War of the Rebellion: Serial 032 Page 0413 Chapter XXXIV. ATTACK ON HELENA, ARK.

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Numbers 15. Report of Major General Sterling Price, C. S. Army, commanding division.


Camp on Jones' Lake, July 13, 1863.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit to the lieutenant-general commanding the following report of the part taken by this division in the attack made upon Helena on the 4th instant:

I left Jacksonport, in obedience to his orders, on June 22, with this division and Marmaduke's division of cavalry. My march was greatly impeded by the extraordinary rains, which, beginning on the evening of June 14 and falling almost without intermission for four days, made the river, bayous, and creeks over which my route lay, and the bottoms and swamps through which it ran, almost impassable to troops unprovided, as mine were, with the means of repairing roads and constructing bridges or rafts. I was, however, enabled, by the skill and energy of my officers, and by the willing endurance and laborious industry of my men, to surmount these unlooked-for obstacles, and to reach, on the morning of the 3rd instant, a point within 5 miles of Helena. At this point Lieutenant-General Holmes, having assumed the immediate command of all the troops before Helena, detached Marmaduke's division from my command, leaving me two brigades - the one of Arkansians, under Brigadier General Dandridge McRae, consisting of three regiments of infantry and a field battery, with 1,227 men present for duty; the other, of Missourians, under Brigadier General M. Monroe Parsons, consisting of four regiments of infantry, a battalion of sharpshooters, and a field battery, having in all 1,868 men present for duty. These two brigades constituted this division.

The order of attack directed that I, "in command of McRae's and Parsons' brigades, should proceed by the best route, assume position, assault, and take the Graveyard Hill at daylight." I made my dispositions accordingly, and moved at midnight with Parson's brigade in front. As my route lay for the greater part of the way across abrupt hills and deep ravines, over which it was utterly impracticable to move my artillery during the darkness, I ordered the pieces to be left behind until daybreak, and armed details from each battery to accompany the infantry, in order to man the guns which I expected to capture. Finding when I had gotten within 1 1/2 miles of the position which I had been ordered to take, that my division would arrive upon the ground prematurely, I ordered a halt, during which the lieutenant-general commanding came to and remained with the division until the dawn of day, when the line of march was resumed. Then pursuing forward rapidly, until my skirmishers had become engaged with those of the enemy, and within half a mile of his works, the troops were formed into two columns of divisions, Parson's brigade occupying the right and moving in front. The enemy's fire becoming somewhat sharp about this time, the guides who were conducting the columns took occasion to leave unperceived. Some confusion and consequent delay ensued; but another guide having been obtained, the head of the column soon occupied the position from which the assault was to be made. A brief halt was here ordered, to give the troops time to recover somewhat from the exhausting fatigue consequent upon their rapid march over a succession of almost precipitous and heavily wooded hills. The order for the assault (as explained to the general officers and regimental commanders of the division the