J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “antebellum”

Annual Pilgrimages

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One of my favorite things about living in the South was attending pilgrimages. Several take place in Mississippi each year, including Natchez, Aberdeen, and Holy Springs. These events typically occur during the month of April. It is an amazing experience to participate in one of these pilgrimages and see what it was like to live in the antebellum South. Pilgrimages attract people from all over the world.

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My own personal experience included serving as a docent at one of the beautiful mansions in Holly Springs. This small town was spared when Union General Grant decided it was too pretty to burn. One of the majestic homes served as his headquarters during his invasion into Mississippi leading up to the Battles of Iuka and Corinth in 1862.

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As a tour guide, I had the privilege of learning about one of the spectacular houses in Holly Springs, including its previous owners. Holly Springs is a favorite location for those wishing to see a glimpse of the past as displayed in the grand old mansions. Most of the homes, built in the 1850’s, have been restored to their original grandeur. Besides the home tour, a special service is held in the cemetery to honor fallen Confederate soldiers who are buried there, and a tour of slave shacks is also included.

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Magnolias and moonlit nights add to the romance, as do belles dressed in ball gowns and horse-drawn carriages parading through the streets. Pilgrimages are an excellent way to experience the past while living in the present, and see what true Southern beauty represents.

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The Civil War and Memphis

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Anyone interested in the War Between the States knows that Memphis is the site of many historically significant events. Tennessee ranks second in the number of battles that took place there (Virginia, of course, had the most). It isn’t surprising that, over the course of over 150 years, many places have disappeared beneath strip malls, golf courses, or kudzu. Some, however, still remain intact.

One of the most notable places is Elmwood Cemetery, where Nathan Bedford Forrest’s family is buried. (Historian and author, Shelby Foote, is interred beside them, and General Forrest is now buried at Forrest Park.) Also in the cemetery are numerous slave’s graves, Confederate soldiers’ graves, and victims of the 1878 yellow fever epidemic.

Jefferson Davis Park, on the banks of the Mississippi River, and Confederate Park nearby, both escaped flooding this spring. Many antebellum homes, including the beautiful Hunt-Phelan House, still exist, as does evidence left over from battles, such as a street sign marking Union General Washburn’s escape from General Forrest’s cavalry forces. A home that was part of the Underground Railroad still stands on North 2nd Street, and the Memphis newspaper, The Commercial Appeal, is still in publication. (During the war, the press was moved several times to avoid capture. The Commercial Appeal now publishes Civil War news every Sunday)

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