Thursday, October 26, 2005
Jim Thomas serves as narrator for Van Dorn History Tour
On December 20, 1862, the most important thing to ever happen here occurred -- Confederate General Earl Van Dorn’s raid on our town. He destroyed millions of dollars worth of northern supplies and prolonged the capture of Vicksburg six months.
Northern General U.S. Grant was in Oxford that night and he was so chagrined about being soundly defeated in Holly Springs that he “forgot” to mention it in his memoirs.
However the officers were required by law to write all details and they were published in books in 1913 but Van Dorn’s Raid is missing. Van Dorn was assassinated four months after the raid.
We did have a fantastic tour of the raid on Saturday, October 14. Narrator Jim Thomas gave us the historical account of the square and the Presbyterian Church where Grant kept his horses. Then we went to Chelius Carter’s house where he reiterated what happened there. Walter Place was visited where Jorja Lynn told the incredible history of the house, about General Grant living here with his wife, his child and their slave, Jule. Grant was fighting to free everybody else’s slaves but he, himself, owned four.
Bobby Mitchell was the narrator at our sculpture garden cemetery tour and told fascinating tales of the generals and Confederate soldiers buried there.
From there, we traveled to the Depot where Garrie Colhoun recounted the true stories of the Civil War that happened here. Next a Mississippi lunch of barbecue and Jeff Davis pie (Jeff’s favorite) was enjoyed at General Featherston’s house. Musicians Eddie and Alice Long played and sang Civil War songs during our repast. Hosts Jorja and Michael Lynn let us use their gardens and historic house, which was built in 1840.
After lunch, we sojourned to the fairgrounds where Van Dorn’s first encounter here took place and then the Confederate Foundry-Armory site was visited. At majestic, grand Airliewood, owner Joe Overstreet told us how Grant used his house as his headquarters and soldiers were camped in pup tents all over the yard. Next we visited the northern campsite where literally thousands of soldiers had camped and dug trenches, which some were still there and Garrie told us the stories.
The Sylvestria Road was next on our agenda. This road has an incredible history of one plantation after another where the first white settlers of the county lived. Mr. Swan, a Yankee from Ohio, read us very interesting stories of his grandfather’s letters written when he was in Grant’s army along this road. It made the hair on your head stand up and sent shivers down your spine.
From here we traveled to Davis Mill where David Miller reiterated the history. Davis Mill is so historic that it is on the National Historic Register but someone has stolen the sign. The beech trees there have carvings on them that the northern soldiers carved with their bayonets. Only two of the trees are left. The Indian Mound is still here, grown up with weeds to protect it.
Last stop was the Hudsonville Presbyterian Church where the northern soldiers camped and wrote their names and companies on the gallery. Also there is a little cemetery where two world champions are buried.
We ate GORP on the way home. (A small snack for your traveling pocket made of nuts, cereal, candy, dried fruit. Mmm good.) The weather was a perfect day in beautiful October sunshine. It was a day made to order.
A capacity busload enjoyed every minute of it and I don’t know that it will ever be repeated.
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