Entry Type: Event - Starting with H

Helena Expedition (March 5–12, 1863)

aka: St. Francis River Expedition
aka: Little River Expedition
Traveling up the St. Francis River from Helena (Phillips County) on March 5, 1863, Colonel Powell Clayton’s command moved into the Little River in Poinsett County, dispersing Confederates along the way and seeking the steamer Miller. The Union forces engaged the Confederates traveling upriver at Madison (St. Francis County), found the sunken Miller, and engaged Confederates north of, and again in, Madison while traveling back downriver. Overall, Clayton’s expedition took a number of prisoners and supplies that Confederates could not afford to lose in this region. With a firm hold on Helena, state-level Union leadership focused on the wearing down of Confederate resistance in Arkansas, but commanders in occupied cities like Helena had to remain aware of the immediate area. …

Helena to Alligator Bayou, Scouts from

The Civil War scouts from Helena (Phillips County) to Alligator Bayou were Union operations undertaken in September and October 1864 to hunt for Confederate soldiers and Union deserters and to seize cattle for the Federal base at Helena. Lieutenant Alexander F. Rice of the Sixtieth U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) led three separate scouting expeditions from Helena to Alligator Bayou near the St. Francis River in present-day Lee County in the fall of 1864. The soldiers in the scouts likely came from Companies C, E, F, and G of the Sixtieth, all of which reported being involved in scouting operations in September and October. Rice led troops from Helena on September 9, 1864, and marched to Thomas’ Station about five miles …

Helena to Arkansas Post, Expedition from

A Union expedition against the Confederate forces at Arkansas Post in November 1862 was defeated due to low river levels and bad weather. Confederate officials in Arkansas, fearing a possible Union move against the capital at Little Rock (Pulaski County) via the Arkansas River, ordered fortifications built at high points along the river. One of the places selected was Arkansas Post, where construction began on a large earthwork to be named Fort Hindman and defended by the big guns of the CSS Pontchartrain under the command of Colonel John W. Dunnington. In November, Brigadier General Alvin P. Hovey, commander of the District of Eastern Arkansas in Helena (Phillips County), determined to take a combined army-navy taskforce and attack the Confederate base …

Helena to Buck Island in the Mississippi, Expedition from

Brigadier General Napoleon B. Buford ordered the expedition from Helena (Phillips County) to Buck Island on the Mississippi River to determine whether a shipment of guns and ammunition had crossed the river to supply the troops of Confederate Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby operating in eastern Arkansas. Captain Rudolph Schoenemann of Company E, Sixth Minnesota Infantry Regiment, led forty-three men from Company E and a detachment from Company F of the Sixth, along with troops from either Company E or L of the Fifteenth Illinois Cavalry Regiment, out of Helena on the evening of July 13, 1864. Boarding the steamboat Dove, the expedition headed upriver. After disembarking the cavalrymen at a Doctor Peterson’s plantation on the Arkansas side of the …

Helena to Clarke’s Store, Scout from

Union soldiers conducted the February 24, 1865, Civil War scout from Helena (Phillips County) to Clarke’s store to capture Confederate soldiers and sympathizers in St. Francis County; they also uncovered some shady business dealings. Captain John A. Wasson of the Eighty-Seventh Illinois Mounted Infantry loaded fifty of his men aboard the steamboat Curlew on February 24, 1865, for a scouting expedition up the Mississippi River, joining fifty men of the Sixtieth United States Colored Troops (USCT) under Captain Eli Ramsey of Company C. The Curlew sailed up the Mississippi River to the foot of Ship Island, where the Illinois horsemen went ashore; the Black soldiers remained with the steamer. After reaching the Rodgers Plantation, Wasson split his troops, leaving Lieutenant …

