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Helena in Phillips County, Arkansas — The American South (West South Central)
 

Recruiting in Helena

 
 
Recruiting in Helena Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, August 26, 2017
1. Recruiting in Helena Marker
Inscription.  
Lorenzo Thomas at Fort Curtis
Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas spoke in Helena on April 6, 1863. About 4,000 soldiers stood in formation in Fort Curtis. They heard Thomas, their commanding officer, the district commander, a congressman, and several colonels endorse the new government policy of recruiting former slaves into the army.

Thomas told the men about the shortage of soldiers and the need to recruit as many black men as possible. He spoke to them as a fellow soldier, as one who understood the hardships of war. He told them of his Southern upbringing and prejudice. With this new policy, he told them, President Lincoln meant to arm former slaves and use them to help crush the rebellion.

Thomas declared, "I am here this day to say that I am authorized to raise as many regiments of Blacks as can be possibly collected. I am authorized to give commissions from the highest to the lowest. I want those persons who are earnest in this work to take hold of it. I want only those whose hearts are in the work. I don't care who they are."

The Men
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"General Prentiss got up and told the boys that he wanted them to give some demonstration in favor of the policy for Gen. Thomas to carry back to President Lincoln[:] he told them that was in favor of arming the negroes to pull off their hats and in a second every head... was barel: he then told them to give three cheers and such yelling you never heard."
    Minos Miller, an lowa soldier who later became an officer in the 2nd Arkansas of African Decent (54th U.S. Colored Infantry)


[Photo captions]
Middle left: Abraham Seachrist, 33rd Iowa became a lieutenant in the 2nd Arkansas Infantry of African Descent (later designated the 54th U.S. Colored Infantry).
Bottom: The troops standing in formation at Fort Curtis to hear Thomas must have looked much like this Union regiment.

 
Erected 2013 by Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln series list. A significant historical date for this entry is April 6, 1863.
 
Location. 34° 31.586′ N, 90° 35.188′ W. Marker is in Helena, Arkansas, in
Recruiting in Helena marker is second from left. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, August 26, 2017
2. Recruiting in Helena marker is second from left.
Phillips County. Marker can be reached from Cherry Street south of Rightor Street, on the right when traveling south. Located in courtyard next to Main Street Helena. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 413 Cherry Street, Helena AR 72342, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. "Put arms in their hands" (here, next to this marker); Fighting to Stay Free (here, next to this marker); USCT in Helena (here, next to this marker); Live at the Opera House (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Seven Confederate Generals (about 700 feet away); Arkansas' Mercí Car (about 700 feet away); The Right to Vote (about 700 feet away); Civil War Comes to Arkansas (about 700 feet away). 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.
 
Pocket park, known as the Thad Kelly Courtyard, in the footprint of former building. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, August 26, 2017
3. Pocket park, known as the Thad Kelly Courtyard, in the footprint of former building.
Markers are on the left wall of the courtyard, about halfway down.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 6, 2017. It was originally submitted on September 6, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 182 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on September 6, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.

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Feb. 28, 2024