Friends of the Vicksburg National Military Park dedicate Lamar McMillin Civil War Library

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Dr. Lamar McMillin’s career was medicine, but his passion was history, preservation and architecture.

He restored the house he and his wife Carol lived in, the Mary Harwood House on Fort Hill Drive, and he was in the process of restoring the former Fleckstein-Coccaro grocery on Martin Luther King Boulevard, also known as Catherine’s Palace, at the time of his death in 2018.

But the Civil War may have been his biggest passion. After retiring from his medical practice, McMillin was a guide at the Vicksburg National Military Park and during his life assembled a collection of brochures, books and maps on the Civil War. When he died, his family knew there was only one location worthy of Dr. McMillin’s collection — the offices of the Friends of the Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign.

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Thursday evening, the Friends dedicated the Lamar McMillin Civil War Library during a ceremony and reception at the Friends offices on Grove Street.

“If you knew Lamar, you knew he was an avid historian and a serious reader, which is why we had collected all these books,” Carol McMillin told the estimated 20 people attending the dedication.

“Living in Vicksburg certainly intensified Lamar’s love of Civil War history,” she said, adding McMillin  “absolutely loved giving tours through the Military Park.”

She said he also made it his mission to visit other Civil war battlefields, focusing first on the ones on which his great-grandfather fought.

McMillin also joined Civil War organizations, including the American Battlefield Trust, the Civil War Preservation Trust, The Center for Civil War Photography and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, attending most of the organizations’ conferences and seminars.

“Wherever he traveled, he bought books,” Carol McMillin said. “Lots, lots.”

When he died, she said, the family “knew needed to find a good home for his collection and indeed we have found it. I hope many of you will be able to use his collection and moreover, Lamar would approve.”

Bess Averett, executive director of the Friends of the Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign, said the library has already had visitors — some park rangers and interns from the park have used it for research.

“It’s an amazing collection and a true gift that the family would share it with the public,” Averett said.

“We are so excited to have access to this collection,” park Superintendent Carrie Mardorf said. “It’s not only going to be great for the park staff but also students, interns, (licensed) park guides, contractors. There’s a wealth of information. Thank you for availing it to us.”

“I am just delighted that Lamar’s family appreciates so much what we have here,” said attorney and Friends member Mack Varner. “I knew Lamar; he was a wonderful historian and loved Vicksburg to death. It’s impressive that the family has donated his incredible collection of books to the Friends of the Vicksburg National Military Park.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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