, with his cavalry brigade, will in like manner proceed to the Sterling road [north of the town, at Battery A], where he will hold himself in position to resist any troops that may approach Rightor hill; and when these positions are captured, he will enter the town and act against the enemy as circumstances may justify. 3. Brigadier-General Fagan will proceed by the best route, assume position, and take the battery on Hindman hill [Battery D] at daylight. 4. Brigadier-General Marmaduke will proceed with his command by the best route, assume position, and take Rightor hill [Battery A] at daylight.

About midnight the troops began to move to their respective positions. Soon after daylight, General Marmaduke drove in the enemy's pickets and commenced the assault at Rightor hill, but a cavalry force, under Cols. Powell Clayton and T. H. Benton, appearing on his flank and rear, he had to fall back. This force had [182] swept by General Walker unimpeded. Simultaneously with this assault, Fagan advanced against Hindman hill and carried the last of the line of rifle-pits, but was enfiladed from Graveyard hill (Battery C) before the advance upon the latter by General Price. Fagan's charge upon the redoubt was repulsed, and he took refuge behind the inner line of breastworks. After sunrise (an hour after ‘daylight’), General Price brought his troops into position to make the assault on Graveyard hill, and moving forward, with a magnificent charge carried the rifle-pits, breastworks, and entered the redoubts without a halt (Battery C). The enemy, before retreating, had wedge-shotted his abandoned guns, so that the Confederates could not use them. From time to time the enemy made repeated assaults on Graveyard hill; but were always successfully repulsed by McRae and Parsons. General McRae, finding that Parsons could hold the works, proposed to assault Hindman hill in the rear, against which Fagan was vainly engaged; but upon essaying this movement, with the troops at his disposal, was fired on from Fort Curtis, from the rifle-pits, and on his flank by the heavy missiles from the gunboat Tyler, and was compelled to withdraw his gallant command to shelter in the timber and ravines. Fagan having retired from the assault, Parsons alone held the field, and though advanced upon in front and on both flanks by infantry, and under cross-fire of the artillery from the right and left, maintained his position and repulsed every assault until ordered by the commanding general to retire, at 10:30, after five hours continuous and deadly conflict.

The return of casualties compiled in the War Records shows a loss, in McRae's Arkansas brigade, of 46 killed, 168 wounded, 133 missing, total, 347; of which total the Thirty-sixth (Glenn's) regiment lost 159. Pagan's Arkansas brigade lost 47 killed, 115 wounded, 273 missing, total, 435. Parsons' Missouri brigade lost 61 killed, 304 [183] wounded, 365 missing, total, 730. The total loss of Shelby's brigade was 52; of Greene's, 12; of Walker's division (imperfectly reported), 2. Aggregate of these figures, 173 killed, 645 wounded, 772 missing.

General Price reported that his command in the battle was composed of McRae's Arkansas brigade—three regiments of infantry and a field battery, with 1,227 men present for duty—and Parsons' Missouri brigade—four regiments of infantry, a battalion of sharpshooters and a field battery; having in all, 1,868 men present for duty. He ordered the field pieces to be left behind, because of darkness and the difficulties of the way, across abrupt hills and deep ravines. When he got within one and a half mile of the position he was ordered to take, he found that he would arrive on the ground prematurely, and a brief halt was ordered to give the troops time to recover from the rapid march over a succession of almost precipitous and heavily-wooded hills. At dawn he advanced again, and his skirmishers were soon sharply engaged. He continues:

The order for the assault (as explained to the general officers and regimental commanders of the division the evening before) directed that General Parsons, moving in front, should halt the head of his column at the point from which he was to make the assault until the head of General McRae's column should reach its position on the left, when both columns should advance simultaneously to the assault.

During the brief halt alluded to, and just as I had ordered General McRae forward, the general commanding rode up and asked why the assault had not been made. I explained the facts to him, and thinking that time enough had elapsed for General McRae to get into position, I dispatched one of my staff to General Parsons to ascertain why he was not advancing. He replied that he was waiting for General McRae to get into position. [General McRae was in position, but owing to the necessities of the ground, further to the left than planned, and a high ridge interposed between him and [184] Parsons. Price informed Parsons of this and ordered the assault.]

