before Vicksburg. Taking advantage of this reduction of force, the enemy moved against Helena, and attacked that place on the 4th of July. After a severe engagement, he was defeated by Major-General Prentiss, with a heavy loss in killed and wounded and 1,100 prisoners. Our loss in killed, wounded, and missing was only about 250.*
As soon as Vicksburg had capitulated, Major-General Steele was sent with a force to Helena, with instructions to form a junction with Brigadier-General Davidson, who was moving south from Missouri, by Crowley's Ridge, and drive the enemy south of Arkansas River. This junction being effected, General Steele established his depot and hospitals at Devall's Bluff, and on the 1st of August advanced against the enemy, who fell back toward Little Rock. After several successful skirmishes he reached the Arkansas River, and threw a part of his force upon the south side to threaten the enemy's communications with Arkadelphia and take his defenses in reverse. The rebels, on seeing this movement, destroyed what property they could, and, after a slight resistance, fled in disorder, pursued by our cavalry; and on the 10th of September our troops took possession of the capital of Arkansas. Our loss in killed, wounded, and missing did not exceed 100. We captured 1,000 prisoners, and such public property as the rebels had not time to destroy. After the capture of Little Rock, and while our cavalry were driving the main force of the rebels south, the enemy attempted to recapture Pine Bluff, but was repulsed with heavy loss. On the 28th of October our troops occupied Arkadelphia, the enemy retreating to Red River.
A large part of the military force in the Department of the Missouri has been employed during the past year in repelling raids and in repressing the guerrilla bands of robbers and murderers who have come within our lines or been organized in the country. Most of these bands are not authorized belligerents under the laws of war, but simply outlaws from civilized society. It is exceedingly difficult to eradicate these bands, inasmuch as the inhabitants of the country, sometimes from disloyalty and sometimes from fear, afford them subsistence and concealment. The usually hide themselves in the woods, and, being well mounted, move rapidly from one point to another, supplying themselves by the way with provisions and fresh horses. They rob and murder wherever they go. In the recent raid of one of these bands into Kansas, they burned the city of Lawrence and murdered the inhabitants without regard to age or sex, committing atrocities more inhuman than those of Indian savages.
These are the terrible results of a border contest, incited at first for political purposes, and since increased in animosity by the civil war in which we are engaged, till all sense of humanity seems to have been lost in the desire to avenge with blood real or fancied grievances. This extraordinary condition of affairs on that frontier seems to call for the application of a prompt and severe remedy.
It has been proposed to depopulate the frontier counties of Missouri, and to lay waste the country on the border so as to prevent its furnishing any shelter or subsistence to these bands of murderers. Such measures are within the recognized laws of war; they were adopted by Wellington in Portugal, and by the Russian armies in the campaign of 1812; but they should be adopted only in case of overruling necessity. The execution of General Schofield's order on this subject has been suspended, and it is hoped that it will not be necessary hereafter to renew it.
*See p. 390.