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BG Benjamin Hardin Helm CSA -- Vicksburg NMP, Vicksburg MS
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 32° 20.214 W 090° 51.578
15S E 701446 N 3579792
Quick Description: A statue of Confederate Brigadier General Benjamin H. Helm near the Kentucky Memorial at Vicksburg National Military Park.
Location: Mississippi, United States
Date Posted: 9/20/2014 7:13:00 PM
Waymark Code: WMMH21
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 0

Long Description:
A bust of Confederate Army Brigadier General Ben Helm stands a few dozen yards off of Confederate Avenue in the Vicksburg National Military Park.

The plaque on the front of the base of the bust reads as follows:

"BEN HARDIN HELM
Brig. General C.S. Army
Commanding Ken. Brigade
Breckinridge's Division
Johnston's Drmy
Cadet U.S. Military Academy 1847
2nd Lt. U.S. Army March 31, 1852
Resigned October 9, 1852
Col. 1st Ken. Cav. Oct. 5, 1861
Brig. Gen. C.S. Army Mar. 14, 1862
Mortally wd. in battle Sept. 20, 1863"

From the National Park Service website:

"Brig. Gen. B. H. Helm

Cost: $650 for bronze,

by Federal Government

Sculptor: Anton Schaaf

Erected: July 1914

Location: South Loop, Kentucky Avenue, between Union and Confederate Avenues."

BG Helm was a commander of the "Orphan Brigade" of Confederate sympathizers from Kentucky, who, when KY refused to secede from the Union, left their home state to fight for the Confederacy.

Helm was married to President Abraham Lincoln's wife Mary Todd Lincoln's half-sister.

While Helm was not directly involved in the Vicksburg campaign, he was in central MS at the time and could have been part of relieving the siege if CSA General Johnston had heeded Gen. Pemberton's plea for Johnston to come to Vicksburg and help his Confederates break the siege. Gen. Johnston sent word that his army too weak to make an impact, forcing Gen. Pemberton to eventually surrender the city.

From Wikipedia:

"The son of lawyer and politician John L. Helm and Lucinda Barbour Hardin, Benjamin Hardin Helm was born in Bardstown, Kentucky on June 2, 1831. . . .

In 1855, he was elected to the House of Representatives of Kentucky from Hardin County, and was the state's attorney for the 3rd district of Kentucky from 1856 to 1858. In 1856, Helm married Emilie Todd, a half-sister of Mary Todd Lincoln.

In 1860, he was appointed assistant inspector-general of the Kentucky State Guard, which he was active in organizing. Kentucky remained officially neutral in the American Civil War, but his brother-in-law, now President Abraham Lincoln, offered him the position of paymaster of the Union Army. Helm declined the offer, and returned to Kentucky to raise the 1st Kentucky Cavalry Regiment for the Confederate Army.

Helm was commissioned a colonel on October 19, 1861, and served under Brigadier General Simon B. Buckner in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Helm and the 1st Kentucky were then ordered south. He was promoted to brigadier general on March 14, 1862 and, three weeks later, received a new assignment to raise the 3rd Kentucky Brigade, in the division of Major General John C. Breckinridge. During the Battle of Shiloh, Helm used his brigade to guard the Confederate flanks. In 1862, he was also sent to protect the Arkansas, an ironclad warship of the Confederate Navy under construction in Yazoo City, Mississippi.

Serving under Breckinridge in January 1863, he was given command of the First Kentucky Brigade, commonly known as the "Orphan Brigade". Helm's brigade was assigned to the Army of Tennessee, where it participated in the 1863 Tullahoma and Chickamauga campaigns.

Near the end of the spring of 1863, Breckenridge ordered Helm to deploy the brigade to Vicksburg, Mississippi to participate in General Joseph E. Johnston's unsuccessful attempt to break the siege. Helm called it "the most unpleasant and trying [campaign] of his career".

Battle of Chickamauga and death

In the fall of 1863, the 1st Kentucky Brigade formed a part of General Braxton Bragg's attempt to counter Union Major General William Rosecrans' offensive against Chattanooga, Tennessee.

At 9:30 am on September 20, 1863, the divisions of Generals Breckinridge and Patrick Cleburne were ordered to move forward. Helm's brigade and the others in Breckinridge's division drove into the Federals' left. General Cleburne's division, which was intended to strike near the center of the line, was delayed by heavy fire from Union soldiers, leaving the left flank unguarded.

Repeated attempts to overwhelm the Federals were in vain, though some of Helm's Kentuckians managed to reach within 39 yards (36 m) of the Federal line. In less than an hour of the order given to advance, fully one third of the Orphan Brigade had been lost. The remainder of his men clashed with the well-fortified Union line.

A sharpshooter from the 15th Kentucky Union Infantry shot Helm in the chest. Bleeding profusely, he remained in the saddle a few moments before toppling to the ground. Helm was carried off the battlefield and surgeons realized his wounds were fatal. Helm clung to life for several hours.

Knowing that his health was deteriorating, he asked who had won the battle. When assured that the Confederates had carried the day, he muttered: "Victory!, Victory!, Victory!". On September 21, 1863, Gen. Helm succumbed to his wounds.

Following his death, Abraham Lincoln and his wife went into private mourning at the White House. Mary Lincoln's niece recalled: "She knew that a single tear shed for a dead enemy would bring torrents of scorn and bitter abuse on both her husband and herself." However, the widowed Emilie Todd Helm was granted safe passage to the White House in December 1863.

In an official report of the Battle of Chickamauga, General Daniel Harvey Hill stated that Benjamin Helm's "gallantry and loveliness of character endeared him to everyone." In a letter to Emilie Todd Helm, General Breckinridge said, "Your husband commanded them [the men of the Orphan brigade] like a thorough soldier. He loved them, they loved him, and he died at their head, a patriot and a hero."
Union or Confederacy: Confederacy - South

General's Name: Ben Hardin Helm

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