Artifacts

The Mississippi Civil War Sesquicentennial continues and in the coming months we will be highlighting Museum Division collections related to 1864 and the Civil War. Special thanks to Nan Prince, assistant director of collections, for writing this series.

Battle flag of the 19th Mississippi Cavalry Battalion. Accession number: 2001.19.1 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

Battle flag of the Nineteenth Mississippi Cavalry Battalion. Accession number: 2001.19.1 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

In order to aid his advance into north Georgia, U.S. Major General William T. Sherman knew he had to protect his vital supply line, the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, and he realized one of the greatest threats to it was Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who had moved 3,500 cavalrymen towards the vital railroad. In order to draw Forrest back to north Mississippi, Sherman ordered Brigadier General Samuel D. Sturgis and his troops to move from Memphis to Mississippi, thus forcing Forrest to move his cavalry to meet him.

On the morning of June 10, the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads began near Baldwyn between Sturgis’ troops, which consisted of a three-brigade division of infantry and a division of cavalry (about 8,500 men), and Forrest’s significantly smaller cavalry corps. By the afternoon, the Confederates had decimated the Union line and forced a retreat back towards Memphis. The battle resulted in 2,600 U.S. casualties, with Confederate casualties numbering a much smaller 495. Although a decisive victory for Forrest, Sherman’s goal of keeping him away from the supply line was successful.

Pictured above is the battle flag of the Nineteenth Mississippi Cavalry Battalion, which was engaged in the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads. The Nineteenth Cavalry Battalion was formed in 1863, under the command of Lt. Col. William Duff for the defense of north Mississippi and was transferred in January 1864 to the command of Colonel Jeffrey Forrest. The Nineteenth later became part of the Eighth Mississippi Cavalry. The flag, which was made by the women of Oxford, was captured on July 13, 1864, at Camargo Cross Roads by the Fourteenth Wisconsin Infantry Regiment. William Barr, of Oxford, was carrying the flag when it was captured. The flag was donated to the Department of Archives and History by the state of Wisconsin in 1943.

Cavalry carbine. Accession number: 1960.52.1 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

Cavalry carbine. Accession number: 1960.52.1 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

Arms from Britain such as the cavalry carbine pictured above were heavily imported by the Confederacy during the Civil War. The carbine’s shorter length was made for cavalry use and could have been used in engagements such as the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads.

Sources:

http://www.nps.gov/brcr/index.htm

http://www.nps.gov/hps/abpp/battles/ms014.htm

http://www.mississippiscv.org/MS_Units/8th_MS_CAV.htm

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Artifacts: Collodion Photography

On May 14, 2014, in Artifacts, by Amanda
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Nan Prince, assistant director of collections, brings us this post about interesting artifacts in the Museum Division collection.

Photography studio chair, ca. 1875. Accession number: 1964.61.1 (Museum Division collection, MDAH)

Photography studio chair, ca. 1875. Accession number: 1964.61.1 (Museum Division collection, MDAH)

Reverse of photography studio chair, ca. 1875. Accession number: 1964.61.1 (Museum Division collection, MDAH)

Reverse of photography studio chair, ca. 1875. Accession number: 1964.61.1 (Museum Division collection, MDAH)

This circa 1875 chair was used in a photographer’s studio during the time of collodion, or wet plate, photography. The metal brace on the back of the chair held the subject’s head steady for the ten to fifteen seconds required for proper exposure of the plate.

Ambrotype portrait. Accession number: 1960.205.1t (Museum Division collection, MDAH)

Ambrotype portrait. Accession number: 1960.205.1t (Museum Division collection, MDAH)

The collodion process was used to produce a positive image on a sheet of glass, which was called an ambrotype. In the 1860s, the ambrotype declined in popularity due the introduction of the tintype, which also used the collodion process to put a positive image on a thin sheet of iron instead of glass. Pictured above is an ambrotype of a young woman who is probably member of Crutcher or Shannon families of Vicksburg and a tintype of an unidentified young man.

Tintype of unidentified man. Accession number: 1983.39.1 (Museum Division collection, MDAH)

Tintype of unidentified man. Accession number: 1983.39.1 (Museum Division collection, MDAH)

 

Battle of the Wilderness: 150 Years Ago

On May 5, 2014, in Artifacts, by Amanda
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The Mississippi Civil War Sesquicentennial continues and in the coming months we will be highlighting Museum Division collections related to 1864 and the Civil War. Special thanks to Nan Prince, assistant director of collections, for writing this series.

The Battle of the Wilderness was the first battle in the Overland Campaign, initiated by the newly appointed leader of the federal armies, General Ulysses S. Grant. The Overland, or Wilderness, Campaign was a series of maneuvers and battles in northern Virginia throughout May and June 1864. Fierce fighting in the dense woods during the Battle of the Wilderness led to almost thirty thousand casualties in the two days of fighting. Although the battle was technically a draw, U.S. forces lost significantly more soldiers than the Confederates. Determined to reengage Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, Grant—instead of retreating as had his predecessors—turned his army toward Spotsylvania Courthouse, where they continued to fight the next day.

