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
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 (credit luccahere). Cassidy often made Confederate flags from old US flags, and he probably employed that technique with this flag.
The Witbeck, C. W., Photograph Collection depicts people and places in towns and cities throughout Mississippi dating from 1911 through 1955. The 333 black-and-white photographs focus on Brookhaven, Gulfport, Jackson and Vicksburg, Mississippi. The collection also contains views of Monticello, Meadville and Crystal Springs, Mississippi. The earliest print, from 1911, is of McGrath’s Baseball Team in Brookhaven, Mississippi.
The collection includes 18 photographs of Governor Hugh White’s inauguration (January 22, 1952), 62 photographs of the United States Naval Training School in Gulfport (July 17, 1950), 35 photographs of Senator Pat Harrison’s funeral (June 25, 1941), 19 photographs of the Mississippi Highway Patrol General Assembly (August 3, 1950), 18 photographs of the Masonic Building fire in Brookhaven (March 25-26, 1951), 13 photographs of a Wesson Lions Club event (March 26, 1951), 11 photographs of the Whitworth College Coronation Pageant (May 29, 1950), and 5 photographs of African-American Little Leaguers in Brookhaven (June 15, 1955).
Pictured above is the 1941 funeral of Byron Patton “Pat” Harrison who represented Mississippi in the United States Congress for many years. He served in the House of Representatives from 1911-1919 and the Senate from 1919-1941. See Westley F. Busbee, Jr., Mississippi: A History (Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, Inc., 2005), 209.
Editor’s Note: The blog has been neglecting the task of announcing additions to our digital holdings (usually non-digitized items that have recently been scanned). The next few posts will be dedicated to updating readers about collections that are now available to view online!
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