Civil War center gets $3M boost

By Jane Clark Summers

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

WASHINGTON - The U.S. House and Senate have approved an additional $3.06 million for construction of a Civil War Interpretative Center in Corinth.

The bill now goes to President Bush to be signed into law, according to Rep. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss.

With this latest funding, federal grants for the project total about $9 million. Congress previously approved $6 million for planning, design and beginning construction work for the interpretive center, which will be located at Battery Robinett.

The 20-acre park marks the site of the 1862 Battle of Corinth and highlights the importance of Corinth's strategic location as a key rail center and gateway to the Western theatre of operations. The property, which was deeded to the park service by the city of Corinth, will become the Corinth Unit of the Shiloh National Military Park.

Legislation authorizing the funding also makes the historic battlefield site part of the National Park Service. Adding the Corinth battlefield to the National Park Service will provide additional safeguards and help insure that the site will be preserved.

Wicker, who serves on the Appropriations Committee, said the facility will help preserve the history of one of the key battlegrounds in the early part of the Civil War.

"Corinth was at the crossroads of vital east-west and north-south rail lines in 1862," Wicker said. "This interpretive center will provide a more complete and in-depth picture of the events surrounding this strategically important chapter in our nation's history."

The Siege and Battle of Corinth is also significant because it was the first place where earth works were used as field fortifications in combat.

The Siege and Battle of Corinth Commission, which was formed in 1993 and charged with preserving the historic battlefield sites, is the moving force behind efforts to construct the interpretative center.

Commission Chairman Rosemary Williams said the commission evolved from a task force that served from 1991 to 1993. The task force was instrumental in gaining National Historic Landmark status for 16 sites in Alcorn County, including several antebellum homes that served as headquarters for officers stationed in Corinth in1862 and several battlefield sites.

Tourism development through the interpretative center and National Park Service status will have a great economic impact on the community, Williams said. "It will also create new business opportunities to provide services for the visitors," she said.

"The economic impact of the National Park Service coming here with the interpretative center will be equivalent to a major industry moving into town," said Jon Hill, commission treasurer.

The Civil War Interpretative is expected to attract 100,000 visitors annually.

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