Not all national treasures have slick brochures, National Park Service employees, or state of the art interactive electronic entertainments. While there is nothing wrong with those appurtenances, occasionally a private collection of unique and significant value springs up, or in this case, evolves, into something that is so educational, so entertaining, so unbelievably valuable to understanding a part of our history, that leaving the beaten path to see and experience it seems a tiny price to pay for the value.
We recently had the privalege to visit just such a place: the Civil War Aresenal of owner and creator Duffy Neubauer, in Starkville, Mississippi. His private collection includes a Civil War artillery battery, and the rolling stock that moved the guns, supplied the troops, and made it necessary for hundreds of thousands of horses and mules to be fed, watered, and disposed of during the War Between the States.
The real treasure of the museum is Duffy himself whose passion for the War and especially the use of artillery, exceeds anything in my previous fifty or so years of studying the Civil War. He is not just a reenactor extraorindaire, but a polymath on all things artillery. His talks and teaching engage the student constantly as his no nonsense but friendly presentations shock and amaze even the most experienced Civil War buff. There is no admission fee, but you must call ahead for a tour. He has several different presentations, including one just on bugle calls or another just on the types of shells, cannon balls, or to other related ordinance.
On your next visit to Mississippi, stop by Starkville, visit the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, the Mississiippi State University campus, and the Starkville Civil War Arsenal for the tour of a lifetime with Duffy Neubauer.
His contact information is 662-323-2606. You won’t need earphones, cell phones, or ipads. It is okay to wear a blue or gray uniform, but be prepared to be dragooned into a cannon crew and be taught more pertinent and interesting Civil War information than you thought possible.
Originally posted June, 2013 at The American History Guild