Major Campaigns and Battles
- Corinth Siege: April 29 - June 10, 1862
- Vicksburg (naval bombardment): May 18 - July 26, 1862
- Iuka: September 19, 1862
- Corinth: October 3-4, 1862
- Vicksburg-North Mississippi Campaign: October-December 1862
- Holly Springs: December 20, 1862
- Chickasaw Bayou: December 27-29, 1862
- Vicksburg Campaign (attempts to bypass): January 1-April 30, 1863
- Fort Pemberton: March 11-17, 1863
- Grierson's Raid: April 17 - May 3, 1863
- Vicksburg Campaign (Grant's march): May 1-18, 1863
- Port Gibson: May 1, 1863
- Raymond: May 12, 1863
- Jackson: May 14, 1863
- Champion Hill: May 16, 1863
- Big Black Bridge: May 17, 1863
- Vicksburg Siege: May 1 - July 4, 1863
- Jackson Siege: July 9-16, 1863
- Meridian Campaign: February 3-March 5, 1864 (includes battle of West Point)
- Brice's Cross Roads: June 10, 1864
- Tupelo: July 14-15, 1864
Mississippi Civil War Cemeteries
There are very few Mississippi cemeteries of nineteenth–century origin that do not contain the remains of at least one Confederate soldier. Many graves are not in cemeteries. For example, several Unknown Soldier Union marked graves can found on an old roadbed adjacent to Highway 41 between Okolona and the Natchez Trace. These men were victims of action against the cavalry of Nathan Bedford Forrest. Many such graves, Confederate and Union, marked and unmarked, are scattered across the state. The list below, compiled by Richard Cawthon of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, is not intended to be comprehensive; it focuses on the most significant Civil War cemeteries in Mississippi.
- Aberdeen: Confederate section of Old Aberdeen Cemetery
- Archusa Springs near Quitman: Confederate cemetery
- Baldwyn: Brice's Cross Roads Battlefield: Confederate graves in Bethany Cemetery
- Biloxi: Confederate cemetery at Beauvoir, last home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis
- Brookhaven: Confederate section of Rose Hill Cemetery
- Canton: Confederate section of city cemetery
- Castalian Springs near Durant: Confederate section of Wesley Chapel Cemetery
- Clinton: Unmarked Confederate burial sites in city cemetery
- Coffeeville: Confederate graves in city cemetery
- Columbus: Confederate section of Friendship Cemetery
- Corinth: Graves at Fort Robinett
- Crystal Springs: Confederate Section of city cemetery
- Duck Hill: Confederate Cemetery
- Enterprise: Confederate section of city cemetery
- Grenada: Confederate section of Odd Fellows Cemetery
- Hazelhurst: Confederate section of city cemetery; several Union soldier graves nearby
- Hernando: Confederate section of Hernando Memorial Cemetery
- luka: Confederate mass grave at Shady Grove Cemetery
- Jackson: Confederate section of Greenwood Cemetery
- Lauderdale Springs near Lauderdale: Confederate cemetery
- Macon: Confederate section in Odd Fellows Cemetery
- Magnolia: Confederate section of city cemetery
- Newton: Confederate cemetery
- Okolona: Confederate cemetery
- Oxford: University of Mississippi campus: Confederate cemetery
- Pontotoc: Confederate section of city cemetery
- Raymond: Confederate section of city cemetery, enclosed by iron fence
- Vicksburg: Confederate section known as ”Soldiers’ Rest,” of city cemetery
- West: Confederate section of Oakwood Cemetery
- Corinth: Corinth National Cemetery
- Hazlehurst: City cemetery in section adjacent to Confederate section
- Macon: Odd Fellows Cemetery in section adjacent to Confederate section
- Natchez: Natchez National Cemetery
- Vicksburg: Vicksburg National Cemetery located in Vicksburg National Military Park
Grand Gulf-Raymond Scenic Byway
Marker 1: Grand Gulf Town Square at the Old Country Store
The town of Grand Gulf was burned by Admiral David Farragut's men in 1862 and occupied by Porter's Mississippi Squadron on May 3, 1863. The Union occupation followed Confederate Brig. Gen. John Bowen's evacuation of the town after the battle of Port Gibson on May 1. Gen. U.S. Grant visited here on May 3, and established Grand Gulf as the primary Union supply depot for the duration of the Vicksburg Campaign. From Grand Gulf, some 200 wagons per day were used to resupply Grant's army.
