Baptists and the American Civil War: February 20, 1865

Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi Map 1861While Union forces under Sherman overwhelm South Carolina, Confederate legislators in Mississippi struggle to cope with the public despair evident in their state.

Called by governor Charles Clark, a special session of the legislature convenes this day at the First Baptist Church in Columbus. There is little to no good news in sight. The numbers of the destitute are overwhelming, while on the other end of the spectrum persons of means, Clark complains, “have hoarded supplies and will not sale.” Union raids are responsible for the scarcity of foods and goods, having “drained the country and raised the prices to fabulous rates.” To make matters all the worse, the governor notes that “the country is filled with deserters and marauders. Crimes are daily committed and the offenders escape punishment.”

In short, Mississippi’s economy, in addition to social and judicial order, is in shambles, with no end in sight.

The legislative session that begins today and continues until March 10 struggles to find solutions. Treasury bonds are approved and money appropriated to support the war effort and make repairs to repair the capitol in Jackson. Even so, a sense of defeat pervades the proceedings in the Baptist church. A number of legislators resign before the session comes to and end.

Source: Timothy B. Smith, Mississippi in the Civil War: The Home Front, pp. 45-46 (link)