Mississippi was the second state to secede from the Union, doing so on January 9th, 1861. It was also the home state of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy. About 80,000 men from Mississippi served in the Confederate Army, and though they fought in campaigns all over the south, many didn’t have to travel far to see significant action.
Mississippi was the scene of several major battles. The Union Army won victories at Iuka on September 19th, 1862, and at Corinth two weeks later on October 3-4th. On June 10th, 1864, a Confederate cavalry corps of perhaps 3500 men under the command of Major General Nathan Bedford Forest decisively defeated a Union cavalry and infantry force of about 8000 men under Brigadier General Samuel Sturgis.
Forest suffered a rare defeat in the Battle of Tupelo on July 14th and 15th, 1864, although Lieutenant General Stephen D. Lee was in overall command of Confederate forces.
The most important campaign in Mississippi was Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s campaign to take Vicksburg and secure the Mississippi River for the Union. Grant’s initial efforts started in late 1862, all of which ended in failure. In late April 1863, Grant marched his army south along the west bank of the river, and ran a fleet of ironclads and transports downriver past the heavily defended Vicksburg bluffs. The transports ferried the army across the river at Bruinsburg. Grant marched his army northeast, fighting major engagements at Port Gibson, Raymond, and Jackson. At Jackson, Grant headed west towards Vicksburg fighting major battles at Champion Hill and Big Black River before reaching Vicksburg. Two attempts were made to take the city by storm; neither was successful. Grant settled into siege operations, and Vicksburg’s defenders finally surrendered on July 4th, 1863.
The Mississippi Civil War Sesquicentennial website lists commemorative events, a detailed timeline of events in Mississippi during the Civil War, and links to other sites about Mississippi’s role in the war. Links to university and other research collections are also provided.