Weapons of Mississippi

Weapons of Mississippi

KEVIN DOUGHERTY
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 192
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2tvfjm
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  • Book Info
    Weapons of Mississippi
    Book Description:

    Mississippians have long found the need for an arsenal of interesting, lethal, and imaginative weapons. Native Americans, frontier outlaws, antebellum duelists, authorities and protestors in the civil rights struggle, and present-day hunters have used weapons to survive, to advance causes, or to levy societal control.

    In Weapons of Mississippi, Kevin Dougherty examines the roles weapons have played in twelve phases of state history. Dougherty not only offers technical background for these devices, but he also presents a new way of understanding the state's history-through the context and development of its weapons. Chapters in the book bring the story of Mississippi's weapons up to date with a discussion of the modern naval shipbuilders on the Coast and interviews with hunters keen to pass on family traditions.

    As Mississippi progressed from a sparsely populated wilderness to a structured modern society, management of weaponry became one of the main requirements for establishing centralized law and order. Indians, outlaws, runaway slaves, secessionists, and night riders have all posed challenges to the often better-armed authorities.

    Today, weapons unite Mississippians in the popular pastime of hunting deer, turkey, dove, rabbit, and even bear. In the state's social and cultural character, a shared lore and knowledge of hunting crosses age, racial, and economic lines. Weapons, once used for mere survival, have transformed into instruments masterfully crafted for those harvesting the state's abundant game.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-452-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. vii-2)

    Weapons serve many functions for many people, but perhaps the common denominator in all cases is that, broadly defined, weapons enhance control. Hunters use weapons to control animals. Criminals use weapons to control their victims. Soldiers use weapons to control their enemies. Terrorists use weapons to control the innocent. The story of weapons in Mississippi parallels this theme of control. Native Mississippians used bows and arrows to hunt deer and bear. The outlaws of the Natchez Trace used hatchets, knives, and guns to rob isolated travelers. Jefferson Davis’s First Mississippi Regiment used rifles to defeat the Mexicans at Buena Vista....

  4. 1 ATLATLS, BOWS AND ARROWS, AND STRIKING WEAPONS WEAPONS OF THE MISSISSIPPI INDIANS
    (pp. 3-11)

    The themes of control, technology, and centralization can be traced to the first appearance of weapons in what is now Mississippi. Native Mississippians spent most of their time in a desperate effort to control a hostile environment in order to survive. Therefore the weapons of the prehistoric period in Mississippi were largely for the purpose of hunting, with spears, initially equipped with fluted points, being the common weapon. As time passed, the early spear points went through a series of gradual changes that resulted in a lance-shaped projectile point with notches on the sides and corners. The craftsmen usually rubbed...

  5. 2 GUNS, STEEL, AND FORTS WEAPONS OF THE EUROPEANS IN MISSISSIPPI
    (pp. 12-27)

    In the fifteenth century, powerful new monarchies built on centralized authority emerged in Europe. The heads of these states were able to control financial and military resources to a degree that undermined the authority of competing nobles, and the kings built powerful armies that dominated the armored knights who were loyal to the noblemen. In the process, armies developed a broad range of bowmen, pikemen, musketeers, and artillerymen, all armed with the weapons of the new military technology. This European state building and military progress resulted in the projection of power across the seas.

    On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus...

  6. 3 MILITIAS, OUTLAWS, AND KENTUCKY RIFLES WEAPONS OF TERRITORIAL MISSISSIPPI
    (pp. 28-42)

    On April 7, 1798, President John Adams approved an act of Congress that established the Mississippi Territory. The northern border of the new territory ran from the junction of the Yazoo and Mississippi rivers eastward. The southern border was latitude 31° north, the U.S. border with Spanish West Florida, and the western border was the Mississippi River. In 1804 Congress added a northern tract of land still occupied by Indian tribes, and in 1810 President James Monroe added West Florida, having seized the area from Spain.¹

    These actions produced a fairly competitive and fluid environment, as the new territory faced...

  7. 4 DUELING AND SLAVERY WEAPONS OF ANTEBELLUM MISSISSIPPI
    (pp. 43-58)

    In the Old South, honor was a complicated but all-pervasive phenomenon. Bertram Wyatt-Brown goes as far as to call honor “the most important aspect of antebellum ethics” and the “keystone of the slaveholding South’s morality.”¹ He then proceeds to explain three elements of Southern society—dueling, the slavocracy, and policing slave society— in the context of honor. Wyatt-Brown groups these topics in a section of his book that addresses social control. Control, be it social or otherwise, as this present study has thus far been tracing, is often maintained by weapons. In personal combat such as a duel, weapons helped...

  8. 5 MISSISSIPPI RIFLES WEAPONS OF MISSISSIPPIANS IN MEXICO
    (pp. 59-70)

    America of the 1840s was the America of Manifest Destiny. In 1845, Congress annexed Texas, which until 1836 had been a republic of Mexico. Since then, however, Texas had considered itself an independent republic, while Mexico still saw it as a wayward province in revolt. When Texas joined the United States, relations between Mexico and the United States rapidly deteriorated. On May 13, 1846, the United States declared war on Mexico, and President James Polk faced the problem of building an army capable of battling the formidable Mexican army of Antonio López de Santa Anna.

