Seizing Freedom

Seizing Freedom (HM21CI)

Location: Helena-West Helena, AR 72342 Phillips County
Country: United States of America
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N 34° 30.732', W 90° 35.61'

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Imagine watching a four-mile-long parade of soldiers, horses, wagons and artillery pieces pass your house. The soldiers in blue were supposed to be the enemy, but they offered the chance for something you thought you'd never have—freedom.

A Chance of Freedom
Thousands of African Americans seeking freedom joined the column as General Samuel R. Curtis's Army of the Southwest marched across Arkansas in the late spring and summer of 1862. Called Contraband by the Union army, these men, women and children risked everything for freedom. It could not have been an easy decision.

Courage and Fierce Determination
Leaving the life they had known with only a hope of freedom and a better life took tremendous courage. Their freedom was not guaranteed, not even their safety. Severe punishment awaited those who were recaptured. But leave they did. By the time the Union army reached Helena, over 2,000 freedom seekers followed it. The continued to come into the city for months afterward.

Freeing Slaves Hurt the Confederacy
General Curtis, unlike many other Union generals, protected the fugitive slaves. He was against slavery, but he also had military reasons for his actions. Taking slaves away from Confederate
sympathizers took manpower from the enemy.

"The Negroes are flocking to the army from every direction, there are about fifty, big and little in our company."
General E. Flanders, 5th Kansas Cavalry
General Curtis's Union army

Photo caption
Top right: The scene above, an African-American family coming into the Union army's line, was repeated throughout the South. Thousands of slaves followed the General Samuel Curtis's Union army across Arkansas to Helena. Thousands more came into the city seeking the army's protection in the years that followed.
HM NumberHM21CI
Year Placed2013
Placed ByArkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, September 1st, 2017 at 7:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15S E 720915 N 3821579
Decimal Degrees34.51220000, -90.59350000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 34° 30.732', W 90° 35.61'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds34° 30' 43.92" N, 90° 35' 36.6" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)870
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling North
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 809 Little Rock Rd, Helena-West Helena AR 72342, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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