Marker 2: Grand Gulf Town Square where the Back Grand Gulf Road exits the Town Square
On to Vicksburg
After crossing the Mississippi River and fighting the battle of Port Gibson on April 30–May 1, 1863, Gen. U.S. Grant moved to capture Grand Gulf as a base of operations against Port Hudson, Louisiana. Capturing Grand Gulf on May 3, Grant learned that Union forces under Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks were not yet in position at Port Hudson, and decided to move against Vicksburg instead. Grand Gulf then became Grant's forward supply base and by May 8 over 2,000,000 rations were stockpiled here for Grant's army.
Marker 3: Intersection of Ingleside-Karnac Ferry and Shiloh Roads
The Road to Vicksburg
On the afternoon of May 3, 1863, Union Gen. U.S. Grant rode west past this intersection to Grand Gulf while Gen. John A. Logan's division turned north toward Vicksburg. Logan was in pursuit of the Confederate force which had abandoned Grand Gulf early that morning. In the early hours of May 4, Grant returned here from Grand Gulf and joined his troops near Hankinson's Ferry, where Logan had captured a raft bridge over the Big Black River, opening the road to Vicksburg.
Marker 4 (Silver marker): Intersection of Willows and Old Port Gibson Roads
Skirmish at Willow Springs
When Union Gen. J. B. McPherson's XVII Corps reached Grindstone Ford, 2 miles south of here at dusk on May 2, 1863, the troops found the bridge across Big Bayou Pierre burning. Col. J. H. Wilson and a detachment put out the fire. During the night the Federals repaired the bridge.
Col. A. E. Reynolds' Mississippians reached Willow Springs during the night, took position on the bluffs overlooking the bottom, and waited for the Yankees to cross the river. Gen. J. A. Logan's division spearheaded the Union advance on May 3. Confederate artillery opened as the bluecoats scaled the escarpment, forcing Logan to halt and deploy. Seeing he was terribly outnumbered Reynolds pulled back and set up a roadblock at Ingraham's plantation ½ mile northeast of here, where he was reinforced. Pushing on, the Federals, after a spirited clash, drove the Rebels from Ingraham's and back toward Hankinson's Ferry.
While Gen. U. S. Grant regrouped his army and waited for Gen. W. T. Sherman's arrival, troops of McClernand's XIII Corps camped here from May 3 to 7. Union foragers visited the neighboring plantation, seizing food and supplies.
Marker 5 (Silver Marker): Intersection of Old Port Gibson Road and Old Hwy 61
Grant at Hankinson's Ferry
After occupying Willow Springs on May 3, 1863, Gen. U.S. Grant divided his force. The XVII Corps advanced on Hankinson's Ferry 5 miles north of here in two columns. Gen. M. M. Crocker's division driving up this road encountered a Confederate roadblock held by Col. F. M. Cockrell's Missourians on Kennison Creek. After a spirited clash in which Crocker was compelled to use 5,000 troops, the Rebels fell back. Covered by Cockrell's stand, the Confederate army had retired across the Big Black. The 20th Ohio reached Hankinson's Ferry just as the Rebel engineers were preparing to destroy the flatboat-bridge. While Capt. S. De Golyer's Union guns roared, the Ohioans charged over the bridge, scattering the Confederates. Possession of the bridge enabled Grant to send patrols across the Big Black and up the Vicksburg road. Such thrusts helped confuse the Confederate leaders about Federal intentions. The XVII Corps camped in the fields south of the river from May 3-7. From May 4-7 Grant's headquarters were at Hankinson's Ferry.
Marker 6: Intersection of Old Port Gibson Road and Old Hwy 61
Fight for Hankinson's Ferry
As Logan's division marched west toward Grand Gulf on May 3, 1863, M.M Crocker's division moved toward Hankinson's Ferry. At Kennison Creek, one mile north, the road was blocked by two Confederate brigades. After a spirited skirmish, the Confederates fell back across the Big Black River. On May 4, Grant established his headquarters at Mrs. Bagnell's 3½ miles north, and sent reconnaissance forces toward Vicksburg and Jackson. On May 6, Grant decided to move northeast toward the railroad east of Vicksburg.
