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Civil War Mississippi

Civil War Mississippi: A Guide

Michael B. Ballard
Copyright Date: 2000
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    Civil War Mississippi
    Book Description:

    In the Civil War Mississippi experienced a protracted and devastating invasion, and Confederate and Union armies fought fiercely at Corinth, Holly Springs, Iuka, Port Gibson, Vicksburg, and many other sites throughout the state.

    With both tourists and Civil War buffs in mind, archivist Michael Ballard has written Civil War Mississippi: A Guide, the first comprehensive coverage of the war in the state. Containing easy-to-follow maps and a wealth of historical material, the book discusses the campaigns, the present-day battlefields, the battles, and the soldiers and generals who fought.

    The war was complex in Mississippi, for it involved sieges, trench warfare, naval bombardments, and brilliant cavalry engagements. Some of the most storied names of the war-- Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and John Pemberton-- experienced their most triumphant and harrowing moments on Mississippi battlegrounds.

    Ballard captures all the destruction, drama, and bravery of Mississippi's war. He examines the major campaigns, emphasizing why engagements occurred, how the battles ended, and how the war in Mississippi affected the ongoing struggle nationwide. Maps include current highways and Ballard has added present-day photos and recommendations about touring the sites.

    Both the novice and the Civil War expert will relish this tour of the state's war legacy. Michael Ballard is University Archivist and Coordinator of the Congressional Collection for Special Collections of the Mississippi State University Libraries. Author of numerous works on the war, he has publishedA Long Shadow: Jefferson Davis and the Final Days of the Confederacy, andPemberton: A Biographywith the University Press of Mississippi. Both were History Book Club selections.

    eISBN: 978-1-62103-213-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-6)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 7-8)
  3. Preface
    (pp. 9-10)
  4. PART I Iuka and Corinth

    • [PART I Introduction]
      (pp. 11-14)

      In the spring of 1862, Union forces in the war’s western theater had made significant progress in fracturing a long, and in most places lightly defended, Confederate defense line that extended from western Virginia to the Mississippi River. The line had been breached by a Union victory at Fishing Creek, Kentucky, and had suffered irreparable breaks at Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River and at forts Henry and Donelson in Tennessee. Nashville, the Tennessee state capital, had been evacuated without a fight. So, while Confederate victories in Virginia had led to nothing more than a stalemate in the eastern...

    • ONE Silent Guns: The Battle of Iuka
      (pp. 15-21)

      Ulysses S. Grant had become more and more obsessed with Sterling Price’s intentions. Was Price trying to block the rail line to keep Grant from sending troops to Don Carlos Buell? Grant knew that Earl Van Dorn was bringing a small army northeastward from Vicksburg, but he had received conflicting reports from his scouts. Some intelligence suggested that Price intended to march into Tennessee and on to Kentucky, no doubt to reinforce Braxton Bragg. Other scouts thought Price had in mind a coordinated attack with Van Dorn against Corinth. Still others suggested that Price would cross the state line into...

    • TWO Van Dorn’s Folly: The Battle of Corinth
      (pp. 22-34)

      In his early forties, the brash Earl Van Dorn cut a fine figure astride his horse. The epitome of the mythical southern cavalier, Van Dorn, a West Point graduate in the same class as William Rosecrans, loved the army life, sought danger, dreamed big, and, all in all, was in many respects the western counterpart to a Virginia cavalryman named J. E. B. Stuart. Appointed major general in September 1861, Van Dorn seemed to have a promising career ahead of him in the Confederate army.

      But on the campaign trail, that promise dimmed at the Battle of Pea Ridge on...

  5. PART II Vicksburg

    • [PART II Introduction]
      (pp. 35-38)

      The Mississippi River was both an economic and a psychological factor for Union and Confederate commanders as they plotted their strategy in the west. For many years, the river had served as a vital waterway for midwestern farmers shipping their goods to the eastern states via the Gulf of Mexico. Development of railroads and canals had lessened dependence on the river before the war. Yet politicians, merchants, and farmers in the upper Mississippi Valley region did not like the idea of the river being closed because of Confederate artillery looming along the banks where the “Father of Waters” flowed through...

    • THREE Gunboats: The First Attack on Vicksburg
      (pp. 39-44)

      David Farragut had been around and in the United States Navy most of his life, dating back to experiences as a young boy in the War of 1812. Even though a southerner by birth and having two wives from Virginia (not at the same time), Farragut had been in the old navy too long to sympathize with the secession movement. His successes on the lower Mississippi had made him a hero, but Flag Officer Farragut sought bigger game—Vicksburg. He arrived at the Vicksburg scene on May 30, 1862.

      Part of his fleet had already been there for some time....

