Mississippi in the Civil War

Mississippi in the Civil War: The Home Front

Timothy B. Smith
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Mississippi in the Civil War
    Book Description:

    In Mississippi in the Civil War: The Home Front, Timothy B. Smith examines Mississippi's Civil War defeat by both outside and inside forces. The invading Union army dismantled the state's political system, infrastructure, economy, and fighting capability. The state saw extensive military operations, destruction, and bloodshed within her borders. One of the most frightful and extended sieges of the war ended in a crucial Confederate defeat at Vicksburg, the capstone to a tremendous Union campaign.As Confederate forces and Mississippi became overwhelmed militarily, the populace's morale began to crumble. Realizing that the enemy could roll unchecked over the state, civilians, Smith argues, began to lose the will to continue the struggle. Many white Confederates chose to return to the Union rather than see continued destruction in the name of a victory that seemed ever more improbable. When the tide turned, Unionists and African Americans boldly stepped up their endeavors. The result, Smith finds, was a state vanquished and destined to endure suffering far into its future.The first examination of the state's Civil War home front in seventy years, this book tells the story of all classes of Mississippians during the war, focusing new light on previously neglected groups such as women and African Americans. The result is a revelation of the heart of a populace facing the devastating impact of total war.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-430-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiii)
  4. [Illustrations]
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION “My Beloved Mississippi Is Being Overrun”
    (pp. 1-8)

    The people of Carrollton, Mississippi, saw little of the fighting and destruction of the Civil War. Tucked into the central part of the state just inside the hills bounding the vast Mississippi Delta, the little town did not sit on any vital waterway or railroad, thus sparing it any major Federal invasion. Yet its people were profoundly affected by the war. Carroll County sent hundreds of troops to the conflict in several companies, and a large number of them never returned. The economic and social problems of war, including shortages of food and supplies, inflation, and famine, also hit the...

  6. PART ONE The State in Military Conflict

    • CHAPTER ONE “Then Go Down into Egypt While Herod Reigns in Judea”
      (pp. 11-26)

      The great hall was dead silent as the minister began his prayer. “Almighty God, We the people of the State of Mississippi, in convention assembled in the exercise of that sovereignty with which thou hast ordained us, have in this Solemn hour, reserved to ourselves the power delegated to the Federal Union,” began Rev. Whitfield Harrington immediately after the vote for state secession had been taken on January 9, 1861, in Jackson. It was a prayer more political than spiritual, and in that sense was befitting of what had just occurred in the House of Representatives chamber of the state...

    • CHAPTER TWO “The Struggle Is Now for Her Existence as a State”
      (pp. 27-49)

      Jefferson Davis’s heart was no doubt heavy when he rose to speak in the U.S. Senate on that chilly January 21, 1861. “I rise, Mister President, for the purpose of announcing to the Senate that … my functions are terminated here.” Davis spoke to a chamber full of senators and spectators. “I am sure I feel no hostility to you Senators from the North,” he stated, but that did not stop him from resigning his seat and returning to Mississippi in the days after his state had seceded from the Union. Mississippi’s other senator and congressmen did likewise, all returning...

    • CHAPTER THREE “The Arms and Military Property of the State”
      (pp. 50-67)

      The state of Mississippi aimed to make a point. Just two days after seceding from the Union, Mississippi gunners atop the tall bluffs at Vicksburg fired the state’s first shot in anger. On January 11, the peaceful steamerA. O. Tyler, based in Cincinnati, passed Vicksburg flying the U.S. flag. Governor Pettus had earlier sent a conglomeration of militia and volunteers to defend the hill city, and this “trigger-happy ragtag force,” in the words of historian Michael Ballard, let loose on the vessel as it passed harmlessly by. Nothing much came of the affair, beyond the fact that northwestern states...

    • CHAPTER FOUR “A Swath of Desolation”
      (pp. 68-87)

      By 1864, William T. Sherman was tired of waging war in Mississippi. He had battled Confederates at Corinth, Chickasaw Bayou, Steele’s Bayou, Jackson, and Vicksburg, and the enemy had at times gotten the best of him. Realizing that the destruction of all the Confederate armies was well-nigh impossible in pitched battle, he now opted for a more destructive type of warfare waged not against armies but against the industrial, agricultural, and transportation infrastructure that supported those armies. The first test of this “total warfare” would come, not surprisingly, in Mississippi. In February 1864 Sherman marched from Vicksburg to the railroad...

