The Battle of Helena

The Battle of Helena (HM21EU)

Location: Helena-West Helena, AR 72342 Phillips County
Country: United States of America
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N 34° 31.726', W 90° 35.479'

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July 4, 1863

Confederate General Theophilus Holmes wanted to regain control of Helena, an island of Union control in Confederate Arkansas. His attack failed. Miscommunication, lack of information, and the determined resistance of the Union troops, who vowed not to be beaten on Independence Day, resulted in a decisive Union victory.

The Battle Begins

The roar of the signal gun at Fort Curtis woke Helena well
before dawn—the Confederates were advancing. They
faced formidable defenses. Fort Curtis's powerful guns
protected the city. Four earthworks—Batteries A, B, C
and D—crowned Crowley's Ridge. The gunboat U.S.S.
Tyler patrolled the Mississippi River.

The Confederate Plan Unravels

Confederate General Holmes ordered his commanders to
attack at daylight. General James F. Fagan and General
John S. Marmaduke swung into action at first light
Fagan's Arkansas Brigade scrambled up the ridge to
Battery D. Felled trees, heat, and fierce Union resistance
stalled their attack by midmorning. Marmaduke's artillery
hit the Federal line while his men attacked Battery A, but
the terrain and a dogged Union defense also halted his

Union Victory
The sun was up and the assaults on Batteries A and
D had
failed before General Sterling Price attacked Battery C. The
gunboat Tyler and Fort Curtis drove Price's Confederates
back twice, but after three costly assaults they took Battery
C. As Battery B and the U.S.S. Tyler poured shot and shell
on Battery C, Confederate infantry rushed down the slope
and attacked Fort Curtis. The attack was a disaster. By noon,
the battle was over and the defeated Confederates were

[Photo captions]
Bottom left: The Confederate attack was hampered by rugged terrain, felled trees and heat. By noon they had gathered their wounded and were retreating back to the Alan Polk plantation.
Top right inset:
The Commanders - General Benjamin Prentiss, U.S.A. - General Theophilus Holmes, C.S.A.
HM NumberHM21EU
Year Placed2013
Placed ByArkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, September 4th, 2017 at 1:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15S E 721072 N 3823421
Decimal Degrees34.52876667, -90.59131667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 34° 31.726', W 90° 35.479'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds34° 31' 43.56" N, 90° 35' 28.74" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)870
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling South
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 601-699 US-49 BUS, 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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