Numbers 8. Report of Lieutenant Colonel William H. Heath, Thirty-third Missouri Infantry.
HELENA, ARK., July 6, 1863.
COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Thirty-third Missouri Volunteers in the action of the 4th instant:
Companies D and F manned the heavy guns in Fort Curtis; Company A the guns in Battery A; Company C the guns in Battery B; Company E the guns in Battery C, supported by Company H, acting as sharpshooters; Company B the guns in Battery D, supported by Companies G, I, and K, acting as sharpshooters.
The first assault of the enemy in force was made at 4 a. m. upon Batteries A, C, and D simultaneously. In front of Batteries A and D, they were handsomely checked before and advantage had been gained; but the entire Missouri brigade of Parsons (said to have been personally directed by Major General Sterling Price), charging furiously upon Battery C, drove the infantry support (four companies of the Thirty-third Iowa) out of the rifle-pits in great confusion, and, after killing, wounding, and capturing 30 men of the two companies on duty at the guns, succeeded in driving them form the battery, but not before they had spiked one of the guns and brought away all the friction primers and priming wires, thus rendering the pieces useless to the enemy. The companies in Fort Curtis, with the siege guns, supported by the remnants of Companies E and H, with numerous stragglers from other commands, acting as sharpshooters, succeeded in checking the enemy's farther advance, and finally drove his main force back from Battery C, compelling him, by their steady and increasing fire, to leave the guns of the battery uninjured and beat a hasty and disastrous retreat, leaving over 350 prisoners, with their officers and colors, and his dead and wounded, in our hands. The prisoners were mainly of the Seventh and Tenth Missouri Regiments, and had taken refuge from the fire of our artillery in a deep ravine opening toward the river, but protected by a ridge from the direct fire of Fort Curtis. Immediately the Thirty-fifth Missouri was drawn up across the mouth of this ravine, part of the Thirty-third Iowa moving to attack the enemy's flank, and the siege guns playing shell, grape, and canister upon the ridge above them, preventing a retreat. They were surrendered by hoisting a white flag, their own sharpshooters upon the ridge at their rear firing from cover upon and cursing them as they marched out prisoners of war.
About 9 a. m. a second attack was made upon Battery D by Fagan's brigade of Arkansas troops, three regiments strong, and said by prisoners to have acted under the personal direction of Lieutenant-General Holmes. The battery was bravely supported by detachments from the Forty-third Indiana, under Major [W. W.] Norris, and the Thirty-third Iowa, under Major [H. D.] Gibson. In spite, however, of the most determined resistance, Bell's regiment, with small portions of Hawthorn's securing a position in a deep ravine to the left of the battery and below the range of its guns. The remainder of the brigade was broken and scattered by the terrific fire of our artillery in the works, and compelled to seek shelter in the woods out of range.
Immediately upon their retreating, our riflemen from all three regiments in the pits closed in upon those of the enemy who were in the