One hundred and fifty years ago, the Confederate Army was licking their wounds following their unsuccessful attack on Helena on the 4th of July. Following the battle, the Confederate wounded were outside Helena at Allen Polk’s plantation. Another hospital following the attack was located at Trenton, only a few miles from Helena on the Little Rock Road. Meanwhile, the Rebel army was finding it more difficult to retreat from Helena than a few days prior. Creeks were swollen and General Marmaduke could only manage crossing two wagons/artillery per hour.
As the Confederates were struggling in their retreat, the Federals in Helena were celebrating. They had a lot to be thankful for. They had just fought off a large army and won the battle, but they had also just got word from General Grant in Vicksburg that the siege was finally over. The Mississippi River was now fully in the hands of the Yankees. As the River was officially cut off, this posed more problems for the Arkansawyers that relied on it for the transportation of goods and services.
On July 8, 1863, a notice was issued in the Little Rock-based newspaper The Arkansas True Democrat, noting that the newspaper would be suspended for want of paper: “We shall be compelled, by want of paper, to suspend the issues of the True Democrat for a short time… Our issue is so large, amounting to 10,000 a week, that it is impossible to borrow or to purchase a sufficient quantity of paper elsewhere than at the manufactories. We have a small quantity of paper, not enough for a regular issue, on which we will print bulletins of such interesting dispatches as may be received.”
Lincoln had to have been pleased. He secured Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Helena on the same day and his “Anaconda Plan” was working flawlessly. Things were looking better for him as the 1864 election was nearing.