By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal
OKOLONA – There are more than 785 known Confederate graves in the Okolona Confederate Cemetery, making it one of the largest Civil War cemeteries in the state.
Okolona is planning a massive remembrance and Civil War encampment in February to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Okolona on Feb. 22, 1864. Work has already begun to spruce up and renovate the cemetery and get the town ready for visitors.
“The residents of Okolona have always honored persons serving in the armed forces,” said Perry Grubbs of the Okolona Chamber of Commerce. “Caring residents of Okolona want to recognize those who gave their life defending the city in the Civil War.”
Grubbs said the renovation of the Okolona Confederate Cemetery will be a boon to tourism in the area. Event organizers expect hundreds of Confederate re-enactors to descend on the city the week of the anniversary.
“We formed a steering committee and we have accomplished a lot,” said Grubbs. “This really will be something the residents of Okolona can point to with pride.”
Work has already begun on renovating gravestones with volunteers cleaning them this summer. Landscaping at the cemetery entrance and the removal of old tree and hedge has also started.
The committee is seeking to purchase 13 flags and poles representing the 12 states of soldiers buried at the cemetery and one flag representing the Unknown Soldier. The committee is also trying to secure two cannons with carriages.
“We have found the old fence that was around the cemetery and are working to refurbish it and put it in place,” said Grubbs. “If we get all this accomplished it really will be a bright spot for Okolona and it will draw people to our town.”