Helena in Phillips County, Arkansas — The American South (West South Central)
The Battle of Helena
Bloody Fireworks on the Fourth of July
On a brutally hot July 4, 1863, Confederate General Theophilus Holmes launched a three-pronged attack on the small Union garrison at Helena. Union defenses centered around Battery A north of here, Battery B northwest of here, Battery C due west of where you are standing, and Battery D southwest of here. Fort Curtis, an earthen fortification was within Helen's city limits northwest of here and the U.S. gunboat Tyler on the Mississippi River behind you provided crucial support in defeating the Confederate assault.
More than 7,600 Confederate soldiers, mainly from Arkansas and Missouri, attacked the 4,000 Union defenders of Helena. Only the attack against Battery C succeeded, but it was broken by Union counterattacks and the terrible shells of the Tyler. The Confederate attackers lost 1,636 men killed, wounded and missing or captured. Union forces lost only 239 men.
"The ground at this point was impassible - an old road and a deep ravine full of timber, which scattered our men and it was impossible to keep in line; but we succeeded in getting through after remaining in the timber and hollows nearly two hours under a heavy fire, and made a charge when, the enemy giving way, we entered the rifle pits. Here many of our
Dennis Bahen 37th Arkansas Infantry Regiment, C.S.A
"The rest of the batteries got range of them, and the gunboats began to shell them. Oh, what slaughter and bloodshed. They were mowed down by hundreds by grape Shot and Shell. It makes the cold chills run over me as I think of the dreadful Scene I witnessed on the battlefield, men lying in heaps in some of the ravines, four and five deep."
Charles O. Musser, 29th Iowa Infantry Regiment, U.S.A
Erected by Arkansas Historic Preservation Program and Delta Cultural Center.
Location. 34° 31.346′ N, 90° 35.124′ W. Marker is in Helena, Arkansas, in Phillips County. Marker is at the intersection of Natchez Street and Missouri Street, on the right when traveling north on Natchez Street. Touch for map. Marker is located top hill past the Train Depot, across the train tracks overlooking the city of Helena and along the Levee Walk. 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. Helena and The Trail of Tears (a few steps from this marker); They Passed This Way (a few steps from this marker); Hernando De Soto KFFA 1360 Helena (within shouting distance of this marker); The Blues Trail: Mississippi to Helena (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); "the gun boat Tyler saved the day " (approx. 0.3 miles away); "Hell-in-Arkansas" (approx. 0.3 miles away); Sacred Heart Academy (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Helena.
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on January 28, 2012, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. This page has been viewed 668 times since then and 43 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on January 28, 2012, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.