New Heritage of Mississippi Book Published

The fourth book in the Heritage of Mississippi Series has been published. 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 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 in Mississippi became overwhelmed militarily, the white 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 focuses new light on previously neglected groups such as women and African Americans.

Tim Smith teaches history at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He is the author of several books, including The Untold Story of Shiloh: The Battle and Battlefield and Champion Hill: Decisive Battle for Vicksburg. Smith will be the speaker at a History Is Lunch program on August 4.

The Heritage of Mississippi Series is aimed at a broad audience of scholars, teachers, students, and interested general readers. The works are meant to stand as the definitive studies on the topics for years to come. Published jointly by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the Mississippi Historical Society, and the University Press of Mississippi, the series will cover the history of Mississippi in fifteen volumes to be completed by 2017—the bicentennial of Mississippi’s statehood.

Three other volumes in the series have been issued—Art in Mississippi: 1720–1980 by Patti Carr Black, Religion in Mississippi, by Randy J. Sparks, and Rednecks, Redeemers, and Race: Mississippi after Reconstruction, 1877–1917, by Stephen Cresswell.

Scheduled for publication are The Civil War in Mississippi: Major Campaigns and Battles, by Michael B. Ballard, archivist, Mississippi State University; and Mississippi’s American Indians by James F. Barnett, Jr., Historic Properties Division director, MDAH.

Volumes currently in progress are Mississippi in the Twentieth Century: An Economic History, by Connie Lester, assistant professor of history, University of Central Florida and editor of the Florida Historical Quarterly, and From Poverty to Promise: Mississippi 1917–1945, by Chester M. Morgan III, professor of history, University of Southern Mississippi.

Recently commissioned volumes include Reconstruction in Mississippi by political commentator Jere Nash, aided by William C. Harris, professor emeritus of history, North Carolina State University, and Frontier Mississippi, 1798–1840 by James Michael Bunn, curator of history, Columbus Museum, Columbus, Georgia, and Clay Williams, director, Old Capitol Museum, Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Members of the board of editors of the Heritage of Mississippi Series are Chairman William F. Winter, Vice-chair John F. Marszalek, Dernoral Davis, Elbert R. Hilliard, H.T. Holmes, Peggy W. Jeanes, William K. Scarborough, Charles Reagan Wilson, and Christine Wilson.

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