1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Helena (Arkansas)

HELENA, a city and the county-seat of Phillips county, Arkansas, U.S.A., situated on and at the foot of Crowly's Ridge, about 150 ft. above sea-level, in the alluvial bottoms of the Mississippi river, about 65 m. by rail S.W. of Memphis, Tennessee. Pop. (1890) 5189, (1900) 5550, of whom 3400 were negroes; (1910) 8772. It is served by the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley (Illinois Central), the St Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern (Missouri Pacific), the Arkansas Midland, and the Missouri & North Arkansas railways. Built in part upon “made land,” well protected by levees, and lying within the richest cotton-producing region of the south, the rich timber country of the St Francis river, and the Mississippi “bottom lands,” Helena concentrates its economic interests in cotton-compressing and shipping, the manufacture of cotton-seed products, lumbering and wood-working. The city was founded about 1821, but so late as 1860 the population was only 800. During the Civil War the place was of considerable strategic importance. It was occupied in July 1862 by the Union forces, who strongly fortified it to guard their communications with the lower Mississippi; on the 4th of July 1863, when occupied by General Benjamin M. Prentiss (1819–1901) with 4500 men, it was attacked by a force of 9000 Confederates under General Theophilus H. Holmes (1804–1880), who hoped to raise the siege of Vicksburg or close the river to the Union forces. The attack was repulsed, with a loss to the Confederates of one-fifth their numbers, the Union loss being slight.