By Anne McKee
The Meridian Star
As we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, many Mississippi communities come together to remember the most written about event in American history as well as the bloodiest American war on record that pitted sometimes even brother-against-brother. One of these communities is Newton, Mississippi.
The event is scheduled for Saturday in Newton at the Historic Train Depot. According to Amanda Reece, Newton Chamber executive director, anyone who would like to take part in a living-history-event is invited, especially all Civil War re-enactors, history buffs, train enthusiasts – for all ages. The event uplifts Mississippi history and heritage as well as offering a visit to a bygone time.
All interested Civil War re-enactors may set up a camp in the Train Depot Park, located next to the train depot. The Newton Chamber has asked not to dig or have fire pits, this year. The start time is 9 a.m., however the encampment participants may setup prior to that time.
The Battle for Newton Station will begin in the area around the Historic Depot at 2 p.m.. The troops will be fed by Grits and Gravy, a popular restaurant located near the Depot. There will be a memorial service, directed by Stephanie Foley, in the historic Doolittle Cemetery, beginning at 3:30 pm.
The Doolittle Cemetery has a story all of its own. It was during Grierson’s Raid, April 1863, when the Doolittle family offered their small family cemetery as a final resting place for 101 Confederate soldiers killed during the Battle of Vicksburg and a few from the Battle of Newton Station as well. It was at the time of the most intense fighting during the Battle of Vicksburg and thousands of wounded soldiers arrived in Newton Station via train. They were treated at the Newton Confederate Hospital – some survived, others did not.
Richard Carr, a Civil War researcher, related the fact that the Union Cavalrymen, who raided Newton Station, were dressed in Confederate uniforms. The entire epic battle was portrayed in a movie, The Dog Soldiers, released in 1959 and starred John Wayne.
1863 is a time of war-torn tragedy – a time of loss and love, so often romanticized, however a real love story evolved during these years in Newton, Mississippi. The daughter of Roger Williams Doolittle, the man who donated the land for the hospital and cemetery, plus many additional acres to place the town of Newton, was 18 years old when she met Dr. Albert Puckett of Nashville, Tenn. He was a doctor in the Confederate Army during the Battle of Vicksburg.
When the Confederate Hospital opened in Newton Station, it was built close to the Doolittle Plantation, and Dr. Puckett arrived to minister to the needs of the wounded. The girls in the Doolittle family volunteered as nurses. The young doctor met beautiful, Julia Doolittle, and eventually they were married.
If you are searching for a meaningful event, a historic Civil War battle, a genuine love story, courageous and generous people, and the opportunity to retrace the steps of a bygone era, then make your way this Saturday to Newton, located west of Meridian, off of Interstate I-20.
For more information, call 601-683-2201 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anne McKee is a writer and storyteller. Visit her web site: annemckee.net