A while back, Sweetums and I made a day trip to Tupelo, Miss., birthplace of Elvis Presley. I have lots of tips on things to see and do if you ever visit the city, but first I wanted to share photos of a mysterious place Sweetums and I found on the Natchez Trace, just outside of Tupelo.
Tupelo has many sites along the Civil War Trail, including a monument to Federal and Confederate soldiers who died in the area. It is also home to the preserved Brices Cross Roads battlefield and Tupelo National Battlefield, along with numerous graves of Confederate soldiers.
Burials at one out-of-the-way site, however, are steeped in mystery. A well-worn path that was part of the original Natchez Trace but is no longer used leads through the woods to the graves of 13 unknown soldiers marked by headstones and small Confederate flags.
STORY CONTINUES AFTER SLIDESHOW
According to the National Park Service, much of the original trace, called Old Trace, had already been abandoned by the start of the Civil War. Its website says, “However, the war did leave its mark on the Trace as it did upon the rest of the South. The soldiers marched, camped and fought along portions of this historic old road. A 5-minute walk on the Old Trace here takes you to the gravesites of 13 unknown Confederate soldiers, a mute reminder of bygone days and of the great struggle out of which developed a stronger nation.”
Who the men are, how they died and why they are buried along the Old Trace is unknown.
According to ExploreSouthernHistory.com, there are several theories about how the men died. “Some theorize they may have been Southern soldiers that died following the Confederate evacuation of Corinth, Mississippi. Others believe they were wounded soldiers that died following the nearby Battle of Brices Cross Roads.
In 1940, the original markers on the graves were deteriorated so Sen. Theodore Bilbo ordered marble stones to mark the burials. The marble stones were stolen. The markers on the graves now were placed by the National Park Service.
To find the graves, head north on Natchez Trace Parkway from Tupelo Visitors Center. The path is marked by a sign near mile marker 270.
More on our Tupelo trip will follow.