As a founder of the Friends of the Mansfield Battlefield, I want to thank you for drawing attention to the mining that threatens the sacred ground on this historic Louisiana site. Dr. White’s well-written article offers readers a clearer understanding of the plight of the battlefield as it details both sides of the issue.
Certainly we at the Friends of the Mansfield Battlefield recognize and understand the importance of the economic impact of the lignite mining operation on DeSoto Parish. However, in a mining operation that has about 30,000 acres under lease, a troop-movement area of 6,000 acres and battlefield site of 3,200 acres, it is difficult to understand why mining operations have focused on areas of significance. The mine is currently threatening approximately half of this 3,200 acres of core battlefield. The remaining portion of core battlefield would be impractical to mine since (the energy company) would have to cross either one or two state highways.
Ideally, as a historian, I would prefer that every inch of the battlefield be preserved. As a realist and business owner, I believe there is room for compromise and, at the very least, a series of the most significant historic sites must be protected. The reality is that mining operations have continued on significant sites throughout the brief two-and-a-half-year history of this organization.
History teaches valuable lessons. We owe it to ourselves and to future generations to assure that Americans can visit and understand what occurred in the Civil War’s Red River Campaign and on the Mansfield Battlefield. To do any less would be negligent, if not unpatriotic.
Gary D. Joiner, Ph.D
Board of Directors, Friends of the Mansfield Battlefield
This article appears in the Spring 2005 issue of Louisiana Life