    Mississippians had long supported Texas...

  9. 6 IRONCLADS AND TORPEDOES WEAPONS ON THE WATER IN CIVIL WAR MISSISSIPPI
    (pp. 71-83)

    At the time of the Civil War, the Mississippi River was the single most important economic feature of the continent, but the Confederate stronghold at Vicksburg had closed the river to navigation, posing a serious threat to Northern commercial interests. Lamenting the situation, President Abraham Lincoln said, “See what a lot of land these fellows hold, of which Vicksburg is the key! The war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket. . . . We can take all the northern ports of the Confederacy, and they can defy us from Vicksburg. . ....

  10. 7 SIEGE GUNS AND SABERS WEAPONS ON THE LAND IN CIVIL WAR MISSISSIPPI
    (pp. 84-115)

    Even the diverse array of ironclads, rams, mortar boats, tinclads, and other vessels that worked Mississippi’s Civil War waterways could not match the hodgepodge of weapons used to fight the state’s land battles. In terms of small arms and artillery, the vast assembly of weapons lacked uniformity, not just between the Federals and Confederates but within the two armies as well. The types and quality of the weapons illustrate the Federal advantage in industrial production and technology as the two sides struggled for control of their nations’ destinies.

    Grant’s Army of the Tennessee had a variety of firearms that can...

  11. 8 RIFLES, BOWS, AND GUNS WEAPONS OF MISSISSIPPI HUNTERS AND PRIVATE CITIZENS
    (pp. 116-142)

    Hunting has long been a part of life in Mississippi, as demonstrated by the skills and weapons of the native Mississippians. Today the state boasts more than two million acres of wild game habitat for species such as white-tailed deer, eastern wild turkey, migratory waterfowl, mourning dove, quail, squirrel, and rabbit. Mississippi hunters use primitive weapons, conventional guns and rifles, and bows to hunt during specified seasons on a managed system of thirty-eight state wildlife management areas, fourteen national wildlife refuges, and six national forests, as well as many private hunting lands. During Mississippi’s history many factors have divided its...

  12. 9 TRAINING CAMPS AND MILITARY MOBILIZATION WEAPONS OF MISSISSIPPI DURING THE TWO WORLD WARS
    (pp. 143-163)

    In the first half of the twentieth century, Mississippi was still largely an agrarian state with a small industrial base. The massive military mobilizations that swept the nation in conjunction with the world wars, especially World War II, brought a large increase in military activity to the state. An influx of military training camps and defense-related industry served both to increase the presence of weapons in Mississippi and to expose the state to a variety of economic, social, and demographic changes.

    Camp Shelby and Keesler Field were the largest of Mississippi’s military installations to emerge during this era. Camp Shelby,...

  13. 10 FIREBOMBS AND ROPES WEAPONS OF TERROR IN MISSISSIPPI
    (pp. 164-187)

    The civil rights era in Mississippi was a violent time when central authority was under serious challenge. Many white Mississippians, disgruntled and threatened by the social change going on around them, resisted by using weapons to terrorize and intimidate blacks who moved to exercise their growing rights. Some blacks responded by arming themselves in a challenge to the whites’ weapons advantage. The story of weapons in Mississippi during the civil rights era parallels the story of weapons in the days of the outlaws of the Natchez Trace. Control of weapons, even in the crudest form, gives one party a local...

  14. 11 SHIPS, AIRCRAFT, AND ARTILLERY WEAPONS OF MISSISSIPPI’S POST–WORLD WAR II MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
    (pp. 188-202)

    Building on the tradition of BAWI and the industry brought to the state by the two world wars, Mississippi continues to host a variety of weapons manufacturing, testing, and training activities for the U.S. military. In Pascagoula, Ingalls carries on its shipbuilding tradition as an operation under Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (NGSS), which produces amphibious assault ships and guided-missile destroyers for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. In Hancock County, the John C. Stennis Space Center serves as the training ground for the navy’s Special Boat Team 22 (SBT-22), which uses the impressive array of machine guns, grenade launchers, and...

  15. 12 NUCLEAR TESTING WEAPONS OF THE ATOMIC AGE IN MISSISSIPPI
    (pp. 203-213)

    When most people think of nuclear testing, they think of places like Los Alamos, New Mexico, or the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. In spite of these larger and better-known sites, Mississippi has a history involving nuclear weapons. Two nuclear tests were actually conducted in Mississippi, and a massive nuclear earthmoving project was planned but rejected.

    The explosion of the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 brought unprecedented destruction and suggested that warfare might someday reach the potential of annihilating the human race. The American monopoly on the bomb was broken on August 29, 1949, when the...

  16. AFTERWORD
    (pp. 214-216)

    The themes of weapons facilitating control, control of weapons being critical to this broader control, and centralized societies having an advantage in the possession of quantities—and, more importantly, quality—of weapons run throughout the history of Mississippi. While the weapons themselves are certainly of interest, of even greater importance is how they have impacted the social, military, economic, and institutional fabric of the state. No event occurs in a vacuum. There are always second- and third-order effects, as well as intended and unintended consequences, and this fact holds true as much for weapons in Mississippi as anything else.

    The...

  17. NOTES
    (pp. 217-240)
  18. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 241-254)
  19. INDEX
    (pp. 255-266)