Helena to Coldwater, Mississippi, Expedition from

The Civil War expedition from Helena to Coldwater, Mississippi, was one of many Union operations proceeding from the Federal base at Helena (Phillips County) following its July 12, 1862, occupation by Major General Samuel R. Curtis’s Army of the Southwest. At 8:00 p.m. on July 23, 1862, some 100 troopers of the Sixth Missouri Cavalry (US) and ninety soldiers from the Eighth Indiana Infantry Regiment, along with two mountain howitzers, all commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Samuel N. Wood of the Sixth Missouri, boarded the steamboat Catahoula at Helena to steam up the Mississippi River for a raid on targets on the east side of the river. The Indiana troops landed near Austin, Mississippi, at daybreak on July 24 and quickly …

Helena to Friar’s Point, Mississippi, Expedition from

The expedition from Helena (Phillips County) to Friar’s Point (usually spelled Friars Point) was the last of a series of Civil War military operations originating in the Union base at Helena against targets in Mississippi. Union troops occupied Helena in July 1862, and the town became a base supporting efforts to take the rebel stronghold at Vicksburg, Mississippi, and to conduct other offensive actions against Confederate activities across the river. The last such raid recorded in the Official Records took place in late February 1865. Colonel Charles Bentzoni of the Fifty-Sixth U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) ordered a sizeable detachment from the Helena garrison to board the steamboat Curlew at 1:00 a.m. on February 19, 1865, for an expedition across the …

Helena to Grenada, Mississippi, Expedition from

Union troops left Helena (Phillips County) on November 27, 1862, on an expedition to hinder operation of the Mississippi Central Railroad and cut Confederate lines of communication in support of Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s operations against Vicksburg, Mississippi. Brigadier General Alvin P. Hovey, who had six days earlier been recalled from an expedition against Arkansas Post to participate in the Mississippi offensive, led the operation as 7,000 Union troops boarded sixteen transport vessels at Helena and steamed across the Mississippi River, disembarking at Delta, Mississippi. Once there, Brigadier General Cadwallader C. Washburn and his 1,900 Union cavalrymen rushed to the junction of the Tallahatchie and Coldwater rivers, where they scattered a battalion of Mississippi State Troops after a brief …

Helena to Harbert’s Plantation, Expeditions from

The January 11–13, 1865, Civil War expedition from Helena (Phillips County) to Harbert’s Plantation in Mississippi appears to have been conducted to arrest a deserter from a United States Colored Troops (USCT) regiment. Captain Eli Ramsey of the Sixtieth U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment led two officers and fifty men of the Sixtieth’s Company C and a dozen men and a lieutenant of the Eighty-Seventh Illinois Mounted Infantry out of Helena around 8:00 p.m. on January 11, 1865. Boarding the steamboat the Dove, the Federals crossed the Mississippi River and landed in Mississippi about fifteen miles north of Helena between the McNeal and Halbert plantations. The infantry disembarked, and Ramsey ordered the Illinois horsemen to follow in an hour as he …

Helena to Kent’s Landing, Expedition from

The expedition from Helena (Phillips County) to Kent’s Landing (Desha County) on the Mississippi River was undertaken to track down deserters from a U.S. Colored Artillery unit and seek information on Confederate forces in the area. Captain Eli Ramsey of the Sixtieth U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) left Helena at 5:30 p.m. on August 11, 1864, at the head of four officers and seventy-five men of the Sixtieth and an artillery battery. Though Ramsey identified the artillery unit as Battery C of the Second U.S. Colored Light Artillery, it appears that the gunners were actually from Company I of the Sixtieth USCT, which reported that Lieutenant Joseph A. Goodnough participated in the expedition with “a gun squad of six men.” The …

Helena to Mount Vernon, Scout from

The scout from Helena (Phillips County) to Mount Vernon (St. Francis County) was undertaken to seek Confederate forces that were organizing in the area and to arrest citizens thought to be collaborating with the rebels. Union major Eagleton Carmichael of the Fifteenth Illinois Cavalry Regiment led a detachment of the regiment, including a lieutenant and thirty-five men of Company I, out from Helena on August 22, 1864. The cavalrymen boarded the steamboats Dove and H. A. Homeyer and traveled up the St. Francis River to a point four miles past the mouth of the L’Anguille River, where they disembarked. They headed into St. Francis County, scouting local plantations. They began at Hughes’s farm then proceeded to a Dr. Ward’s place, …

