BALDWYN, Miss. — Brice’s Crossroads National Battlefield has gotten bigger in recent days.
Hoyle Palmer sold 80 acres of land where African-American troops fought, and David and Martha Charlwood sold 13 acres located at the heart of the 1864 battle.
At the request of the Brice’s Crossroads National Battlefield Commission, the property was purchased by the Civil War Trust and the American Battlefield Protection Program.
“The 80-acre site is where the 55th and 59th Infantry made stands to hold the Confederate forces back while the Union Army was able to retreat,” said Edwina Carpenter, director of Mississippi’s Final Stands Interpretive Center. “The 2nd Artillery was also there.”
The 55th, 59th and 2nd were comprised of African-American troops. The interpretive center has plans to develop the site to tell their stories.
“We’ve had descendants of black soldiers who fought here who are interested in learning more about the battle and more about the actions their ancestors did here,” Carpenter said.
The center will request funding from grants, and Carpenter said she also hopes the soldiers’ descendants will contribute to the interpretive efforts.
Mallie Fitzgerald, assistant director of the center, said they are hoping to collect a database of black troops, “so visitors can check the database to see if their family members fought here.”
“We’re still gathering information for the database,” Carpenter said.
The Charlwood’s property is adjacent to the Brice House, where Union generals Grierson and Sturgis stayed. The family will have access to the house on the property for about a year.
“It will eventually be torn down,” Carpenter said, “as will all the other structures on the battlefield that are not period-appropriate.”
The acquisitions mean roughly 1,500 acres of the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads have been preserved. The center also interprets the Battle of Tupelo/Harrisburg, and there’s a 12-acre site on Mount Vernon Road.
Before the two recent purchases, the sites had to be researched to prove they were significant to the battle. Other tracts of land could be included in the future, but the focus is on developing the current sites.
The center also is developing its “They Served Here” exhibit, a collection of firsthand accounts from Confederate and Union officers and enlisted men.
“We’re interested in the stories of everyone who fought here,” Carpenter said.
The center is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.
Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com