Marker 7: Intersection of Old Port Gibson Road and Regan Road at Rocky Springs
Federals Occupy Rocky Springs
After U.S. Grant had planned much of his campaign at Mrs. Bagnell's, 4 miles west, he arrived at Rocky Springs with Logan's division on May 7, 1863. He remained until May 10, allowing Sherman's XV Corps to cross the Mississippi and rejoin the army. McClernand's XIII Corps arrived here on May 6, and moved to Little Sand Creek, 1 ½ miles northeast, and Big Sand Creek, 3 miles northeast, on May 7. Grant issued motivational orders to his troops at Rocky Springs and reviewed McClernand's men at Big Sand Creek on May 8.
Marker 8: Old Port Gibson Road at Old Natchez Trace Roadbed, 350 yards west of Midway Road
To the Railroad
On May 8, 1863, as the Union XV Corps left Grand Gulf, two divisions of the XVII Corps rested at Hankinson's Ferry and Rocky Springs to wait for rations. Three divisions of the XIII Corps camped at Big Sand Creek, 1 ½ miles northeast, while a fourth was at Little Sand Creek. On May 9, the two XVII Corps divisions marched through here along the Natchez Trace and passed through the XIII Corps divisions, which remained in camp. The object of these maneuvers was to move the army toward the Southern Railroad.
Marker 9: Old Port Gibson Road at Big Sand Creek, 1 ½ miles northeast of Midway Road
Concentration of Troops
On May 7-9, 1863, three divisions of the XIII Corps camped here, while a reserve division was at Little Sand Creek, two miles southwest. On May 8, Grant reviewed the troops here. On May 9, the XVII Corps marched through Reganton and turned toward Utica. After they had passed, the reserve division moved here. One of Sherman's XV Corps divisions marched to Rocky Springs while another remained at Hankinson's Ferry. By the end of May 9, Grant had concentrated more than 35,000 men within five miles of Rocky Springs.
Marker 10: Old Port Gibson Road in Reganton, at the intersection of Fisher Ferry Road and Old Port Gibson Road
On May 9, two divisions of McPherson's XVII Corps marched to Reganton, then known as Crossroads, and moved southeast toward Utica, camping at Meyer's Farm three miles southeast. On May 10, the XIII Corps marched through here from Big Sand Creek toward Cayuga and Fivemile Creek. Steele's division of the XV Corps moved to Big Sand Creek, while Tuttle's division remained at Rocky Springs. McPherson moved past Utica and camped at the Weeks Farm. Grant moved his headquarters from Rocky Springs to Cayuga.
Marker 11: Old Port Gibson Road at Cayuga, at pullover south of road 75 yards west of Cayuga Road
Final Plans at Cayuga
Grant established his headquarters here on May 10, 1863, remaining two days. On May 11, Tuttle's and Steele's divisions of the XV Corps passed through Cayuga and the XIII Corps camps at Fivemile Creek to Auburn, 3½ miles northeast. McPherson's XVII Corps, suffering from lack of water, marched only 1½ miles from Weeks Farm to the Roach Farm. Grant pressed McPherson to move into Raymond advising that “we must fight the enemy before our rations fail,” and notified Washington that he would no longer be in communication.
Marker 12: Old Port Gibson Road at Hwy 27
On May 11, 1863, two division of Sherman's XV Corps camped here. Water was scarce, and Sherman reported to Grant that he was "short of provisions and ammunition" while captured mail indicated "many million rations in Vicksburg." The next morning, Grant rode from Cayuga and joined Sherman for the move toward the railroad. The XIII Corps left Fivemile Creek, 1 ½ miles southwest, at 5:30 a.m., following the XV Corps. McPherson's men from the XVII Corps were at the Roach Farm, 6 miles southeast, and marched toward Raymond.
Marker 13: Old Port Gibson Road at intersection with Middle Road, 1.75 miles northeast of junction of Old Port Gibson Road and Hwy 27
North to the Railroad
On May 12, 1863, after Grant and two divisions of the XV Corps marched past, three divisions of McClernand's XIII Corps turned here onto the Telegraph Road. Four miles north, they met a portion of the 1st Missouri (Dismounted) Cavalry at Whitaker's Ford. After the Confederates fell back, the Federals secured the ford. Meanwhile, McClernand's reserve division captured Montgomery Bridge over Fourteenmile Creek, 2 ½ miles west of Whitaker's Ford, securing Grant's left flank 4 ½ miles from the railroad.
