On this Veterans Day, I’m thinking about my recent Civil War tour of Helena, Arkansas. Arkansas is rich in Civil War history and Helena in particular has a unique past as a Union stronghold. Yes, Union… Although a pro-South state, the town of Helena (population 1,600 at the time) was largely untouched by Civil War until General Samuel Curtis marched into town with twelve thousand Union soldiers.
This year marked the 150th year of the Battle of Helena. I’m embarrassed to say until my recent trip to Helena, (courtesy of Helena Advertising and Promotions Commission), I wasn’t aware of this battle. I was always more concerned with diagramming sentences than history, and this particular battle slipped through the cracks of my Arkansas education. Plus, perhaps understandably the Battle of Helena was completely overshadowed by Gettysburg, which occurred the same day.
|Re-enactor Jack Myers (Delta Cultural Center) at Freedom Park.
|Freedom Park includes five exhibits with illustrated panels,
life size figures and statues, and structures representing a plantation house and refugee dwelling.
From inside this earthen fort, the sky looked the same, yet the ground felt hallowed.
|View of the Mississippi from Battery C
|Battery C under development – Wire structure to represent original earthen battery.
Helena is a must see for history buffs. Even if you’ve never considered yourself a fan of Civil War history, you’ll probably change your mind after a visit to Helena. How could you not?
On great fields something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear; but spirits linger to consecrate ground for the vision-place of souls…This is the great reward of service. To live far out and on, in the life of others;…to give life’s best for such high sake that it should be found again unto eternal life.― Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain