Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Quick Stop in Louisiana

Reunions, done!  Family visits, done!  Cruise, done!  All of our scheduled obligations were finished and now we could go where we wanted, when we wanted.  And we wanted out of East Texas and the rain!  So off it was to Bossier City, LA where we planned to stay a few days at the Barksdale AFB famcamp to get some laundry done and stock up on supplies.  But we found time to do a bit of sightseeing, of course, even though it RAINED the entire time we were there.

Hoping for a little history on this visit

The Louisiana State Exhibit Museum is housed in a huge building, built in 1937, that is on the National Historic Register.
Front of museum

Aerial view of Louisiana State Exhibit Museum

Museum interior

The museum is completely free and is less about history and more about art and artifacts from around the state.  But the most interesting displays, to me, were the dioramas depicting the the life and commerce of Louisiana locals in the 1930s.  All the major industries that fueled the states' economy were represented in exacting detail.

Corn farming

Strawberry farming

Cotton farming

The dioramas were behind glass and very difficult to photograph.  These represent just a few of the industries showcased which also included hog farming, oil and gas, timber and paper industries.  Here are a couple of pics I found on the Internet that show a bit better.

It's really hard to show how beautiful these were and I hope you all have a chance to see them in person some day.

While in Shreveport, we also got a chance to see the "riverboat" casinos that we've heard about for so long. They don't look very much, if at all, like riverboats but more like standard Las Vegas mega casinos.  And got a glimpse of the "Once in a Millennium Moon" mural, one of the country's largest publicly funded art  installations.  No pictures due to the RAIN!

Of the 5 days we stayed in the Shreveport area, only one was good weather and sunny, so we took the opportunity take a drive to the Mansfield State Historic Site where the Rebels defeated the Union in the Red River Campaign in the spring of 1864.

Entry to the museum and battlefield

Sid with a cannon from the battle here

The museum had a collection of artifacts donated by families of soldiers involved in the conflict and it  is always more interesting to me to see items that are authentically accurate as opposed to "of the period."  The first item displayed, though not related to the Civil War at all, was this fireplace mantel.

Installed in the White House in 1902, it remained in the East Room for almost 50 years. 

The curator of the museum was very knowledgeable and got to telling us a lot about flags.  Did you know that the original Confederate flag was not the one we recognize and either revere or disparage today?

Square flags are battle flags and each regiment had their own design.

A preserved Confederate company battle flag

An original  Union company battle flag

Another artifact that caught my eye...

Belt buckle from a fellow New Yorker

We walked the trail of the battle lines where each regiments' location was marked with a plaque detailing the commanders, the highlights of the battle and the killed and wounded.  It;s always surprising to me how closely these battles were fought to one another and how accurately historians can pinpoint the locations.

Beginning of the battle line

Typical battle marker

Reenactments are a big deal at Civil War sites and this one has them throughout the year as well.  A cabin representative of the time period has been built on the grounds and is used during those events.

Cabin typical of the era

Cabin interior.  It's not much smaller than the space in which I'm currently living!

Battleground monuments

Historical marker

Add a few monuments and a historical marker and you've got yourself a typical Civil War Battlefield!  In no way belittling these historic sites, once you've seen one, you've pretty much seen them all.  They are extremely important to the history of our country and I'm forever thankful that people have had the foresight to preserve this history.  That said, we are planning to stop at more of them on our journey, but will probably focus more on the museums than the actual battlegrounds.

I seem to learn something I didn't know everywhere we stop (can you imagine that?), but I had to look this one up.

A dedication, but look a little closer...

Children of the Confederacy??

I've always heard of the Daughters of the Confederacy, but this was the first time I'd ever come across the Children of the Confederacy.  So I found out that there is, in fact, an actual organization to which descendants of men or women who served honorably in the Confederate Army can belong, from infancy to the age of eighteen.  Researching further, I discovered the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization.  So the Confederacy has got you covered from birth to death!

No relief from the RAIN, so we decided to call it quits in Louisiana and head to Mississippi.  There's got to be some sunshine somewhere!

Until next time...

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