Marker 14: Old Port Gibson Road at Fourteenmile Creek Bridge, .4 miles northeast of Learned Road
On the morning of May 12, 1863, Grant and Sherman arrived here with two divisions of the XV Corps and found the bridge across Fourteenmile Creek ablaze. A brisk firefight ensued between a detachment of Wirt Adams' Mississippi cavalry, posted on the east side of the creek, and the 4th Iowa Cavalry. In order to drive off the Confederates, Wood's Brigade of Steele's Division and a 6-gun Union battery went into action. By 11:00 a.m., the bridgehead was secured and the XV Corps moved into position.
Marker 15: Old Port Gibson Road at Dillon's Farm, 3/4 miles northeast of Fourteenmile Creek Bridge marker
Change of Plans
On May 12, 1863, Grant made his headquarters here at Dillon's Farm with Sherman's XV Corps. At Raymond, 5 ½ miles east along Fourteenmile Creek, McPherson's XVII Corps, with 12,000 men, defeated 3,000 Confederates under John Gregg. Grant heard the guns at Raymond and at sundown learned that McPherson was victorious. Realizing that Confederate forces were now on both his left and right flanks, however, Grant changed his planned movement north and ordered the army to wheel toward Jackson.
Marker 16: Old Port Gibson Road at junction with Port Gibson Street, 1.4 miles southwest of Raymond
To Clinton and Jackson
On May 12, 1863, two divisions of the XVII Corps marched from the Roach Farm on the Utica Road and defeated Gregg's Confederate brigade at Raymond. The next day, McPherson's men moved to Clinton and cut the railroad. Meanwhile, two divisions of the XV Corps moved from Dillon's Farm to Mississippi Springs, five miles east of Raymond. To protect the army's rear as it pivoted toward Jackson, the XIII Corps feigned an attack on Confederate forces at Mt. Moriah, and Grant captured Jackson on May 14.
Marker 17: Port Gibson Street at junction Raymond Cemetery
The Confederate Cemetery in Raymond contains the graves of 140 Confederate soldiers who were killed during the battle of Raymond on May 12, 1863, or who died as a result of their wounds. Most of the men were from Tennessee and Texas; many died in homes and public buildings that had been appropriated as temporary hospitals. Union dead from the battle of Raymond were initially buried here but later moved to the Vicksburg National Cemetery.
Marker 18: Main St. in Raymond at Hinds County Courthouse
Built, 1857-9, by the famous Weldon brothers with skilled slave labor crew. After the Battle of Raymond, fought 1 ¼ mi. S. W. of here, May 12, 1863, this building served as a Confederate hospital.
Marker 19: Corner of Main St. and Oak in Raymond
St. Mark's Episcopal Church
St. Mark's was organized in 1837 by Rev. James McGregor Dale and construction of the sanctuary was completed in 1855. Following the battle of Raymond on May 12, 1863, the church was used as a hospital for Federal soldiers. The interior of the church was damaged during this time, and the pews were lost. After repairs had been made, St. Mark's was consecrated by Bishop William Mercer Green on May 5, 1868.
Mississippi Central Railroad Campaign Trail
Marker #1: MS Hwy 7 at Michigan City
Mississippi Central R.R. Campaign
On October 14, 1862, Confederate Gen. John Pemberton assumed command in Mississippi and east Louisiana. Eleven days later, Gen. Ulysses Grant became commander of Union forces in the region. Over the next 8 ½ months, their forces fought for control of Vicksburg and the Mississippi River. On November 2, Grant moved down the Mississippi Central R.R. and established an advance supply base at Grand Junction, Tennessee on the 4th. By November 28, the Federals were camped at Lamar, six miles south of here.
Marker #2: MS 1, Holly Springs Town Square
Mississippi Central R.R. Campaign
On November 7, 1862, Gen. John Pemberton reviewed his Confederate troops here. The next day, the army withdrew to a defensive position behind the Tallahatchie River. Union Gen. Grant's forces arrived on the 29th. After learning that Pemberton had withdrawn, Grant moved to Waterford, 8 miles south, on December 1. Holly Springs became a Union supply depot. On December 20, the depot was destroyed by Van Dorn's Confederate cavalry, while N. B. Forrest's men hit the railroad in west Tennessee, forcing Grant to abandon his campaign.
Marker #3: Holly Springs, Salem Ave. at Bonner St.
