Helena in Phillips County, Arkansas — The American South (West South Central)
Loyal to the Old Flag
White Unionists Rally in Helena
Not only fugitive slaves, but white Unionists joined General Samuel Curtis's Army of the Southwest on its march through Arkansas. On July 4, 1862, Curtis formed the loyal men into a regiment. After Curtis marched into Helena on July 12, local Unionists flocked to the city.
On July 19, 1862, Abraham Lincoln appointed John Smith Phelps Military Governor of Arkansas. Lincoln ordered Phelps to "provide the means of maintaining the peace and security of the loyal inhabitants of the state, until they shall be able to reestablish a civil government." Lincoln's political experiment failed. Unionist support in the Delta never grew in the numbers needed for success.
Serving Against Great Odds
Though the numbers of Unionists in Helena was small, they served their country against great odds. The 1st Battalion Arkansas Infantry mustered in the summer of 1862. Most of its members were men from the Batesville area who had followed Curtis to Helena. This short-lived organization mustered out of service that December.
Within weeks of the Union army's arrival in Helena, nearly
"The loyal citizen in a rebel state is placed between two fires—and flanked beside." An Arkansas Unionist
Bottom left: John E.Phelps, son of Arkansas' military governor, organized the 2nd Arkansas Cavalry in Helena. This picture of Phelps and his wife was apparently made here in 1863.
Top middle: A Civil War-era U.S. flag
Bottom middle: John Smith Phelps, a longtime Missouri congressman, raised a Union regiment and fought at the Battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862. Cotton politics and personal illness doomed his attempt to establish a Union government during his short tenure as military governor of Arkansas.
Erected 2013 by Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.
Location. 34° 31.744′ N, 90° 35.186′ W. Marker is in Helena, Arkansas, in Phillips County. Marker is on Perry Street west of Cherry Street, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Located in Court Square Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 622 Walnut Street, Helena AR 72342, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Helena's Doughboy (a few steps from this marker); West Helena, Arkansas (a few steps from this marker); Phillips County, Arkansas (a few steps from this marker); World War I 1917-1918 (within shouting distance of this marker); Helena, Arkansas (within shouting distance of this marker); Phillips County Court House (within shouting distance of this marker); "We shall never be the same" (within shouting distance of this marker); Answering a Call for Help (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Helena.
More about this marker. An Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial site and a part of the Arkansas Civil War Discovery Trail.
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on September 5, 2017. This page originally submitted on September 5, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 79 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on September 5, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.