To me the Illinois State Memorial is the most beautiful monument in our Vicksburg National Military Park. This picture was taken on July 3, 2013 of the Sesquicentennial Grand Illumination by park officials. For some reason they had this blocked off so you could not ride pass it. It has a turn-a-round but guessing that it would have been a bottle-neck if they had let through traffic. When I took the two-hour tour you could see it but could not get close enough to take a decent picture. I'm sharing this with you because I think it is awesome!
Some Facts: The Illinois State Memorial is located on Union Avenue at milepost 1.8, tour stop #2. Dedicated on October 26, 1906, the monument was transferred to the United States by Governor C. S. Deneen and accepted by J. S. Schofield of the United States War Department. It was erected by the firm of Culver Construction Company with William B. Mundie contracting the designers and sculptors. The design was by W. L. B. Jenney and sculptor was Charles J. Mulligan.
Stone Mountain (GA) granite forms the base and stairway. Above the base is Georgia white marble. There are forty-seven steps in the long stairway, one for each day of the Siege of Vicksburg. Modeled after the Roman Pantheon, the monument has sixty unique bronze tablets lining its interior walls, naming all 36,325 Illinois soldiers who participated in the Vicksburg Campaign. The monument stands sixty-two feet in height, and originally coast $194,423.92, paid by the state of Illinois.
On this evening, 150 years ago, history was forever changed as the decision to surrender Vicksburg was made. On this hallowed ground, soldiers battled for their beliefs, their nation and their lives. The course of the Civil War and the course of the nation changed forever, but not before 19,233 were killed, wounded or missing. The memory of their deeds and legacy remain on the battlefield. Tonight, we honor those casualties on their anniversary.
Today, the Vicksburg National Military Park serves as a memorial and a symbol of healing and reconciliation of a nation. Hundreds of thousands of visitors come each year to explore the place that transformed America as we know it today. It offers lessons in leadership and sacrifice. It offers inspiration and understanding. Its land is hallowed by the blood of Americans willing to pay the ultimate price for a greater cause.
Dating back to the American Revolution, one of the greatest honors a community could render was conducting a Grand Illumination. Throughout the Civil War there were stories of "illuminations" including one of the largest recorded in Washington D.C. only five days after the end of the War. Communities would rally to simultaneously light up a town or specific area to honor a cause or loss.
In honor of the Sesquicentennial, hundreds of businesses and individuals have joined the Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park to pay tribute to the souls of the Civil War casualties at Vicksburg by sponsoring and volunteering to light the luminaries. Each one of the 19,233 glowing lights you see tonight represents a human life.
Luminaries representing men who were killed, wounded, or missing are placed at the state memorials - one luminary for each soldier from that state who was a casualty. Of the 19,233 casualties, records could not determine the exact location of 2,223 men. The 2,228 confirmed casualties that would not be identified by state are dispersed throughout the Grand Illumination in yellow bags to mark then as confirmed, but unidentified casualties. No site has less then 100 luminaries. The traditional white bag luminaries represent confirmed casualties honored at their state memorial. In addition to state monuments, several sites were selected to honor other casualties including the U. S. Colored Troops and the C.S. River Batteries.
A very special evening to honor those noble Americans for their bravery and their sacrifice.
If you would like to see pictures I posted of the tour on July 4, click here.