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.
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.