Becoming Soldiers

Becoming Soldiers (HM21DJ)

Location: Helena-West Helena, AR 72342 Phillips County
Country: United States of America
Buy United States of America flags at!

N 34° 30.766', W 90° 35.58'

  • 0 check ins
  • 0 favorites

As soon as the Civil War began, black men volunteered to serve in the United States Army. They were denied. In the spring of 1863, the Federal government finally began enlisting Freedmen. Within months, thousands in Helena had enlisted.

"Willing and Desirous to Fight"
The black men who joined the Union army, like
all men in all wars, enlisted for different reasons.
Robert Houston remembered, "I went into the
Union service very willingly... my actions feeling
and sympathies have all the time been for the
success and maintenance of the Union cause and
all the time willing and desirous to fight or do
anything else in my power on that behalf."

Freedom for all African Americans
Some men enlisted because army pay enabled
them to provide for their families. Some men were
coerced. Many black men who enlisted felt every
black man should enlist, and pressured those who
did not. The army also made forays into the
county to collect recruits. But most men enlisted
because they wanted to fight for their continued
freedom and the freedom of all African Americans.

John Harris, 2nd Arkansas A.D.
The story of John Harris is probably
typical: "When
the Yankees came through,
I went to Helena, Arkansas, where I
enlisted on May 21, 1863."

Harris enlisted in Co. B, 2nd Arkansas
Infantry of African Descent. He was
wounded in the Battle of Helena in July

Arkansas contributed 5,526 black men to the Union effort between 1863 and 1865.

Eighty-five percent were from the Delta region.

{Photo Caption}
In the spring of 1863, thousands of men like the teamsters above left civilian jobs to enlist in the U.S. army.
HM NumberHM21DJ
Year Placed2013
Placed ByArkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, September 3rd, 2017 at 10:01am PDT -07:00
Sorry, but we don't have a picture of this historical marker yet. If you have a picture, please share it with us. It's simple to do. 1) Become a member. 2) Adopt this historical marker listing. 3) Upload the picture.
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15S E 720960 N 3821643
Decimal Degrees34.51276667, -90.59300000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 34° 30.766', W 90° 35.58'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds34° 30' 45.96" N, 90° 35' 34.8" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)870
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 714 US-49 BUS, Helena-West Helena AR 72342, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

Is this marker missing? Are the coordinates wrong? Do you have additional information that you would like to share with us? If so, check in.

Check Ins  check in   |    all

Have you seen this marker? If so, check in and tell us about it.

Comments 0 comments

Maintenance Issues
  1. Is this marker part of a series?
  2. What historical period does the marker represent?
  3. What historical place does the marker represent?
  4. What type of marker is it?
  5. What class is the marker?
  6. What style is the marker?
  7. Does the marker have a number?
  8. This marker needs at least one picture.
  9. Can this marker be seen from the road?
  10. Is the marker in the median?