Both brigades moved forward on the instant, rapidly, steadily, unflinchingly, and in perfect order, under a storm of minie balls, grape and canister, which were poured into them, not only from the Graveyard hill in their front, but from the fortified hills upon the right and left, both of which were in easy range. The enemy gave way before the impetuous assault of the attacking columns, which, entering the works almost simultaneously, planted the Confederate flag upon the summit of Graveyard hill. Each brigade had done its allotted duty with equal zeal, devotion and gallantry, and each is entitled to an equal share of the honor which justly attaches to those who discharge their duty as these men did, fearlessly, well, and successfully. [Parsons' command was composed of self-exiled volunteers from Missouri, and McRae's of Arkansas conscripts, and General Price was a Missourian who paid this high tribute.]

Being in possession of the hill, and finding that the captured guns had been shot-wedged, I directed my chief of artillery to bring forward the pieces which I had left behind. This he did as promptly as the difficulties of the ground would permit, but not until it was too late for them to be used in the action.

Meanwhile a heavy fire was concentrated upon the hill from the four fortified positions which the enemy still continued to hold, and from the hillsides and ravines, under cover of which their sharpshooters delivered a well-directed and very effective fire, while the gunboat which lay in front of the town kept up an unintermitting discharge of its heavy guns. Perceiving that the surest way of relieving my men from the disastrous effects of this galling fire was to aid General Fagan to take the enemy's works upon my right, and receiving information that that gallant officer had been repulsed in every attempt to assault those works, I sent an order directing General Parsons to move his brigade forthwith to the reinforcement of General Fagan. He replied to the officer, by whom I had sent the order, that General McRae (who was by his side, at the time) would, with my permission, go to the assistance of General Fagan, while his (Parsons') brigade, being the stronger, would hold Graveyard hill. [This was approved.] It soon became [185] obvious, however, that both brigades had been so weakened by their heavy losses in killed and wounded, and particularly in prisoners (the most of the latter having been captured in the immediate vicinity of the town, whither they had gone without orders from me), and by straggling of those overcome by the intense heat and thirst, and that I could not send any effective aid to General Fagan without too greatly endangering my own position. It was equally obvious that unless such aid be promptly sent to General Fagan, the general attack upon Helena must fail. It was under these circumstances that I received an order from the lieutenant-general, commanding me to withdraw my division. In compliance with this order my troops were withdrawn to a point about four miles from Helena, where they rested for the night and resumed the march hither on the morning of the 5th.

The lieutenant-general commanding was himself a witness of the conduct of my division. He saw the alacrity with which they advanced to the positions assigned. He knows the steadfastness and unfaltering courage with which they moved, in the midst of a deadly fire, over deep ravines and precipitous hills, obstructed by felled timber, to into, and over the works which they had been ordered to take, driving everything before them. He was himself a witness of the undaunted bravery and enduring constancy with which, animated by his own inspiring example and gallant bearing, they stood unshaken in the very center of that unceasing fire hurled against them from gunboats, from forts and from rifle-pits. I am sure that he will pay them that tribute of praise to which their courage and endurance entitle them. . . . I must also commend the excellent discipline which General McRae maintains at all times in his brigade; the marked good sense and energy with which he conducted its march to Helena; the promptitude with which he has always obeyed my commands, and the earnest efforts which he made to reinforce General Fagan toward the close of the attack.

General McRae said in his report:

