by Billy Roper
I had 17 ancestors who fought for the Confederacy in Arkansas under my paternal name, as well as many others whose last names were Hughes, Parton, Hyde, Westmoreland, Sharp, Matheney, Clark, Guest, and Arthur in Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Louisiana.
Roper, L.G., Private, 9th Arkansas Infantry, C.S.A.
Roper, Benjamin, Private,Enlisted in Marion county, Arkansas, June 18, 1862; age 18; transferred to artillery, August 4, 1862; transferred from Brown’s Arkansas Battery, April 10, 1863.
Roper, Charles J., Private, Enlisted in Marion county, Arkansas, March 11, 1862; age 47; discharged for being over-age, June 25, 1862; formerly served in 45th Regiment Arkansas Militia. Later in Co. E, 27th Arkansas Infantry.
Roper, B.J., Private—Enlisted at Yellville, Arkansas, July 17, 1861;k.i.a. east of the Mississippi, June 6, 1862. 45th Arkansas Militia, Company A, then 14th Arkansas Infantry, Company D.
Roper, George ~ 7th Regiment, Arkansas Cavalry Company D
Roper, H. ~ 1st Regiment, Arkansas Cavalry (Monroe’s) Company L
Roper, Hilliard ~ 26th Regiment, Arkansas Infantry Company B
Roper, J.J. ~ 1st Regiment, Arkansas Cavalry (Monroe’s) Company L
Roper, J.N. ~ 13th Regiment, Arkansas Infantry Company A
Roper, J.P. ~ 37th Regiment, Arkansas Infantry Company G
Roper, James D. ~ 37th Regiment, Arkansas Infantry Company G
James D. Roper was my great-great-great grandfather. He fought at the Battle of Helena, at the Battle of Camden, the Battle of Little Rock, and at Elkhorn Tavern and Prairie Grove. The Arkansas 37th Infantry Regiment, successor to Pleasant’s 29th Regiment, was formed in January, 1863. The regiment lost fifty-one percent of the 432 engaged at Helena, then skirmished in several other battles in Arkansas and Louisiana. It was included in the surrender on June 2, 1865, although by that time he had been discharged for illness. I still have copies of his enlistment and station and pay papers.
Roper, James P. ~ 1st Regiment, Arkansas Mounted Rifles Company E
Roper, James S. ~ 1st Regiment, Arkansas Mounted Rifles Company E
Roper, G.W., Private—Enlisted at Yellville, Arkansas, July 17, 1861; 45th Arkansas Militia, Company A, 14th Regiment, Arkansas Infantry (Power’s) Company D, transferred to 27th Texas Cavalry, September 10, 1862.
Roper, T.A. ~ 37th Regiment, Arkansas Infantry Company G
My great-great-great Uncle. Commanding officers: Colonel Samuel S. Beal, Lieutenant Colonel Jeptha C. Johnson, and Major T. H. Blacknall. Fagan’s and A. T. Hawthorne’s Brigade, Trans-Mississippi Department.
Roper, T.J. ~ 1st Regiment, Arkansas Cavalry (Monroe’s) Company L
Roper, Pleasant G., Major, Company A., 39th Arkansas Infantry, Sixth Trans-Mississippi.
Helena, AR after action report:
Report of Col. A. T. Hawthorn, Arkansas Infantry.
CAMP NEAR BAYOU DE VIEW, July 9, 1863.
SIR: In obedience to orders from brigade headquarters, I have the honor to submit the following report of the part my regiment took in the action at Helena on the 4th instant.
At 11 p. m. on the night of the 3d, we left our encampment, 6 miles from Helena, and marched to take up our position in front of the intrenchments, my regiment being in the advance. The road over which we passed (known as the Hill road, from Little Rock to Helena) was extremely rugged, and it was not without considerable difficulty and great fatigue to the men that we succeeded in getting within 1 mile of the enemy’s intrenchments. At this point I found the road blockaded with fallen timber to such an extent that I halted the brigade of which I was temporarily in command, sent Capt. Miller’s company of cavalry, which had been in advance, to the rear, and sent forward Capt. P. G. Roper’s company (A), deployed as skirmishers. Gen. Fagan now arrived at the head of the column, and ordering all the field and staff to dismount, we moved forward as rapidly as possible toward keeping well in advance of the main body. At 4.05 a. m. my skirmishers reported the enemy in sight. By order of Gen. Fagan, I moved my regiment in double-quick by the right flank along the crest of a ridge running at right angles with the road and parallel with the enemy’s first line of intrenchments, and, without halting, so soon as my left had passed the road I moved by the left flank in line of battle toward the enemy.
Without waiting for the other regiments of the brigade to form, I gave the order to charge, which was responded to by loud shouts along my entire line. The men dashed down the steep declivity amid a perfect storm of bullets, climbed step by step over vast piles of fallen timber up the rugged sides of almost perpendicular hills, and finally, after unheard-of toil and fatigue, scaled the opposing height and drove the enemy in consternation from their first line of defenses. Here I waited to recruit my men, whose strength was very much exhausted, and to give Col. [S. S.] Bell time to form his regiment and move up on my left. As soon as Col. Bell informed me that he was ready, our two regiments moved forward together, and, after encountering and overcoming obstacles similar to and even greater than those in front of the first line of rifle-pits, drove the enemy out and took possession of their second line. Col. [J. P.] King had, by order of Gen. Fagan, under a heavy and constant fire, and after almost superhuman exertions, placed his regiment 200 or 300 yards beyond my extreme right, partly in rear of the enemy’s third line of intrenchments and nearly at right angles with the position occupied by Col. Bell’s regiment and mine.
