One hundred and fifty years ago, following excursions and raids into Missouri, the Confederate forces in Jacksonport reported in good condition and ready for another confrontation with the enemy of blue coats, now settled in eastern Arkansas. On June 9, 1863, General Sterling Price sent General T. Holmes a dispatch noting the “efficient condition” of his 4,058 soldiers.
This dispatch also relayed that General Marmaduke ascertained that there are approximately 4000-5000 Union soldiers garrisoned in Helena. The dispatch concludes with a note that “…were a movement conducted with celerity and secrecy [on Helena], by which you could concentrate the commands of Generals Frost and Fagan with this column, I entertain no doubt of your being able to crush the foe at that point.
The dispatch did not, however, note the impassable terrain surrounding Helena, nor did it relay the existence of hilltop forts (batteries) surrounding the Delta town, nor did it mention the six 24-pound and one 32 pound siege guns in Fort Curtis in the center of town. It is intelligence omissions such as these that would bog the Confederate Army into a failed attack less than a month away.