Thursday, April 29, 2010

Taking Advantage of Evansville's Connection to the Civil War, the War of 1812, and WWI

Since the LST has arrived, it's been no secret that Evansville would be a good location for a WWII museum which I myself have talked about in a previous post. However, many locals are probably unaware of the rich history the Evansville area has had in other wars such as the Civil War, the War of 1812, and WWI.

Did you know....

* On July 18, 1862, Newburgh was the first town north of the Mason-Dixon line to be captured by the Confederate forces during the American Civil War. Colonel Adam R. Johnson, with a partisan band, crossed the Ohio River and confiscated supplies and ammunition without a shot being fired.

* On March 27, 1812, Hugh McGary, Junior, bought land for the settlement which he called McGary's Landing. In 1814, to attract more people, McGary renamed his village "Evansville" in honor of Colonel Robert Morgan Evans, an officer under then General William Henry Harrison in the War of 1812.

* At age 21, Evansville native James Bethel Gresham became the first American casualty of World War I. He is buried at Locust Hill Cemetery.

As you can see, Evansville has a rich history in several wars, not just WWII. As a result, I am in favor of a WWII museum with the LST being located on the current Port of Evansville location, but I also believe Evansville needs to make residents and tourists fully aware of its history in the three wars mentioned. So what specifically am I proposing?

One of the war tributes to Indiana veterans that has caught my attention is the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Indianapolis. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit it and I can't get over just how great of a monument it is. At the monument, you can go to the top to look out and see all of Indianapolis, visit the gift shop, sit on the large concrete stairs, or relax next to the large water ponds at the base. Even more eye catching are the buildings that form a large circle around it. In fact, almost all of the buildings in downtown Indianapolis revolve around the "Circle Centre" plaza. Malls, restaurants, office buildings, etc have set up shop around it.

When I saw the monument it got me wondering, why can't Evansville create a monument where tourists can go up in it to view Evansville under a statue of Robert Evans sitting atop it with a museum about the three wars and a gift shop inside? The statue of Robert Evans would be overlooking his city just like William Penn does in Philadelphia ( this plan is very similar to my Benjamin Bosse statue proposal). At the base would be a monument to James Bethel Gresham.

I would also like to see a Civil War interpretive center with reenactments being staged each year with the history of Evansville and Newburgh incorporated into them.

Most importantly, Evansville has plenty of room to implement this downtown. Why not place the monument plaza behind the Civic Center, next to the Old Courthouse, or between the Four Freedoms Monument and the Evansville Museum?

Indianapolis took full advantage of its rich history in the service, will Evansville?

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