Helena in Phillips County, Arkansas — The American South (West South Central)
Recruiting in Helena
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 Approve Wholeheartedly
"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[:]
Minos Miller, an lowa soldier who later became an officer in the 2nd Arkansas of African Decent (54th U.S. Colored Infantry)
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.
Location. 34° 31.586′ N, 90° 35.188′ W. Marker is in Helena, Arkansas, in Phillips County. Marker can be reached from Cherry Street south of Rightor Street, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Located in courtyard next to Main Street Helena. Marker is at or near this postal address: 413 Cherry Street, Helena AR 72342, United States of America.
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 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.
Categories. • African Americans • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on September 6, 2017. This page originally submitted on September 6, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 71 times since then and 9 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on September 6, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.