Mississippi Central R.R. Campaign
Located approx. 400 yards north was the Jones-McElwain and Co. Iron Foundry, established 1859. In 1861, the firm was awarded a Confederate contract to produce rifles and muskets. Before any weapons were made, Holly Springs was threatened by Union forces and the machinery was moved to Macon, Georgia. Federal troops occupied Holly Springs on November 13, 1862, and began converting the factory into a hospital. The unfinished hospital was destroyed during Van Dorn's raid. Only the base of a chimney remains.
Marker #4: Hwy 7 at Wall Doxey State Park
Mississippi Central R.R. Campaign
In November 1862, Col. Albert Lee's cavalry and Gen. Charles Hamilton's infantry division led the Union advance down the Mississippi Central R.R. Here, at Lumpkin's Mill, Lee's men met Col. William H. Jackson's Confederate cavalry. After a spirited fight on November 29, Jackson fell back to the Tallahatchie River line, pursued by Lee. Hamilton's division camped here. The next day, Pemberton's Confederate army withdrew to the Yalobusha River, and Grant moved his headquarters to Waterford, 1 mile south.
Marker #5: Hwy 7 south of Tallahatchie River Bridge
Tallahatchie River Defense Line
Following their defeat in the battle of Corinth, Confederate forces, now under Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton, established a line of defense on the Tallahatchie River in November 1862. Union Gen. U.S. Grant, moving down the Mississippi Central Railroad, expected to fight Pemberton's army on this line. A Union cavalry raid from Arkansas toward Grenada, however, convinced Pemberton that his left flank was threatened, and in early December he fell back to Grenada and the Yalobusha River line.
Marker #6: 711 Jackson Ave. E., Oxford
Mississippi Central R.R. Campaign
On December 2, 1862, as the Confederates fell back to the Yalobusha River, Union Gen. U.S. Grant moved his headquarters from Waterford to Abbeville. On the 4th, he moved to Oxford, while his advance crossed the Yocona River. W.T. Sherman's troops camped at College Hill, five miles northwest. On the 8th, Grant met Sherman here to plan an expedition down the Mississippi River to capture Vicksburg. Led by Sherman, the flotilla left Memphis on December 20, the same day the Union depot at Holly Springs was destroyed.
Marker #7: Hwy 7 at Yokona River bridge, 6 miles south of Oxford
Mississippi Central R.R. Campaign
As Gen. Pemberton's Confederates fell back from the Tallahatchie River on December 1-7, 1862, they fought a rear guard action at Oxford on December 2. To prevent the destruction of bridges over the Yocona River, Union cavalry under Col. T. Lyle Dickey attacked the rear guard at Spring Dale railroad bridge, five miles west, while other units moved to seize the nearby Free and Prophet bridges. Prophet Bridge was captured and Free Bridge, though burned, was repaired. The Federals continued south to Coffeeville.
Marker #8: Hwy 7 at Coffeeville
Battle of Coffeeville
In November 1862, Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton's army withdrew from a defensive line at Abbeville to Grenada. On December 5, Generals Lloyd Tilghman and Mansfield Lovell set an ambush for Federal forces in pursuit of the retreating Confederates. About one mile northeast of Coffeeville, more than 5,000 men fought into the night. Lt. Col. William McCullough, commander of the 6th Illinois Cav. and a friend of President Lincoln was killed in the action. After the Battle, the Federals fell back to Oxford.
Marker #9: Intersection of Hwy 7 and Hardy Road
Mississippi Central R.R. Campaign
As the Union army moved south along the Mississippi Central R.R., Gen. U.S. Grant tried to cut Confederate communications by destroying the railroad bridges over the Yalobusha River. On November 27, 1862, a Union force of 8,900 men moved east from Delta, Mississippi, and on the 30th Union cavalry raided Hardy Station, ¾ mile north. After burning railroad cars and cutting telegraph lines, the Federals, learning of a Confederate concentration at Grenada, forsook the bridges and withdrew northwest toward Charleston.
Marker #10: US Hwy 51 at Oakland, MS
Battle of Oakland
As Gen. Ulysses S. Grant launched the Mississippi Central R.R. Campaign in November 1862, he ordered Union cavalry in Arkansas on a raid toward Grenada. Near Oakland, General C. C. Washburn and 1,900 cavalry met Confederate Col. John C. Griffith's Texas Cavalry Brigade On December 3, 1862. After several hours of fighting, both sides withdrew. Although there was no victor, the presence of Union troops at Oakland forced Confederate Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton to withdraw from Abbeville to Grenada.
