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In its tenth year at Historic Jefferson College, the Black and Blue Civil War living history program will focus on the role of the Union inland navy. The event will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, October 14.

At 10:30 a.m., Civil War historian and retired brigadier general Parker Hills will tell the story of the Union’s “Brown Water Navy,” the fleet that became known as the Mississippi Squadron. These ironclads and gunboats were specialized craft designed to navigate the narrow but strategically significant inland waterways of the South. The vessels provided fire support for Union forces while also delivering vital supplies to isolated troops. The Mississippi Squadron was active at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, Memphis, Vicksburg, Grand Gulf, and many other battles.

“General Hills’s presentation will help our audience understand the experiences of this fleet, which included sailors and nurses of African descent,” said Black and Blue organizer Ser Boxley. “We hope everyone will come out to learn about these heroes of the Civil War.”

Beginning at 1 p.m. volunteers will present a series of first-person accounts of local people from the time period, including:
Ser Seshsh Ab Heter-Cliff Boxley as a local enslaved man
Bertha Lewis as Union Navy nurse Ann Stokes
Yvonne Lewis as Navy nurse Rose Gibson Russell
Jamall McCullum as Union Navy sailor Jackson Holmes
Barney Schoby Jr. as James Archer, 3rd U.S. Colored Cavalry
David Slay as Union admiral David Porter
Danielle Terrell as Union Navy nurse Phillis Reed
Darrell White as Wilson Brown, a sailor on the USS Hartford during the Battle of Mobile Bay

Magnolia mayor Anthony Witherspoon will portray Claiborne County native and Union Navy sailor Williams Mitchell.

The program will be held on the grounds of Historic Jefferson College, 16 Old North Street, Natchez, Mississippi 39120. It will move inside the historic West Wing in case of rain. Bring chairs or blankets. Food vendors will be on site, and there is no cost to attend. For more information, email forksyaroad@aol.com or call 601-442-4719.

The Black and Blue Civil War History Program is presented by the Friends of the Forks of the Roads Society, with assistance from the Adams County Board of Supervisors, City of Natchez, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the Natchez National Historical Park.

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