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 Benjamin Hardin Helm

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Benjamin Hardin Helm

Civil War Confederate Brigadier General. Born in Bardstown, Kentucky, he was called Ben Hardin Helm and graduated 9th in the West Point class of 1851. He resigned his Lieutenant's commission in 1852 after duty at the Carlisle, Pennsylvania, cavalry school and at Fort Lincoln, Texas, and became a law student, a 1 term Kentucky state legislator, a state attorney for Kentucky's 3rd District, and a prosperous lawyer. At the start of the Civil War he recruited the 1st Kentucky Cavalry for the Confederacy, then received a commission as a Colonel on October 19, 1861. He occupied Bowling Green, Kentucky, with Brigadier General Simon B. Buckner, and was later sent south. He received his promotion to Brigadier General on March 14, 1862. On April 6, at the end of the first day of fighting in the Battle of Shiloh, he incorrectly sent word from his post in north Alabama that Union Major General Don Carlos Buell's force was pressing for Decatur, Alabama, instead of moving to Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant's aid. General P.G.T. Beauregard, who assumed command after General Albert Sidney Johnston's death at Shiloh, later claimed that he disregarded his message, yet he did not press his advantage on the 6th. By morning, the reinforcements had arrived, strengthening the Federal position and denying victory to the Confederate troops. Shiloh did not affect his career. Posted to Vicksburg in summer 1862, he took part in Major General John C. Breckinridge's expedition to Baton Rouge but missed the battle because of injuries in a fall from his horse. In January 1863 he joined the Army of Tennessee and served in the Tullahoma and Chickamauga Campaigns under Breckinridge. On September 20, he was mortally wounded at Chickamauga and died that night with his final word being "Victory!". He is remembered less for his Confederate service than for marrying Emily Todd in 1856. Before the war, she, Mary Todd Lincoln's half sister, brought her husband into President Abraham Lincoln's family circle. Lincoln offered him a Union commission with the rank of Major in 1861, which he declined to raise the 1st Kentucky. After his death, his widow passed through Union lines to visit her sister at the White House in December. She later recalled that Lincoln himself met her at her carriage with tears in his eyes. Her stay would later cause a furor in the Northern press.

Bio by: Ugaalltheway


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 18 Mar 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 8925
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Benjamin Hardin Helm (2 Jun 1831–20 Sep 1863), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8925, citing Helm Family Cemetery, Elizabethtown, Hardin County, Kentucky, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .