Union Forces Commanded by Col. Charles Hovey and
Brig. Gen. William P. Benton
Confederate Forces Commanded by Maj. Gen. Albert Rust and
Col. William Parsons
Conclusion: Union Victory
During the summer of 1862, Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis planned to move his army toward Helena in search of supplies to replace those that had been promised but never deliverd by the Union Navy. The Confederates under Maj. Gen. Albert Rust attempted to prevent this change of supply base by continually skirmishing with the Union troops. They skirmished with Union troops as the Federals marched south along the White River toward the supply flotilla waiting at Clarendon.
On July 7, Confederate Maj. Gen. Thomas C. Hindman ordered Brig. Gen. Albert Rust to stop them at the Cache River. Rust moved too slowly, so the forward elements of his force did not strike until 4 miles south of the river on Parley Hill's plantation near Cotton Plant. The outnumbered Union forces, commanded by Col. Charles E. Hovey, repulsed repeated, poorly orgainized attacks by Col. William H. Parsons' 2 Texas cavalry regiments. The fighting became more general, and the Confederates, with a frontal attack, forced the Union to retreat about a 1/4 mile. The Confederates fled when Union reinforcements arrived.
On July 8, the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry, under the command of newly promoted Brig. Gen. Cadwallader C. Washburn, pursued the Confederates to the Cache River, destroying 2 ferry boats and capturing several prisoners. With reinforcements, the Federals pursued the retreating Confederates and turned the retreat into a rout as the day progressed. Curtis was able change his supply base. But Rust, despite suffering a defeat at Hill's Plantation, remained between Curtis and Little Rock, his objective.
Curtis proceeded to Clarendon only to find that the flotilla had departed the previous day. He turned east toward Helena and occupied it on July 12. Union forces controlled the town for the duration of the war.
The Battle of Cotton Plant was significant because it had an observable influence on the outcome of the Vicksburg Campaign. The victory enabled Union forces to move toward Helena and occupy that strategic town on the Mississippi River for the duration of the Civil War. The Battle of Cotton Plant was also known as the Battle of Hill's Plantation or the Battle of Cache River.