The election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 broke the nation apart. In May 1861, Arkansas became the ninth
state to join the new Confederate States of America.
The Union Army Occupies Helena
By the spring of 1861, most of the men in Helena were
gone. Most enlisted in the Confederate army, a few in
the Union army. Women left behind ran plantations,
farms and businesses, and faced hardships
unimaginable in 1860. Just over a year later, the Union
army marched into Helena. The Union soldiers never
left and the people of Helena and Phillips County lived
under an occupation force, their civil liberties curtailed.
The Wealthy Flee
Many who could afford to leave did. Wealthy
Confederate sympathizers sent family members and
slaves to less vulnerable areas. The Hanks family
Quakers who owned Estevan Hall, stayed until 1864
and then sought refuge in Iowa. Others stayed for
practical reasons. William F. Allen of the U.S. Sanitary
Commission wrote: "Mr. Coolidge [is] now [a] genuine
Union man-if for no other reason [than] because [his]
interests are now that way."
Helena's Confederate Generals
Seven men from Phillips County became high
ranking Confederate officers: Charles
Archibald Dobbins, Daniel C. Govan, Thomas C.
Hindman, Lucius Polk and James C. Tappan.
General Patrick Cleburne, a shy Irish immigrant,
earned the most lasting fame. He was among the
Confederacy's best field commanders. Never afraid
to take a controversial stance, in 1864 he advocated
enlisting slaves into the army in exchange for their
Top right: Dr. Benjamin C. Redford was one of the many men who left Helena for Confederate service.
Bottom left:General Patrick Cleburne, C.S.
The 1st Arkansas Infantry, part of Cleburne's Division, fought in most of the battles in Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.