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

Holding the Little Rock Road

 
 
Holding the Little Rock Road Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, August 25, 2017
1. Holding the Little Rock Road Marker
Inscription.
Fortifying Helena
Soon after the Union army occupied Helena in July 1862, preparations began for a Confederate attack. The army built four earthworks on Crowley's Ridge. Fort Curtis sat below the ridge, in town. Barricades protected the roads coming into town from the north and south. The Lower Little Rock Road, now Biscoe Street, entered Helena from the south. To protect this end of town, the army constructed an earthwork near where you now stand. A small section of that earthwork is represented here.

A Strategic Position
The original earthwork began at the levee next to the Mississippi River and ran west to the Lower Little Rock Road. The earthwork straddled the road and stretched almost to the foot of Crowley's Ridge, ending below Battery D. The land was flat and low, similar to what it is today. A swamp in front of the earthwork helped protect the position from an infantry assault.

Minos Miller, an officer with the 2nd Arkansas of African Descent, described the defenses: "[T]here is a breastwork thrown up across the bottoms and about twenty yards in front of the breastwork is cavalry pits."

This was the end of the line. Had the Confederates pushed through here when they attacked Helena on July 4, 1863, they
Holding the Little Rock Road Marker and part of the earthwork. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, August 25, 2017
2. Holding the Little Rock Road Marker and part of the earthwork.
might have been able to flank the batteries and take the city.

Photo caption:
The 2nd Arkansas of African Descent, 35th Missouri Infantry, and the 1st Missouri Battery defended this earthwork during the Battle of Helena on July 4, 1863.

 
Erected 2013 by Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.
 
Location. 34° 30.787′ N, 90° 35.57′ W. Marker is in Helena, Arkansas, in Phillips County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Biscoe Street (Business U.S. 49) and Little Rock Road. Touch for map. Located within Freedom Park. 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. African American Troops Held This Ground (a few steps from this marker); Becoming Soldiers (within shouting distance of this marker); Freedom in Helena! (within shouting distance of this marker); The Hard Road to Equal Rights (within shouting distance of this marker); Helena's Contraband Camps (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Seizing Freedom (about 400 feet away); General J.F. Fagan's Attack (approx. half a mile away); Battery D (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Helena.
 
More about this marker.
More of the earthwork and defense simulation. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, August 25, 2017
3. More of the earthwork and defense simulation.
Representation of the African-American unit of the Union Army who fought and held Helena, Arkansas during the Civil War. The sculptures feature eight two-dimensional figures of Civil War soldiers standing behind an earthen embankment. Two are aiming their rifles toward the enemy, one is reloading, one is standing with drawn sword, one cradles a wounded comrade in his arms, one stands with a ramrod, and one pulls the lanyard from a cannon. The figures are made of Cor-Ten steel and their accessories --rifles, sword, ramrod --are stainless steel. Phoenix Creative Metal Art -Scott & Laura Kellersberger
Once the location of a contraband camp, Freedom Park includes five major exhibits that explore the African-American experience in Civil War Helena. The exhibits follow the journey of the African-Americans from fugitive slave to freedom; and for some, enlistment in the Union Army and participation in the Battle of Helena on July 4, 1863.

Freedom Park is the first site in Arkansas to be designated for inclusion on the National Park Service's National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program and is part of Arkansas Civil War Discovery Trail.
 
Categories. African AmericansWar, US Civil
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 3, 2017. This page originally submitted on September 3, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 53 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on September 3, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.
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