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CIVIL WAR - Ship Island, Mississippi

Submitted by

Isiah Edwards
Long Beach, Mississippi

[Just a little info on Ship Island.

In the years immediately after the war of 1812, the U.S. War Department (James Monroe and the Great Plan), began construction of a system of masonry fortifications to guard important harbors and ports on its Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Work on Ship Island fort was commenced in 1858.

By January 9, 1861, when Mississippi, following the lead of South Carolina, seceded from the Union, the Fort's scarp had been laid-up to a height of nine feet at a number of points and several of the embrasures formed. On January 13, a party of armed Mississippians arrived on Ship Island. They told the construction overseer that they had come to take possession of the fort and the Corps of Engineers' property. Gen Twiggs was in charged of defense of New Orleans and its approaches (Confederate). The fort at that time was called Fort Twiggs. The 4th Louisiana infantry occupied Ship Island. The Confederate War Department on Sep 13, 1861, directed General Twiggs to "Take immediate measures to evacuate Ship island."

The Commander of the U.S. Ship Massachusetts took control of Ship Island and the unfinished New Fort Massachusetts. Admiral Farragut took control of New Orleans in April 1862. The Admiral began the battle by bombarding the two forts (Jackson and St. Philip) for six days and nights. On April 24, the evacuation of the (Confederate) forts and troops around New Orleans began.

December 1862, Companies A, E, and H of the Second Louisiana Native Guards moved in with the Thirty-First Massachusetts. The Native Guards were all Black, including the Officers - a change in United States Army policy that was to have considerable influence on the war.

On January 12, 1863, the Northern Star docked in Ship Island's harbor, delivering Colonel Nathan W. Daniels and seven companies (B,C,D,E,G,I, and K) of the 2nd Louisiana Native Guards. Companies A, E, and H arrived at Fort Pike (the most notable being Company A's Captain Pinkney B.S. Pinchback, later to become Louisiana's Governor). Major Francis E. Dumas, the first black field grade officer in the Union Army, was second in command of the 2nd Louisiana Native Guards. Major Dumas also led the raid on Pascagoula.

The siege and capture of Fort Blakely was basically the last combined-force battle of the war. African-American forces played a major role in the successful Union assault (the Native Guards were part of the siege).

NOTE: Major Francis E. Dumas resigned on July 3, 1863 and Captain P. B. S. Pinchback resigned on November 11, 1863. The rest of the story coming soon.]

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CIVIL WAR - Ship Island, Mississippi
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18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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