Van Dorn Holly Springs Raid
Stop #1: Control of the River
On October 14, 1862, Confederate Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton was assigned command of the Department of the Mississippi and East Louisiana, and two days later Union Major General Ulysses S. Grant assumed command of the Department of the Tennessee. Union forces had already seized control of the Mississippi River south from Cairo, Illinois, to the Confederate fortifications at Vicksburg, Mississippi, and north from the Gulf of Mexico to the Confederate fortress at Port Hudson, Louisiana, just above Baton Rouge. Only a 250-mile stretch of water between Vicksburg and Port Hudson prevented total Union control of the Mississippi River. Therefore, Grant set his sights on Vicksburg.
In early November Grant decided to outflank Vicksburg by moving his army down the Mississippi Central Railroad toward the state capital at Jackson. He established his headquarters in Holly Springs on November 29. By December 4, Grant was 30 miles south in Oxford, while his forward supply depot remained at Holly Springs. Grant and Major General William T. Sherman met in Oxford on December 8, and, in a change of plans, initiated a two-pronged approach to capture Vicksburg. Sherman went back to Memphis to conduct a waterborne thrust down the Mississippi River, while Grant continued to march south down the railroad to keep Pemberton's Confederates in place. Pemberton, meanwhile, dug in along the Yalobusha River just north of Grenada in a defensive position to oppose Grant's advance down the railroad.
Stop #2: The Van Dorn Raid
Grant's long and vulnerable railroad supply line to Holly Springs originated in Columbus, Kentucky, and ran south along the Mobile & Ohio and Mississippi Central railroads. On December 19, 1862, Brigadier General Nathan B. Forrest's Confederate cavalry struck the Mobile & Ohio Railroad at Jackson, Tennessee, a junction at the head of the Mississippi Central Railroad. Forrest then rode northward, destroying the Mobile & Ohio Railroad at numerous points.
Meanwhile, General Pemberton planned to disrupt Grant's supply line by striking the Federal supply depot on the Mississippi Central Railroad at Holly Springs. On December 15, Pemberton secretly placed Major General Earl Van Dorn in command of a newly organized cavalry division, which consisted of three brigades: Lieutenant Colonel John C. Griffith's 1,500 Texans; Colonel William H. Jackson's 1,200 Tennesseans; and Colonel Robert McCulloch's 800 Missourians and Mississippians.
On a cold and wet December 16, Van Dorn' s troopers rode eastward from Grenada. After passing Houston they turned north towards Pontotoc. Near Ripley the column turned west toward Holly Springs. At dawn on December 20, the tired troopers charged into Holly Springs and surprised and captured 1,500 Federals and their commander, Colonel Robert C. Murphy. The huge quantities of rations, clothing, arms, and munitions were emptied from the buildings surrounding the Town Square and were burned in the streets. Van Dorn knew that Grant would quickly pursue his raiders, so time was critical. Thus, many buildings, filled to capacity with supplies, were simply burned. In a few hours, Grant's forward supply depot and much of the town were reduced to ashes.
With his supply line in shambles, Grant abandoned his march south. Sherman's amphibious attack down the Mississippi went unsupported, and he lost 1,776 men in his defeat at Chickasaw Bayou, December 27-29. Grant's first attempt at Vicksburg was thwarted.
Stop #3: Airliewood
This Gothic villa, most probably designed by the firm of the distinguished architect Samuel Sloan, was built in 1858 for a reported $40,000 by wealthy planter William Henry Coxe on a fifteen-acre tract purchased in 1857. The massive cast iron gates and fence, manufactured in Boston, are identical to those at the United States Military Academy. At the invitation of Coxe, Major General Ulysses S. Grant used the mansion as his residence and headquarters upon his return to Holly Springs on December 23, 1862. after the Van Dorn Raid. Here the Grant family and members of Grant's staff had Christmas dinner in 1862. Grant occupied the mansion until January 9, 1863, when he moved his headquarters to Memphis.
At dawn on December 20, Major General Earl Van Dorn's Confederate cavalry column galloped into Holly Springs from the east to destroy Grant's forward supply depot. Six Federal companies of the 2d Illinois Cavalry were encamped almost one-half mile north on West Street in the open area of the old Marshall County Fairgrounds. Van Dorn's column divided into three attacking parties, and the 1st Mississippi Cavalry of McCulloch's Brigade raced toward this point and turned right towards the fairgrounds. Since garden fences had been consumed in Union campfires, Van Dom's troopers were able to charge across lawns and angle around corners.
