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Civil War Event - Corinth, Mississippi

Permission to post granted by Kay Jorgensen, The Civil War News

New Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center To Open July 24

By Rosemary T. Williams
The Civil War News
July 2004 CORINTH, Miss. — For six months in 1862, Corinth contained the most significant 22-square-feet of real estate in the western theater, the critical junction of major east-west and north-south railways.

As Henry Halleck wrote to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton on May 18: “Richmond and Corinth are now the great strategical points of the war and our success at these points should be insured at all hazards.” The campaign for Corinth would be highlighted by the April Battle of Shiloh, a month-long siege by three advancing Union armies, and not be finally resolved until a failed Confederate attempt to retake the town the following October.

One hundred and forty two years later, designation of 16 local sites as the Siege and Battle of Corinth National Historic Landmark affirmed the national significance of Corinth’s Civil War heritage. Today, just west of the still active railroad junction, construction is well underway on a major Civil War Interpretive Center designed as the focal point for visitors and residents alike to discover this rich history.

The need for such a center became obvious in the early 1990s when new suburban development threatened to destroy the city’s historic Battery F earthwork. The interpretive center project was championed by the Siege and Battle of Corinth Commission, a joint city-county entity formed to promote Civil War preservation and interpretation at all levels.

Success came in 1996 with Congressional action authorizing a major facility to interpret “the Siege and Battle of Corinth and other Civil War actions in the region.” As the initial contact/orientation point for the newly established Corinth Unit of Shiloh National Military Park, the center will both enhance public understanding and encourage visitors to explore the area’s many surviving Civil War resources.

National Park Service studies predict the 12,000-foot interpretive center will bring over 250,000 visitors to Corinth each year. The new building’s architecture reflects both the scale and character of Corinth’s Civil War story.

Its contemporary design incorporates earth berming, which not only mimics the area’s many earthwork features, but also provides energy conservation. Exterior and interior finishes feature brick and textured concrete. Inside, large timber framing contributes to an historic ambience, while liberal use of wood in wall paneling, exhibits, and display cases will provide a softening counterpoint to the brick and concrete.

Over 5,000-square-feet of interior exhibits will explore several key themes: the causes and coming of the Civil War; early use of railroads for military purposes; development of offensive earthworks as a prototype for modern warfare; key military events in northern Mississippi and southwest Tennessee; and the war’s impact on civilians, especially the story of Corinth’s model Corinth Contraband Camp, which served as an important first step to freedom for many self-emancipated and liberated former slaves.

These exhibits incorporate a variety of media including interactive devices, audio/visual programs, full-scale models and statuary. A unique water feature in the large open courtyard to the rear will chronicle the American story from the Declaration of Independence. and Constitution through westward expansion to secession, war, and reunion. The center, scheduled to open July 24, will also include a major Civil War bookstore and an 80-seat auditorium.

In addition to the state-of-the-art Civil War Interpretive Center, visitors to Corinth may visit the city’s historic district to view the rail crossing from a new Trailhead Park where 20 miles of hiking and biking trails lead to Civil War landmark sites. These landmarks represent some of the largest and best preserved field fortifications from the early war period in the United States. So far, more than 800 acres have been preserved. The sites are easily found with directional signage and interpretive exhibits. Maps are also available for self-guided driving and downtown walking tours.

The Contraband Camp Commemorative Park will begin Phase I construction soon and open late in the summer. The site will also be dedicated on July 24. The 1-acre site is a part of the original camp, which was home to 6,519 former slaves by 1863.

The Corinth Contraband Camp Park site dedication ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. on North Parkway in Corinth. The Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center opening ceremony will be held at 1:30 p.m.

Leading national, state and National Park Service friends along with preservation leaders, the Corinth Symphony Orchestra, Opera singer Jane Redding Merrero, and the 5th Alabama Regimental Band will be on the program. The public is invited to attend. For more information please call (731) 689-5275.

Chair, Siege and Battle of Corinth Commission

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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