Retirees Association

My Cousin, the Civil War General, by Ron Helms

Ron Helms

As children, my maternal aunt claimed that the family was related to a Civil War General; my father was less than interested. We were aware of a union great, grandfather in the Civil War.

Several years ago, I determined that this grandfather was a union private who was captured near Cumberland, MD. He was a POW and taken to Rowan, N.C. where he died of starvation in January 1865. In February 1865, Union forces freed the prisoners. And there is more, much more.

Family Helm arrived in Virginia from England in the 1600’s. Family Helm was titled and wealthy, and these ancestors brought wealth to Virginia and established plantations in the Shenandoah. I have many ancestors who were patriots, and officers in the American Revolution. Following the war, several members of the family pursued actual Land Warrants in Kentucky, Missouri, et al.

A brother of Major William Helm (GGF) migrated to Louisville, KY to establish a plantation. His grandson become a Kentucky Governor, and the governor’s son was commissioned a Union Officer upon commencement from West Point.

Later, as so many other West Pointers, Benjamin Hardin Helm achieved a Confederate Brigadier General’s rank. He was to be killed in the Battle of Chickamauga.

This may be the general to which my aunt was referring.

It is no surprise that the Helm family of Virginia fought with both the Federals and the Confederates. And I am now a member of Sons of Confederate Veterans of Civil War, and Sons of Union Veterans of Civil War.

I am looking forward to reading more family history.