The 2nd Arkansas of African Descent manned the earthwork located here during the Battle of Helena on July 4, 1863. The 2nd was a new regiment, organized in Helena just three months earlier. They had never experienced combat.
Union Forces Prepare
In the first hours of the battle, the 2nd Arkansas
of African Descent arrived to help the 35th
Missouri Infantry and the 1st Missouri Artillery
defend the Lower Little Rock Road. It was
daylight before the 2nd got into position, and at
first it seemed as though the fight would take
The Confederates Attack
Soon afterward, however, Confederate Colonel
William H. Brooks pushed his men forward on
the Little Rock Road. The 35th Arkansas Infantry
brushed aside the Union skirmishers and the
fight began in earnest. Two men of the 2nd
Arkansas A.D. went down under a hail of
Confederate fire. The regiment returned fire
holding their position.
The Confederates Retreat
The Southern artillery fired at least twelve rounds
from different positions. Each time they
unlimbered to fire, the 1st Missouri Battery and
the guns of the U.S.S. Tyler silenced them.
Colonel Brooks pulled back, ending the fight at
about six o'clock.
"They took it calm and cool"
Minos Miller, a young officer with the 2nd Arkansas
A.D. later reported, "Our black boys behaved well,
they were placed in a position where they could be
fired upon they took it calm and cool." The raw
regiment had become veterans.
Right, Lt. Abraham Seachrist, 2nd Arkansas Infantry
of African Descent. Above, an unidentified African