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On July 12, 1862, the Union army occupied Helena. Over two thousand fugitive slaves seeking the army's protection followed. For two days, the long line of soldiers and freedom seekers filed into Helena.
Curtis Marches toward Helena
Most of the…
Patrick Cleburne found a home, friends and a profession in Helena.
When the Civil War began, he supported his adopted state, writing
to his brother, Richard, "I am with Arkansas in weal and woe."
From Clerk to Lawyer
Two years after arri…
"I am with the South in life or death, in victory or defeat."
Patrick Cleburne, May 1861
A Brilliant and Beloved Commander
Patrick Cleburne was a brilliant military tactician and one of
the Confederacy's most able combat office…
When the Union army built Fort Curtis in 1862, the 34-star flag flew over the fort.
The day the Battle of Helena was fought, July 4, 1863, the 35-star flag the official U.S. flag. The new star represented West Virginia, admitted to the Union on…
Quick to Volunteer
Between 1861 and 1865, several hundred men— one-third of
the able-bodied men in Phillips County — joined the
Confederate army. Most enlisted in the opening weeks of the
Civil War. The volunteers joined the rank…
Patrick Ronayne Cleburne, the son of Dr. Joseph and
Mary Anne Ronayne Cleburne, was born March 17,
1828. At the age of twenty-one he immigrated to the
United States. He settled in Helena in 1850.
The Son of Privilege
Patrick Ronayne Clebu…
The muzzles of six 24-pounders and one 32-pounder extended over the fort walls. The "pounder" designation meant that the cannon fired 24 or 32-pound balls respectively.
These large guns were usually found at coastal forts, where they provided …
This was the site of St. Catherine Convent and Academy. When it
opened in 1858, it was one of two Roman Catholic schools in
Arkansas. Opportunities for a classical education were rare in
Arkansas and the school founded by the Sisters of Mercy f…
The Civil War affected everyone, and St. Catherine Convent and
Academy was no exception. The Union army appropriated convent
property. Dead and dying men covered the grounds after the Battle
of Helena. The school lost most of its students. When…
Thousands of escaped slaves, known as Contraband, followed
the Union army to Helena in July 1862. Within weeks, the army
put hundreds of Contraband to work building Fort Curtis.
Hard Labor in Hot Weather
African American laborers moved ton…