The dedication today of Fort Curtis, a Union fort replica, will begin Helena’s Civil War Sesquicentennial commemoration of a multi-faceted heritage that includes Federal occupation, seven Confederate generals, and an encampment of thousands of freed slaves. The block-long reproduction of Fort Curtis at the corner of York and Columbia streets recalls the historic river city’s occupation by Federal troops from July 1862, through the Civil War’s end in 1865, as well as the Confederacy’s failed attempt on July 4, 1863, to return the city and its strategic position along the Mississippi River to Southern control.
In 2009 a plan developed by Mudpuppy and Waterdog of Versailles, Ky, in conjunction with the local Civil War subcommittee of the Delta Bridge Project, was unveiled giving voice to those affected by the Civil War – Union and Confederate, black and white, soldier and civilian, men and women. As the plan states, “It is a story of people who lived through our na¬tion’s most trying time, a story woven from the unique thread of events that form Helena’s past and make it such a special place. It is a story of courage, passion, terror, death, hope, and sadness.”
The dedication program includes a keynote by federal Judge Brian Miller, a 4th generation Helena native. Judge Miller’s great grandfather Abraham H. Miller, was born a slave and came to Helena with his mother during the Civil War.