Visit historic college for Civil War reenactment this weekend

Published 12:20 am Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The rolling thunder of cannon fire and clatter of charging horses’ hooves will sound over the grounds of Historic Jefferson College on Saturday, Nov. 11, and Sunday, Nov. 12, when reenactors meet to recreate the Wirt Adams Raid of 1863.

Reenactors from Mississippi and Louisiana will camp on the grounds of the college Friday and Saturday nights, cooking over open fires, sleeping in canvas tents and wearing period dress. The camps open to the public at 10 a.m. each morning. The battle reenactment will feature artillery, cavalry, and infantry and will take place Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Skirmishes last about 45 minutes.

In addition to battle reenactments, on both Saturday and Sunday there will also be infantry demonstrations at 10 a.m. and artillery demonstrations at 10:30 a.m. Saturday ends with a social for the reenactors at 7 p.m.  All events are free of charge. Food vendors will be on site.

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Confederate brigadier general Wirt Adams was charged with retaking Natchez. On Dec. 1, 1863, he set out from Gallatin, in Copiah County, with a force more than one thousand men comprising infantry, artillery and cavalry. By Dec. 4 he had reached Washington, a few miles from Natchez, where he set up camp and sent spies into Natchez. Convinced retaking the town was too much for his force to handle, Adams instead led them on Dec. 5 south of Natchez to disrupt the Union’s river traffic.

A Union cavalry force of some 1500 men arrived from Vicksburg the next day to apprehend Adams. They marched south to meet him, then bivouacked at dark. Adams was informed of their presence and marched to ambush them. He positioned his forces within 1000 yards of the Union forces, then attacked at first light, routing the Federal troops. Adams’s Confederate troops gave pursuit for a few miles, then left the area themselves by way of Kingston, destroying the barns of some of the local planters who were Union sympathizers.

Jefferson College was the first institution of higher learning in the Mississippi Territory. Jefferson Military College, as it came to be known, closed its doors in 1964 after serving as a prep school from 1866. MDAH subsequently acquired and restored the property. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Admission is free. Hours are Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public. Bring blankets and chairs. For more information call 601-442-2901 or email
Robin Seage Person is the site director of Historic Jefferson College.