This year marks the 150th anniversary of a pivotal year in Arkansas’s Civil War history. In 1863, the Arkansas Delta became a hotbed of action.
In January 1863, in an effort to stop Confederates disrupting Union shipping on the Mississippi River, the Union Army moved on Arkansas Post. After Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s troops overran the Confederate trenches, Arkansas Post was bombarded by Union ironclads. Outnumbered five to one, the Confederates surrendered on January 11.
On Jan. 19 and 20, the Friends of Arkansas Post Museum in Gillett hosts a 150th anniversary of the battle, including encampments, battle reenactments, period dance demonstrations and a non-denominational period church service. Visitors will experience an authentic representation of the Battle of Arkansas Post, as well as an up-close look at a Civil War’s life on the battlefield and a service to honor those who fought at the conflict. On the evening of Jan. 19, the public is invited to a period Civil War dance. The event is a joint effort between Arkansas Post Museum State Park and Arkansas Post National Memorial and activities will take place at both locations. For a detailed schedule, contact Arkansas Post Museum State Park at 870-548-2634.
Located along the banks of the Mississippi River, Helena held a strategic location between Memphis and Vicksburg. On July 4, 1863, Union and Confederate troops clashed over the coveted waterway. The battle was bloody. Nearly 2,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were killed, wounded, or missing. The Battle of Helena secured the Union stronghold on the Mighty Mississippi and would prove to be the last major Confederate offensive in Arkansas.
The Delta Cultural Center in Helena-West Helena is displaying a new temporary exhibit entitled “Civil War Arkansas, 1861-1865” through Jan. 31. The exhibit offers a chronological history of the Civil War in Arkansas using photographs and text on a traveling exhibit, including specific battles and conflicts from the Arkansas Delta. The display features historic photographs and artists’ prints of battle scenes, while the flip side highlights not only war events, but postwar changes during Emancipation, Reconstruction, and after. The exhibit is displayed at the Delta Cultural Center Visitors Center, located at 141 Cherry St. in historic downtown Helena. For more information, visit www.DeltaCulturalCenter.com or phone 800-358-0972.