"The Spirit of Michigan" stands as a silent tribute to the seven infantry regiments and 2 artillery batteries that participated in the campaign and siege of Vicksburg. The Michigan State Memorial is located on Union Avenue at Tour Stop #1, Battery DeGolyer, (Milepost 1.2 of the park tour road).
The Michigan State legislature authorized a commission "to ascertain and exactly determine the position of Michigan troops in the campaign and siege of Vicksburg..." on June 18, 1903. Govenor Austin T. Bliss appointed Frederick T. Hutchinson (Colonel, 15th Michigan Infantry), chairman; George H. Hopkins (Sergeant, 17th Michigan Infantry); and Josiah T. Hammond (1st Lieutenant, 20th Michigan Infantry).
The Michigan-Vicksburg National Park Commission visited Vicksburg in November 1903, located the two battery positions “without difficulty,” however, the location of the seven infantry regiments were “outside the lines of the Park, at points not easily reached – on private grounds and entirely beyond the care of the Park officials.” Based on this information, the commission determined to erect monuments within the park boundary, as had previously been done by other state monument commissions.
By 1914, the Michigan-Vicksburg National Park Commission was managed by Claudius B. Grant (Colonel, 20th Michigan Infantry) as Chairman; Edwin E. Lewis (Captain, 7th Michigan Battery), Vice-Chairman; John. M. Donaldson, Architect; and Charles C. Hopkins (Private, 2nd Michigan Infantry), Secretary. Aging veterans belonging to the commission had passed away and new appointments were made to fill their vacant positions. It was this group that traveled to New York City to consult with renowned sculptor Herbert Adams, and after reviewing several sketches for design, authorized a contract for designing the monument on June 9, 1914.
The memorial is thirty-seven foot tall obelisk made of White Bethel Granite. The lower third was cut from a singular piece of granite weighing 40-tons and inscribed on the base of the monument is: “Michigan’s Tribute of Honor to Her Soldiers who Served in the Campaign and Siege of Vicksburg.” It cost $10,000 and was dedicated on November 10, 1916.
A Fitting Tribute
The location selected for the placement of the memorial was where Captain Samuel DeGolyer’s 8th Michigan Battery occupied the line during the 47-day siege. The commission selected this location because it was “among the best and most sightly in the whole line of investment.” At this place, DeGolyer's Michiganders alongside several other artillery batteries rained shot and shell on the Confederate defenses. DeGolyer was mortally wounded along this line on May 28, 1863, shot by a Confederate sharpshooter.