The Mississippi Civil War Sesquicentennial continues and in the coming months we will be highlighting Museum Division collections related to 1863 and the Civil War. Special thanks to Nan Prince, assistant director of collections, for writing this series.

July 1–3, 1863:  The Battle of Gettysburg

Known as the “High Water Mark of the Rebellion,” Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War with 51,000 casualties. The three-day battle fought in and around the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, coupled with the surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi, on July 4, became a turning point in the war. On the second day of the battle, Brig. Gen. William Barksdale led his brigade of Mississippians in an assault at the Peach Orchard. Through fierce fighting, they gained significant ground but were eventually repulsed. Leading the charge, Barksdale was shot and fell from his horse, mortally wounded. Barksdale’s brigade, which included the 13th, 17th, 18th, and 21st Mississippi Infantry regiments, suffered tremendous casualties.

The sword pictured below was reputedly worn by Barksdale when he was killed at Gettysburg.

Sword reputedly worn by William Barksdale at Gettysburg. Accession number: 1960.130.1a (Museum Division collection)

Sword reputedly worn by William Barksdale at Gettysburg. Accession number: 1960.130.1a (Museum Division collection)

The flag below was presented to the Burt Rifles, Company K, 18th Mississippi Infantry regiment by the ladies of Jackson. The 18th Mississippi Infantry was part of Barksdale’s brigade and fought at the Peach Orchard.

Flag of the 18th Regiment, Mississippi Infantry (Burt Rifles). Accession number: 1968.38.1 (Museum Division collection)

Flag of the 18th Regiment, Mississippi Infantry (Burt Rifles). Accession number: 1968.38.1 (Museum Division collection)

Sources:

“A New Birth of Freedom,” Gettysburg National Military Park, National Park Service, http://www.nps.gov/gett/index.htm.

Jim Woodrick, “‘The Grandest Charge Ever Made:’ Barksdale at Gettysburg,” And Speaking of Which (blog), July 2, 2012, http://andspeakingofwhich.blogspot.com/2012/07/grandest-charge-ever-made-barksdale-at.html.