Helena in Phillips County, Arkansas — The American South (West South Central)
The Union Army Marches Into Helena
—A Part of the Civil War Discovery Trail —
Curtis Marches toward Helena
Most of the Confederate army left Arkansas following the Union victory at Pea Ridge in early March 1862. Union General Samuel Curtis, then in Missouri, planned to take Little Rock. Supply problems forced him to alter those plans. He decided to take his army to Helena, which was easily supplied from Memphis.
Freedom Seekers Join the March
General Samuel Curtis's Army of the Southwest marched across the "Wilds of Arkansas" for over two months. As the army passed, thousands of slaves seized the opportunity for freedom, fleeing their homes to follow the Union army. One Union soldier wrote, "On our march the Negroes fairly swarmed around us, coming from every mansion, log cabin and habitable place in the whole region."
A Ragged Army Marches into Helena
Over 12,000 tired, dirty and hungry Union soldiers marched into Helena. Mrs. Coombs described them as "ragged dirty, half-starved hordes-the worst looking set of ragamuffins." More than two thousand Contraband slaves, no doubt as tired and hungry as the soldiers,
The Union Army Settles In
Over the next few weeks, the army seized the homes of Confederate sympathizers, turning them into headquarters, offices and hospitals. Soldiers, assisted by the former slaves, began building fortifications. Regiments set up camps along the Mississippi River. The Union army was in Helena to stay.
Erected 2018 by the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.
Location. 34° 30.398′ N, 90° 35.929′ W. Marker is in Helena, Arkansas, in Phillips County. Marker is on Biscoe Street (Business U.S. 49) 0.4 miles north of Martin Luther King Jr Drive (U.S. 49), on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 830 Biscoe Street, Helena AR 72342, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Helena, Arkansas (approx. 0.4 miles away); Seizing Freedom (approx. half a mile away); Helena's Contraband Camps (approx. half a mile away); The Hard Road to Equal Rights (approx. half a mile away); Freedom in Helena! (approx. half a mile away); Becoming Soldiers Holding the Little Rock Road (approx. 0.6 miles away); African American Troops Held This Ground (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Helena.
1. Part of the City of Helena Civil War interpretive tour.
The panels depict Union soldiers and freedom seekers, artillery and a supply wagon that supplement the state flags and info of each state. This site has recently been erected and is still in work.
— Submitted April 16, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on April 16, 2018. This page originally submitted on April 16, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 42 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on April 16, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.