The Confederates tested Fort Curtis once, during the Battle
of Helena on July 4, 1863.The battle ended in a decided
Union victory. For the rest of the war, Fort Curtis stood over
Helena, a symbol of the power of the Union army.
The Battle of Helena
Fort Curtis signaled the beginning of the Battle of
Helena and was the last line of defense for the Union
army. In the predawn hours of Independence Day, a
single gun at Fort Curtis fired-the signal for soldiers
to take their battle stations. The 33rd Missouri Infantry
who had been trained to operate artillery, manned the
guns. After taking Battery C, the Confederates attacked
Fort Curtis but they could not take it.
The End of Fort Curtis
The Civil War ended in April 1865. A few months later, the
army removed the huge guns from Fort Curtis and shipped
them out of Arkansas. The last inspection in 1866 found
the fort in good repair, but its usefulness had past. When
the Union army left Helena in 1867, it was abandoned. The
fort was eventually leveled; its walls used as fill perhaps.
The First Baptist Church three blocks north of here now
stands near where Fort Curtis once stood.
Top right: The United States flag in the background stands in the middle
Curtis. The fort's walls are visible behind St. John's Episcopal Church.
Middle left: General Samuel Curtis, the first Union commander of Helena, for whom Fort
Curtis was named.
Right bottom: This picture of the interior of Fort Curtis is the only photograph of the fort known to exist.