Mississippi was a young state when the country erupted in Civil War, but its strategic location destined it to become a crucial part of that epic conflict. Abraham Lincoln would say that “Vicksburg is the key,” for whoever controlled this vital port town controlled the nation’s major transportation artery.
Mississippi was ravaged by war, with fighting occurring in virtually every corner of the state and a swath of destruction crossing the middle. The young capital city of Jackson was called “Chimneyville,” as chimneys were virtually all that remained following Union General Sherman’s scorched earth tactics. At war’s end, the state would begin the long, difficult process of physical, psychological and economic recovery.
Today, reminders of Mississippians who fought in and lived during this tragic period can be found throughout the state. Their memories and stories are preserved in the more than 1,000 stately and solemn monuments of Vicksburg National Military Park, the pristine battlefield and gently rolling hills of Brice’s Crossroads, the Corinth Contraband Camp, the last home of Jefferson Davis at Beauvoir, the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library at Mississippi State University and countless churches and gravesites.