With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

Broad Survey of Damage to Historic Sites in the Gulf States

Virtually everything in the Latin Quarter and the Garden District suffered some damage. Much of the turquoise-and-white facade of Commander's Palace in the Garden District is gone. So is one wall of Antoine's, famous for Oysters Rockefeller.

The Cafe du Monde, home of smoky chicory coffee, did not appear to suffer extensive damage. Many of the city's oldest neighborhoods, including the Bywater and the 9th Ward on the east side, were lost under the floods. On Burgundy Street, a building that once housed slaves collapsed. At one historic above-ground cemetery, a lot in the Garden District known as Lafayette No. 1, uprooted magnolia trees destroyed part of a 200-year-old wall believed to contain human remains. The stately U.S. Mint in the French Quarter, once seized by the Confederate army, is missing part of its roof. No one knows what has become of the artifacts inside."

"Not even counting the French Quarter, every part of New Orleans has incredible historic resources," said John Hildreth, director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation."It's absolutely gut-wrenching to see this destruction on top of the human suffering."

Cindy Gardner, field services curator of the Old Capitol Museum, reports that the museum had 1/3 of its copper roof blown off. Water has been pouring in to an exhibit area and a storage room. Staff has been working on moving hundreds of wet artifacts and some that are completely ruined.

The museum recently accepted a check for $17,000 from the Sons of Confederate Veterans for restoration work on a flag of the 33rd Mississippi Infantry. Further details on their work and collection, with updates on their status, can be found at their MDAH website.

The State Capitol building during the Civil War. In 1847 its walls saw a gathering of Jefferson Davis and the Mississippi Volunteers on their victorious return from the Mexican War. In 1861 the passage of the Ordinance of Secession took place here, and in 1865 the first Constitutional Convention in the South after the fall of the Confederacy was held here.

Fort Jackson has been flooded. (Click here for a picture.) In his attack upon New Orleans during the Civil War, Admiral Farragut's fleet pounded Fort Jackson for ten days before it surrendered to the Union forces. In the years that followed, Fort Jackson was used as a prison, a training facility, and fortified again during the Spanish-American War. Fort Jackson is located along LA Highway 23, at Plaquemines Bend (about 12 miles above Venice, LA), and is now accessible to the public as a historical tourist and cultural recreation center.

Vicksburg: Numerous trees, some over 50 years old, fell during the storm. The canopy covering the USS Cairo ripped in several places. Shingles blew off the cemetery maintenance shop roof and a tree penetrated the ranger cache roof. Cooper caps blew off the cemetery gazebo.

The park visitor center is open. Staff cleared trees and limbs in order to partially re-open the tour road to Pemberton Avenue and the South Loop.


Read entire article at Hurricane Katrina: Civil War Damage Assessment