As soon as the command was massed in position, a general rush was made into the fort, and the works were [186] carried. This assault was made from the north. The enemy were driven from the works and pursued to the verge of the town. About this time General Parsons' brigade entered the fort, he having charged about the same time as my brigade, thus rendering the capture of the position certain, for had my assault failed, he was so close that he could not have failed. Moving along the north side of Graveyard hill, my command was exposed not only to the fire of the fort and the rifle-pits in front, but also to that of the fort north of Graveyard hill, which fort was not attacked, and to whose fire my command was exposed. . . . I discovered a battery of field pieces being moved by the enemy to the rear, so as to completely enfilade my command. Before marching, I had armed Capt. John G. Marshall's company of artillery with muskets, and moved it along in rear of my column, so that in case we captured the fort I should be prepared to work the enemy's guns. I now used this company as sharpshooters, ordering them to approach this battery and prevent it from getting into position, which they accomplished in a very gallant manner. As soon as the works were carried, I returned and ordered Captain Marshall to call on his men and take charge of the guns and work them. While giving these orders, Lieutenant-General Holmes rode up and ordered me at once to the assistance of General Fagan, who was attacking the fort south of Graveyard hill. I at once went to the fort and ordered the officers to assemble their men. Before they were able to do so, General Holmes again, in a peremptory manner, ordered me to the assistance of General Fagan. I had not more than 200 men with me. With them I charged down the hill, aiming to assault the north front of the fort; but when I arrived at the foot of the hill the fire of the enemy was so withering that with the force I had it was madness to attempt to scale the hill, the hollow being raked by artillery opposite its mouth, and completely enfiladed by rifle-pits in point-blank range. I therefore deployed my men and commenced firing on the rifle-pits and works which were being attacked by General Fagan, in order to make as great a diversion as possible. When informed that the enemy had retaken Graveyard hill, I sent Capt. Paul M. Cobbs, of Hart's regiment, with his company, to General Fagan, to say that I was unable to attack the works in front, being now [187] exposed to fire in rear as well as flank. I crossed over the narrow ridge in front of the fort attacked by General Fagan, and the fire was so severe that my men were compelled to cross the ridge singly. When I reached the crest of the hill I discovered General Fagan's men in a rifle-pit in front of the main works, and they seemed too few, even reinforced with what men I had, to accomplish anything. Within a short time I saw them rush out of the rifle-pits into a deep gorge immediately in their rear. [He withdrew into a ravine between the two forts] The first field officer I met was Colonel Hawthorn, at some huts where some wounded were, and in a short time General Fagan came up. After moving a short distance I met General Holmes.

As for my field officers, that they did their duty it needs but to state that of 9 that went into the battle, 6 were wounded, 2 mortally. Attention is called to the gallant conduct of Col. R. A. Hunt, who led his men to the assault, and when in the fort, seized one of the enemy's guns and fired it against them. Here also fell, mortally wounded, Lieut. W. F. Rector [second son of Governor Rector], adjutant of Hart's regiment, whose gallantry and undaunted bravery signally distinguished him in the assault Maj. J. M. Davie, leading his men, fell, shot through the thigh, in front of the fort. Capt. W. C. Robinson, acting major, fell, mortally wounded, in front of his men. Here also fell, mortally wounded, the brave, the zealous Maj. J. C. Martin, of Hart's regiment; Maj. A. F. Stephenson, of Gause's regiment; Capt. J. C. Garland, of Glenn's regiment; and Lieut. Thomas A. Eppes, of Gause's regiment, than whom a better man or braver soldier has not offered up his life during this war. [Capt. J. R. Morris and Lieuts. R. B. Camp, R. F. McKinney, W. T. Tompkins and J. R. Harlan were also reported killed.] Cols. J. E. Glenn and L. C. Gause, and Lieut.-Cols. J. W. Rogers and William Hicks, deserve special mention for the daring manner in which they led their men. Lieut. J. W. Crabtree, of Glenn's regiment, displayed the greatest intrepidity. Sergt. John H. Champ, Company A, of Hart's regiment, deserves special mention. Color-Sergeant Garland, of Glenn's regiment, advanced his regimental colors to the front, and maintained his position through the assault, his colors being torn into ribbons. My thanks are due my staff, especially to Lieut. John W. McKay.


Gen. Jas. F. Fagan's report accounts for the Arkansas men under his command:

On the evening of the 3d inst., at dark, I ordered Col. W. H. Brooks, with his regiment, one section of C. B. Etter's battery, commanded by Lieut. J. C. Arnett, and three companies of cavalry, commanded by Capt. W. B. Denson, to move to the front in support of the cavalry, then within three miles of Helena. About 11 o'clock at night, with the three remaining regiments, commanded, respectively, by Cols. J. P. King, A. T. Hawthorn and S. S. Bell, and Blocher's battery of light artillery, commanded by Capt. W. D. Blocher, I moved forward on the road toward Helena. . . . At daylight I reached and attacked the enemy in his works. Colonel Hawthorn, being in advance, was hurrled rapidly into line on the right of the road which led directly up to the fort on Hindman hill [Battery D]. He at once engaged the enemy in the extreme outer line of their rifle-pits. Bell's regiment emerged next from the confused mass of felled timber, and was double-quicked into line on the left of the road, engaging, as they came into position, the intrenched forces of the enemy over against them. King's regiment brought up the rear. He threw his men into position and by me was ordered to the support of Colonel Hawthorn. My entire force was now engaged. The assault upon the rifle-pits was made from both the right and left of the road. . . . The gorge is passed, the ascent of the steep acclivity is nearly gained, and the red line of rifle-pits looms up clearly amid the uncertain light and haze of dawn. With a shout of triumph they rush toward it, and the enemy are driven pellmell from one row of rifle-pits to another. . . .