At the fairgrounds, Federal Lieutenant Colonel Quincy McNeil rallied his troopers and formed a battle line with sabers drawn. Colonel Robert Pinson's Mississippians fired into the Federal line with their revolvers and encircled the Illinois cavalry. McNeil was captured with 100 of his men while Major John Mudd and 70 Federal troopers cut their way out and escaped to Memphis. Mudd listed 8 men killed and 39 wounded.
Stop #4: Van Dorn Enters Holly Springs
Near the Salem Street bridge over the Mississippi Central Railroad Van Dorn's cavalry column divided into three attacking parties to subdue the Union cavalry at the Marshall County Fairgrounds; the infantry encamped in the fields in front of the railroad depot and the infantry encamped in the Town Square.
McCulloch's 1st Mississippi Cavalry raced east down Salem Avenue and north toward the 2nd Illinois Cavalry at the fairgrounds. McCulloch's 2nd Missouri Cavalry disrnounted and attacked the camp of the 101 st Illinois Infantry south of Salem Avenue and east of the railroad. Griffith's troopers of the 3rd, 6th and 9th Texas Cavalry charged through the Federal infantry camp, past the railroad depot and down Depot Street to the camp of the Federal infantry in the Town Square. For security, Jackson's Tennesseans rode north of town to guard against Federal reinforcements frmn that direction.
When Van Dorn's men gained control of Holly Springs, the unoccupied Federal hospital, located one-half mile north beside the Mississippi Central Railroad, was burned. Before the Civil War, the buildings housed the Jones-McElwain Iron Foundry where, among other things, decorative iron grillwork was cast. In 1861 the foundry was converted into the Holly Springs armory for the manufacture of Confederate firearms. After Corinth fell into Union hands in May of 1862, the Confederate government purchased and removed the armory machinery. When the Federals occupied Holly Springs in November of 1862, the empty buildings were converted into a 2,000 capacity hospital.
Stop #5: Mississippi Central Railroad
The railroad came to Holly Springs in 1856 at the urging of Holly Springs lawyer, Harvey W. Walter. The town was on the main route between New Orleans, Chicago, and New York, and was the midpoint between New Orleans and St. Louis. Thus, the depot was one of the most spacious along the railroad.
On December 20, 1862, Griffith's Texas troopers galloped through the Federal infantry camp east of the railroad, raced to the depot, and continued west on Depot Street (now Van Dorn Avenue) to the Union infantry camp at the Town Square. That night, after the Confederates had left Holly Springs, the Union commander, Colonel Robert C. Murphy (Stop #6) reported that he had ordered his scattered forces to report to the depot. He stated that he was preparing to barricade the depot with cotton bales, and that he had "two trains nearly ready to move." Then the Texans "came dashing into the railroad depot and on my infantry camp...In attempting to escape by the rear of the depot building in order to join my infantry forces I was captured by a company of cavalry. I was taken to the rear...My fate is most mortifying. I have wished a hundred times today that I had been killed."
After securing the Town Square, Griffith sent the 6th and 9th Texas south of town to secure the road to Oxford, while the 27th Texas guarded the Union prisoners. Van Dorn's men set fire to the warehouses, armory, machine shops, octagonal roundhouse, and the depot. The boxcars were emptied, their contents were burned, and the railroad tracks were torn up.
In 1865 the front of the partially destroyed depot was rebuilt, and in 1886 the depot was remodeled to include 20 bedrooms and a 125-person dining room.
Stop #6: Van Dorn Captures Holly Springs
General Van Dom advised Colonel Griffith of the Texas Brigade: "Take care that you do not find a hornet's nest at the square!" Griffith led his brigade westward down Depot Street (Van Dorn Avenue) to the Town Square, ushered by Rebel yells and the warning, "Clear the street darn your souls, here comes your wild Texas boys!" A Union officer who had quartered in the Strickland & Fant law office, just south of this corner, recalled that he hurriedly dressed and ran outside; then glanced around the comer to see Southerners galloping toward him. Shots were fired; bullets clipped the bricks over the officer's head; and he ran down Market Street to the city cemetery. A member of the 101st Illinois band, who stayed in the same building, said he, "looked down the street toward the railroad depot, and saw what seemed to be a herd of wild buffalo, snorting, mad, all headed toward me at the rate of a mile a minute, yelling, bellowing and shouting, bullets whistling around my head." The Texans charged into the Town Square, and, in just minutes, Griffith sent word to Van Dorn, "The hornet's nest is ours!"
