Helm Cemetery

Historical Marker #833 in Hardin County interprets the Helm Cemetery, resting place of Kentucky Governor John LaRue Helm and Confederate General Benjamin Hardin Helm.

Benjamin Helm was a brother-in-law of Abraham Lincoln, having married Emilie Todd, who was a half-sister of Mary Todd Lincoln. As the Civil War began, President Lincoln offered Helm a commission as paymaster in the Union army. He turned down the offer and helped recruit the First Kentucky Cavalry Regiment for the Confederate army. Commissioned a colonel, Helm quickly rose in rank when he was promoted to brigadier general after the battle of Shiloh. Helm later served under fellow Kentuckian General John C. Breckinridge in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Eventually, General Helm became commander of the First Kentucky Infantry Brigade (the "Orphan Brigade") and was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga in northern Georgia on September 20, 1863. When President Lincoln learned of his brother-in-law's death in battle, he was deeply moved and told one member of his cabinet that he felt like David in the Bible when he learned that his son Absalom had been killed.


Benjamin Hardin Helm

Benjamin Hardin Helm

Portrait of Confederate General Benjamin Hardin Helm. Image Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

John LaRue Helm

John LaRue Helm

Helm was a Whig who later became a Democrat. He was a lawyer, state legislator, Speaker of the state house, and lieutenant governor, becoming governor upon Crittenden's resignation. Helm was elected in his own right (as a Democrat) on a platform of reconciliation after the Civil War. Ill upon taking office, Helm was the only governor inaugurated outside the state capital (September 3, 1867) and died five days later. An advocate of internal improvements to foster economic growth, he championed the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. Image Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Warren Greer, “Helm Cemetery,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed July 26, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/133.
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