We reached and took possession of their fourth tier of rifle-pits. Now it was that the column commanded by Major-General Price (Parsons' and McRae's brigades) charged the works on Graveyard hill, gallantly driving the enemy before them, and taking possession of their fortifications and artillery. There remained yet one row of intrenchments between my brigade and the fort on Hindman hill [Battery D]. I ordered a charge. My men, though thoroughly exhausted and worn, answered with a shout and sprang forward most gallantly. This being the inner and last line of works between us and the [189] enemy, of course was defended with great stubbornness. It was of no avail. My men sprang forward bravely and defiantly and, after a severe contest, succeeded in driving out the enemy, who fled, crowding back into the frowning fort and under cover of its heavy guns. . . . Before us there only remained the fort and the plain on which it was built. Notwithstanding the reduced condition of my command and the exhaustion of those yet remaining, I ordered a charge upon the fort. My colonels did all in their power to encourage the men to the attack. The effort was made; but the prostrate condition of my command prevented success, and after losing in the attempt several gallant officers and many brave men, I formed again in rear of the inner line of rifle-pits, while the guns of the fort continued to pour forth a furious fire.

It was now verging on 11 o'clock in the day. More than three hours before the guns on Graveyard hill had been taken by our friends, and there seemed no obstacle in the way of their victorious march. Eagerly did we look to see their column coming to our aid, as hour after hour passed, and still they made not their appearance. Time wore on. The pleasant morning deepened into the sultriest and hottest of days. The thinned ranks of my regiments became thinner and thinner each moment. The guns of the enemy (not more than 100 or 150 yards distant) were telling sadly against us, while the heat, the want of water and the toil were no mean auxiliaries. Still the brave men left stood manfully up to the discharge of their duty. At this time written orders were received from Lieutenant-General Holmes, directing that I withdraw my troops from the field, and fall back to Allen Polk's, 6 miles in the rear. We retired from the field and fell back slowly to that point. . . My aggregate force engaged was 1,339.

It was in the last assault that Maj. John B. Cocke, of Hawthorn's regiment, received a severe wound. His daring was conspicuous. . . .Colonels Brooks, King, Hawthorn and Bell, each did his whole duty. . . . The position assigned to Colonel King threw him perhaps on that ground most difficult to get over. Maj. John J. Dillard and Adjt. W. T. Bourne deserve much praise. . . . Colonel Hawthorn remained with a small number of his men, engaging the enemy until the last of the army [190] had retired beyond the high hills. . . . Colonel Bell and Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson, with a large number of officers and over 100 men, were captured by the enemy in an attempt to enter the fort from the south side.

Maj. T. H. Blacknall, Maj. B. T. Du Val, Capt. Wyatt C. Thomas were also specially commended by General Fagan. Capt. Walton Watkins, of Hawthorn's regiment, was referred to as falling after displaying great gallantry, but that officer, happily, survived the battle many years. Colonel Hawthorn also reported the death of Lieuts. Richard J. Shaddock, W. H. Hinson, L. R. Kinniard. Maj. T. H. Blacknall, reporting for the Thirty-seventh regiment, reported Capts. H. C. Pleasants and W. J. Smith wounded.

The character of the approaches in this action was such that the Arkansas batteries could not be brought to bear so as to perform their important part. The cavalry, except General Walker's division, does not seem to have been dismounted. The — army returned by the roads it had advanced upon, again obstructed by the same obstacles, but were not otherwise molested.

