scope of country. It has been to them a most important depot for troops in their operations against Vicksburg. In view of these great advantages to them, of the great embarrassment to my movements elsewhere, arising from the proximity of a large and threatening army, and of the deleterious effect on that portion of the State cursed by their presence, it was deemed of very great importance that they should be driven from this their only stronghold in Arkansas. As a means of raising the siege of Vicksburg, and of keeping the Mississippi River closed, in the event of the surrender of that city, the policy of the move was perfectly apparent. Moveover, from information considered reliable in my possession, the capture of Helena by the forces at my disposal seemed perfectly practicable.
On June 14, 1863, I telegraphed to Lieutenant-General Smith that I believed I could take the place, and asked his permission to attack it. Two days after, I started to Jacksonport, there to consult with Generals Price and Marmaduke and to make the necessary preliminary arrangements. The result of this interview was the following orders: Price's command, consisting of General McRae's Arkansas and General Parson's Missouri brigades of infantry, constituting Price's division of Missouri cavalry, Marmaduke's division, to rendezvous at Cotton Plant, and Brigadier-General Fagan's Arkansas brigade of infantry at Clarendon, on June 26 (Friday) whence, by converging roads, the two columns would move in the direction of Helena. I also informed General [L. M.] Walker, commanding brigade of cavalry in the vicinity of Helena, of my intention, and directed him to allow no ingress to the place.
Upon my return to Little Rock, I found that General Smith had fully sanctioned my proposed attack, and that the Secretary of War and written a strong letter suggesting, advising, and urging it. Thus encouraged, on June 26 I proceeded to Clarendon and assumed command of the expedition. From unavoidable necessity, consequent on rain, high water, and wretched roads, General Price's command did not reach its rendezvous for four days after the date fixed, thus giving the enemy abundant notice of my approach. General Fagan arrived at his place of rendezvous (Clarendon) on the 26th. As soon as the troops were in position, I proceeded toward Helena, on the morning of July 3.
Having received full, accurate, and reliable information of the forces and fortifications of the enemy in Helena, and the topography of the surrounding country, I here made the final dispositions for the attack. That information disclosed that the place was very much more difficult of access, and the fortification very 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 fortifications 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 (see the map).
The disposition for the attack was as per following order:
The attack on Helena will be made to-morrow morning at daylight, and as follows:
1st. Major-General Price, in command of McRae's and Parsons' brigades, will proceed by the best route, assume position, assault and take Graveyard Hill at daylight.
2nd. Brigadier-General Walker, with his cavalry brigade, will in like manner, proceed to the Sterling road, where he will hold himself in position to resist any troops that may approach Rightor Hill; and when that position is captured, he will enter the town and act against the enemy as circumstances may justify.