Kentucky contingent coming for monument dedication

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 15, 2001

Carpenter Construction owner Larry Carpenter, right, lays concrete pavers at the Kentucky Monument in the Vicksburg National Military Park. At left, Carpenter Construction employee Sam Chase sweeps sand off the concrete loop.(The Vicksburg Post/FRED MESSINA)

[10/15/01]Kentuckians will invade Vicksburg once again, but this time all of them will be welcome.

The last time a contingent of people from the Commonwealth of Kentucky came to Vicksburg n in 1863 n only some of them were welcome. Some of the Kentuckians were wearing Confederate gray and they would have been welcomed as fellow defenders of the city from siege. The other Kentuckians arrived, wearing Union blue and were with Gen. U.S. Grant’s Union army.

The latest invasion from Kentucky will arrive this week to participate in the dedication of the last monument in the Vicksburg National Military Park. That monument will be dedicated to the memory of the some 3,000 Kentucky soldiers who served on both sides during the Campaign for Vicksburg.

The monument is being built in a spot on the South Loop set aside for Kentucky’s monument when the park was created in 1899. It measures 40 feet by 40 feet and lists the Kentucky regiments that served at Vicksburg, and standing, life-sized figures of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. Both were born in Kentucky.

When final inspections were complete, park employees began the landscaping.

“We’ll plant some rye grass to soften the rather raw look for the dedication,” said Bill Nichols, park superintendent.

The dedication is planned for next weekend.

The delegation from Kentucky is planning to begin arriving in Vicksburg Thursday with at least five busloads of people. The headquarters will be at the Vicksburg Inn and Conference Center on Clay Street across from the park.

After touring the city, the Kentucky Vicksburg Monument Association will have a recognition program at the Vicksburg Convention Center from 6 until 7:30 p.m. Friday that is free and open to the public.

Tom Fugate, project coordinator with the Kentucky Civil War Sites Preservation Program, said the Clay County High School Choir and Saxton’s Cornet Band will provide the music.

“The band plays 19th-century music on 19th-century instruments and wears 19th-century costumes,” he said.

He said the musical program will consist of songs recognized as anthems of the United States in Civil War times such as “Hail Columbia,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” “Dixie” and “The Star Spangled Banner” using 19th-century arrangements.

Also on the program is a short debate between presidents Lincoln and Davis presented by two historians who regularly portray the two Civil War presidents, Fugate said.

This will be followed by the presentation of awards to Kentuckians who helped move the monument project along and to some local residents who helped.

The dedication will be at 11 a.m. Saturday and is open to the public.

At 8 that night, the Kentuckians will host a ball at the convention center, which is also free and open to the public.

Fugate said Saxton’s band will provide the music, and many of the participants from Kentucky will attend in Civil War uniforms and 19th-century clothing. Vicksburg residents planning to attend may wear other suitable evening wear.

Fugate said Gov. Paul E. Patton had hoped to attend, but he will be at an economic conference in Germany that weekend. The Kentucky adjutant general will stand in for the governor to accept the monument for the people of Kentucky and present it to the park. Rep. Barbara White Colter, a member of the Kentucky Legislature and the monument sponsor, will speak in Patton’s place.

Others planning to attend include Dan and Alice Lee, former residents of Vicksburg and a former superintendent of the park, and Sarah Ann Bowers of Glasgow Ky., the person credited with getting the drive started to erect a Kentucky monument, Fugate said.

Fugate said the commonwealth provided $250,000 of the final $260,000 cost of the monument and the dedication events.