Ground broken for Kentucky Monument

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 23, 2000

Russ Hatter, left, and David Goins, right, unveil the site Saturday for the new Kentucky monument that will be completed by Oct. 20, 2001. The monument is the last of the state monuments to be dedicated in the Vicksburg National Military Park. (The Vicksburg Post/PAT SHANNAHAN)

Ground from the graves of two Kentuckians who took part in the Vicksburg Campaign of the Civil War was spread across the site of a future monument as part of a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday.

The Kentucky monument will be construct on the site near Fort Garrott in the Vicksburg National Military Park over the next year with plans for a dedication ceremony on Oct. 20, 2001.

“Whenever a person visits here, that person will be walking on the soil of Kentucky,” said Lewis Hughes.

Hughes is the curator of Historic Sites for the City of Frankfort, Ky., and was one of about 200 people on hand for the ceremony. He said that the two men who will forever be a part of that memorial were soldiers who would have disagreed profoundly.

One of the two men, John T. Blakeman, was a Kentucky farmer who fought in Vicksburg in 1862 and in Jackson in 1863. He served in a gray uniform with the 4th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry for the Confederate States Army.

The other, Elisha B. Treadway, was a carpenter from Kentucky who was wounded in May 1863 in fighting at Vicksburg. He served opposite his fellow statesman in a blue uniform with the 7th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry for the United State Army.

“Perhaps no other state in the Union serves to represent both the heartache and horrors of the war,” said Kentucky State Rep. Barbara Colter.

The monument that will be built for Kentucky will represent both sides of the Civil War. The bronze sculpture will feature statues of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis standing on a paved plaza as they are about to shake hands.

The Union and Confederate presidents depicted in the monument were born in Kentucky within 100 miles of each other and less than one year apart. They ended up serving on opposing sides of the Civil War as presidents of the two nations.

“This will be a memorial to all Kentuckians,” Colter said.

Kentucky is the last of the 28 states that had citizens participating in the 47-day siege of Vicksburg in 1863 to place a monument in the park. The site was designated for the monument when the park was created by Congress in 1899, but has remained empty for 101 years.

That void was noted by Kentuckian Sarah Ann Bowers when she visited the park more than two years ago.

“I was saddened that Kentucky was not represented here,” Bowers said.

That sentiment led her on a campaign to place a monument from her home state on the battlefield where more than 10,000 Kentucky soldiers fought. Often she passed a large red hat with a red, white and blue ribbon around the room at gatherings to collect money to fund the memorial.

“Kentucky should have been the first here, not the last,” Bowers said.

The first memorial in the park was that of Massachusetts, erected in 1903, and the most recent was Tennessee’s in 1996.

In the early years of the park, veterans regularly gathered there to remember the bloody struggle. Today, about 1 million visitors tour the park each year.