Monday, January 24, 2011

January 24, 1861 - Mississippi mounts cannon at Vicksburg

Mississippi River at Vicksburg
January 24, 1861

Word spread across both North and South 150 years ago today that the newly independent republic of Mississippi had aimed cannon across the Mississippi River at Vicksburg and started intercepting river traffic.

The following report from the Memphis Appeal was carried in numerous newspapers on January 24, 1861:

The order of the Governor of Mississippi to place a battery of guns at Vicksburg for the purpose of hailing steamers and causing them to land, has been complied with, as we learn from one of the clerks of the Simonds, who informs us that four guns are placed at the foot of the bluff, a quarter of a mile above the wharf-boat; that while the Simonds lay there on her trip up the river, blank cartridges were fired to bring to and cause to land the Gladiator, the Imperial, and the A. O. Taylor, and that it was understood that if the summons were not attended to, the next gun fired would be shotted. The object of the surveillance has not been made known.- Memphis Appeal, January 1861.

The interdiction of river traffic on the Mississippi at Vicksburg followed numerous reports that abolitionist groups were sending weapons and other supplies south that would be used to arm slaves. There also were reports that troops would be sent to reinforce or recapture forts and other facilities on the Gulf Coast. You can learn more about Vicksburg and its history at

U.S.S. Brooklyn
Also on January 24, 1861, The U.S.S. Brooklyn steamed out from Hampton Roads, Virginia, with reinforcements for the beleaguered Union garrison of Fort Pickens in Florida. The soldiers, commanded by Captain Israel Vogdes were under orders from President James Buchanan to reinforce the fort, an action that could lead to an immediate start of war between the Union and the new Southern republics.

In Georgia, 150 years ago today, the U.S. soldiers at the Augusta Arsenal surrendered to a force of some 800 state militiamen led by Governor Joseph E. Brown in person. Brown was prepared to launch an assault on the arsenal at 2 p.m., but the soldiers surrendered just hours before the attack was to take place.

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