Jim Campi, Media
Director for the Civil War Preservation Trusts, announces:
Monument – Grant’s Canal
After years of work and waiting,
Connecticut will have a monument in the Vicksburg National Military
It will be a tribute to the men of
the 9th Connecticut Regiment Volunteers — known as the Irish
Regiment — who, in the summer of 1862, dug Grant's Canal across
Louisiana's DeSoto peninsula so Union ships could bypass Vicksburg
and its Confederate guns.
Long denied a place at the military
park because of the timing of their service, the 9th's monument will
come to fruition in October.
National Park Service workers
recently broke ground at the monument site, across the river near
Delta, La., where traces of Grant's Canal remain. The canal was
begun in June 1862 and abandoned the following January after several
The 9th was there for two months.
About 150 men from the regiment died from malaria, dysentery and
One of them, John Marlow of New
Haven, was the great-great-grandfather of Bob Larkin, a Cheshire
resident who has worked for nearly 10 years to see a memorial at the
park for the men of the 9th.
"It's been tiring but very rewarding
because of my ancestor," Larkin said in a recent phone interview,
shortly after the centerpiece of the Connecticut monument was
unveiled in a Hartford ceremony by Gov. M. Jodi Rell. "I found a lot
of other people with ancestors who were in Vicksburg that are
interested in history and were anxious to see some mention of what
they went through. They weren't at the final battlefield and siege,
but they were there the year before."
The monument to the 9th's efforts is
black granite and comprises a base, a center panel winged by two
side pieces and two benches. The centerpiece is nearly 9 feet tall
and weighs 5,827 pounds. Mounted on the side pieces are bronze
plaques, one in the shape of the state of Connecticut. The plaques
tell the history of the 9th, which also saw action in Baton Rouge
and New Orleans.
Vicksburg National Military Park
historian Terry Winschel was at Grant's Canal recently as work
progressed on the site, a quiet, flat, grassy area fringed with
"The monument's center panel has
laser etchings of the soldiers, including some of the faces of the
men who worked on the canal," he said. "The black granite stone is
The pieces will be assembled and rest
on a concrete plaza, which will include a central area in the shape
of the state of Connecticut with its counties shown in different
colors, Winschel said.
Nearby, a series of metal tablets and
information markers already line the path and tell the story of
Grant's Canal, remnants of which are just beyond the site on the
2.56 acre property. Other units besides the 9th also worked on the
canal, as well as about 500 slaves mustered from nearby plantations.
"This will open a whole new chapter
of interpretation for us," Winschel said.
The area will not be manned, but is
included on park maps and in the latest edition of park brochures
being printed as the site work gets underway.
In its initial establishment of the
Vicksburg National Military Park, Congress authorized monuments for
the 28 states with units that fought in the 1863 campaign and siege
of Vicksburg, Winschel said. All 28 of those states have erected
Because the 9th Connecticut worked on
Grant's Canal during the summer of 1862, separate legislation was
required to expand the park's province.
Passed in 1990, the bill authorized
memorials for two additional states, Vermont and Connecticut, which
served in the 1862 campaign, and to accept the donation of the land.
Vermont has not yet accepted its invitation.
Winschel praised Larkin and the
committee that worked to see the Connecticut monument become a
"It's been a very time-consuming
process. Also very expensive. I have no idea what the cost of the
monument was. All the funds were raised privately," he said. The
Knights of Columbus and the Connecticut Commission on Culture and
Tourism were among the project's benefactors.
Larkin said the 9th was called "the
Irish Regiment" because many of the men were first-generation
Irish-Americans or immigrants. The website of the Connecticut
Irish-American Historical Society prominently features the 9th and
its Vicksburg monument and puts the estimate for the cost at
$60,000, a figure Larkin confirmed.
The official dedication ceremony will
be Oct. 14 at the Grant's Canal site.
The Connecticut monument will bring
the park's total to 1,332, making it "one of the most densely
monumented battlefields in all the world," Winschel said.
In recent weeks a number of
preservation and restoration projects have taken place at the park,
including replacing markers commemorating Col. T.N. Waul's Texas
Legion's defense positions and moving monuments honoring Illinois
artillery units and Union Col. Adolph Engelman inside park
"When Connecticut was not invited to
place a monument at Vicksburg’s National Military Park, they put in
a beautiful monument to the 9th overlooking the harbor in New
Haven," Larkin said.
"This was in 1903. Two months later,
the first monument was dedicated at Vicksburg, the Massachusetts
monument. I'm sure if we'd been invited back in 1899 or 1900
Connecticut might have been first.
"But it's finally happening in
Vicksburg." Terry Winschel will be our speaker in April 2009.
October Tom Dillard Infrastructure
of Arkansas During the Civil War
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