Soon after the Union army occupied Helena in July 1862, preparations
began for a Confederate attack. The army built four earthworks on
Crowley's Ridge. Fort Curtis sat below the ridge, in town. Barricades
protected the roads coming into town from the north and south. The Lower
Little Rock Road, now Biscoe Street, entered Helena from the south. To
protect this end of town, the army constructed an earthwork near where
you now stand. A small section of that earthwork is represented here.
A Strategic Position
The original earthwork began at the levee next to
the Mississippi River and ran west to the Lower
Little Rock Road. The earthwork straddled the
road and stretched almost to the foot of Crowley's
Ridge, ending below Battery D. The land was flat
and low, similar to what it is today. A swamp in
front of the earthwork helped protect the position
from an infantry assault.
Minos Miller, an officer with the 2nd Arkansas of
African Descent, described the defenses: "[T]here
is a breastwork thrown up across the bottoms and
about twenty yards in front of the breastwork is
This was the end of the line. Had the Confederates
pushed through here when they attacked Helena
on July 4, 1863, they
might have been able to flank
the batteries and take the city.
The 2nd Arkansas of African Descent, 35th Missouri Infantry, and the 1st Missouri Battery defended this earthwork during the Battle of Helena on July 4, 1863.