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Benjamin Hardin Jr.
(1784-1852)
Elizabeth Pendleton Barbour
(1788-1852)
John LaRue Helm
(1802-1867)
Lucinda Barbour Hardin
(1809-1885)

Brig. Gen. Benjamin Hardin Helm I
(1831-1863)

 

Family Links

Spouses/Children:
Emilie Todd

Brig. Gen. Benjamin Hardin Helm I 737

  • Born: 2 Jun 1831, Bardstown, , KY 19,35
  • Marriage: Emilie Todd on 20 Mar 1856 in Frankfort, KY
  • Died: 20 Sep 1863, Chicamauga at age 32
  • Buried: Helm Family Cemetery, Elizabethtown, Hardin, KY, USA
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bullet  General Notes:

Born in the home of his grandfather, Ben Hardin, at Bardstown, KY (As was Perry Hardin Radcliffe!)

rdrdbrdrw10 rdrdbrdrw10 ntbl 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) <fg.cgi?page=mr&MRid=46547901>

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bullet  Noted events in his life were:

Physical Description. 756 Blue eyes, brown hair, ruddy complexion, "genial and attractive countenance which lighted up at the slightest provocation."

Education: Elizabethtown Seminary: Elizabethtown, KY. 756 Graduated at age 16.

Education: Kentucky Military Institute, 1846. 756 Was there for only 3 months before entering the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Education: U.S. Military Academy at West Point, 1 Jul 1847. 737 Entered shortly after his 16th birthday. He graduated 9th in his class of 42. He was brevetted second-lieutenant in the Second Cavalry, 7-1-1851.

Education: Cavalry School for Practice, Abt 1851, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. 737 Attended but was struck with inflammatory rheumatism, which temporarily ended his military career.

Education: University of Louisville School of Law, graduation 1853. 737

Education: Harvard Law School. 737 6 month course.

Occupation: attorney, beginning practice in 1853, Elizabethtown and Louisville, KY. 737 Abraham Lincoln and he were friends because both were attorneys and both married to Todd women.

Occupation: state representative, Kentucky, 1855-1857. 737 Source: History of Kentucky Hardin County.

Occupation: Commonwealth Attorney for 3rd district, KY, 1856-1858. 737 An elected position. He was age 28.

Honor: requested to be Paymaster of the U.S. by A. Lincoln, 27 Apr 1861. 757 This was a way for Lincoln to move his friend & brother-in-law out of harm's way, and to prevent him from influencing the southern states towards the confederacy. It would have given Helm the rank of major, and the title at age 30. Mrs. Lincoln would have hosted Helm's wife (her sister) for the duration in Washington. After consulting with Colonel Robert E. Lee and probably being influenced by Gov. Beriah Magoffin, Helm declined. He declined the offer and returned to KY where, in the fall of 1861, he joined the Confederate Army.

Occupation: Assistant Inspector General of the State Guard, 1861, KY. 737 Affiliated with the Kentucky State Militia, which was attempting to establish a condition of strict neutrality. Later he "used his influence to recruit for the Confederacy the First Regiment of Kentucky Cavalry."

Honor: Colonel's commision of 1st Regiment of KY Cavalry, Sep 1861, KY. 758 While in training, his troops were used as an observation corps. "Even when the Confederate army abandoned Bowling Green, it was Col. Helm's duty to cover the retreat.' During the battle of Shiloh, his troops were to guard the approaches to General Johnston's left and rear.

Honor: Promotion to Brigadier General, 14 Mar 1862. 737 Assigned to command the Third Brigade of Infantry of the Reserve Corps, with troops from Arkansas, Mississippi, and Missouri. At Vicksburg, he was given the command of the Second Brigate troops from Kentucky, Alabama, and Mississippi.

"Upon assuming command of the 2nd Brigade, Gen. Helm appointed his staff and, among the half dozen competent officers whom he named, he picked Maj. Thomas H. Hayes, his brother-in-law and a resident of Hardin Cty, KY, and Lieutenant Alexander H. Todd, of Lexington, another brother-in-law, to act in the capacity of assistant inspector general and aide-de-camp respectfully.
"Shortly before the attack on Baton Rouge on 8-5, Breckinridge's men were waiting for daylight in order to make a charge when an unfortunate accident occurred. Some mounted rangers were placed behind the artillery and infantry, but in the darkness they eased forward, because they were eager to get into the fray, and in riding to the front they encountered Union sentries. This caused an exchange of shots to be fired. The Confederate rangers then galloped back to their own lines amidst a hail of fire, and this action provoked additional firing between the Confederate troops and their mounted horsemen.
The results were tragic and among other casualties Brid. Gen. Helm was dangerously injured by a fall from his horse, being knocked over and contused by the running cavalry. Lieutenant Todd, Mrs. Lincoln's half-brother, was killed from one of the aimless shots that was fired during the confusion. He was the second brother to lose is life, as Samuel Todd was killed while serving with a Louisiana regiment at Shiloh. The death of this young lieutenant, who as a child had played with Robert Lincoln, must have saddened the president's household."
Later, on 1-31-1863, he was ordered by President Davis to give up the command of the Eastern District which he assumed after Baton Rouge.

Honor: Commander of the First KY Brigade, 16 Feb 1863. 756 This brigade had the nickname "the orphan brigade" because often its commanders were off fighting, or had been killed in battle.

Death, 20 Sep 1863. 758 Killed by musket ball to the right side at the battle of Chickamauga. He was carried from the field by his two aides, Lieutenant William Wallace Herr (brother-in-law) and Lieutenant John B. Pirtle. Military surgeons determined there was no hope. Helm lasted several hours and died during the night, believing Chickamauga was a victory for the Confederates. When learning of the loss of his brother-in-law, Abraham Lincoln told Senator David Davis (IL), "I feel as David of old did when he was told of the death of Absalom." Helm's widow, Emilie, had been visiting relatives in Alabama and arrived just in time for the funeral of her husband. Passes were needed for her children and her to pass from the south to return to Kentucky, and Lincoln secured those necessary passes. For Emilie's continued travels, see Emilie's file.

Funeral. 758 His body laid at the home of Col. W.H. Dabney in Atlanta until 9-23. A funeral service was held in the Episcopal Church followed by interment in the Atlanta Cemetery with military honors.

Burial, 19 Sep 1884, Elizabethtown, KY. 759 Ben H. Helm was reinterred "in the burial grounds of his fathers, in a private cemetery on the ancestral acres of his pioneer forebears. Here, in the shadow of a great granite shaft erected by the State of Kentucky in honor of Gov. John L. Helm, the Confederate general's remains were placed among his kindred."

Alt. Death: Chattanooga, TN. 45


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Benjamin married Emilie Todd, daughter of Robert S. Todd and Elizabeth Humphreys, on 20 Mar 1856 in Frankfort, KY. (Emilie Todd was born on 19 Nov 1836 in KY,273 died on 20 Feb 1930 in Louisville, , Kentucky 759 and was buried on 22 Feb 1930 in Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, , KY 273.)


bullet  Marriage Notes:

Grand reception followed at Buena Vista, the country home of thee Todds.
"Being an aristocratic and estimable lady, this marriage was looked upon with favor by both the Todd and Helm families and the young matron endeared herself to all of her husband's Elizabethtown friends." -- source: Lincoln Lore, 1-1972



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