July 4, 1863
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Helena, Arkansas, United States
Grant’s Operations against
Benjamin M. Prentiss, in command of the District of Eastern Arkansas,
was headquartered at Helena with approximately 20,000 troops.
Gen. Frederick C. Salomon had been placed in charge of the
forces manning the defenses of Helena, a Mississippi River port town at
the terminus of Crowley's Ridge and was ringed by steep hills cut by
heavily thicketed ravines.
Four artillery batteries with
breastworks and rifle pits were placed in a semi-circle around the town.
In addition, the USS Tyler,
a "timber-clad" gunboat was assigned to support
Right before the battle, a
large number of troops were transferred to Vicksburg to strengthen the
siege around that city. This transfer left only about 4,000 Union soldiers
to protect the Federal enclave at Helena.
Gen. Theophilus H. Holmes, commander of the Confederate
District of Arkansas, planned a coordinated attack from three sides on the
formidable Federal fortifications surrounding Helena in order to relieve
pressure on Vicksburg and to prevent Helena being used as a base to attack
further into Arkansas.
Maj. Gen. Benjamin Prentiss
Lt. Gen. Theophilus H. Holmes
District of Eastern Arkansas
District of Arkansas
Lt. Gen. Theophilus
Holmes’ Confederate troops attacked Helena in an attempt to
relieve pressure on Vicksburg.
forces captured some of the fortifications, however outmanned Union troops under
Prentiss were able to repel them.
Helena continued as an important Union position in
the Trans-Mississippi theater and was the base for the expedition that captured
1 National Park
- having a decisive influence on a
campaign and a direct impact on the course of the war
having a direct and decisive influence on their campaign
having observable influence on the
outcome of a campaign
having a limited influence on the
outcome of their campaign or operation but achieving or affecting important
3 Casualties are
someone killed, injured, wounded, captured or missing.