Raymond Battlefield:
Named in Top Ten Most Endangered Battlefields

by Rebecca Blackwell Drake
Hinds County Gazette, March 15, 2001

The Civil War Preservation Trust, the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States, recently named the Raymond Battlefield as one of the ten most endangered Civil War battlefields in America. The announcement was made on February 27, 2001 in Washington, D.C.

Present for the news conference was Edwin C. Bearss, former historian for the Vicksburg National Military Park and Chief Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service, and James Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Preservation Trust. For almost four decades, Bearss has been nationally recognized as the foremost historian regarding the Battle of Raymond.

The purpose of the Civil War Preservation Trust is to protect America's endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation and stewardship of the hallowed grounds through education and heritage tourism. Their goal is to preserve at least 2,000 acres of battlefield land annually through outright purchases, conservation easements and partnerships with federal state, and local governments. Among the sites previously rescued by the organization are parcels at Cross Keys and Brandy Station in Virginia, Mine Creek in Kansas, Ft. Moultrie in South Carolina and Shiloh in Tennessee. To date, the Civil War Preservation Trust has helped to preserve more than sixty sites in sixteen states. The battlefield in Raymond will be one of the new sites that the Preservation Trust hopes to rescue.

The ten battlefields cited by the Civil War Preservation Trust for receiving help in 2001were: "Allatoona, Georgia; Brice's Cross Roads, Mississippi; Fort Fisher, North Carolina: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; Harpers Ferry, West Virginia: Loudoun Valley, Virginia; Mansfield, Louisiana; Stones River, Tennessee; The Wilderness, Virginia; and Raymond, Mississippi. All of the sites were selected based on geographic location, military significance, and the immediacy of current threats.
During the February news conference, Bearss and Lighthizer presented a brief history of each battlefield to the media. Of Raymond, the Civil War Preservation Trust commented. "On May 12, Grant's right wing, commanded by Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson, was struck near Raymond by a lone Rebel brigade under Brig. Gen. John Gregg. The result was a confused slugging match that went on for six hours, and convinced Grant that he had to capture the Mississippi capital at Jackson before proceeding to Vicksburg.

"Raymond should have been no contest McPherson outnumbered his opponent three to one. However, the battle smoke and thick undergrowth prevented both sides from discovering that Gregg's brigade as woefully outmatched by McPherson's two divisions. "Although McPherson further exacerbated the problem by committing his men piecemeal, eventually Gregg was forced to abandon the field."

Both armies sustained considerable losses. General McPherson reported 442 casualties, including seven officers killed while General Gregg reported 514 casualties, including five officers killed. Following the Battle of Raymond, the new Hinds County Courthouse in Raymond was turned into a hospital to treat the Confederate wounded.

Reporting the current status of the Raymond Civil War battlefield, the Civil War Preservation Trust stated, "Only 40 acres of the 4,024-acre site are protected, CWSAC classifies Raymond as a Priority I, Class B battlefield. Development pressure along Highway 18 (the wartime Utica Road) emanating from nearby Jackson is the principal threat to this site.

In 1998, Friends of Raymond, a non-profit organization whose goal is historic preservation, purchased 40 of the 4,024 acres of Raymond's battlefield and has been diligently working to preserve this site. Through the help of citizens of Raymond and those interested in promoting historic preservation and tourism, portions of the Raymond battlefield will be presented. In future years, Friends of Raymond, with the help of organizations such as the Civil War Preservation Trust, hopes to purchase even more acreage of the historic battlefield. The acquisition will not only preserve Raymond's Civil War history but boost national tourism as well.

Mayor Isla Tullos commented on the preservation efforts toward the Raymond battlefield stating, "Mississippi's history cannot be replaced but only lost or ignored. As Raymond is the most endangered battlefield along the Vicksburg Campaign Trail, preservation now would be a loud statement that history matters to Mississippians. The rich Civil War history of this state can and should be an engine of economic prosperity for all Mississippians. Civil War history and tourism are natural partners."

 

 


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