Willis-Cowan House (1835), 1018 Crawford St, v01, Vicksburg, MS, USA(PID:26365586100) Source
posted by Steve Minor alias lumierefl on Monday 25th of April 2016 03:01:09 PM
Vicksburg, Mississippi (est. 1825, pop. 23,542) • Facebook • MS Delta • The Town & the Battle —NY Times • aka Pemberton House, Mrs. Willis's House • 2-story Greek Revival brick residence • double-tiered portico added later • built by wealthy businessman William Bobb (1802-1871) • newly widowed Martha Patience Vick Willis (1796-1856) purchased the house in 1823, moved in w/son John • Mrs. Willis was the niece of Vicksburg founder, Newit Vick • bldg. served as one of Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton's two Vicksburg headquarters during the 1863 Siege of Vicksburg, a decisive battle in the American Civil War (1861-1865), fought over a bid for independence by slaveholding states • by the 1860s, the Mississippi River had become crucial to the U.S. economy • to strangle northern commercial interests, Confederate forces closed the waterway to navigation • the blockade was enforced at Vicksburg, called the "Gibraltar of the West" because of it's strategic location on bluffs overlooking the river —National Park Service "See what a lot of land these fellows hold, of which Vicksburg is the key! The war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket... We can take all the northern ports of the Confederacy, and they can defy us from Vicksburg." —President Abraham Lincoln • in the spring of 1863, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, a former slaveholder, launched the Union Army campaign to capture Vicksburg, with a force that grew to 77,000 men • “In antebellum America, what was the North’s attitude toward slavery? • Confederate Gen. Pemberton, a Northerner (Pennsylvania) who had fought along side Grant in Mexico, commanded the 33,000-man Army of Vicksburg in defense of the city • the Federals under Gen. Wm. Tecumseh Sherman attacked 19 & 22 May • when repulsed with great loss, Grant decided to lay siege to the city • Pemberton's urgent requests for reinforcements were refused by Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston • had earlier urged the outmanned & outgunned Pemberton to abandon Vicksburg in spite of his orders to hold it at any cost • Johnston's 24,000-man "Army of Relief" remained on the sidelines while half-starved Confederate soldiers & Vicksburg citizens suffered the privations of siege warfare for 47 days —Civil War Trust Marker: Debate and Decision From his headquarters in this grand mansion, Confederate General Pemberton followed the movement of enemy troops during the siege. He watched his men suffering from lack of food and the relentless Union bombardment. After nearly 7 weeks, he gathered his commanders together. Did they have the will to keep fighting? Debating late into the night of July 2, 1863, Pemberton made the difficult decision to surrender. At 10 AM to-morrow I propose to evacuate the works in and around Vicksburg, and to surrender the city and the Garrison under my command, by marching out with my colors and arms, stacking them in front of my present lines, after which you will take possession. General John Pemberton July 3, 1863 • Pemberton surrendered his forces on July 4, 1863, American Independence Day • the Mississippi River was now in Union hands & once again open to the North's commercial traffic • Rashomon at Vicksburg —NY Times • The Unconditional Surrender Continues —HistoryNet • the humiliating defeat exacerbated the cross-cultural antipathy toward Yankees that had pervaded the South for generations & would continue to do so well into the future • the devastated City of Vicksburg did not officially celebrate the nation's birthday again until 1944 (though unofficial celebrations were not uncommon) • the victorious Union (U.S.) Army, which sealed the fate of both the Confederacy & slavery in America, was desegregated — in 1948 —How Liberals Invented Segregation by Nicholas Guyatt • blamed by many Southerners for the loss of Vicksburg, Pemberton was accused of incompetence & because he was a Northerner, labeled a traitor • he accepted a reduction in rank & continued to serve the Confederacy as a colonel "This brave officer has suffered more from traducers than any other in the Southern Confederacy. He happened to have been born in a Northern State, and although he had married in Virginia, had reared his children as Southern people, had resided many years among us, and had rejected the offer of a large fortune to cast in his lot with the North, there were not wanting men ungenerous enough to impute his Northern birth to him as a crime, and to 'foretell' that upon the first opportunity he would prove a traitor to the cause he had espoused at so great a cost." —Richmond Times Dispatch, June, 1863 "He was accused of being a traitor to Vicksburg. He was not a traitor to Vicksburg. He was a loyal man fighting a losing battle." —V. Blaine Russell (1890-1980), historian & columnist, "Vicksburgesque," Vicksburg Evening Post • despite his refusal to come to Vicksburg's aid, Johnston retained his command in the Confederacy • after the war he became friends w/Union Gen. Sherman, later serving as an honorary pallbearer at his funeral • Pemberton requested a court of inquiry into his controversial role at Vicksburg, but was refused • he & Joe Johnston continued blaming each other for decades —Under Siege!: Three Children at the Civil War Battle for Vicksburg, by Andrea Warren • the house was purchased in 1890 by Mary Frances Harris Cowan (1849-1914), whose husband, Confederate Lt. Ludwell Blackstone Cowan (1828-1892) is said to have participated in the building of the electric spark underwater torpedo (naval mine) • on 12 Dec, 1862 it sank the USS Cairo, the first US warship ever destroyed by this type of weapon • the building later housed Sisters of Mercy Catholic boarding school St. Anthony's Hall, then a tour home/B&B • acquired by the National Park Service as part of the Vickburg National Military Park, August, 2003 • Pemberton's Headquarters —National Park Service • Historic Structure Report —National Park Service • HABS: MS-266 (1972) • National Register 70000319, 1970 • Uptown Vicksburg Historic District, National Register 93000850, 1993 • designated National Historic Landmark, 1976
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- Published 05.19.22
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