Civil War Photo Contest
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- Feb 23, 2013
- East Texas
The Texas Monument at Vicksburg near the Railroad Redoubt held by Waul's Texas Legion.
In response to a discussion in another thread of Texas' red granite and its use for everything from the Texas Capitol building in Austin to humbler state monuments, I'll share with you a little of this history as it applies to the various kinds of Civil War-related markers and monuments that may be seen today both within and outside the state.
In 1936, Texas celebrated its Centennial of separation from Mexico and at that time quite a few of these large gray granite monumental markers were placed in various historic spots throughout the state, some of which were Civil War-related like Sabine Pass. This particular example stands in a floodplain between current Tyler and Canton where the peaceful village of Cherokee led by their seuptegenarian Chief Bowles was massacred ( and the wounded chief murdered ) by Texas forces who wanted nothing less than to drive all Indians out of Texas. These Centennial markers are unremarkable other than for their size, and though handsome with their separately-applied bronze stars, give disappointingly little detail about whatever happened wherever they may be found. In this particular case, maybe that's a good thing!
By the time of the Civil War Centennial in 1961, the use of pink granite had become the norm, and monuments such as these graced many courthouse lawns like this one in Sulphur Springs, which commemorates a local Confederate "general" W. H. King, who was one of Gen. E. Kirby Smith's appointees who was never confirmed in the grade by the Confederate Congress. Most, like the one below, say something like Upshur County, C.S.A., and recount the area's Civil War history. Erected during the Centennial, they are far more informative than their gray predecessors a quarter-century before.
When it came time to place battlefield monuments commemorating the service of their soldiers, the South, including Texas, with its depressed economy lagged far behind the North. I have previously mentioned in a thread on Chickamauga how only a select few early battlefield parks recieved the proverbial lion's share of state markers, tablets, memorials, and monuments. With a very few notable exceptions like the Virginia, North Carolina, and Alabama monuments at Gettysburg, Southern states largely placed the few they could afford at Vicksburg; during the immediate post-war period Texas placed NO battlefield monuments.
With the Oil Boom of the 1930's and improved economy of WWII and postwar, Texas' outlook improved a great deal. By the time of the Civil War Centennial it was decided by the Texas Civil War Centennial Comission to correct the neglect of the battlefields fought on by her soldiery. The small and simple pink granite monuments like that above were placed on battlefields from Gettysburg throughout Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana, and all other states where Texans had fought. I have seen them on large fields like Chickamauga to small ones like Mansfield, La. They have continued to be placed, like the one above on the relatively new parkland at Raymond, Mississippi, detailing the action of John Gregg's 7th Texas in that small battle. Though reasonably small, standing only about 6ft. in height, they are for that reason usually concise, listing all the Texas units in the particular battle and a general outline of their action, utilizing both front and back of the slab.
The single exception to this is the large and handsome pink granite Texas State Monument at Vicksburg, Miss., pictured here and at the head of this thread. Apparantly the Centennial Comission decided to splurge on this one exception and create something worthy to accompany the many other large and impressive state monuments here. ( Though even this effort is dwarfed by that of the gigantic Illinois "temple"! ) This stands in the area of the Railroad Redoubt defended by Waul's Texas Legion in the assault of May 22, 1863, and was completed in time for the centennial of the siege. Of interest to collectors of period weapons is the inclusion of a M.1855 rifle as the armament of the redoubtable bronze Texan!
Completing this "monumental" survey is this example of the most common type of historical marker found within the state, simple alluminum tablets, signs, and plaques of varying sizes. This particular one stands in a roadside Park in Hopkins County and details the travails of Confederate Refugees, including Louisiana memorialist Kate Stone, who spent time near here before moving on to more hospitable Tyler.