Battery C was one of four forts established by the Union army to protect Helena from an expected Confederate attack. That attack came on July 4, 1863 when a rebel army under Lieutenant General Theophilus Holmes consisting of about 8,000 men attacked the 4,000 man garrison at Helena under Major General Benjamin Prentiss.
Helena during the Civil War
For over a year the Union army had been building up the defenses at Helena which had become a major port on the Mississippi River and staging ground for other operations. Batteries A and B were set up to defend Helena from the north. Battery C defended the town from the west and Battery D looked out over a southward approach.
Battery C Park is a self guided site controlled by the Delta Cultural Center and the Department of Arkansas Heritage located at 1100 Yorkshire Drive in Helena, Arkansas. It sits on the site of a Union fortification that had been built to defend Helena. Battery C had originally been a cemetery and locals referred to it as Cemetery Hill.
By July 4, 1863 the hill had become an impressive defensive work with artillery and infantry support. Nearly 3,000 confederates under direct control of Major General Sterling Price attacked a force of almost 300 Union soldiers. The fighting was terrific and eventually hand to hand, but the Confederates pushed the defenders from the hill. Thats when all the other Union positions opened up on Battery C including the gunboat Tyler. The fighting on Battery C was the high point of the Battle of Helena for the Confederates. Not able to withstand the fire they eventually retreated leaving hundreds of dead, wounded and captured.
Today Battery C contains a walkway and exhibits telling the story of the events of that fateful day in July 1863.
At the top of the hill is an amazing scenic overlook of Helena. Even if you aren’t a Civil War fan, the view is worth the drive and walk.
Battery C Park is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is handicap assessable, offers free parking and has a scenic view. The park is designated as a site on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, National Register of Historic Places and a Civil War Helena attraction.