The Battle of Chattanooga

On November 22, 2013, 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 1863 and the Civil War. Special thanks to Nan Prince, assistant director of collections, for writing this series.

November 23–25, 1863: The Battle of Chattanooga

Flag of the 10th Regiment, Mississippi Infantry. Accession number: 1968.46.1 (Museum Division collection)

Flag of the 10th Regiment, Mississippi Infantry. Accession number: 1968.46.1 (Museum Division collection)

In the fall of 1863, Union and Confederate armies engaged in several clashes in northern Georgia and southern Tennessee that were fought to determine control of the strategic rail center of Chattanooga, Tennessee. After the defeat of the Union army at the Battle of Chickamauga, General Ulysses S. Grant deployed troops that had been stationed in Mississippi to the area. On November 23 and 24, Union troops pushed Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee troops out of their defensive positions at Orchard Knob and Lookout Mountain. The battle ended on November 25 after troops under General George H. Thomas scaled the heights of Missionary Ridge in one of the greatest charges of the war, breaking the Confederate line. The battle for Chattanooga was over, and Union forces controlled the town that General Sherman would use as his supply base for his march to Atlanta and the sea the next spring.

Flag of the 41st Regiment, Mississippi Infantry. Accession number: 1962.182.1 (Museum Division collection)

Flag of the 41st Regiment, Mississippi Infantry. Accession number: 1962.182.1 (Museum Division collection)

A number of Mississippi regiments fought in the Chattanooga Campaign, including the 10th and 41st Mississippi Infantries whose flags are pictured here.

This sword belonged to Colonel James A. Campbell of the 27th Mississippi Infantry. He was taken prisoner at the Battle of Lookout Mountain, sent to Johnson’s Island Prisoner of War camp in Ohio, and died there on February 4, 1864.

James A. Campbell's sword. Accession number: 1984.59.1ab (Museum Division collection)

James A. Campbell’s sword. Accession number: 1984.59.1ab (Museum Division collection)

Source: “History and Culture,” Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, National Park Service, http://www.nps.gov/chch/historyculture/index.htm.

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Vicksburg Surrenders

On July 3, 2013, 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 1863 and the Civil War. Special thanks to Nan Prince, assistant director of collections, for writing this series.

July 4, 1863 – The Vicksburg Campaign: The Surrender of Vicksburg

1st National Confederate flag. Accession number: 2004.3.1 (Museum Division collection)

1st National Confederate flag. Accession number: 2004.3.1 (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.

General John Pemberton’s army in Vicksburg was worn down from Grant’s forty-seven day siege. Thousands of his soldiers were suffering from illness, wounds, and malnutrition; and supplies were dangerously low. Realizing that no relief would be coming from General Joseph Johnston and that he could negotiate better terms of surrender on Independence Day, Pemberton surrendered Vicksburg on July 4.

Pictured above is a 1st National Confederate flag taken by Samuel Loring Percival Ayres, second assistant engineer of the USS Pensacola, at Vicksburg on July 4, 1863. The flag was made by H. Cassidy, a prominent flag maker in New Orleans, and is 8 ½ feet long. Cassidy often made Confederate flags from old US flags, and he probably employed that technique with this flag.

Source: “Vicksburg Surrender,” Vicksburg National Military Park, National Park Service, http://www.nps.gov/vick/historyculture/surrender.htm.

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Today in History: Battle of Gettysburg

On July 1, 2013, 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 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.

 

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Today in History: Siege of Vicksburg

On May 28, 2013, 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 1863 and the Civil War. Special thanks to Nan Prince, assistant director of collections, for writing this series.

May 26–July 3, 1863 – The Vicksburg Campaign:  The Siege of Vicksburg

Shingle and nails from Pemberton's headquarters. Accession number: 2001.20.1-2 and 2001.30.1 (Museum Division collection)

Shingle and nails from Pemberton’s headquarters. Accession number: 2001.20.1-2 and 2001.30.1 (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.

Battle flag of 1st Mississippi Artillery, Co. A (Withers Light Artillery). Accession number: 1968.43.1 (Museum Division collection)

Battle flag of 1st Mississippi Artillery, Co. A (Withers Light Artillery). Accession number: 1968.43.1 (Museum Division collection)

After two failed assaults on Vicksburg, the “Gibraltar of the Confederacy,” on May 19 and May 22, General Grant decided to lay siege to the city. While cutting off all supplies and communications to  Vicksburg, federal troops began constructing thirteen different approaches to the Confederate line. Lt. Gen. John Pemberton set up his headquarters in a home in the city known as “Mrs. Willis’s House.” In this house, Pemberton led his operations and endured the long siege. The nails and shingles pictured above were from the Greek Revival home that served as Pemberton’s headquarters. Also pictured below is the battle flag from the 1st Mississippi Artillery, Company A (Withers Light Artillery), which participated in the defense of Vicksburg.

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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.

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