Today in History: The Battle of Jackson

On May 14, 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 14, 1863 – The Vicksburg Campaign:  The Battle of Jackson

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.

In order to isolate Vicksburg, General Grant decided to march on Jackson to cut the rail and communication lines and military reinforcements that supplied the Mississippi River town. Confederate President Jefferson Davis sent General Joseph Johnston into Jackson to try to prevent Grant’s progression through Mississippi. Realizing the futility of fighting to save the capital city from such a large, advancing Federal force, which included the corps of Generals Sherman and McPherson, Johnston ordered an evacuation of Jackson and sent Brig. Gen. John Gregg to engage Grant’s forces and cover the evacuation. After the ensuing battle, which resulted in an estimated 1,145 casualties for both sides, Gregg pulled out of the city, leaving it defenseless. To prevent having to occupy Jackson, Grant ordered the destruction of anything of military value, including railroad tracks, telegraph lines, and factories. The railroad track pictured below, called a “Sherman Necktie,” was found in the Pearl River in 1987, and was probably torn up, bent to render it inoperable, and thrown into the river by Union forces after the Battle of Jackson.

Sherman necktie. Accession number: 1987.28.1 (Museum Division collection)

Sherman necktie. Accession number: 1987.28.1 (Museum Division collection)

Plundering by the Union troops also took place as evidenced by a telegram from Governor John J. Pettus which stated, “Furniture in State House badly abused in Governor’s mansion, demolished Telegh [sic] wires torn down cut…Ladies robbed of jewelry money. Much destruction here.” The cap photographed below was made from drapery material taken from the State House by Col. Nathan W. Tupper of the 116th Illinois Infantry. It is currently on display in the Old Capitol Museum.

Col. Nathan W. Tupper's cap. Accession number: 1972.22.4 (Museum Division collection)

Col. Nathan W. Tupper’s cap. Accession number: 1972.22.4 (Museum Division collection)

Private Daniel Jones of Company I of the 17th Iowa Infantry took the garnet necklace pictured below from a Jackson home. In a letter to his sister, Jones described his involvement in the Vicksburg campaign and the action in Jackson, writing “…we marched into the City and plundered it…”

Garnet necklace. Accession number: 2010.6.1 (Museum Division collection)

Garnet necklace. Accession number: 2010.6.1 (Museum Division collection)

The descendants of both soldiers returned the looted items to the state in recent years.

Sources:

“Battle of Jackson (May 14),” Vicksburg National Military Park, National Park Service, http://www.nps.gov/vick/historyculture/jackson.htm.

Governor John J. Pettus to unknown, May 16, 1863, Section 8: Telegrams from Governor, Sept. 1862-May 1863, Series 760: Military Telegrams, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, microfilm no. 3248.

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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 1, 1863 – The Vicksburg Campaign:  The Battle of Port Gibson

Battle flag of 4th Mississippi Infantry. Accession Number: 1968.44.1 (Museum Division Collection)

Battle flag of 4th Mississippi Infantry. Accession Number: 1968.44.1 (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.

Despite many setbacks, Grant’s army crossed the Mississippi River at Bruinsburg on April 30­–May 1, 1863, and began moving toward Vicksburg. The unopposed crossing was the largest amphibious operation in American military history until the D-Day invasion of World War II. A skirmish began soon after midnight on May 1 when the advancing federal army engaged a Confederate outpost at the A. K. Shaifer House near Port Gibson. Grant gathered his forces and advanced on Rodney Road and Bruinsburg Road, and the Battle of Port Gibson began in earnest later that morning. Out-manned nearly three to one, the Confederates could not hold their position during the day of fighting. By the day’s end, the Battle of Port Gibson claimed over 1,600 casualties, and Grant made an important gain in his advance toward Vicksburg.

The image shows the battle flag of the 4th Mississippi Infantry, which participated in several battles of the Vicksburg campaign including the Battle of Port Gibson. This flag was later captured near Brentwood Hills during the Battle of Nashville on December 16, 1864.

The Shaifer House, the site of the first shots of the Battle of Port Gibson, was recently restored. Below is a link to photographs of the dedication ceremony held in 2007.

http://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/shaifer/

Source: “Vicksburg Campaign and Siege March-July 1863,” Vicksburg National Military Park, National Park Service, http://www.nps.gov/vick/historyculture/vickcamp-siege.htm.

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Handmade Choctaw Quilt

On March 13, 2013, in Artifacts, 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.

Choctaw quilt. Accession Number: 1972.28.7 (Museum Division Collection)

Choctaw quilt. Accession Number: 1972.28.7 (Museum Division Collection)

This quilt was made by Choctaw quilter Dorothy Thomas and her daughter Ivora Thomas of Conehatta in Newton County, Mississippi. This mother-daughter team worked together on quilts. This example, which is pieced with alternating designs of Choctaw girls and teepees appliqued on white squares, was acquired from the Choctaw Arts and Crafts Association in Philadelphia in 1972.

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Artifacts: Jane Grafton’s Dress

On February 19, 2013, in Artifacts, 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.

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Artifacts: 1860s Child’s Suit

On November 14, 2012, in Artifacts, 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.

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