State ready for visitors as Civil War events near

By the end of the day on Jan. 9, 1861, Mississippi had become the second state to secede from the Union.
Across the succeeding four years, American Civil War fighting spilled the blood of both sides.
The carnage, its politics and its reconciliation will be remembered in the state through 2015 from Eastport and Coldwater River to Biloxi and Woodville.
Local tourism councils to the Mississippi Civil War Commission will hold memorials, re-enactments and history lessons for the public to recall the conflict, which temporarily ripped apart the fabric of the United States.
State tourism chief Mary Beth Wilkerson says Mississippi is counting on everyone involved with the tourism industry “to make sure we tell Mississippi’s story.”
That means to go beyond the Civil War story to connect visitors with all things interesting and special about the Magnolia State – from music and food to historic places and businesses.
She’s also counting on information from each Civil War-related event to be posted on the Mississippi Civil War Commission’s events website, www.mscivilwar150.com.
Communities across the state are making their plans. Commemorations already have occurred in Jackson and Vicksburg related to the Secession Convention.
Wilkerson says she wants every community to get its proper notice from the estimated 20 million visitors touring Mississippi every year.
Historically, the war’s first Mississippi conflict came Jan. 20, 1861, when state troops occupied Ship Island’s fort under construction by U.S. engineers.
But the more famous fighting didn’t begin for another 16 months – on April 6, 1862, at Shiloh in Tennessee, not far north of the vital rail hub at Corinth.
Seven days later, federal troops began their push south and the Mississippi action began for real.
Numerous Northeast Mississippi communities are preparing to remember the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
One of this region’s first major events will occur Wednesday, when activities kick off to dedicate a new wing at the Brice’s Crossroads Visitor’s Center where Lee and Prentiss counties meet.
Renamed the “Mississippi Final Stands Interpretive Center,” the facility just off Highway 45 will feature both the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads and the Battle of Tupelo or Old Town Creek, which occurred in 1864. Tupelo and Brice’s Crossroads will work together on regional events.
The annual June 10-11 anniversary at Brice’s brings re-enactors, campfires and historic experiences for a wide range of history lovers.
Corinth will be wrapping up its historic evening walking tours in downtown.
Throughout the observance, Shiloh National Military Park and Corinth will collaborate on living-history exhibitions, hikes and other activities.
In Oxford through mid-May, a spring driving tour will incorporate numerous historically significant homes and cemetery sites for “Oxford Through the Ages.”
The tour takes visitors to the University of Mississippi campus’s Confederate cemetery and Lyceum, which was a war hospital; the modest Greek revival home built by major political figure L.Q.C. Lamar; and Cedar Oaks, which survived Oxford’s burning and was moved more than two miles in the 20th century to escape commercial development.
During June, major events occur to remember the Battle of Booneville, the Battle at Brice’s Crossroads and Union County Heritage Museum’s annual history lecture series.
In September, Farmington in Alcorn County will re-enact the 149th anniversary of its battle across three days of festival parades, memorials and night artillery.
Pontotoc plans to incorporate its Civil War history into its annual October Bodock Festival.
And Nov. 12, Corinth will shine with 12,000 luminaries around its Civil War Interpretive Center and downtown for a “Grand Illumination” to coincide with holiday business open houses.
More activities will develop across 2012, 2013 and 2014 to coincide with when the battles raged across the region and rest of Mississippi.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal