War of the Rebellion: Serial 032 Page 0411 Chapter XXXIV. ATTACK ON HELENA, ARK.

Search Civil War Official Records

bring up some artillery. Owing to the impracticability of the roads, this could not be effected in time.

Perceiving the position of the gallant Fagan and his command, I ordered Brigadier-General Parsons, the only general officer present, to proceed at once to attack the Hindman fort in the rear. Everything was in confusion, regiments and brigades mixed up indiscriminately, and the order was not attended to. Immediately afterward I sent an order to General Price to the same effect, and then returned to my headquarters. Two or three hundred yards in the rear I passed Brigadier-General McRae, who had not joined his brigade since the assault. I ordered him at once to the fort. It seems that General McRae was the officer designated by General Price to go to General Fagan's assistance. After much delay he proceeded on this duty, but utterly failed to render the slightest aid, making no attempt to assault the hill. Not having been advised of this order for General McRae, and being impatient of the delay, I proceeded again to the fort on graveyard Hill, where I found General Parsons with only 300 or 400 men of his brigade. He informed me that General McRae had been ordered to the relief of General Fagan. That officer was nowhere to be seen, while General Fagan, with greatly reduced force, was being assaulted and driven back by the enemy, largely re-enforced. Under these circumstances, at 10.30 a. m. I ordered the troops to be withdrawn. My retreat from Helena was effected in the most perfect order and without the slightest demoralization of any kind.

May whole force engaged in this expedition amounted to 7,646. My loss, as near as is ascertained, is 173 killed, 687 wounded, 776 missing; total, 1,636. See reports of division and brigade commanders, forwarded herewith.

I write this report with a deep pain. I commanded brave, gallant, and willing troops, and should have succeeded in the capture of Helena, for though the difficulties were very great, they were not insurmountable, and the misfortune of a failure was in a very great measure consequent on the men not being well in hand after success. Most of my los in prisoners resulted from not restraining the men after the capture of Graveyard Hill from advancing into the town, where they were taken mainly without resistance. If instead of this the regiments and brigades had been reformed instantly, the capture of Hindman Hill and consequently of the town would have been of easy occurrence.

I cannot close this report without expressing my obligations to His Excellency Harris Flanagin, Governor of Arkansas, who accompanied me and had my confidence during the whole campaign. I owe to his cool, discriminating judgment many valuable suggestions. His presence, confidence, and zeal had no little influence on the spirit and energy of the Arkansas troop. He and Colonel Gordon N. Peay, adjutant-general of the State, acted as volunteer aides-de-camp on my staff during the battle.

As the expedition failed, which should have succeeded, I refrain from all expressions of commendation, believing that the brave officers and men who distinguished themselves will willingly forego the applause due to them in consideration that our beloved country reaped no benefit from their exploits.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

TH. H. HOLMES,

Lieutenant-General.

Brigadier General W. R. BOGGS,

Chief of Staff, Trans-Mississippi Dept., Shreveport, La.