Helm remembered as anniversary of death approaches

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By Amber Coulter

A local Civil War general is being honored this weekend as the 150th anniversary of his death approaches.

Brig. Gen. Benjamin Hardin Helm is being remembered at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Helm Family Cemetery on North Dixie Avenue in Elizabethtown. The event is open to the public.

The commemorative event is organized by the Hardin County History Museum to honor the life of the Confederate general from Hardin County and brother-in-law of President Abraham Lincoln.

Helm was in his early 20s when he was commissioned as a colonel in the Confederate Army.

That took place after he turned down the position of paymaster of the Union Army offered by Lincoln.

Helm’s father, a former state governor, with whom he lived, leaned toward keeping the nation together.

Kentucky sided with the Union Army after attempting to remain neutral, but Hardin County and other areas in the state contained many residents who identified with their southern neighbors.

Helm thought citizens should be able to choose their own government and secede from the Union if that was the will of the people.

Helm was promoted to brigadier general in the Condederate Army in 1862.

Kentucky historian and author Kent Masterson Brown is scheduled to speak about Helm’s life and his Sept. 20, 1863, death leading the charge at Chickamauga, Ga.

When Lincoln heard of Helm’s death, he told a cabinet member that he “felt like David in the Bible when he learned that his son Absalom had been killed,” according to the Kentucky Historical Society.

Susan McCrobie, president of the history museum’s board of directors, said Helm’s life as a political and military figure from Hardin County should be remembered.

“It’s important to have leaders in your life,” she said. “It encourages people to have attributes such as those people.”

It’s important to remember the past and honor veterans, no matter how long ago they served. A country can be judged by how its citizens honor their dead, McCrobie said.

“It’s important to remember our past,” she said. “Our past always dictates what we do tomorrow.”

Museum officials have commissioned 100 collector pins of Helm that are available at the event for $5 each.

Amber Coulter can be reached at 270-505-1746

or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.