MSU takes Civil War info online

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – From Gettysburg, Pa., down south to Vicksburg, the nation in 2011 will begin four years of commemorations of the American Civil War.
A website for the Mississippi Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission that launched Thursday is expected to be a central resource for information about commemoration events throughout Mississippi during the four-year period and beyond.
The site, maintained at Mississippi State University’s Mitchell Memorial Library, also will link to other important Civil War-related sites, said John Marszalek, executive director and managing editor of the Ulysses S. Grant Association, also housed at the university.
The next four years of sesquicentennial commemorations – 2011-2014 – will be exciting ones, and the goal is to make sure as many of the events throughout the state as possible are listed on the website, Marszalek said.
“We have other projects coming, but getting the website up and running was a major step,” Marszalek said. “We want to be as inclusive as we can.”
The 32nd volume of “The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant” is in the final stages of preparation for publication, capturing material from Grant’s life that were undiscovered when the first 31 volumes that spanned his life were published.
Since 2009, MSU has been home to the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Collection. Several months ago the university offered to provide free support services to the sesquicentennial commission.
“I’m a history buff – all kinds of history,” said MSU President Mark Keenum at the unveiling of the new website earlier this week. “It’s a great honor for us to house all of Grant’s papers, correspondence and letters through the years. We have a wealth of information already online for scholars and still have nuggets of history yet to be discovered.”
Two Northeast Mississippi Civil War sites have projects under way to attract visitors beginning in 2011: the Brice’s Crossroads National Battlefield and Visitors and Interpretive Center in Baldwyn and the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center.
“We’ll be dedicating our 1,200-square-foot Tupelo exhibit at the Brice’s Crossroads Visitors and Interpretive Center early in 2011,” said curator Edwina Carpenter. “This interpretation of the Battle of Tupelo or Harrisburg and the second day of battle at Old Town Creek about doubles the size of the exhibit area.”
With a $1.5 million grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the Brice’s Crossroads Battlefield Commission also is installing interpretive signage at three new locations on 12 acres they were able to purchase in Tupelo.
“We’re close to having the highway from Baldwyn to Brice’s Crossroads designated a Mississippi Scenic Biway, so that’s significant and exciting for us,” Carpenter added.
Completion of the new interpretive film for the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center also is expected in early 2011, said National Park Service Superintendent Woody Harrell, who oversees Corinth and Shiloh National Military Park. A longer-term project to update the film at Shiloh is expected for completion and premier in April 2012.
Shiloh also expects to extend the Grand Illumination begun in Corinth three years ago to the Shiloh Park in 2012, Harrell said.
“We’re real tickled about the success and growing interest in the Corinth Grand Illumination, which we expanded to 12,000 luminaries this year,” Harrell said. “When we extend it, Shiloh will have 24,000 luminaries.”
Corinth’s Grand Illumination commemorates lives lost in the Battle of Corinth and is held the first Saturday in November. Luminaries are placed at Battery Robinett – one of the few remaining earthen fortresses of the Civil War, where the Corinth Interpretive Center is located – at historic sites across the city, including the Corinth Contraband Camp and Corinth National Cemetery, and in Historic Downtown Corinth.
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com.