Henry A. Magruder's shirt. Accession number: 1962.251.2 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

Henry A. Magruder’s shirt. Accession number: 1962.251.2 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

This shirt was worn by Henry A. Magruder when he was wounded in the Battle of the Wilderness. Born in 1841, in Sharon (Madison County), Mississippi, Magruder served with the Madison Light Artillery, which was also known as Ward’s Battery.  Magruder survived his injury and returned home to Mississippi after the war.

Captain Silvanus Jackson Quinn's dictionary. Accession number: 1960.332.1 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

Captain Silvanus Jackson Quinn’s dictionary. Accession number: 1960.332.1 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

Captain Silvanus Jackson Quinn, Company A, Thirteenth Mississippi Regiment, kept this dictionary and a package of letters from home in his breast pocket. They reputedly saved his life when he was shot during the Battle of the Wilderness.

Sources:

http://www.nps.gov/frsp/wildspot.htm

http://www.nps.gov/hps/abpp/battles/va046.htm

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Artifacts: Lowry Raid on Free State of Jones

On April 10, 2014, in Artifacts, by Amanda
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The Mississippi Civil War Sesquicentennial continues and in the coming months we will be highlighting Museum Division collections related to 1864 and the Civil War. Special thanks to Nan Prince, assistant director of collections, for writing this series.

This hand-made corn knife belonged to the Knight family. Accession number: 1981.60.1 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

This hand-made corn knife belonged to the Knight family. Accession number: 1981.60.1 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

Consisting mainly of yeoman farmers and cattle herders, Jones County had the lowest percentage of slave population of any county in Mississippi when the state seceded in 1861. After the passage of the Twenty-Slave Exemption law in 1862 by the Confederate Congress, which exempted anyone owning twenty or more slaves from the draft, many soldiers from Jones County left the army and returned home. Shocked by the harsh conditions on the home front, citizens led by Newton Knight turned Jones County into a haven for Confederate deserters in the spring of 1864.

This Confederate officer’s frock coat belonged to Robert Lowry. Accession number: 1960.157.1a (MDAH Museum Division collection)

This Confederate officer’s frock coat belonged to Robert Lowry. Accession number: 1960.157.1a (MDAH Museum Division collection)

Confederate officials sent Colonel Robert Lowry to squash the Jones County rebellion in April. Using blood hounds to drive Knight’s men out of the swamps, Lowry caught and hanged many of the rebels and ended the insurrection; although Knight himself escaped. After the war, the United States Army made Knight a commissioner in charge of distributing food to the poor and starving of Jones County. He made the unpopular choice of supporting the Republican Party during Reconstruction and in 1872, was made deputy United States marshal for the Southern District. Robert Lowry rose through the ranks during the war to become a brigadier general. After the war, he was elected to two terms as governor of Mississippi.

Source:

http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/articles/309/newton-knight-and-the-legend-of-the-free-state-of-jones

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Battle of Okolona: 150 Years Ago

On February 21, 2014, in Artifacts, by Amanda
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The Mississippi Civil War Sesquicentennial continues and in the coming months we will be highlighting Museum Division collections related to 1864 and the Civil War. Special thanks to Nan Prince, assistant director of collections, for writing this series.

Model 1860 Colt revolver owned by Captain William Bean Peery. Accession number: 1963.29.1 (Museum Division collection)

Model 1860 Colt revolver owned by Captain William Bean Peery. Accession number: 1963.29.1 (Museum Division collection)

Marching from Vicksburg, Union General William T. Sherman began a campaign to destroy the strategic railroad center of Meridian, Mississippi, in February 1864 and ordered Brigadier General William Sooy Smith to come down from Memphis to meet him in Meridian. Against Sherman’s orders, Smith delayed his departure for several days. Once in Mississippi, Smith’s seven thousand cavalry troops encountered minor resistance until they met with Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s troops in West Point on February 21. Smith retreated to Okolona, and Forrest pursued. On February 22, Forrest’s troops attacked Smith on the prairie outside Okolona. After a day of fighting, Smith retreated back toward Tennessee, thus jeopardizing Sherman’s Meridian Campaign. The Battle of Okolona resulted in one hundred U.S. casualties and fifty Confederate, including the loss of Colonel Jeffrey Forrest, the brother of Nathan Bedford Forrest.

This Model 1860 Colt revolver belonged to Captain William Bean Peery of the Fifth Mississippi Cavalry. It was originally issued to Marias Kelly of Company C, Seventh Indiana Cavalry, who was taken prisoner at the Battle of Okolona, February 22, 1864.

Sources:

http://www.nps.gov/hps/abpp/battles/ms013.htm

http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/articles/2/shermans-meridian-campaign-a-practice-run-for-the-march-to-the-sea

http://www.okolona.org/aboutbattle.html

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