With the 2015 Battle of Helena only 66 days away, this series of interpretation of the historic battle will help participants and spectators understand the historic struggle that fateful July 1863 day. The hilltop fort at Battery C above Helena was one of four artillery batteries built by the Union army in 1863 to protect the garrison in the Delta community from a Confederate assault. Though Battery C was overrun by General Price during the July 4, 1863 attack, the battery was nonetheless one of the most fortified west of the Mississippi River. The interpretation panel in this photo describes the fortification:
Battery C sat directly above Helena and was the key to the city’s defenses. The small earthen battery manned by the 33rd Missouri held two artillery pieces. A series of infantry trenches in front of the battery defended the approach. Union engineers ordered all of the trees cut down to give the artillery and infantry a clear field of fire. They placed the felled trees in front of the trenches to slow the attackers.
Preparing for a Confederate Attack
As the weather grew hot and humid in April 1863, it became clear that the Confederates meant to attack Helena. Fort Curtis, completed the previous fall, left the high ground west of Helena unprotected and the city vulnerable to attack. Under orders from General Benjamin Prentiss, General Fredrick Salomon began work on four batteries on the ridge west of town. Most of the work fell to the newly created United States Colored Troops.
Four Strong Batteries Defended Helena
When finished in June, the new Union defenses on Crowley’s Ridge covered the approaches to the city from Little Rock to the west, the Confederate base of operations in Arkansas. Each of the four batteries was armed with two or more guns and protected by infantry trenches and felled treed. Their positions allowed each battery to cover the others with artillery fire in case of attack, an advantage that would prove critical. The batteries were completed none too soon. Just days later, on July 4, 1863, the Confederates attacked Helena.
Battery C Park, maintained by the Delta Cultural Center, is open daily from 9am-5pm.