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Twister topples Rhode Island’s war statue in Mississippi

A recent tornado in Mississippi damaged one of the monuments dedicated to Union soldiers who fought in the Civil War.

Posted: May 4, 2019 3:49 PM

VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) — A recent tornado in Mississippi damaged one of the monuments dedicated to Union soldiers who fought in the Civil War.

Now, a group is trying to raise about $15,000 to repair the 111-year-old Rhode Island Memorial in the Vicksburg National Military Park.

“We had a donor come forward to pay half and direct a dollar-per-dollar match for any donor that comes forward and donates specifically for the cause,” Bess Averett, director of Friends of the Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign, told the Vicksburg Post.

The memorial honors the 7th Rhode Island Infantry, the only regiment from the state that participated in the Vicksburg Campaign of 1862-63. It includes a bronze statue depicting an infantryman who has picked up a fallen flag.

Three tornadoes struck Warren County, Mississippi, on April 13. Vicksburg National Military Park Superintendent Bill Justice said one of them toppled the Rhode Island statue.

“We need to lift the statue out of the dirt and take a close look at it to see if there was any damage to the statue itself as it was pulled off,” Justice said. “There’s a great deal of masonry work to be done; there was some damage to the stone, and there was a stone cap that was pulled off after that

“We have to do some work with that, and then we have to properly reset all of that and the statue on top of it.”

He said plans are to have workers from the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Training Center in Maryland make the repairs. Workers from the center were in in the Vicksburg National Military Park in spring 2018 to work on the Mississippi Monument.

“They are the best at it in the entire country, so we rely heavily on them,” Justice said.

The national military park memorializes the battle for Vicksburg, whose location by the Mississippi River made it vital for shipping and moving supplies. The Vicksburg Campaign started in 1862, and the Union Army held the city under siege for 47 days starting in late March 1863. The Confederate Army surrendered Vicksburg on July 4, 1863.

The park is one of the top tourist attractions in Mississippi. It is home to monuments erected by states that sent troops to fight at Vicksburg, a monument dedicated in 2003 to African Americans who served in the Vicksburg Campaign and an ironclad gunboat called the U.S.S. Cairo.

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