General Marmaduke's report contained a paragraph reflecting upon the inactivity of Gen. L. M. Walker's brigade, which led to an angry controversy that resulted eventually in a fatal personal encounter between them. Marmaduke asserted: ‘Walker's brigade not only did not prevent reinforcements from going to Fort Rightor, but the enemy, after sunrise, actually passed to my left and half a mile to my rear and held that position during the day.’ General Walker's version was as follows: ‘I was continually engaged until nearly 3 p. m. I effectually complied with the part assigned to me in the order of attack by preventing the enemy from throwing troops to Rightor hill, which they were constantly trying to do and made two strong efforts and were repulsed. I protected Brigadier-General Marmaduke's left flank. My command was engaged in front of his left. At about [191] 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. Now, however, [192] the attack in front became more furious. The enemy covered every hilltop, swarmed in every ravine, but seemed to be massing his force more particularly against Battery C [Graveyard hill]. I now signaled the gunboat Tyler, the only one at hand, Lieutenant-Commander Pritchett commanding, to open fire in that direction. The enemy (Parsons' and McRae's brigades), nothing daunted by the concentrated fire from Fort Curtis, Batteries B, C and D, the Tyler, and all the infantry I could bring to their support, and led, as I since learn, by Lieutenant-General Holmes and Major-General Price in person, charged upon Battery C. Twice they were repulsed, but the third time, exhibiting a courage and desperation rarely equaled, they succeeded in driving my small force at the point of the bayonet and capturing the battery. Dividing his forces and sending a part, as a feint, to menace Fort Curtis, the enemy then assaulted Battery D [Hindman hill demonstration by Fagan], to reach which they must pass through a deep ravine and encounter a heavy cross-fire. The enemy faltered; seeing which the men in Battery D, and those behind the breastworks and in the rifle-pits supporting it, sallied forth and, surrounding more than three times their number, brought them off prisoners. Not to be outdone by their comrades, the men who had been supporting Battery C . . . gallantly charged upon the enemy in Battery C, retaking it, and capturing as well a large number of prisoners This was about 10 o'clock. I immediately dispatched two aides to carry this information to Cols. S. A. Rice and Powell Clayton, who, with the remnants of two small brigades, were holding the enemy in check on the right flank, where the attack was only the less severe and successful than it had been in front. At 10:30 it became evident that the enemy was withdrawing his forces; but, unaware how severely he had been punished, and learning somewhat of the strength of his forces from prisoners, I could but believe it was for the purpose of massing and attacking my left flank, which I considered the weakest point (the south end of his line). The attack was not resumed, however. . . . My whole force numbered . . . 4,129. [Total loss, 239.]

Except by those who suffered from it immediately, through losses and bereavements never to be forgotten, [193] the attack on Helena soon passed out of mind. There were contemporaneous and more significant events that absorbed the public attention. On the same day Vicksburg capitulated, and four days later Port Hudson fell. On the day before, Lee's invasion of Pennsylvania had terminated adversely in his decisive defeat at Gettysburg.

Before this momentous July 3d and 4th, the sympathy of the French and English was approaching the point of intervention in favor of the South. Napoleon III was actively advocating it. Gladstone, ‘the grand old man,’ openly eulogized the Confederates. His touching reference to ‘that heroic people, struggling for independence,’ is yet remembered against him in Wall street. A majority of the British cabinet was in favor of recognition. The motion of Roebuck for intervention had been offered in the house of commons. If once put to the house its passage was a foregone conclusion. The London Times exulted over Lee's invasion of Pennsylvania. But while parliament was becoming daily more favorable to the proposition, Gettysburg was lost! The force of events and the dictates of prudence turned the tide so that Giadstone himself mournfully made this decisive utterance in parliament: ‘It is not that I think the war is waged on the part of the North for any adequate or worthy object that I would venture to deprecate the adoption of the motion of the honorable gentleman (Roebuck). I fear it is running the risk of making that worse which is already and sufficiently horrible; of causing other feuds and quarrels that may carry still further desolation over the face of the earth.’ The last thought of intervention was banished from the councils of that great power. General Lord Wolseley, in a eulogy on Lee, has written: ‘The desperate, though drawn battle of Gettysburg was the death-knell of Southern independence.’ But the conflict went on. Blood continued to flow, even more freely than before. [194]

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