By Sarah Robinson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – A new marker unveiled Friday at King’s Creek is the first installment in the Civil War driving tour around the city.
Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed Jr. and local historian Dick Hill unveiled the Civil War historical marker on Spring Street.
The location was the site of the Battle of King’s Creek on May 5, 1863. There were 43 killed in the battle, 40 wounded and 81 were taken prisoner.
“It’s the beginning of the telling of the story,” Hill said. “It’s more than just King’s Creek.”
The Civil War driving tour is part of the Heritage Trails enrichment program.
About 40 people attended the ceremony, including members of the Tupelo City Council, officials from the police department and members of the Heritage Trails advisory board.
Hill said the battle at King’s Creek was part of Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s larger effort to ensure Confederate troops were unable to send supplies to a then-besieged Vicksburg, a critical victory for the Union army.
The Heritage Trails program is an effort to educate visitors and residents about Tupelo’s history.
Neal McCoy, director of the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is responsible for the program, said it was the first time he had heard some of the stories about an area of the city usually recognized for its post-war industrial development.
Hill said Tupelo, though not yet incorporated, was an important area during the war, serving as a campground and a supply center.
“Sixty thousand troops were camped here after Shiloh and again after the Franklin (Tenn.) battle,” he said. Tupelo’s geography gave it a strong defensive position.
Locations for the historical markers were decided by an advisory board of local experts. The heritage enrichment trail will explore three components of the city’s past – the Civil War, civil rights and the Chickasaw Nation.
A civil rights marker was unveiled last week in front of Reed’s Book Store, formerly the location of a Woolworth’s store where a lunch-counter “sit-in” took place.
Other markers will be installed at historically significant locations around Tupelo over the next year.