I sent a courier to communicate with him, who returned with the gratifying intelligence that his regiment was in position, and was ready and anxious to charge the enemy. The three regiments now moved forward with a shout, and notwithstanding the steep hill-sides covered with immense masses of fallen timber, up and over which we had to climb, and notwithstanding the perfect hail-storm of bullets that assailed us at every step, we soon drove the enemy out of his third line of defense. We soon rallied our exhausted troops, reformed our broken lines, and again charged the enemy, driving him from his fourth line of intrenchments. It was now about 7 a. m. My regiment had been hotly engaged for nearly three hours. The men were completely exhausted.
Numbers had fainted from excessive heat and fatigue. Many had been killed and wounded, and a large majority in each of our three regiments were utterly unable to fight any longer. We began to be discouraged.
From the very commencement of the action we had been listening for the guns of Gen.’s Price, Marmaduke, and Walker, but thus far we had listened in vain. Every brigade, except ours, had failed to attack at daylight, as ordered. Even the very guns on Graveyard Hill were wheeled around and directed against our lines, which they swept again and again from one end to the other with grape and canister. Just at this moment the scene changed. Heavy and rapid volleys of musketry were heard on our left. Gen. Fagan announced to us that our friends were storming Graveyard Hill, and ordered us to move forward at once. Our men responded with a shout, dashed down into the deep ravine, climbed the steep sides of the opposite hill, and just as the noble brigades of Parsons and McRae swept in triumph across the face of Graveyard Hill, drove the enemy from his fifth and last line of rifle-pits back to his forts and under cover of his siege guns. An attempt was now made by Gen. Fagan to capture the fort on Hindman’s Hill, which was immediately in our front, but our men were too much exhausted, and our numbers too few. The attack was unsuccessful, and resulted in the death and capture of many valuable officers and men.
It was here that Capt. Walton Watkins, commanding Company D, of my regiment, was killed while gallantry leading this last and most desperate charge. His conduct throughout the engagement had been chivalrous and manly; so much so as to attract universal attention and admiration.
Here also I lost the services of Maj. John B. Cocke, who was severely wounded and compelled to retire from the field. It affords me much pleasure to bear testimony to the coolness, courage, and efficiency of this gallant officer. His services throughout that desperate fight were invaluable, and his absence was most keenly and sensibly felt.
Lieuts. Richard J. Shaddock, [W. H.] Hinson, [L. R.] Kinniard, and [J.N.] Thompson were killed while bravely fighting at their posts.
But to return to the fight. Graveyard Hill was evacuated soon after it was taken. The other positions to the left of that hill that were to have been taken at daylight had not even been attacked. The firing had ceased at all points, except the firing of our brigade and that of our enemies directed against us. This latter was now most terrific, and the whole force of the enemy seemed to be directed against our little band. Yet, notwithstanding their vast superiority in numbers and position, notwithstanding the repeated attempts of the enemy to flank our position, both on the right and on the left, we held our position firmly for three long hours.
At 10.30 a. m. I received an order from Gen. Fagan to withdraw my regiment from the field. I had marched some 40 or 50 paces, in compliance with this order, when I received another, requiring me to leave a small guard to cover our retreat. I called for volunteers, but no one responding, I returned, myself, and with 9 men, who volunteered to accompany me, kept up a fire upon the enemy for twenty minutes longer. The ammunition was now expended, and I thought it prudent to retire. The enemy were close upon us and advancing from all points. Not a moment was to be lost. We retreated as rapidly as possible, but as we descended the first hill the enemy assailed us with a terrible volley of musketry. Three of our little party fell to rise no more. The remaining 6, myself, and a Yankee prisoner, whom we had kept with us all the time, succeeded in making our escape.
My officers and men, with but few exceptions, deported themselves with great gallantry. My loss, so far as I have been able to ascertain, is as follows: Killed, 20; wounded, 70; missing, 43.+
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Col., Cmdg. Regt.
Capt. WYATT C. THOMAS, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.
Source: Official Records
PAGE 427-32 MO., ARK., KANS., IND. T., AND DEPT. N. W. [CHAP. XXXIV.
[Series I. Vol. 22. Part I, Reports. Serial No. 32.]
Major Pleasant G. Roper, commanding officer Company A, Cocke’s Arkansas Infantry Regiment, formerly Hawthorn’s regiment, C.S.A.. This regiment was also known as Thirty-ninth Arkansas Infantry, formerly Johnson’s Regiment; also known as Sixth Trans-Mississippi Infantry.
Stationed at Camp near Little Rock, June 4-October 31, 1862.
Station not stated, October 31-February 28, 1863.
December 7, 1862 ___ Engaged at Battle of Prairie Grove and acted as skirmishers. Four men (were) wounded in engagement.
Stationed at camp near Little Rock, March-April 1863
Stationed at camp near Little Rock, April 30-August 31, 1863.
Stationed at Camp Dick taylor, October 31-December 31, 1863.
Station not stated, January-February 1864