“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Helena in Phillips County, Arkansas — The American South (West South Central)

USCT in Helena

USCT in Helena Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, August 26, 2017
1. USCT in Helena Marker
Guard, Garrison and Fatigue Duty
The United States Colored Troops (USCT) in Helena were part of the Union garrison holding the city. Their duties were much the same as those of white troops. Like all Union regiments, they drilled for part of the day. Black troops occupied the batteries and Fort Curtis and some men received artillery training. They stood grand guard and picket duty. Soldiers guarded wood choppers on islands in the river and government stores in Helena. They built winter quarters. Black regiments spent a great deal of their time, more than most white regiments, on fatigue duty-working as laborers. But they also participated in scouts-small scale military actions whose purpose was to capture Confederates in the area and to gather information.

Missouri, Iowa and Kentucky Regiments
The 56th U.S. Colored Infantry, organized at St. Louis, spent more time in Helena than any other USCT regiment—over three years. They became involved in the community, donating money and labor to the Quaker school. At least one member of the 56th stayed
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in Helena. James Kelly married Nancy Green of Helena and the couple settled here after the war. The 60th U.S. Colored Infantry, organized in Keokuk, Iowa, spent two years in Helena. The 5th and 6th U.S. Colored Cavalries, recruited at Camp Nelson, Kentucky, were part of the post-war Reconstruction/occupation force. They mustered out in Helena in the spring of 1866. The 69th U.S. Colored Infantry was partially recruited in this area in 1864. The regiment served near here and at other points in Arkansas and Tennessee until September 1865.

The Battle of Big Creek
Parts of the 56th and the 60th U.S. Colored Infantries, with two guns of Battery E, 2nd U.S. Colored Light Artillery, fought at the Battle of Big Creek in Phillips County on July 27, 1864. Lieutenant Harmon T. Chappel of the 2nd U.S. Colored Light Artillery, a white officer, praised the USCT: "They marched eighteen miles at once, fought five hours, against three to one, and were as eager at the end as at the beginning for the fight. Never did men, under such circumstances, show greater pluck or daring."

The USCT suffered 19 killed, 39 wounded and 4 missing. Among the wounded were several members of the 56th U.S. Colored Infantry. Nelson Lamb was shot through the left arm. Adam Brown was wounded while cutting a dead horse from an artillery wagon as the
USCT in Helena Marker (4th from left) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, August 26, 2017
2. USCT in Helena Marker (4th from left)
battle raged. James Baldwin received a shot to the neck. All three made it back to Helena and survived the war.

[Photo captions]
Top right: Samuel Truehart, 5th U.S. Colored Cavalry
Middle right: William Stewart, 60th US. Colored Infantry
Stewart served as the regiment's wagon master This photograph, found in his army pension application, was taken in 1904.
Bottom left: James L. Baldwin, 56th U.S. Colored Infantry

Erected 2013 by Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansWar, US Civil. A significant historical date for this entry is July 27, 1864.
Location. 34° 31.586′ N, 90° 35.191′ W. Marker is in Helena, Arkansas, in Phillips County. Marker is on 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. Fighting to Stay Free (here, next to this marker); Recruiting in Helena (here, next to this marker); "Put arms in their hands" (here, next to this marker); Live at the Opera House (about 600 feet away, measured in a
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.
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.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker.
Also see . . .  United States Colored Troops of Arkansas - Listing of Units. (Submitted on September 6, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Credits. This page was last revised on September 28, 2020. It was originally submitted on September 6, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 472 times since then and 75 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on September 6, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.

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Jun. 21, 2024