Today the Confederate fortress of Port Hudson, Louisiana, located on the Mississippi River, finally surrenders to sieging Union forces. Rebels are forced to give up due to the unbearable hot summer climate and lack of water and food. The entirety of the Mississippi River is now firmly under control of the United States, separating the Confederacy East and West.
Among the rebels captured is Captain Robert Mullins Thrasher, Company B, 18th Arkansas Infantry. Thrasher is a Baptist minister who left the pulpit to fight for the Confederacy. Following his capture he is sent to the Union prison on Lake Erie’s Johnson’s Island. There he remains for the remainder of the war, housed with other prisoners from the war’s western theater. During his imprisonment, Thrasher helps lead religious observances among the Confederate inmates.
Dark clouds of despair deepen over the South as news of the losses at Gettysburg and Vicksburg — and now Port Hudson — seep throughout the Confederacy. Will the South be able to recover from these unprecedented setbacks?
Sources: Siege and Surrender of Port Hudson (link) and (link); Diary of Robert Mullins Thrasher, University of Arkansas Libraries Manuscript Collection (link); photograph from National Archives and Records Administration (link)