From the soon-to-be refurbished Battery C, many will be able to survey the entire city and envision how the Battle of Helena played out, which for military buffs, is fascinating.
Battery C is one of four earthen batteries erected by the Union Army in 1862, which fell to the Confederates during the battle of Helena on July 4, 1863. Archaeological digs began on Battery C shortly after Southern Bancorp Capital Partners received a $55,000 grant early last year from the National Park Service American Battlefield Protection Program to do earthworks restoration and preservation services at Civil War Batteries A and D and to do archaeological research at Batteries B and C.
Since then, Dr. Steve McBride with McBride Preservation Services has completed some metal detecting and archeological work on Battery C that will help in determining where the revetment (a wall or barricade) was located and where the original fort was placed.
McBride said the pattern of square nails that were found during the excavation helped them determine where to dig trenches and that the original battery would have a ditch in front of an earthen mound, which unfortunately was pushed down by a bull dozer. “Team McBride” dug trenches and found evidence of a ditch, helping them map out evidence and figure out how the ditch or footprints can help them determine the size of Battery C.
“Right now we can confirm that Battery C was in fact 'C' shaped whereas the southern arm was stronger and the northern arm was the weakest,” commented McBride.
Plans to rebuild the revetment at the site as a part of the total Civil War Helena Interpretive Plan are being reviewed.
“We're looking at what was left after the site was bull dozed, and for us the ditch is the best thing because it was excavated deep into the ground, which has provided us a differentiation in the soils and silts that reflect information of the fort and where it stood,” commented McBride.
McBride explained that at first hand excavations were done and a closer look was taken at areas of where questions arose pertaining to what was going on under the soil from their last visit.
“We use the information and the questions that we had last time to dig the trenches where we hoped to cross-cut the original ditch feature from the fort in search for un-natural soil, reflecting a profile map of what it looked like placed above ground,” said McBride.
According to Cathy Cunningham, this development is another part of the Civil War Helena Project, which is a joint effort of the community driven Delta Bridge Project, Delta Cultural Center and the Advertising & Promotion Commission.
“My role as a Southern Bancorp Community Partners consultant is to manage the project from design to completion. Detailed plans are being developed at this time and construction should begin mid to late May with completion by September of this year,” reported Cunningham.
Page 2 of 2 - McBride explained that with the information obtained, measurements taken maps have been developed based on the original structure placement of Battery C. According to McBride, the Civil War Helena Interpretive Plan reflects the idea of a ghost like structure that will be placed in the spot where the fort once stood. Battery C is located off Robert and Audubon Drive on a hillside in Helena.
Steven and Kim McBride along with Michelle Massey of McBride Preservation Services recently visited historic Helena site Battery C to map out the original placement of the fort during the Battle of Helena in 1863.