Helena up the St. Francis River, Expedition from

On the afternoon of February 13, 1864, Captain Charles O’Connell of the Fifteenth Illinois Cavalry boarded the steamboat Hamilton Bell with 100 men of his regiment and thirty soldiers of the Third Arkansas Infantry (African Descent) and left Helena (Phillips County) to travel up the St. Francis River in search of a Confederate officer. Arriving at Shrimp’s Landing around 10:00 p.m., the cavalrymen disembarked, and O’Connell ordered the steamboat to anchor at a nearby island overnight and then proceed up the St. Francis at daylight on February 14 to Linden (St. Francis County), where the Fifteenth Illinois troopers would rejoin the Hamilton Bell. The Illinois cavalrymen rode up onto Crowley’s Ridge, with O’Connell leading part of the troops to the …

Helena, Affairs at

A pair of brief engagements near the Federal outpost of Helena (Phillips County), these actions demonstrate just how dangerous serving in Arkansas was for Union troops. After the Battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862, the Federal Army of the Southwest moved across southern Missouri and northern Arkansas in an effort to take Little Rock (Pulaski County). Unable to do so, the Union troops eventually took Helena on the Mississippi River and held the town for the remainder of the war. Deep in enemy territory, the Federals in Helena worked hard to establish defensive positions and regularly launched patrols into the surrounding countryside to gather intelligence on Confederate troops in the area. On December 13, 1862, twenty-six men of Company …

Helena, Battle of

The Confederate attack on the Mississippi River town of Helena (Phillips County) was, for the size of the forces engaged (nearly 12,000), as desperate a fight as any in the Civil War, with repeated assaults on heavily fortified positions similar to the fighting that was to be seen in 1864 in General Ulysses Grant’s overland campaign in Virginia and General William T. Sherman’s Atlanta, Georgia, campaign. It was the Confederates’ last major offensive in Arkansas (besides cavalry raids and the repulse of the Camden Expedition) and the last Confederate attempt to seize a potential choke point on the Mississippi. But the Battle of Helena has been little noted and not long remembered because it was fought the day the Confederate …

Helena, Expedition from (November 14–17, 1863)

On November 14–17, 1863, Union forces sent a small expedition along the Mississippi River to gauge Confederate strength around Helena (Phillips County). The fighting that ensued is typical of the combat that both sides engaged in during this period. On the evening of November 14, 1863, a detachment of the Tenth Illinois Cavalry under the command of Major Eagleton Carmichael departed Helena on the steamer Hamilton Belle. The steamer first patrolled along the Mississippi side of the river, before halting for the night. The next morning, the steamer continued to patrol and troops disembarked at the house of a man named Gillen. There, the Federals captured a member of the Third Arkansas Cavalry and a commissary sergeant, as well as a …

Helena, Expeditions from (July 1862)

aka: Expedition from Helena to Marianna (July 24–26, 1862)
aka: Expedition from Helena to Old Town and Trenton (July 28–31, 1862)
A pair of late July 1862 Union expeditions following the Union occupation of Helena (Phillips County) illustrate the continuing need of Federal forces to determine the size and location of Confederate troops in the area around the isolated Mississippi River port. The Union’s Army of the Southwest occupied Helena on July 12, 1862, after marching across eastern Arkansas, liberating slaves throughout the region, and ending the campaign that began with the March 7–8, 1862, Battle of Pea Ridge. As Major General Samuel Curtis’s troops began to fortify the town, which would remain in Union hands throughout the war, the Federal forces aggressively patrolled the region to keep from being surprised by Confederate attackers. On the evening of July 24, 1862, Colonel …

