Today in History: The Battle of Champion Hill

On May 16, 2013, in Uncategorized, 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 1863 and the Civil War. Special thanks to Nan Prince, assistant director of collections, for writing this series.

May 16, 1863 – The Vicksburg Campaign:  The Battle of Champion Hill

Coat worn by John McDonnell. Accession number: 1960.16.3 (Museum Division collection)

Coat worn by John McDonnell. Accession number: 1960.16.3 (Museum Division collection)

President Abraham Lincoln called Vicksburg, Mississippi, “the key” to winning the Civil War, and General Ulysses S. Grant launched the Vicksburg Campaign in the spring of 1863. The campaign was a series of battles and maneuvers that led to the eventual siege and surrender of the Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River.

The Battle of Champion Hill, which began on the morning of May 16, became the most decisive battle of the Vicksburg Campaign. After fierce fighting against Grant’s troops centered around Champion Hill, Lt. General John C. Pemberton decided to withdraw his army towards his base of operations, Vicksburg, and moved towards the Baker’s Creek Crossing on Raymond Road, the only escape route left for his troops. Brigadier General Lloyd Tilghman’s brigade was ordered to protect the crossing at all costs. Company G, 1st Mississippi Light Artillery (Cowan’s Battery), part of Tilghman’s Brigade, positioned their guns to protect the road, which was held until late afternoon when the Union army seized the bridge and marched on to occupy Edwards.

Pemberton and his army were in full retreat to Vicksburg. Tilghman’s Brigade, along with the rest of General William W. Loring’s division, was cut off from Pemberton’s troops, and this proved to be a devastating loss. Of Grant’s 32,000 troops engaged at the Battle of Champion Hill, 410 were killed, 1,844 were wounded, and 187 were missing at the end of the day, but the victory was decisive and paved the way for the eventual success of the Vicksburg Campaign. Pemberton’s losses were severe with 381 killed, 1,018 wounded, and 2,441 missing out of the 23,000 in the battle. In addition he lost several vital pieces of artillery and Loring’s entire division.

Haversack worn by John McDonnell. Accession number: 1960.16.1 (Museum Division collection)

Haversack worn by John McDonnell. Accession number: 1960.16.1 (Museum Division collection)

Pictured here are the uniform coat and haversack worn by John McDonnell, who served with Company G, 1st Mississippi Light Artillery, which was engaged in the fighting at Baker’s Creek Bridge. This type of coat is known as a “Columbus Depot Jacket” and was one of the most common jackets worn by Confederates in the western theater.

The shell fragments, six pound cannonball, and minie ball bullets pictured below were found on the Champion Hill battlefield.

Artifacts from Champion Hill Battelfield. Accession numbers: 1970.14.4, 1962.586.12a, 1977.1.6, and 1977.6.2a-c (Museum Division collection)

Artifacts from Champion Hill Battelfield. Accession numbers: 1970.14.4, 1962.586.12a, 1977.1.6, and 1977.6.2a-c (Museum Division collection)

Below is a link to previous blog posts describing the restoration of the Coker House which is located on the Champion Hill battlefield. The Coker House sustained artillery fire from both sides and served as a field hospital during the battle.

http://mdah.state.ms.us/senseofplace/tag/coker-house/

Source: “Champion Hill,” Vicksburg National Military Park, National Park Service, http://www.nps.gov/vick/historyculture/champhill.htm.

 

Artifacts: Jane Grafton’s Dress

On February 19, 2013, in Uncategorized, by Amanda
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Nan Prince, assistant director of collections, brings us another post in her ongoing series about interesting artifacts in the Museum Division collection.

Empire-style dress. Accession Number: 1960.326.1 (Museum Division Collection)

Empire-style dress. Accession Number: 1960.326.1 (Museum Division Collection)

 

This Empire-style dress (circa late eighteenth to early nineteenth century) belonged to Mrs. Jane Grafton who lived near Natchez, Mississippi.  According to family tradition, Mrs. Grafton raised the cotton, picked the seed from the cotton, spun the thread, wove the cloth, raised the indigo used in dying the blue strip, and sewed the dress by hand with homespun thread.

