The event was first conceived by Tourism (Lakisha Buffington) in the spring of 2015. The Depot owners took the idea and ran with it. This event was meant to promote the Depot and showcase how Holly Springs, Mississippi survived changing hands at least sixty times during the Civil War. The biggest and most well-known of these changes was General Van Dorn’s Raid.
Before the raid, General Grant had stockpiled a tremendous amount of supplies at Holly Springs for his march on Vicksburg. Believing that his supplies were safe in the hands of Colonel Murphy, General Grant moved himself and the majority of his army further south to Oxford and Coffeeville.
Learning of the poorly guarded supplies, General Van Dorn led a surprise attack December 20, 1862, on Holly Springs. The attack was quick, destructive, and short. The confederates left the same day with full bellies and warm uniforms taken from Grant’s supplies.
The citizens of Holly Springs were left with a bunch of angry Union soldiers and a partially destroyed square.
The citizens took pity on those angry soldiers and provided food and shelter. These acts of kindness changed the mindset of those Union soldiers from destruction to protection of our city! The loss of all his supplies caused General Grant to turn back (“retrograde movement”) from Oxford to Memphis.
The program for this year was as follows:
- Welcoming speech by Mayor Kevin Buck.
- How Music Saved Holly Springs by Alex Mercedes.
- An address concerning the raid made by General Grant played by Curt Fields (www.generalgrantbyhimself.com).
- Reenactment of General Van Dorn’s Raid for the upcoming Pilgrimage was promoted by Larry Dixon in confederate garb.
- The history and impact of General Van Dorn’s Raid was summarized.
- Book signing by Bridget Smith author of “Where Elephants Fought” (http://whereelephantsfought.com) which explains the reason for General Van Dorn’s death.
- Break for lunch with music by Dan McNamara on the Depot’s front walk.
- A guided tour around Holly Springs Depot by Alexandra Ashmead.
- A trolley ride tour by Alexandra Ashmead and Phillip Knecht.
- Tour commentary was provided by Phillip Knecht.
- Mini concert by Alex Mercedes at the Yellow Fever House.
- The event ended with a toast made by General Grant and his wife Julia Grant at the General’s Cup. The food, drinks, and setting were provided by Stewart’s Catering at Southern Eatery.
The following reenactors brought history to life:
- Curt Fields playing General Grant
- Lena Fields playing Mrs. Julia Grant
- Gwen Wyatt playing a lady waiting on her train
- Alexandra Ashmead playing Mrs. Jessie Peters
- Sue Smith playing Ms. Lizzie Watson
- Phillip Knecht playing Professor Frank L. Bristow
- Carol Parks playing Mrs. Julia Govan
- Genevieve Busby playing Mrs. Maria Mason
- Abby Busby playing Mrs. Maria Mason’s daughter
Beckey Kemp collected data from our tourists and professional photographers Megan Wolfe (www.meganwolfephoto.com) and Hollie Janelle (www.holliecreative.com) took photos throughout the tour.
We had a very diverse fun loving group that mostly came from Holly Springs, Olive Branch, and Memphis.
Next year, the event will be on Saturday, the same day as the parade.
We hope the Holiday House Tour will be back next year. The more activities we have, the more likely we will have a great turn out for everyone. Holly Springs has so much potential and there is something in the air that says Holly Springs is on the rise.