Helena, Expeditions from (September 26, 1862)

aka: Expedition from Helena to Jeffersonville and Marianna
aka: Expedition from Helena to LaGrange
Two separate Union expeditions left Helena (Phillips County) in search of Confederate guerrillas on September 26, 1862, resulting in a tragic friendly fire incident. Captain James T. Drummond of the Fourth Iowa Cavalry led a force of two squadrons from his regiment and four squadrons from the First Missouri Cavalry (US) from their camp near Helena at 8:30 a.m. on September 26, 1862, heading toward LaGrange (Lee County) in pursuit of Confederate troops and guerrillas. Major Thomas W. Scudder of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry, meanwhile, left Helena with 275 men from the Fifth Kansas, Fourth and Fifth Missouri Cavalry (US), and Fifth Illinois Cavalry Regiments—100 of them taking a small steamboat—and headed to Jeffersonville (Lee County). After riding for a …

Helena, Skirmish at (September 19–20, 1862)

A small and inconsequential action, the September 19–20, 1862, Skirmish at Helena is typical of the war fought around Helena (Phillips County) after that city’s capture by Federal troops. Following the capture of Helena by the Federal Army of the Southwest in July 1862, Confederate leaders in Little Rock (Pulaski County) continued to fear that an attack on the capital would be launched from the Mississippi River port town of Helena. With few troops available to defend Little Rock, Texas cavalry units were tasked with harassing the Union troops in Helena and gathering information about the enemy. A brigade under the command of Colonel William Henry Parsons was the only unit available to perform these tasks and soon began attacking …

Helena, Skirmishes near (October 11, 1862)

aka: Battle of Jones's Lane
aka: Battle of Lick Creek
aka: Battle of Shell Creek
As Confederate cavalry harassed the Federal forces occupying Helena (Phillips County), the Union troops slowly began to learn how to fight back effectively. The October 11, 1862, Skirmish at Helena saw an initial Confederate success but ended with an overwhelming Federal victory. Confederate cavalry were tasked with patrolling around Helena and observing the enemy after the Union Army of the Southwest captured the city in July 1862. The Confederates were part of a brigade of Texas cavalry under the command of Colonel William Henry Parsons. As part of the brigade, the Twenty-first Texas Cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Colonel DeWitt Clinton Giddings was tasked with scouting near the city in October 1862. Giddings decided to lead the scout on …

Hellom (Lynching of)

In late September 1903, an African-American man named Hellom was hanged by a black mob in Mississippi County for allegedly assaulting two young girls. Census records for the year 1900 reveal that there were three black men in Mississippi County who might have been the victim of the mob. All lived in nearby households in Fletcher Township, and all had a similar surname. The first was Oscar Hullum, age twenty-five, who was working as a farm hand and boarding with Brady and Mary Randolph. The second was Will Hellum, age twenty-three, a farm worker who was living nearby with his wife, Lucy, and their son, Jonathan. Living with them was a brother-in law, Arthur Hullum, age twenty-two, and three other …

Helton, Kit (Execution of)

Kit Helton was hanged on March 7, 1902, for murdering his wife—the first of three executions conducted at Van Buren (Crawford County) in 1902. Kit Helton, fifty-five, was a farmer living with his wife Ella near Lancaster (Crawford County). Helton suspected his wife was having an affair with Justice of the Peace John O’Kelley. On September 28, 1901, Helton rode to O’Kelley’s house and paid him fifty cents he owed him over some business. Helton said, “That settles our fruit deal; I will also settle another score with you,” before pulling a pistol and shooting him in the abdomen. Initial reports said O’Kelley was killed, but he survived his wounds. Helton then rode home and called his wife out of …

Hembree, Lathe (Execution of)

Lathe Hembree was hanged on July 25, 1902, at Center Point (Howard County) for a murder he denied committing. He was one of six men executed on the same date in Arkansas. On March 1, 1900, W. M. Willis, an inspector and paymaster for the Hammond-Signor Tie Company, was found shot to death on the Pee Gee Road five miles south of Mena (Polk County). Circumstantial evidence led investigators to arrest Lathe Hembree, a white man, for the crime. He was tried in Mena and convicted of first-degree murder on March 17 after the jury deliberated “only one hour.” He was sentenced to hang on May 18. Hembree’s lawyers appealed the conviction, and the Arkansas Supreme Court delayed the execution, …

