The Local Voice

“I Can See History Walking Across the Ole Miss Circle” by Starke Miller


Here is a great picture of Ole MissLyceum and The Circle. This is probably about 1900 before the wings were added to the Lyceum in 1903.

In a few days The Circle will be covered with tents and tailgaters. In my minds eye, because of all the research I have done, I can see many other events that have taken place in The Circle.

I can see pre Civil War students walking across The Circle to go to 6 am Chapel in 1855.

I can see the University Greys drilling in The Circle, in 1861.

I can see 400 sick Confederates in tents, the overflow from the University’s use as a hospital after Shiloh, in 1862.

I can see thousands of Yankees camped here in December of 1862, when Grant was on his Mississippi Central Rail Road campaign.

I can see Confederate Regiments of Nathan Bedford Forrest, camped here in the Spring of 1864, when he used Oxford and the University as a headquarters.

I can see two Yankee Captains, who were sent by Union General A. J. “Whiskey” Smith to burn the University, “Finding only literary material and scientific apparatus”, they “refused to carry out such a vandal order”.

I can see Confederate Veterans returning to the University as students, in the Fall of 1865.

I can see the erection, and dedication, of the new Library (Ventress Hall) in 1889, completed with the University Greys Memorial Tiffany stained glass window in 1890.

I can see the erection of of the Confederate Monument, at the bottom of the Circle, by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, to remember the dead in the campus Confederate Cemetery and the Confederate dead in St. Peters town cemetery, in 1906.

I can see 2000 people gathering for speeches and an old fashioned Bar-B-Q to honor Walthall’s Mississippi Brigade reunion, in 1906.

I can see the riot of 1962, when James Meredith entered the University.

I can see a tailgating game day, in 1971, when I first saw it as a 6th grader, and I knew this was the place I would go to College.

I can see myself as a student walking across The Circle.

I can see so many Fall tailgating days here, in the 1980’s, 90’s and 00’s, when Dad and I, and a few other thousand friends, came together for another Rebel football game.

I can still hear “Dixie” being played here by the band after an Ole Miss football win, or loss.

What a historical, and magical place these few acres are! 

Starke Miller is a Civil War historian who conducts historical tours of Ole Miss and Shiloh. Check out his page on Facebook: Miller Civil War Tours.

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