Helena in Phillips County, Arkansas — The American South (West South Central)
Civil War Comes to Arkansas
A Divided Nation on the Brink of War
By 1860, many believed that war could not be avoided. Abraham Lincoln won the presidential election in November 1860. Weeks later, South Carolina left the Union. Others followed. The nation unraveled.
In the troubled months before and after the presidential election, the men of Phillips County formed seven militia companies, including the Yell Rifles and Phillips Guards. As war drew closer they prepared to defend, "our equality in the Union, our social system, our property, and our liberties."
"The Union of States may no longer be regarded as an existing fact."
Arkansas Governor Henry Rector, December 1860.
Crisis in Little Rock
In early February, rumors began to spread- the Federal government planned to reinforce the Little Rock arsenal. Secessionists in Helena urged the governor to take action. The Yell Rifles, Phillips Guards and other Delta militia marched to Little Rock, ready to take the arsenal by force.
Hoping to avoid bloodshed, Governor Rector met with the arsenal commander, Captain
After their return, Miss Emma Rightor, representing the young ladies of Helena, presented a flag to Capt. Joseph C. Barlow of the Phillips Guards. In late April 1861, the Phillip Guards and Yell Rifles left Helena to join the Confederate army. Arkansas did not leave the Union until May, but their Civil War had begun.
Many never saw Phillips County again, dying in service to the Confederacy before the Civil War finally ended in May 1865.
This drawing of the Little Rock Arsenal appeared in the March 9, 1861, issue of Harper's magazine. Right, the arsenal today, now the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.
Above, the flag presented to the Phillips Guards by the young ladies of Helena. Captain Joseph C. Barlow, left, survived the war. He returned to Helena and later became active in the United Confederate Veterans.
(Side 2): In Confederate Service
Joining the Confederate Army
In the weeks following the beginning of the Civil War, one-third of the men in Phillips County fit for military service joined the Confederate army. Several hundred men enlisted between 1861 and 1865. Men from Helena and Phillips County formed all or parts of the 2nd
Most of these regiments fought with the Army of Tennessee in the Western Theater of the war. Dobbins's Arkansas Cavalry operated in the Trans-Mississippi and fought in the Battle of Helena.
The flag of the 1st Arkansas Infantry.
Lieutenant Robert Caswell Moore was one of 96 Helena men who enlisted in the 13th Arkansas Infantry. The Union army seized his home in 1862. The Moore-Hornor House is located at 323 Beech Street.
Captain Edward H. Cowley of Phillips County served with the 15th Arkansas Infantry. He was captured at Shiloh.
Civilians in Phillips County supported the Southern war effort by purchasing war bonds.
Benefits raised money and morale. Many families had sons, brothers or husbands serving in the Confederate Army.
The End of Everything They Knew
It is impossible for us to fully understand the changes the Civil War brought to Phillips County. Soldiers returning home in the spring of 1865 found that their lives, society—everything they had known in 1861—was no more.
Some men could not face the changes and left the country. Archibald Dobbins, a wealthy planter before the war, found
Thousands of men died in the war. Almost everyone in Phillips County mourned someone. General Patrick Cleburne’s law partner, Priestly H. Mangum, returned to Helena with only $30 to his name and resumed the practice of law. Patrick Cleburne died at the Battle of Franklin. Robert Caswell Moore was one of the few Helena men in the 13th Arkansas Regiment who returned. James Lanier fought in the Battle of Helena. He returned to Phillips County and resumed farming. His brother, Albert, did not. His family said that his last days were spent in a Federal prison.
Joseph C. Barlow worked in the dry goods trade before leaving Helena with the Phillips Guards in 1861. After the war he returned to Helena and opened a hardware store. Jesse P. Clopton and Roland J. Cook survived the war and returned to their farms. Cadwallader Polk, brother of General Lucius Polk, returned to the family homestead and resumed farming but Lucius, his health broken, never returned to Arkansas.
Captain Thomas Quinlan served in the 2nd Arkansas Infantry, CSA. He died January 1, 1862.
Quinlan’s red silk net uniform sash, left, identified him as an officer.
Top, The Confederate Cemetery,
These Confederate Generals fled to Mexico immediately following the war. This photograph was taken there in October 1865. Standing, L-R: John B. Magruder and William P. Hardeman. Seated L-R: Cadmus M. Wilcox, Sterling Price and Thomas C. Hindman.
Veterans organizations - the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) in the north and the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) in the south - flourished after the war. Reunions were important social and political gatherings.
Above, Dr. Aurelius A. Hornor, his UCV application and Southern Cross of Honor. Dr. Hornor served as an Assistant Surgeon in the 2nd Arkansas Infantry. Also shown, UCV ribbon of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi, 1901 UCV Reunion program, and an 1898 UCV reunion pin honoring John J. Hornor.
Location. 34° 31.693′ N, 90° 35.231′ W. Marker is in Helena, Arkansas, in Phillips County. Marker is on Walnut Street near Porter Street. Click for map. Marker is in the park across the street from Phillips County Courthouse. Marker is in this post office area: Helena AR 72342, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Right to Vote (within shouting distance of this marker); West Helena, Arkansas (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Helena, Arkansas Phillips County, Arkansas (about 300 feet away); World War I 1917-1918 (about 500 feet away); Phillips County Court House (about 500 feet away); "We are all the same as dead men" (about 500 feet away); Fort Curtis (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Helena.
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. This page has been viewed 1,291 times since then and 42 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on , by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.