Hensen, Elias (Lynching of)

Elias Hensen was seized from a house and shot to death on March 12, 1879, in Clay County after testifying against a co-defendant in a horse-stealing case and preparing to testify against other members of his gang. The 1870 federal census lists Elias Hensen, born around 1852, as an illiterate farmhand working for Abraham Roberts in Randolph County’s Current River Township, and it indicates that he might have had a diminished mental capacity. By 1879, he apparently was working with the Montgomery Brothers gang and had earned a reputation as a “rather unsavory character in this neighborhood, and was accused of various thefts, horse-stealing among them,” according to the Clay County Courier. Hensen and an accomplice, Charley Jenkins, were arrested …

Herrig, William (Lynching of)

William Herrig, a white man described in news reports as “a well-to-do farmer 67 years old” was lynched in Clay County by vigilantes on December 29, 1887, for murdering his young wife and a man with whom she was apparently friendly. No William Herrig was living in Clay County by the time of the 1880s census, although other men of that name were living in various places in the United States at the time, all of them German immigrants. Herrig’s wife, whose maiden name was Julia Bennett (and who is also dubbed “Mrs. Nettie” in reports), was described as “a charmingly plump little 20-years-of-age wife” who “had been for the two years before her marriage an actress in the Pauline …

Hickory Plains, Skirmish at

This skirmish was part of a larger expedition launched to gather information and destroy Confederate supplies north of the Arkansas River. Several Confederate forces, including troops under Brigadier General Joseph Shelby, operated in this area during the summer of 1864. Federal forces used expeditions like this one to gather intelligence. In August 1864, Federal commanders in Little Rock (Pulaski County) learned about Confederate cavalry operating near the Little Red River in north-central Arkansas. Brigadier General Joseph West received orders to lead a force of Union cavalry to capture or disperse these troops. Divided into two provisional brigades, the force was stationed at both Little Rock and DeValls Bluff (Prairie County). West departed the capital city with one brigade, while a …

Hickory Station, Skirmish at

This brief engagement occurred on the Little Rock and DeVall’s Bluff section of the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad and was one of the final Civil War engagements in Arkansas. On the morning of April 2, 1865, Captain Michael F. Mayberry led twenty-six men from Company D of Colonel Charles H. Carlton’s Regiment of Arkansas Cavalry in an attack against the railroad approximately four miles from Hickory Station, located in what is now Lonoke County. Mayberry’s men removed two rails, as well as the spikes from eight or nine additional rails, all of which caused the morning train to derail, except for the passenger car. Captain Richard C. Custard (who served previously in Arkansas as a sergeant with the Third …

Hicks, Robert (Lynching of)

In late November 1921, a young African-American man named Robert Hicks was lynched near Lake Village (Chicot County) for writing a letter to an eighteen-year-old white woman. While the identity of the woman remains a mystery, Hicks was probably the same Robert Hicks who was living with his mother, Minnie, in the household of his stepfather, Henry Singleton, in South Charlton Township of Chicot County in 1910. At that time, he was eight years old. In 1920, at eighteen, he was still in South Charlton Township working on a cotton farm owned by his uncle, Jessie E. Cooper. While newspaper reports put his age at twenty-three or twenty-five, the census information shows that he was only nineteen at the time …

Hill’s Plantation, Action at

aka: Action at Cache River
aka: Action at Cotton Plant
aka: Action at Round Hill
The major Confederate attempt to halt General Samuel Curtis’s march across northeast Arkansas and destroy his army took place near the Cache River in July 1862. The Confederates were decisively defeated, allowing Curtis to proceed on to Clarendon (Monroe County) and ultimately to Helena (Phillips County), where he resupplied his army. The Federals turned Helena into an important river base and held the town for the rest of the war. Troops from Helena captured Little Rock (Pulaski County) the following year. In the summer of 1862, Union Major General Samuel R. Curtis led the Army of the Southwest through northeast Arkansas in an attempt to capture Little Rock. Facing shortages and a supply line stretching to Rolla, Missouri, Curtis decided …

