War of the Rebellion: Serial 032 Page 0395 Chapter XXXIV. ATTACK ON HELENA, ARK.

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Numbers 4. Report of Colonel Samuel A. Rice, Thirty-third Iowa Infantry, commanding Second Brigade.


Helena, Ark., July 7, 1863.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Second Brigade in the action of the 4th instant:

The Thirty-third Missouri Infantry were stationed at Fort Curtis and at Batteries A, B, C, and D, which covered your entire line of defense. At all of these points they manned the artillery, and also had a reserve who acted as sharpshooters. The Thirty-third Iowa Infantry was ordered to report to Fort Curtis, opposite the center of your line, at daybreak, so that, in case of an attack, they might readily be thrown to the support of either wing or the center of your line. At 4 a. m. the enemy, in heavy force, drove in our pickets, and opened the engagement on Batteries A, C, and D. The Thirty-third Iowa was promptly, in compliance with your orders, moved into the rifle-pits in front and flanking Batteries C and D, with a small portion acting as a reserve, who were posted so as to command the ravine between these batteries. Three companies of the Thirty-sixth Iowa were sent at once to support Battery A, and took possession of the rifle-pits, flanking it. The Twenty-ninth Iowa, with a reserve from the Thirty-sixth, was ordered to take possession of the sides of the bluffs, on the east side, and a short distance in from of Battery A, extending down to the Sterling road, and drive the enemy from the crests of the hills which they already had occupied. On Batteries C and D the main assault of the enemy was made. They hurled regiment after regiment in close column against the works, but were gallantly repulsed at Battery D, and only after a severe and bloody conflict took Battery C, driving our forces before them, but they promptly rallied and formed at the bottom of the hill. The artillery from Batteries A, B, and D, together with Fort Curtis, commanding Battery C, was opened upon the enemy, and after a severe cannonading, assisted by a galling fire from our infantry, they were driven back with a heavy loss, and the battery retaken. The heavy loss sustained by the Thirty-third Missouri and the Thirty-third Iowa on this portion of the field fully attests their undoubted courage. While the engagement was thus progressing in the center, the enemy were also concentrating a heavy fire on the right wing, which had been assigned to my command. They had planted a battery within 400 yards of Battery A, but protected from its fire by a point of the hill. From the concentrated fire of the First Indiana Battery (light artillery_), and a section of the Third Iowa Battery, under Lieutenant Wright, assisted by our sharpshooters and a severe fire along the entire line, the enemy were compelled to withdraw their guns with a severe loss. On this portion of our line the enemy had, besides of cavalry, under General Marmaduke, and at all points outnumbered us at least four to one, according to their own estimates. The officers and soldiers of the Twenty-ninth Iowa acted with the utmost coolness and bravery, and steadily gained ground from the first onset. The Thirty-sixth Iowa behaved in a manner worthy of all commendation. They were promptly moved to the relief of the Twenty-ninth Iowa, and drove by their well-directed fire the enemy before them, occupying the crests of the hills. The enemy could repeatedly be heard trying to rally their columns for the purpose of charg-