Madison Middle School's Junior Historical Society
Successful Student Preservationists
By Tom Watts
Tom Watts and the Madison Middle School's Junior Historical Society has helped CWPT preserve and protect Civil War Battlefields from development for the next generation. Find out how they continue this extremely important work over the years.
After discussing with our administration about having a community project for our Junior Historical Society, I approached our members of the Madison Middles School's Junior Historical Society at the first meeting of our 2007 - 2008 school years concerning what they would like to do for a community project for our organization. I gave them five different projects which included historical preservation and fund raising to support a local preservation program. After the election of our officers, this decision making was handed to them to decide by the last meeting of October 2007. We visited the Vicksburg National Military Park in Mid-October 2007, where the Park Ranger gave a presentation of the Vicksburg Campaign and Siege in 1863. He stated that Union victory at the Champion Hill Battle near Edwards, Mississippi was a key turning point in Grant's campaign to capture Vicksburg. He also stated that the Champion Hill Battlefield was on the endangered battlefield preservation list because developers wanted to purchase a good portion of the battlefield to build housing subdivisions and a shopping center. This got our members talking about helping to save the Champion Hill Battlefield by having a series of fund raisers. Before we got back to the school that day from our field trip to Vicksburg, the members had voted to take Champion Hill as their community project. At the next meeting in October, the members started planning their fund raising to support the preservation project for Champion Hill. We had to request approval for the fund raisers from the Madison County School Board. We received this approval at the November school board meeting. At the next meeting in November, the members agreed to two fund raising events, a funny hat day in December and a pajama day in January, where students would pay one dollar to wear a funny hat and pajamas. We were able to raise $250 for the preservation of land at Champion Hill. The officers and several members met with Park Ranger Terry Winschel, Vicksburg National Park Historian, at Champion Hill Battlefield in April 2008, and were given a tour of the battlefield. The check for $250 was sent to the Civil War Preservation Trust to help combine with the funds to help preserve Champion Hill for our future.
The next school year, 2008 - 2009, fund raisers by our Junior Historical Society raised $400 for Champion Hill. The check for $400 was presented by Mr. Watts, sponsor of the Junior Historical, to the President of the Civil War Preservation Trust, James Lighthizer, at the annual conference at Gettysburg in June 2009. The members of the Junior Historical Society for 2009 - 2010 are working hard to plan this year's fund raisers for Champion Hill.
Officers of the Junior Historical Society at Madison Middle School in Madison, Mississippi took a tour of the Raymond Battlefield just outside Raymond, Mississippi where Confederate Brigadier General John Gregg and his Brigade of 3,000 men attacked a much larger Union force of 12,000 soldiers under Corps Commander Major General James B. McPherson. The battle lasted for almost four hours before the much smaller confederate unit retreated. The tour guide was Brigadier General (Retired) Parker Hill, well-known Civil War historian and author.
Officers of the Junior Historical Society at Madison Middle School in Madison, Mississippi also present the President of the Friends of Raymond, Mississippi, Brigadier General (Retired) Parker Hill, a check for $450. Members of the Junior Historical Society had a number of fund raising events for their annual donation for preservation of a historical site in Central Mississippi. The donation will be used to help battlefield preservation of the Raymond Battlefield (May 12, 1863), which was part of the Vicksburg Campaign by Union General Ulysses S. Grant.
(Junior Historical Society officers pictured in both images.)