One hundred and fifty years ago, the Union garrison in Helena was down to a skeleton crew of white troops, as the U.S.C.T. (United States Colored Troops) was then manning the artillery batteries and garrisoning the Union stronghold on the Mississippi River. According to Special orders No. 170, the Sixth Minnesota left the Delta community for St. Louis, leaving only one regiment in Helena. According to a dispatch sent by Brigadier-General N.B. Buford, “The removal of the Twenty-third Wisconsin before the return of the Sixth Minnesota will leave this post almost destitute of white troops.” Buford continued, I have the honor to request that the Twenty-third Wisconsin be permitted to remain here until the Sixth Minnesota arrives.”
Meanwhile, the Confederate army in Arkansas was in no better shape. According to a dispatch sent by Major-General Magruder to Brigadier-Genera; W.R. Boggs,”General Price’s army is totally demoralized and would not be able to fight 5,000 men; also that the enemy have re-enforced Fayetteville, Ark.” General Price had lost all but four pieces of artillery and Confederate desertions were on the rise following Price’s raid into Missouri.
As is matters were not dire enough of the Confederates, “I learn that 4,000 of the enemy’s troops have advanced as far as Bayou Mason from Gaines’ Landing and were stopped there by the rise of the waters.”
Military actions in Arkansas this week one hundred and fifty years ago include a skirmish at Buck Skull on the 20th and a skirmish at St. Charles on the 24th. For a full list of military actions during the Civil War in Arkansas, go to www.arkansastoothpick.com.