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1863 July 11: Battle of Helena

July 8, 2013

A smaller, lesser-known battle that was fought on July 4, 1863, was the Battle of Helena, at Helena, Arkansas.  The Confederates under General Benjamin M. Prentiss were attempting to relieve pressure on Vicksburg.  It was a Union victory.

This communiqué, from the brother of Wisconsin’s Governor Edward Salomon, was printed in the July 11, 1863, issue of The Prescott Journal.

BATTLE AT HELENA.

MADISON WIS., July 8.

The fallowing [sic] has just been received by the Governor:

HELENA, ARK., July 4, via MEMPHIS 5th.—To Gov. Salomon:  The enemy attacked us this morning at 3 o’clock, with a heavy force, said to be eighteen thousand, under command of Lieut. General Holmes, Gen. Price and others.

They were driven back with heavy loss.

We have taken about 800 prisoners.

Firing has now ceased, but we will probably be attacked again.

(Signed)    BRIG. GEN. SALOMON,¹ Com’dg.

1.  Friedrich/Frederick Salomon (1826-1897) had been the colonel of the 9th Wisconsin Infantry when he was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on July 16, 1862. His brother Charles E. Salomon (1824-1881) became colonel of the 9th Wisconsin on August 25, 1862.

Frederick Salomon was born in Prussia, received a military education and was commissioned in the Prussian army. During the German uprisings of 1848, he supported the democrats and fled the country when the revolution was defeated. He settled in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in 1848, established himself in business, and soon rose to prominence within the German community in the Midwest. In 1860 he relocated to St. Louis, Missouri. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he joined the 5th Missouri Infantry as a captain, enlisting for a three-month tour. When this was up, he was recalled to Wisconsin to help form the 9th Wisconsin Infantry, a regiment composed mainly of German immigrants.

Salomon led his new brigade at the battles of Newtonia, Missouri (September 30, 1862) and Helena, Arkansas (July 4, 1863). In the latter battle, Salomon designed defenses that enabled his Union forces of 4,000 men to turn back 10,000 Confederates. For a fuller biography, see the Frederick Salomon entry in the Dictionary of Wisconsin History.

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