Hogan, John (Lynching of)

On June 28, 1875, an African American named John Hogan was lynched near Russellville (Pope County) for allegedly attempting to assault one of Russ Tucker’s daughters. Public records provide some information about the lynching victim. The 1870 census (five years before the incident) lists a twelve-year-old African American named John Hogan, who was living on the farm of a twenty-two-year-old white man named Reece B. Hogans. Hogans had a wife, Josephine, and a two-year-old daughter. Also living on the farm was another black laborer, fifteen-year-old Rose Hogan, who may have been John Hogan’s sister. If this is the correct John Hogan, he would have been only seventeen when he was lynched. Russ Tucker was probably David Russell Tucker, who in …

Holland, Jim (Lynching of)

On Saturday, November 26, 1881, Jim Holland, a white man, was lynched in Dardanelle (Yell County) for the crime of murder. Jim Holland, along with William Casey and Charles G. Helphrey, were accused of having murdered a cotton buyer, Burgess James, near Dardanelle in the fall of 1878. They were eventually captured and placed in the jail at Ozark (Franklin County) to protect them from a lynch mob. However, on July 18, 1881, Holland and his accomplices were able to escape from the jail; either their guard, Jim Hill, was careless or they may have drugged him. Holland and Casey were later recaptured in Polk County, Tennessee, having been trailed there by a Yell County lawman named Captain Poole. Holland …

Holt v. Sarver

In the landmark Arkansas case Holt v. Sarver, inmates of the racially segregated Cummins Farm and Tucker Intermediate Reformatory units of the Arkansas prison system brought suit against the commissioner of corrections, Robert Sarver, and the Arkansas Board of Corrections, challenging their conditions of confinement. The case was heard in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division, before Chief Judge J. Smith Henley. Holt v. Sarver was a turning point in the history of court intervention in the management of American prisons. The decision marked the end of the “hands-off” era of the federal judiciary toward prisoners and the beginning of an era of prisoners’ rights. Holt v. Sarver, which inspired the 1980 film …

Holt, Elias (Lynching of)

Elias Holt was murdered in Mississippi County by a gang of disguised men on January 25, 1872, after an accused horse thief implicated him as a conspirator in the crime. Elias Holt, a Kentucky native, was listed in the 1870 census as a twenty-nine-year-old farmer living with his wife, Martha, age nineteen, in Mississippi County’s Big Lake Township. In early 1872, a young man named Jones was arrested and charged with horse theft. During his initial questioning, Jones claimed that Holt had recruited him to steal the horse (with plans to steal another himself), meet him in Jacksonport (Jackson County), and then ride to Texas to get rid of the stolen animals. Jones’s statement, which the Osceola Times decried as …

Hope Watermelon Festival

Hope (Hempstead County) annually celebrates its claim as the home of the world’s largest watermelons with a yearly watermelon festival. The event first originated in 1926 and has been ongoing, though not continuous, since 1977. There is no admission fee for the multi-day event scheduled for the second week in August at Hope Fair Park. It is sponsored by the Hope–Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce. Activities include watermelon-eating and seed-spitting contests, fiddling, arm wrestling contests, as many as 200 vendors displaying their wares, and much more. The competition for growing big melons was a creation of John S. Gibson, who, in 1916, began to offer modest prizes for the largest vegetables and watermelons. Hugh and Edgar Laseter, local farmers, developed …

Hopkins v. Jegley

Hopkins v. Jegley is an ongoing legal challenge to four abortion restrictions passed by the Arkansas state legislature in 2017. Unless Roe v. Wade (1973) is overturned before the case is settled, women’s abilities to continue to exercise their right to access legal abortion in Arkansas likely depend on the outcome of this case. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe, opponents of the legal right to abortion have pursued legislation aimed at restricting access to the procedure. As these efforts have escalated since 2011, states have enacted more than 450 new abortion restrictions, which disproportionally impact the lives of young people, people with low incomes, and minorities. Anti-choice state lawmakers support measures that are designed to ban specific …