War of the Rebellion: Serial 032 Page 0415 Chapter XXXIV. ATTACK ON HELENA, ARK.

Search Civil War Official Records

similar to the one already sent. General Parsons' reply having been meanwhile received, another order was sent, directing him to hold the hill and General McRae to re-enforce General Fagan as speedily as possible with his brigade.

It soon became obvious, however, that both brigades had been so much weakened by their heavy losses in killed and wounded, and particularly in prisoners (the most of the latter having been captured in the immediate vicinity of the town, whither they had gone without orders from me), and by the straggling of those who thirst and the intense heat of the day overcame, or who had become disheartened by the failure of the other assaulting columns, that I could not send any effective aid to General Fagan without too greatly endangering my own position. It was equally obvious that, unless such aid could be promptly sent to General Fagan, the general attack upon Helena must fail. It was under these circumstances that I received an order from the lieutenant-general commanding to withdraw my division. In compliance with this order, my troops were withdrawn to a point about 4 miles from Helena, where they rested for the night, and resumed the march hither on the morning of the 5th.

The lieutenant-general commanding was himself a witness of the conduct of my division. He saw the alacrity with which they advanced to the positions to which they had been assigned. He knows the steadiness and unfaltering courage with which they moved, in the midst of a deadly fire, over deep ravines and precipitous hills obstructed with felled timber, to, into, and over the works which they had been ordered to take, driving everything before them. He was himself a witness of the undaunted bravery and enduring constantly with which, animated by his own inspiring example and gallant bearing, they stood, unshaken, in the very center of that unceasing fire which was hurled against t hem from gunboat, from forts, and from rifle-pits. I am sure that he will pay them that tribute of praise to which their courage and endurance entitle them.

The accompanying reports of Brigadier-General McRae and Parsons will explain in detail the part taken by their respective brigades, and point out to the lieutenant-general commanding such of their officers and men as are particularly deserving of mention.

I have not been able to obtain perfectly accurate reports of the casualties in this division, but these may be stated approximately as follows:

Command. Killed. Wounded. Missing. Total.

McRae's brigade. 46 108 133 347

Parsons' brigade. 59 336 369 764

Total. 105 504 502 1.111

I will forward detailed reports of these casualties as soon as the lists can be carefully revised. The separation of the command will necessary entail some delay in the revision of them.

The admirable conduct of Brigadier-General Parsons not only upon the field but upon the march, merits my earnest commendation, while his skill and gallantry, as well as his long and uninterrupted active service as brigadier-general (first in the Missouri State Guard and