Civil War Helena

Helena’s unique history as an occupied Confederate city that became a refuge for freedom seekers, invites the exploration of the issues that defined the Civil War. It provides the opportunity to help students of all ages make a meaningful connection to the past and to foster an understanding of the war that changed our nation.

For generations, Helena’s Civil War history has focused on the seven Confederate generals from the town, most notably General Cleburne, and the July 1863 Battle of Helena. Three of these generals’ headstones can be viewed in Helena’s Maple Hill and Confederate Cemeteries. While this is an important part of the community’s history, in 2008 a Civil War Helena Interpretive Plan was developed that revealed that Helena had a much richer Civil War story than anyone had known.

The plan identified 25 sites throughout Helena that provided an opportunity for interpretation and exhibits. The community is currently in the process of developing all 25 sites, with 40 interpretive panels already in place throughout the downtown area at sites including Fort Curtis, a ¾ replica Union earthworks fort. These sites tell the stories of life under Union occupation, thousands of freed slaves, and the formation of United States Colored Troop regiments – in addition to continuing to tell about the Battle of Helena and the area’s Confederate generals.

Helena is one of the most compelling sites in the nation to learn about African American experiences during the war. General Curtis’ march from southern Missouri to Helena, Arkansas in 1862. Freedom Park is a site dedicated to interpreting these experiences and is the first location in Arkansas designated by the National Park Service as a National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom site.

160th Anniversary of the Battle of Helena

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  • Levee Walk

    The Levee Walk offers panoramic views of downtown Helena and the Mississippi River and the opportunity to learn more about…

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  • Helena River Park

    Helena is the only downtown on the Mississippi River for the 300 miles between Memphis and Vicksburg. The River Park…

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  • Court Square Park

    This downtown park hosts annual community events, including the Helena Holiday Festival. The park also features a reproduction field artillery…

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  • Helena Museum

    Phillips County history is told through exhibits using the museum’s impressive collections. A diorama of the Battle of Helena, Thomas…

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  • Moore-Hornor Home

    The Moore-Hornor Home served as a hospital following the Battle of Helena. Bullet holes in the parlor doors are a…

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  • Estevan Hall

    Fleetwood Hanks’ descendants lived in this house for 170 years. The history of the Hanks family, their Civil War experiences,…

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  • Delta Cultural Center Depot Museum

    The Delta Cultural Center is a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. The Depot features the exhibit “A Heritage…

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  • Tappan-Pillow House

    This mansion was once the home of James C. Tappan, one of seven Confederate generals from Helena. Union troops used…

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  • Battery B

    One of four earthen batteries erected by the Union army in 1862, its gunners helped repulse the Confederate attacks on…

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