Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Florida Monument at Vicksburg, Mississippi


Located a bit off the beaten path, the Florida Monument is often overlooked by visitors to Mississippi's outstanding Vicksburg National Military Park.

Florida troops did not hold sections of the lines at Vicksburg, but were part of the Army of Relief organized by General Joseph E. Johnston in a futile effort to break the siege of the vital city. The 1st and 3rd Florida Infantry Regiments (consolidated), commanded by Colonel W.S. Dilworth, and the 4th Florida Infantry, commanded by Colonel Edward Badger served in Stovall's Brigade of Breckenridge's Division.

In addition, the following Confederate generals from Florida took part in the Vicksburg Campaign...

Brigadier General Francis L. Shoup commanded a section of the Confederate lines ringing the city. Although he had been born and raised in Indiana, Shoup left his home state for St. Augustine, Florida, when it became apparent that war was approaching. He was commissioned as a lieutenant by the governor but due to his background and intelligence, quickly rose through the ranks. He served with great courage at Shiloh and was recognized for his service there with a promotion to brigadier general in 1862.

Major General W.W. Loring, affectionately called "Old Blizzards" by his men, commanded fortifications on the Yazoo River north of Vicksburg prior to the main siege. With only 3 cannon and 1,500 men, he drove a Union attempt to advance on Vicksburg via the Yazoo. Cut off from the city itself, he joined his men with General Joe Johnston's Army of Relief. He had served three years in the Florida Legislature before the war.

Major General Martin L. Smith, the chief engineer of the Cedar Keys & Fernandina Railroad from 1856 to 1861, was the man who designed most of the massive fortifications that defended Vicksburg. He twice drove back Union forces attacking the city and commanded a division during the final siege.

The Florida Monument at Vicksburg was erected by Florida's United Daughters of the Confederacy at a cost of $5,000. It stands on South Confederate Avenue on property that the National Military Park deeded back to the City of Vicksburg. The best way to find it is to exit from Interstate 20 at Exit 1A and turn north on Washington Street. The first right will be Frontage Road. Take Frontage Road to South Confederate Avenue and turn left. The monument is on the left near the intersection of South Confederate and Mulva Hill Street.

To learn more about the Battle of Vicksburg, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/vicksburg1.

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