The Atlanta Campaign: 150 Years Ago

On July 28, 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.

Captain T. Otis Baker's sword. Accession number: 1960.256.10a (MDAH Museum Division collection)

Captain T. Otis Baker’s sword. Accession number: 1960.256.10a (MDAH Museum Division collection)

The Atlanta Campaign was a series of battles fought from May through September 1864. Union forces under the control of General William T. Sherman faced the Confederate Army of Tennessee under General Joseph Johnston, who was replaced mid-campaign by General John Bell Hood. With the capture of Atlanta in early September, Sherman cut off a vital supply line for the Confederacy and was able to begin his “March to the Sea.”

Captain T. Otis Baker's officer's shirt. Accession number: 1962.38.10 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

Captain T. Otis Baker’s officer’s shirt. Accession number: 1962.38.10 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

Captain T. Otis Baker of the Tenth Mississippi Infantry was wounded on July 28, 1864, during the Atlanta Campaign and sent to a hospital at Thomastown, Georgia. According to his service records, Baker was on a Register of Prisoners of War when he was paroled on May 1, 1865, in accordance with the terms of surrender negotiated between Generals Johnston and Sherman. Baker was wearing this sword and scabbard when he was wounded. Also pictured is Baker’s officer’s dress shirt. In contrast to the homespun, butternut uniform coat that he wore, Baker’s shirt was rather fancy, as was typical of well-dressed Confederate officers.

Source:

http://www.nps.gov/hps/abpp/battles/ga017.htm

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Battle of Harrisburg: 150 Years Ago

On July 14, 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.

Major Robert C. McCay. Accession number:  1962.210.1 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

Major Robert C. McCay. Accession number: 1962.210.1 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

The last major battle fought in Mississippi during the Civil War was the Battle of Harrisburg, also known as the Battle of Tupelo, on July 14–15.  Still concerned about protecting his vital supply line in Tennessee, U.S. Major General William T. Sherman sent Major General A.J. Smith with fourteen thousand men down from LaGrange, Tennessee, to keep Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest in Mississippi. Eight thousand Confederate troops under the command of Lt. Gen. Stephen D. Lee and Forrest engaged Smith’s forces near Tupelo on the morning of July 14. Smith’s troops repulsed several uncoordinated attacks made by Lee and Forrest.

However the heat and lack of supplies took its toll on the Federal troops, and Smith began retreating toward Memphis on July 15, camping near Old Town Creek in the late afternoon. Confederate forces launched a surprise attack, but the Federal troops were able to form a defense and force a Confederate retreat to the town of Harrisburg. Confederates suffered a loss of 1,300 casualties, including Forrest, who was out of commission for several weeks, while Federal losses numbered 648.

Major Robert C. McCay's sash. Accession number: 1962.210.2 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

Major Robert C. McCay’s sash. Accession number: 1962.210.2 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

Pictured above is Major Robert C. McCay commander of the Thirty-Eighth Mississippi (mounted) Infantry, which fought in the Battle of Harrisburg. The Thirty-Eighth suffered heavy casualties during the battle, and Major McCay was killed. He was wearing the sash pictured above when he died.

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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.

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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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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