Natchez must understand war facts

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 23, 2011

As Natchez entered America’s Sesquicentennial of the Civil War with a Jan. 9 ceremony at Memorial Park to commemorate Mississippi’s Secession, we need some basic data to keep our perspectives correct.

A courthouse document records that Natchez furnished 1,444 soldiers to the Confederacy. They served in all major battles of the war and gave up 145 killed in action, plus five accidental deaths and 84 to disease. At total of 234 died for the Confederacy.

Federal records show 3,270 U.S. Colored Troops were enlisted in Natchez after our Federal occupation in 1863. They participated in no major battles, but some minor skirmishes in the Natchez area. Their casualty lists show 17 killed in action, nine wounded and five missing. However, due to disease, their total deaths were 830.

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Our two delegates to the secession convention in Jackson did not vote against secession. Seeing the fervor for secession there, they abstained from voting even though they had been instructed to vote against secession by a local vote of 532 to 162.

The First National Flag of the Confederacy existed from March 4, 1861, to May 1863, when it was replaced by the Second National Flag.

The First was considered too easily confused with the American Stars and Stripes at the Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) on July 21, 1861. Thereafter, the Beauregard-designed Confederate Battle Flag was adopted December 1861 and used in battles for the duration of the war.

As a footnote, Natchez was occupied by Union troops from July 13, 1863, until mid 1876. Even though we endured “martial law” two years, we were occupied for 16 years.

I hope this list of facts as I find them gets our commemoration off to a good understanding of events in Natchez 150 years ago.

Don Estes

Natchez resident