By Dennis Seid
BALDWYN – Brice’s Crossroad Battlefield officials hope to add a stop on its tour to honor black soldiers who fought in the battle.
The tour stop could add three markers – or “waystops” – plus a monument, perhaps a statue, of some kind to mark units of the United States Colored Troops.
“Nothing has been decided; this is only a concept at this point,” said Edwina Carpenter, the director of the Mississippi’s Final Stands Interpretive Center, which includes the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads and the Battle of Tupelo/Harrisburg.
The concept was put together by Phil Walker of the Walker Collaborative of Nashville, which recently put together the management plan for the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area.
“The area covers 30 counties, focused on key themes, including the Civil War, Native American heritage, African-American heritage and the arts,” Walker said. “We wanted to find one key site and apply our principles, and Brice’s Crossroads hits two of those themes.”
The role of the USCT is noted inside the interpretive center, but the new tour stop would place a bigger emphasis on its role
Walker said only 141 markers nationwide mention the USCT’s role in the Civil War, and only 65 give it a primary focus. Mississippi has two markers.
The proposed memorial would honor the solder of the 55th and 59th U.S. Colored Infantry and Company F of the 2nd United States Colored Artillery.
The tour stop would sit on about five acres set aside off County Road 166 in Union County, near the site of the Holland House and the first line of defense they formed during the battle.
The units served as a rear guard to protect some 250 wagons and ambulances.
“The memorial would honor these brave soldiers; it’s something we’ve talked about for a long time,” Carpenter said.
The next step is to take the concept plan to the battlefield commission and get their input, she said.
“We estimate the cost would be around $25,000 to $30,000,” she said.
Some funding would be available through the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program for planning and design, but most of the money would have to be raised privately.