    • CHAPTER FIVE “Patriotism Enough to Bear Such a Tax as This”
      (pp. 88-98)

      William R. Barksdale saw trouble ahead. As a member of the Mississippi secession convention, he took part in the many deliberations, ranging from taking the state out of the Union to setting up an adequate military defense to obtaining the funds needed for that military defense. On the economic front, the secession convention debated a wide range of possibilities, including taxes, bonds, and credit. The members settled on all of the above, but the most stringent was a new tax on the people. Barksdale was not sure of the success of such a move, but not because he was against...

  7. PART TWO The People in Social Conflict

    • CHAPTER SIX “If Lincoln Should Continue to Work at the Mote in Our Eye”
      (pp. 101-124)

      In writing to his brother in September 1862, George R. Smith, the owner of a modest plantation with some twenty slaves near Meridian, Mississippi, spelled out many of the problems facing the state during the Civil War. “You say you want my consent to a final settlement of father’s estate,” he wrote. “I have no objection to your making a settlement at any time it may suit your convenience,” he penned, noting he was in no hurry for his share of the money, “as I owe no one a red cent.” He went on to share how “I have been...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN “Her People Are Drifting to the Yankees”
      (pp. 125-142)

      William T. Sherman was leaving Jackson after his wave of destruction on May 16, 1863, marching westward toward Vicksburg. As the general rode out of town, he remembered “a very fat man came to see me, to inquire if his hotel, a large, frame-building near the depot, were doomed to be destroyed.” The general told the man he had no intention of burning the building, only military installations. The hotel owner would not let it go, however, and professed to Sherman that he was “a law-abiding Union man.” Sherman, perhaps in a playful mood, remarked to him that he did...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT “Tears on Many a Dark Cheek”
      (pp. 143-159)

      The blue-clad cavalry arrived at Jackson, Mississippi, that July 1864, causing the inhabitants to fully realize what had happened to their state, their Confederacy, and, most important, their lives. These were not typical Union cavalrymen, which the citizens of Jackson had seen before. These were African American Yankees, the Third Regiment Cavalry U.S. Colored Troops, raised and organized out of Mississippi slaves in 1863. Firmly in control of the city and all functions that took place in it, the cavalrymen openly displayed a new manner in Mississippi; old cultures and society were obviously changing. A white officer in a black...

    • CHAPTER NINE “I Have Borne It All Very Cheerfully, So Far”
      (pp. 160-180)

      College Hill, Mississippi, was pretty much devoid of males during the war. There were a few old men and little boys still around, but almost all the males from their teens to their fifties were away in the Confederate army. That left the little town near Oxford almost defenseless, but not entirely. In order to defend themselves from the dreaded Yankees, the women of College Hill banded together. One local woman remembered that the young women of the town “organized and drilled with broomsticks and hoe handles for guns, fearing that the day would come when they would be the...

    • CHAPTER TEN “Our Poor Country Is Getting into a Deplorable Condition”
      (pp. 181-195)

      During the time noted English military officer Arthur Fremantle traveled through Mississippi in May 1863, he was inadvertently, and only tangentially, witness to some of the great events of the war. Grant had just marched inland and taken Jackson while on the way ultimately to Vicksburg. Fremantle met William Loring’s wayward division on the march, as well as the retreat-minded Joseph E. Johnston. He even spent some time in what was left of the state capital at Jackson. In such a setting, it did not take Fremantle long to form an opinion of Mississippians. After witnessing an event in which...

    (pp. 196-198)

    When the Civil War ended, Mississippi was a defeated, broken, and traumatized state. Little of its prewar culture and society remained, especially concerning slavery and states’ rights. But the changes that were wrought during the war went deeper than just those two major issues. The war affected every single Mississippian to some degree, and most in major ways. Citizens who lived in occupied or fought-over areas were fortunate to be alive and have any possessions left. Those who lived in less conflicted zones were nevertheless hurt by the terrible economy and lack of supplies. A large majority of the state’s...

    (pp. 199-200)
  10. NOTES
    (pp. 201-234)
    (pp. 235-250)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 251-260)