1863: Charles Clark becomes Mississippi’s twenty-fourth governor

Governor Charles Clark (MDAH Collection)
Governor Charles Clark

Clark served from 1863 to1865.

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1863: Natchez writer Sarah Dorsey first published

Agnes Graham, Dorsey’s first work of fiction, was published serially in a southern literary journal.

January 1, 1863: President Abraham Lincoln issues Emancipation Proclamation

Davis Slaves Arriving at Chickasaw Bayou
Davis Slaves Arriving at Chickasaw Bayou

The executive order abolished slavery in all Confederate states. As a result, black soldiers were able to fight for the Union and slavery became a central issue in the Civil War.

Image:  Illustrated drawing from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.  The except describing the drawing reads, “Few incidents have been more curious and instructive than that witnessed some time before the fall of Vicksburg, when the slaves of Jefferson Davis from his plantation on the Mississippi came into camp.  It seemed in itself the doom of slavery…”

March 1863: Yazoo Pass Expedition fails

Star of the West Carving
Star of the West Carving

In an effort to by-pass Vicksburg, the Federals sent the navy into the flooded Mississippi Delta through the Yazoo Pass. The expedition failed when Confederates at Fort Pemberton near Greenwood successfully repulsed the Union gunboats in mid-March.  To aid in this attempt, Confederate forces sunk the ship The Star of the West in the Tallahatchie River near Greenwood to prevent the passage of Union ships.

April 30, 1863: Union navy lands at Bruinsburg

Map of the Mississippi River, 1863 (MDAH Collection)
Map of the Mississippi River, 1863

Finding an unguarded landing at Bruinsburg, south of Grand Gulf, the Union launched the largest amphibious landing conducted by the U. S. Army until the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944.

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May 1863: Union besieges Vicksburg

Corn Cob Candle
Corn Cob Candle

Arriving at Vicksburg, Grant launched two assaults against the Confederate lines (May 19 and May 22). After both assaults failed, Grant decided to lay siege to Vicksburg. After 47 days, Pemberton asked for terms of surrender on July 3 and surrendered his garrison on the Fourth of July.

Image:  As supplies dwindled in Vicksburg during the siege and throughout Mississippi, residents were forced to improvise for basic necessities.  This is an example of a candle made from a corn cob.

May 1, 1863: Battle of Port Gibson

Union forces entering Port Gibson (MDAH Collection)
Union forces entering Port Gibson

After landing at Bruinsburg, Ulysses S. Grant moved his army inland and fought a day-long battle against Confederate General John Bowen’s smaller force. Pushing Bowen back, Grant finally established a foothold on Mississippi soil.

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May 12, 1863: Battle of Raymond

General James B. McPherson, commanding the right wing of Grant’s army, met a small force of Confederates at Raymond. After learning that there were Confederate troops in the Jackson vicinity, Grant decided to turn toward Jackson before moving against Vicksburg.

May 14, 1863: Battle of Jackson

Necklace stolen during the Battle of Jackson
Necklace stolen during the Battle of Jackson

Two days after the Battle of Raymond, Union forces entered Jackson after a brief skirmish with forces under Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston, who fell back from Jackson. After burning factories, warehouses, and other parts of the city, Grant’s troops turned west toward Vicksburg.

Image:  This necklace was stolen from a home during the Battle of Jackson by Daniel Jones, who served in the the 17th Iowa Infantry.  The necklace was preserved by his family and returned to the state in 2010.

May 16, 1863: Grant is victorious at Champion Hill

Coker House
Coker House

Confederate General John C. Pemberton, commanding the troops in Vicksburg, attempted to cut Grant’s supply line to the southeast. Leaving some troops in Vicksburg, Pemberton’s army was met by Grant’s fast-moving army at Champion Hill, near Edwards. After a bloody engagement, Pemberton retreated with most of the army intact across the Big Black River.

Image:  The Coker House, built in 1852, is located on the southern portion of the Champion Hill Battlefield. It sustained fire from both Federal and Confederate artillery and served as a field hospital. The house was restored in 2008 by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Visitors are welcome at the site which is located three miles east of Edwards on Highway 467 in front of the Cal-Maine Foods plant. For more information, call 601-446-6502.

May 17, 1863: Battle of the Big Black River Bridge

The Battle of Big Black River Bridge (MDAH Collection)
The Battle of Big Black River Bridge

Attempting to hold the river crossing to get as many troops across as possible, Pemberton was again defeated by Grant’s troops on the east bank of the Big Black River. The remaining Confederate forces fell back into the defenses at Vicksburg.

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June 7, 1863: Black Mississippians fight in Battle of Milliken’s Bend

In one of the earliest battles involving black soldiers, Union forces successfully repulsed an attempt by Confederates in Louisiana to capture this supply depot on the Mississippi River.

July 5-25, 1863: Sherman’s Expedition to Jackson and Siege of Jackson

Reoccupation of Jackson by Confederate forces after Union withdrawal (MDAH Collection)
Reoccupation of Jackson by Confederate forces after Union withdrawal

Following the surrender of Vicksburg, Union General William T. Sherman returned to Jackson to defeat Joseph E. Johnston’s army. After a brief siege, Johnston retreated across the Pearl River and Sherman returned to Vicksburg.

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April 17, 1863: Colonel Benjamin Grierson’s Union cavalry raid

In order to distract Confederate forces from landing on the Mississippi River, Grant ordered Colonel Benjamin Grierson on a raid from Lagrange, Tennessee, to Newton Station to cut the Mississippi Central Railroad. After reaching Newton on April 24, Grierson continued south to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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