 

Artifacts: 1860s Child’s Suit

On November 14, 2012, in Uncategorized, by Amanda
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Nan Prince, Assistant Director of Collections in the MDAH Museum Division, brings us this post about interesting artifacts in the collection.

Child's suit from the 1860s. Accession number: 1973.26.1ab (Museum Division Collection)

Child's suit from the 1860s. Accession number: 1973.26.1ab (Museum Division Collection)

This child’s suit dates to the 1860s and is made of dark green wool. It is part of a collection of clothing and linen that was handed down through four generations of the Benjamin T. Edward family of Warren County, Mississippi.

Artifacts from the Museum Division collection that are not on exhibit are available for viewing by appointment. Please contact Nan Prince, Assistant Director of Collections, by email to schedule an appointment.

 

Historic Inauguration Photographs: Inaugural Balls

On January 17, 2012, in Uncategorized, by Amanda
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Mississippi inaugurated a new governor and other state officials last week. This series brings you historic photographs of past inauguration ceremonies, inaugural parades, and inaugural balls from the MDAH collection.

Mr. and Mrs. Carroll Gartin at inaugural ball of Paul Johnson, Jr., 1964. Call Number: PI/COL/1981.0066, item 219 (MDAH Collection)

Mr. and Mrs. Carroll Gartin at inaugural ball of Paul Johnson, Jr., 1964. Call Number: PI/COL/1981.0066, item 219 (MDAH Collection)

Loren Ormond, Miss Hospitality 1962-63, is at left middle ground.

Governor and Mrs. William L. Waller during inaugural festivites, 1972. Call Number: PI/SF/POR/1987.0205, item 2 (MDAH Collection)

Governor and Mrs. William L. Waller during inaugural festivities, 1972. Call Number: PI/SF/POR/1987.0205, item 2 (MDAH Collection)

Inaugural ball of Governor Fielding L. Wright, governor from 1946-1952. Call Number: PI/SF/POL/1987.0029, item 3 (MDAH Collection)

Inaugural ball of Governor Fielding L. Wright, governor from 1946-1952. Call Number: PI/SF/POL/1987.0029, item 3 (MDAH Collection)

 

Remembering Veterans: World War II

On May 31, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Amanda
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In honor of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, we will be highlighting collections related to the military history of Mississippi and veterans who served the state beginning with the territorial militia in 1797 through World War II (the most recent engagement for which we have collections). Special thanks to Jim Pitts, of the MDAH Government Records section, for compiling the military records and their descriptions and to Nan Prince, Museum Division, for compiling the artifacts.

World War II uniform coat. Accession Number: 2000.10.2 (Museum of Mississippi History Collection)

World War II uniform coat. Accession Number: 2000.10.2 (Museum of Mississippi History Collection)

This World War II uniform coat, known as an Eisenhower jacket, belonged to George C. Sargent of Bentonia, Mississippi. Sargent served in the U.S. Army from 1944-1946. He was a member of Company D in the 3rd Armored Division and in the 67th Armored Regiment of the 2nd Armored Division. He was involved in battles at Ardennes, Rhineland, and in Central Europe.

Artifacts in the collection of the Museum of Mississippi History are available for viewing by appointment only. Please contact Cindy Gardner, Director of Collections or Nan Prince, Asst. Director of Collections by email to schedule an appointment.

Turcotte Diary. Call Number: Z/1606.000/SM; Turcotte (William H.) Diary. (MDAH Collection)

Pages from the Turcotte diary. Call Number: Z/1606.000/SM; Turcotte (William H.) Diary. (MDAH Collection)

The image above shows two pages from the World War II diary of William H. Turcotte, an officer in the 322nd Bombardment Squadron, 91st Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force. Turcotte was shot down in October 1943 and imprisoned in Stalag Luft III, a prisoner-of-war camp in Poland. His diary is an excellent historical source. These images show the diary cover and a page illustrating the various devices constructed from metal cans as part of a contest in the camp.