Mississippi’s Role in America’s Bloodiest Conflict – Part 1

It’s no secret that between the years 1861 and 1865 The United States of America was at war with itself in what would end up being bloodiest war in its history to date. The American Civil war as it’s now known saw more deaths than the culmination of U.S. Military deaths in all other wars they have participated in combined. The Death toll was somewhere between 620,000 and 750,000. It shouldn’t come as a shock then that the American Civil war is the most studied event in their history and as defining a moment for their nation as the American Revolution, mainly for its effect on the future of civil rights. It was the result of this war that granted millions of slaves their freedom and though the rights of black people wasn’t the sole cause of the war it was certainly the most prominent.

The was fought between two sides, the Union who were loyalists to the national government of President Abraham Lincoln also known the North and the Confederacy, a number of states that opposed the government also known as the South. On January 9th 1861 Mississippi declared it’s secession from the United States. It was the second state to do so and joined with six other states (South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Texas, Georgia and Louisiana) to form the Confederate States of America. Mississippi played no small role in the conflict; its troops fought in every theatre of the war and played host to many of its most important sites and battlefields due to its location and connection to the Mississippi River, a vital point for travel and trade.

Disagreement Begins

Tensions between the North and South had been slowly rising since the country’s independence and the subject of slavery had long been the cause of disagreement between the two. Mississippi was a popular state for plantation owners and a major supporter of slavery. By 1861 the state had a population of 791,305 people, 436,631 of those people were enslaved African-Americans, this means that during that time slaves were the majority of the population at 55% of the people. The politicians of Mississippi believed that without slavery they would become something of a worthless state. This is seemingly the state’s main reason for going to war.

White Mississippians flocked in their thousands to join the Confederate forces, though volunteer popularity varied by region, for example those that lived closer to the river were less likely to join than those that lived inland. Wealth played a large part in the decision as well, the more lands or likely more importantly slaves a man owned the more likely he was to fight for the cause. Conversely, though in much smaller numbers, not all fought for the confederacy, around 500 white men remained loyal to the government and fought for Union forces. As well as these some 17,000 black escaped slaves and freedmen from Mississippi fought for the Union as part of the ‘United Stated Colored Troops’ in hopes of ending slavery.