    • FOUR Grant’s Failures: Vicksburg, October 1862—April 1863
      (pp. 45-54)

      As the fall and winter seasons of 1862 approached, U. S. Grant may often have sat and wondered at his up-and-down career. A solid Mexican War performance, numerous personal problems including several failures in civilian occupations, glory with his capture of forts Henry and Donelson early in 1862, and criticism for being surprised and battered at Shiloh (the second day’s victory had done little to restore him to favor in the eyes of his superiors) and for letting Sterling Price escape at Iuka had all contributed to Grant’s checkered life. Now, with north Mississippi secured, he looked to Vicksburg, and...

    • FIVE Grant Triumphant: Vicksburg, Final Campaign and Siege
      (pp. 55-74)

      The steady tramp of Union infantry and the clatter of artillery drifted through the steep ravines and across the high ridges west of Port Gibson. On they came, their path lit by moonlight filtering through the moss and leaves of large hardwood trees. These were the men of John McClernand’s XIII Corps, who had marched inland and then had turned right off the main road to Port Gibson. En route they had passed the magnificent mansion called Windsor, its giant columns casting eery shadows across the landscape. Union commanders feared that the road might be blocked up ahead. Scouts had...

  6. PART III Meridian, Brice’s Cross Roads, and Tupelo

    • [PART III Introduction]
      (pp. 75-76)

      In the aftermath of the Vicksburg campaign, William T. Sherman went east, besieged Joseph Johnston at Jackson, soon forcing him to the Mississippi hinterland. Johnston had marched his men to the Big Black, but had arrived there only in time to hear of Vicksburg’s surrender. Sherman wanted not only to chase Johnston away but “to go on eastward and destroy the remaining railroads of the State in and near Meridian.” Supply depots at Meridian had kept Vicksburg supplied and were still supplying large areas of Mississippi and Alabama.

      Sherman decided to wait. As he wrote a few months afterward, “The...

    • SIX Securing a Victory: The Meridian Campaign
      (pp. 77-88)

      William T. Sherman had reason to be confident. He knew that the Confederate commander in Mississippi, Leonidas Polk, did not have enough men to successfully contest the movement of Union troops in Mississippi. Because Polk’s troops were scattered over a wide area, all Sherman really had to do was order a few feints here and there, and the Rebel troops would remain scattered and relatively impotent.

      So Sherman organized the Meridian campaign. His purpose was “to break up the enemy’s railroads at and about Meridian, and to do the enemy as much damage as possible in the month of February...

    • SEVEN The Wizard’s Magic: The Battle of Brice’s Cross Roads
      (pp. 89-98)

      Some called him the “Wizard of the Saddle,” and, by the summer of 1864, many in the North conceded that Nathan Bedford Forrest had earned the name, one that made even his most seasoned opponents nervous. Though he had never studied military science, Forrest had the natural instincts that made him a superior soldier. His strategy and tactics always seemed sound, and he was especially effective in independent command. Whenever he served under someone else, there was usually a blowup. The prime example thus far in the war had been a heated exchange with Braxton Bragg in Georgia. Forrest had...

    • EIGHT Turning the Tables: The Battle of Tupelo
      (pp. 99-109)

      In the aftermath of the Union defeat at Brice’s Cross Roads, Cump Sherman grew more determined than ever to eliminate Bedford Forrest. Sherman was convinced that Forrest was “the very devil” and that there would never be peace in Tennessee until that devil was killed. Forrest had to be erased even if it cost ten thousand lives and wrecked the U.S. Treasury, Sherman wrote to Washington. The fuming Sherman, wishing that he could forget Forrest and concentrate on his Atlanta campaign, set in motion another expedition to do what Samuel Sturgis had failed to accomplish.

      As it happened, A. J....

  7. Conclusion: The Legacy of the War in Mississippi
    (pp. 110-114)

    The Civil War took a heavy toll on Mississippi. Many of the state’s political and economic elite either fell in battle or saw their fortunes ruined by the devastation and economic upheaval wrought by the conflict. Some white families managed to hang on to a semblance of their prewar positions; others were ruined. Most members of the white community, in Mississippi and elsewhere in the Confederacy, were simply shocked and overwhelmed by the circumstances of defeat.

    Black Mississippians, on the other hand, were overjoyed at being set free by Abraham Lincoln and the Union armies. While still slaves, many set...

  8. Touring the War
    (pp. 115-120)
  9. Major Campaigns and Battles
    (pp. 121-122)
  10. Other Engagements
    (pp. 123-126)
  11. Civil War Cemeteries
    (pp. 127-129)
  12. Other Places to Visit
    (pp. 130-132)
  13. Index
    (pp. 133-135)