After securing the Town Square, Griffith sent the 6th and 9th Texas south of town to guard the road to Oxford. The 27th Texas remained in the square to guard the Union prisoners. While approximately 1,500 prisoners were signing paroles, the problem of destruction of the vast amounts of munitions and supplies was addressed. Filled to capacity with weaponry and munitions were the courthouse, the three-story Masonic temple on the east side of the square, an adjacent large brick livery stable, and many other large buildings and houses on or near the square. The Confederates laboriously piled munitions in the streets for detonation, but the exploding shells soon spread fires to nearby buildings. The explosions broke nearly every window in town, and the whole east block of the square was destroyed. The unfinished Presbyierian Church, just south of the square on Memphis Street, was also used for munitions storage and narrowly escaped destruction.
Stop #7: Hugh Craft House
Built in 1851 for Hugh Craft, this house is the first of the "big houses" of Holly Springs' initial affluence which preceded the King Cotton era of the late 1850s. The decorative iron fence is believed to have been made by the Janes-McElwain Iron Foundry (Stop #4).
During Federal occupation, Colonel Robert C. Murphy, commander of the Holly Springs garrison, and his staff resided in this home.
On the evening of Decetnber 19, 1862, Grant, in Oxford, telegraphed Murphy of a probable cavalry raid upon Holly Springs. When Murphy asked for instructions, Grant replied; "In the morning will be early enough for your cavalry to start." Murphy and his men then went to bed. In the early morning hours of December 20, one of Craft's daughters, Helen, recalled, "We were awakened...by an excited clatter of swords overhead and voices in the adjoining hall and knew that something unusual was taking place." According to Murphy, at 5:00A.M. a contraband (runaway slave) was brought to this house, reporting that Van Dorn' s Confederate cavalry was approaching and would be in Holly Springs at daylight. Murphy stated that he sent orders to the cavalry at the fairgrounds to report to the railroad depot, and that he then went to the depot. Van Dorn's men attacked and captured Holly Springs before Murphy's troops could respond.
On December 23 Grant wrote to Murphy that the surrender was "disgraceful" and that his conduct was "reprehensible." On December 27 Major John Mudd, who escaped to Memphis with 70 Illinois troopers, wrote that the capture of Holly Springs was due to "the drunkenness or inefficiency of commanding officers," whom he said "were quietly sleeping at the houses of rebel citizens." On January 8, 1863, General Grant distnissed Colonel Murphy from the service of the United States, retroactive to December 20, 1862. On January 10, the War Department approved the dismissal.
Stop #8: Walter Place
Built in 1859 by master architect Spires Boling for Harvey W. Walter. In a combination of architectural styles, Gothic crenelated, octagonal towers flank the central Classic Greek Revival portico, with both styles detailed in cast iron from the local foundry. The house originally had a cast iron second floor balcony with five bays that ran between the towers, but it was removed circa 1903 when architect Theodore C. Link, designer of Mississippi's New Capitol Building, remodeled the house and replaced it with a single bay balcony.
In December of 1862, while General Ulysses S. Grant was in Oxford, his wife Julia, her slave maid Jule, and his son Jesse resided at Walter Place. Colonel Walter was serving in the Confederate army and his family had fled to Alabama. Thus, the house was left in the care of Mrs. Pugh Govan, whom Mrs. Grant described as "a fine, noble woman, as so many of these Southern women were." Mrs. Grant stayed in the large front drawing room and study on the left front of the bottom floor.
During Van Dom's Raid on December 20, upon being informed that Mrs. Grant was residing at Walter Place, Confederate Colonel John Griffith sent Lieutenant Colonel Giles Boggess of the 3rd Texas here with ten men. Griffith followed the party and was met by Mrs. Govan at the gate of this house. In the name of civility, Mrs. Govan pleaded that Mrs. Grant's personal property be left undisturbed. Her request was honored. Van Dorn's men left Holly Springs toward La Grange, Tennessee, late that day without Mrs. Grant's baggage. In appreciation, on Christmas Day, 1862, General Grant provided "the house of Mrs. Govan in southwest part of town" a written exemption from seizure for public purpose.