Monthly Archives: February 2018

Illinois Memorial at Vicksburg

Vicksburg Civil War Monuments

Excerpt from the Introduction to Art of Commemoration Soon after Vicksburg National Military Park was established in 1899, the nation ‘s leading architects and sculptors were commissioned to honor the soldiers that had fought in the campaign. The park’s earliest state memorial was dedicated in 1903, and over 95 percent of the monuments that followed were erected prior to 1917. An aging Civil War veteran who hastened to Vicksburg to see the resulting works was so impressed that he aptly described Vicksburg National Military Park as “the art park of the world: ‘ The work of commemoration has continued sporadically since 1917, and today, over 1,370 monuments, tablets and markers dot the park landscape. Unfortunately, some of these are on former park lands or are not situated along the tour road. In touring the park, it is helpful to know that the ancient Roman writer, architect, and engineer, Vitruvius, insisted that there were two points in all matters: the thing signified, and that which gave it its significance. The thing signified at Vicksburg – the spirit of the park-is the valor of the soldiers and sailors who struggled as participants in the Vicksburg campaign. The memorials and markers, through their information,…

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New Orleans Prepares

10 April 1861, Governor Thomas Overton Moore and his staff were preparing for the inevitable conflict.  The Civil War had not yet begun, Fort Sumter was a few days away.  But Just two days earlier, Daniel W. Adams, of the New Orleans Military Board, had notified President Davis that Union ships had conducted a reconnaissance operation in the waters off Forts St. Philip and Jackson thereby suggesting that they were preparing for an attack of sorts.  Adams was a newspaper man who had once killed a man in a duel for criticizing his editorial work.   Known for his directness, he did not equivocate in his message.  The precognition of pending if not imminent danger from the Federal Navy began when the people of New Orleans learned that a large naval fleet had assembled and sailed from New York at the first of the month. Louisiana had seceded at the end of January, but the undertaking of adequate preparations for the defense of the city was nowhere near completion.  Governor Moore was not a military man, but he and those around him recognized the need for military authority and the martialing of resources in the region.  He specifically requested of the…

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Grant and Fort Donelson

General Simon Bolivar Buckner was in command at Fort Donelson when Union forces were moving by land in conjunction with a flotilla of gunboats to besiege the Confederate stronghold. They had known each other at West Point, classes of 1844 (Buckner) and 1843 (Grant), and remained friends after the war. General Gideon Pillow had been in charge of the Confederates who pushed Grant back to the river at Belmont the previous November.  The Tennessean had his men hold off the approaching Union forces but did not take advantage of a break in their lines.  He retired to the fort and took command at Fort Donelson when General John B. Floyd decided to make a hasty departure. Floyd was the senior Confederate commander.  As U.S. Secretary of State before secession, he had been under indictment in Washington for the questionable transfer of military stores to southern states before the hostilities broke out.  He desperately wanted to avoid capture by the Federals for fear of charges for treason.  Before this could happen, he loaded his two Virginia regiments and some artillery onto a steamboat and “skedaddled” upriver (to the southeast) to Nashville.  He turned over command to Pillow who had once echoed…

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