Helena in Phillips County, Arkansas — The American South (West South Central)
African American Troops Held This Ground
The 2nd Arkansas of African Descent manned the earthwork located here during the Battle of Helena on July 4, 1863. The 2nd was a new regiment, organized in Helena just three months earlier. They had never experienced combat.
Union Forces Prepare
In the first hours of the battle, the 2nd Arkansas of African Descent arrived to help the 35th Missouri Infantry and the 1st Missouri Artillery defend the Lower Little Rock Road. It was daylight before the 2nd got into position, and at first it seemed as though the fight would take place elsewhere.
The Confederates Attack
Soon afterward, however, Confederate Colonel William H. Brooks pushed his men forward on the Little Rock Road. The 35th Arkansas Infantry brushed aside the Union skirmishers and the fight began in earnest. Two men of the 2nd Arkansas A.D. went down under a hail of Confederate fire. The regiment returned fire holding their position.
The Confederates Retreat
The Southern artillery fired at least twelve rounds from different positions. Each time they unlimbered to fire, the 1st Missouri Battery and the guns of the U.S.S. Tyler silenced them. Colonel Brooks pulled back, ending the fight at about six o'clock.
Minos Miller, a young officer with the 2nd Arkansas A.D. later reported, "Our black boys behaved well, they were placed in a position where they could be fired upon they took it calm and cool." The raw regiment had become veterans.
Right, Lt. Abraham Seachrist, 2nd Arkansas Infantry of African Descent. Above, an unidentified African American soldier.
Erected 2013 by Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.
Location. 34° 30.788′ N, 90° 35.558′ W. Marker is in Helena, Arkansas, in Phillips County. Marker is at the intersection of Biscoe Street (Business U.S. 49) and Little Rock Road on Biscoe Street. Touch for map. Located within Freedom Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 750 Biscoe Street, Helena AR 72342, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Holding the Little Rock Road (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 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. 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 Americans • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on September 4, 2017. This page originally submitted on September 3, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 48 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on September 3, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.