Numbers 24. Report of Colonel Robert C. Newton, Fifth Arkansas Cavalry.
CAMP AT GIST'S. PHILLIPS COUNTY, ARK.,
July 8, 1863.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor, in obedience to your instructions of to-day, to submit the following report of the part taken by my regiment in the attack on Helena on the 4th instant:
I reached Mrs. Mooney's and halted there about 12 p. m. on 3rd instant. About an hour before day on the morning of the 4th, in obedience to an order from the brigadier-general commanding, I resumed the march, taking the Sterling road toward Helena, moving in rear of Colonel [A. S.] Dobbin's regiment. Arriving at the spring about 1 mile from town, the brigade was halted by General Walker. We remained there until the firing commenced to our right, when I was ordered up to a point near the blockade of felled timber, there to await orders.
About 7 o'clock I received an order to send 30 sharpshooters to the support of those from Colonel Dobbin's regiment, who were deployed to our front beyond the blockade, and to the left of the skirmishers from General Marmaduke's command. I detailed the required number from the different companies, selecting men with long-range guns as far as practicable, placed them under command of Lieutenant [J. C.] Barnes, of Company A, and carried them forward to the left of Dobbin's skirmishers, and beyond the lagoon which, starting from near the base of the levee on the north side of Helena, runs eastward to Porter's Lake, where they were soon engaged with the enemy, and did good service.
At 7.30 [a. m.], by order of General Walker, I detached Companies B and G, under command of Captain [W. N.] Portis, of the former, and deployed them as skirmishers to support Barnes' sharpshooters, and resist a small force of Federal cavalry which was reported to be threatening our extreme left. About 8 o'clock Portis reported to me that the enemy had re-enforced in his front; that he was being pressed and needed two more companies. I immediately communicated the information to General Walker, and by his direction instructed Portis to observe the enemy closely, skirmish with him, and, if too heavily pressed, fall back slowly, advising me from time to time of what was transpiring.
About this time I received an order to send forward another company to support Dobbin's skirmishers, which I obeyed by sending Captain [P. J.] Rollow's company (E), under command of Lieutenant [W. W.] Garner.
Learning that the enemy had made several attempts to force Portis back and gain possession of the west bank of Porter's Lake - which would enable him, by means of his sharpshooters, to annoy the men at our battery posted on the hill in front of the blockade, and perhaps finally force us from the hill altogether - I went in person to where Points was, to learn the true condition of affairs and ascertain what, if anything, could be cone. I found that Portis with his small force had made a gallant resistance, and had thus far foiled the enemy in his several attempts to occupy the western or inner bank of Porter's Lake; but that he nevertheless had lost some ground and had but little more to los. I deemed it important, therefore, not only to regain what had been lost, but to drive the enemy beyond the levee and into town, if possible, with my small force. There not being time left me to previously communicate with General Walker, I ordered up Companies C and F without first notifying him. The latter I deployed as skirmishers and advanced