Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Invading Mississippi

Mississippi Invaded

Invaded Mississipi yesterday all too briefly.  We had this to say about the Magnolia state in America Invaded (www.americainvaded.com)...

The Mississippian culture, which extended through many southeastern states, built mounds from around AD 800 to 1600.

Hernando de Soto, a Spanish explorer, was the  first European to arrive in Mississippi in 1540. De Soto died on the banks of the Mississippi River in either Arkansas or Louisiana in 1542.

The French, however, were the  first Europeans to begin colonization of Mississippi. Robert de La Salle claimed Mississippi for France in 1682. Pierre Iberville built the  first French fort in Mississippi at Fort de Maurepas on Biloxi Bay.  The French also introduced African slaves to Mississippi.

 The French colonists did have various conflicts with local Native Americans.

For instance, they clashed with the Natchez on a number of occasions. In 1736, after a dispute over land, the Natchez attacked and destroyed the French post at Fort Rosalie.  The French, with local Native American allies, launched a war against the Natchez that forced them from their homes and scattered them...
George III
Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia

French rule in Mississippi came to an end in 1763 with their defeat in the Seven Years’ War. King George III’s proclamation of 1763 banned migration to the Mississippi territory in order to maintain peace with Native Americans tribes, such as the Choctaw.

Settlers seeking good farming land made their way west regardless of George III, and this accelerated with the American Revolution.

In 1779, the Spanish, sympathetic to the American cause, declared war on Britain and captured Natchez. And in 1791, Fort Nogales was built near what is now Vicksburg to counter American expansion in the region. However, in 1795, Spain relinquished control of territory north of the 31st parallel to the United States. In 1798, Spain evacuated Natchez.

The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 secured Mississippi’s western border.  The southern coast of Mississippi, however, remained under Spanish control until 1812.

As happened elsewhere, Native Americans were bribed and pressured to yield control of their land. For instance, in 1801, the Choctaw ceded over two million acres; and in 1805, they relinquished another four million acres...

Mississippi joined the Union as the twentieth state in 1817.

In the period following, most Native Americans were removed from the state and relocated to the west.

Mississippi, a cotton-growing slave state, was among the  first to join the Confederacy in 1861. Abraham Lincoln had not even been on the ballot in Mississippi in the election of 1860. Around 80,000 Mississippians would serve in Confederate gray during the war. Over 17,000 freed slaves from Mississippi would eventually serve in Union blue.

After the Union victory at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862, Grant’s Army of Tennessee advanced south into Mississippi.  The Battle of Iuka was fought in Mississippi September 19–20, 1862. An unusual “acoustic shadow” prevented Grant from hearing about the battle being fought by Rosecrans against Price. An opportunity for a decisive Union victor was thereby squandered.

On May 30, 1862, Major General Henry Halleck captured Corinth after a month-long siege. Corinth would become a major Union supply base from which the struggle for Vicksburg was launched.
On October 3–4, 1862, the Confederates struck back in Mississippi at the bloody Second Battle of Corinth. Union Major General Rosecrans fought Van Dorn with evenly matched forces, and around 5,000 men were killed, with both sides suffering similar losses.  The Confederates withdrew.

Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant identified the critical nature of the fortress city of Vicksburg in his memoirs:

"Vicksburg is important to the enemy because it occupied the first high ground coming close to the river below Memphis. From there a railroad runs east, connecting with other roads leading to all points of the Southern States. A railroad also starts from the opposite side of the river, extending west as far as Shreveport, Louisiana. Vicksburg was the only channel ... connecting the parts of the Confederacy divided by the Mississippi. So long as it was held by the enemy, the free navigation of the river was prevented."

Admiral Farragut
Vicksburg, therefore, became a major strategic target for Union forces. David Farragut, the Union admiral from Virginia, had been the first to attempt to storm “the Confederate Gibraltar” in June of 1862. Farragut even tried to build a canal in the river bend south of Vicksburg to avoid having Union ships shelled from the blu -top batteries. Farragut’s fleet passed by under the guns of Vicksburg on June 28 with minimal damage, but the admiral recognized that the Union could not hope to capture it without ground troops.

In the fall of 1862, Ulysses S. Grant with the Army of Tennessee and Admiral Porter of the Union Navy mounted a combined-arms siege of Vicksburg.  e city was defended by 40,000 troops of the Army of Mississippi, commanded by John Pemberton.  e Confederate Cavalry general, Nathan Bedford Forrest, would attempt to interdict Grant’s long line of supply back to Kentucky. General Sherman also skirmished with Confederate forces at the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou about six miles from Vicksburg in late December of 1862. Admiral Porter’s  fleet engaged Confederate shore defenses on April 29, 1863, in the Battle of Grand Gulf.  The Union fleet ferried Grant’s Army safely across the Mississippi.

Siege of Vicksburg

The siege of Vicksburg intensified from the spring of 1863 into the summer. On May 16, Grant won the Battle of Champion Hill, forcing the Confederate forces back into the rapidly closing trap of Vicksburg. On July 4, Pemberton  finally surrendered a Confederate Army of nearly 30,000 men in Vicksburg.  e Confederacy has effectively been cut in two along the line of the Mississippi River.

Lincoln Statue
Spokane, WA
Lincoln exulted, “ The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea.”

Jackson, the state capital, fell to Union forces. Natchez was also occupied in 1863...

America’s bloodiest war  finally ended in April of 1865 with Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.

When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Mississippi was divided. One senator voted in support of Wilson’s declaration of war while one opposed it. Desertion rates in the state ran at 12 percent, and two deserters were killed in Tippah County.

On May 12, 1942, U-507 sank the SS Virginian at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Many German submarines operated in the Gulf of Mexico in 1942 and 1943. A number of airfields were built in the state in order to enable the US Army Air Force to  fly air combat patrols in the nearby gulf.

Signed copies of America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil can now be found here...www.americainvaded.com

Regular copies may be purchased from Amazon...www.amzn.com/0692902406

Or on Kindle...www.amzn.com/B073RJQ8PK

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