Continuing in our week-long series of travels and observations in Vicksburg National Military Park . . .
The vast majority of the people-centered monuments in the Vicksburg National Military Park are simple busts or bas reliefs of various important military leaders. These tend to be sprinkled around lining the park roads roughly around where they and their men served.
A few monuments stand out, not just for their larger size, but also as works of art. I didn’t have time to stop at all of these, but here are the high points around the park.
First up is General Grant, located appropriately enough on Grant Circle, just off of Union Avenue. Before you reach him though, you see the Pennsylvania Monument, which is very leader-centric. Dedicated in 1906, the monument focus is on bas-relief busts of five unit commanders beneath the words: “Here brothers fought for their principles, here heroes died for their country and a united people will forever cherish the precious legacy of their noble manhood.”
Now here’s where things get awkward. I’m sure back in the days when the park opened, when the denizens of Vicksburg came out in their carriages to drive the park, they must have taken a left at the beginning of Grant Circle, rather than the right path that we have to take today because we drive on the right.
I say this because I don’t get the feeling that General Grant would not have wanted the first sight of visitors to his monument to be, well, his horse’s rear end.
If you were to come around to the left, however, you would see him and his horse from the front, in a much more dignified way.
Moving on down the road a bit, we come upon the U.S. Navy monument, which features four admirals at the base of its tall obelisk.
While other large monuments in the park accommodate the driving aspect of the park, i.e. recognize that no one will really see the back side of the monument and therefore don’t put much of a finish on it (we’ll see this later in the week), the designers of the U.S. Navy monument, Francis E. Elwell and the more famous Henry H. Kitson went ahead and stuck an admiral on all four sides. Maybe the designers, Henry H. Kitson and Francis Edwin Elwell, didn’t much care for Admiral Foote, who is staring off into the trees. Here they are in counter-clockwise order.
Perhaps the most famous “person” monument is the Tilghman Monument, a memorial to Confederate General Lloyd Tilghman, who was killed at the Battle of Champion Hill near Edwards.
Last but not least, near the end of the northern driving loop stands Jefferson Davis. Interestingly, this statue was only put in place in 1927, after the Civil War generation had mostly died off. Jefferson Davis was considered a potent symbol of the Confederacy long after his death, by both North and South, and I remember reading an article in the Vicksburg Post around 1908 to the effect that the U.S. Congress wouldn’t allow Mississippi to place a bust of Davis in one of their two Hall of Fame spots. This monument was also sculpted by our old standby Henry H. Hudson. You can read the dedication booklet on Internet Archive.
This post is part of a five-part series about Vicksburg National Military Park. Want to read more?
- Seeing the 101: Vicksburg National Military Park
- Mississippi’s Monuments
- Small but Interesting Ohio Monuments
- Other Monuments Worth Stopping For
Categories: 101 MissPres Places
Kansas has one of the most interesting memorials. Alabama as well. Georgia’s memorial, though not particularly notable in itself, has a great setting (represent!)
My take on the Grant statue is that assuming the majority of visitors probably come from the South, that’s the FIRST side he’d want them to see.
Tilghman exudes a Broadway flair. I imagine he’s singing “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'” rather than dying on the field of battle.
As a preservationist with ancestors on both sides; Including Col James Hill who rode dispatch twice on horse back across the Mississippi under the siege to Vicksburg
I propose we evolve from the message of “guts and glory ” at Vicksburgh
with a new message and a memorial to Peace ; educating us and our children in some of the examples of sacrifices those people; and any people ;
did make to seek reconsiliation and healing of a country ravaged by the tragedy of war
Lloyd Tilghman’s grandfather was Tench Tilghman, a colonel on George Washington’s staff throughout the war. He took the news of Cornwallis’ surrender to the Cont Congress in Philadelphia and was by Washington’s side (with Alex Hamiliton, I think) when, at the end of the war, Washington surrendered his commision as commander of the Cont Army to the Congress, then sitting in Annapolis. The writer Joseph Ellis describes this as the most important single act to ever occur in the US. He comes to this conclusion by comparing what Washington did with what Julius Ceasar did after crossing the Rubicon. Nobody remembers Tench because he died of an illness right after the war.
I got that wrong. Tench wasnt there for Washington’s resignation. There is, however, a famous painting by Peale hanging in the room where the resignation occurred of Washington, Lafayette and Tench at Yorktown for Cornwallis’ surrender..
I don’t know whether to thank you or put a pox on you for placing that image of the Tilghman monument singing Broadway in my head. I’ll never be able to look at him the same again!
Neither Kansas nor Alabama make my cut this week–they must be on the southern loop, which I missed. Maybe you can do a post about why you think they’re so interesting?
Alabama and Georgia are both on the southern loop, but the Kansas one is located almost directly across from the Mississippi African American memorial. It’s easy to miss, though, as it tends to blend in with the landscape.
I think I will write a little something about it, since it evokes the peace and reconciliation message that Mr. Davidson proposes above as opposed to the guts and glory of most of the others.
Kansas is a very modern (and very easy to miss) monument. It’s either 1950s or 1960s, I can’t recall which. My favorite monment in the park is Rhode Island’s, also near Grant Circle.
And, I should have said, the Kentucky monument (the one with less-than-life-size statues of Lincoln and Davis awkwardly standing beside each other) is the most hideous monument in the park and should be ground into bits of gravel and used to fill potholes!
Wow, no kidding about “awkward”: http://www.nps.gov/vick/historyculture/kentucky-memorial.htm
Alabama have great monuments but there are more out there.
http://www.nisanandsonsmonuments.com – Artistic designs of monuments and memorials
Only the victors write the history : wrote Caesar ; and of course he was right ;
The South never enjoyed a “Marshall plan ” after the war ;
Had they enjoyed a bail out some of the real social and criminal damage of Reconstruction and Jim crow would have never been so culturally entrenched.
Beggared by war ;and then raped of their land and industry by mostly crooked unionists who used the black man as his political proxy; Reconstruction set into motion a bitterness and a political hatred with a deep distrust of the north and of a crooked Washington that aided and abetted the abuse that is still very much alive today
Im going out on a limb here and say
Much more of Mississippi’s historic structures were lost during this period simply due to neglect and lack of funds ;than was ever lost in the war.
When Shermans bronze equestrian statue was set in front of the Plaza Hotel at central park ;
it would be another 25 years before the first confederate statue (1904 ?) Would be erected by the daughters of the Confederacy whose fathers were passing away with no memorial to call their own.
In the victorious North it was the Belle Epoque for public sculpture ; while in the conquered south
There was no carpet bag official support for any such extravagance or nonsense .
The confederate statue ; of which every town had to have one ; was cut and fabricated at a quarry in Stone Mountain Ga ; by a sculptor whose name escapes me at this writing(Thompson?) . There are four basic designs ; with a few unique ones .
Grenada for instance has a very fine bust of jeff Davis set within its obelisk ; Corinth has the only zinc confederate soldier statue i know of ;Jackson of course has the life size jeff Davis within its base ; there are others ;but the only real difference is the pose of the soldier and according to experts some of the weaponry was not all that accurate either .Many of them have and legends of gold pieces .Having taken a few of them apart i can assure you that an unprotected bible and masonic compass do not hold up well to oxidation ;
as far as gold; we never found any……. but thats what they all say
Michael Drummomnd Davidson
is a scottish Trained stonemason and a hands on conservator for the Mississippi Stone Guild
he lives in MS, wife Belinda and daugheter Mary (aka peanut)