Your driving tour of Civil War sites in Natchez begins at the Natchez Visitor's Reception Center which contains exhibits, as well as a short film, about regional history. From here, your tour will wind through Natchez, highlighting only some of the more important sites relevant to the Civil War and the Federal occupation of Natchez. Unlike some other Southern cities, Natchez emerged from the conflict relatively unscathed and today, contains one of the greatest collections of antebellum architecture in the nation.
On April 30, 1865, to commemorate the assassination of President Lincoln, a procession of mourning moved through the streets of Natchez. Federal troops and Natchez citizens gathered around the gazebo in Bluff Park and listened to a eulogy presented by Mr. Dillingham of Maine, a U. S. Treasury agent.
On July 13, 1863, Federal troops, under the command of Brig. General Thomas Ransom, landed at Natchez Under-The-Hill and occupied the city without opposition. In his official report, Ransom noted "the citizens were completely surprised and hardly realized our design until the place was fully occupied and picketed."
Union officers established their headquarters at Rosalie, the classical revival home resting atop the bluffs. Members of the Wilson family continued to occupy the second floor of the house while Federal officers lived and worked downstairs.
Soon after their arrival, Federal troops began the creation of Fort McPherson, a large earthwork in the northern suburbs of the city. Designed by Capt. Peter Hains of the Engineering Corps, the fortification could accommodate 5,000 troops and provided an unobstructed view of the river and surrounding countryside.
Federal troops destroyed this palatial home of wealthy Natchezians Frank and Charlotte Surget, ostensibly because it impeded the construction of Fort McPherson. After touring the property before its demolition, Union Gen. Thomas Kilby Smith remarked that "one continuously wonders that such a paradise could be created here on earth."
Designed by Robert Mills, architect of the Washington Monument, the Marine Hospital was one of the thirty such structures across the United States. Federal officers transferred many soldiers who had survived the Vicksburg campaign, to the facility for medical care and recuperation.
Laid out in 1822, the Natchez city cemetery has been described as one of the most interesting and beautiful in the South. The cemetery is the final resting place for many Confederate dead.
Due to its close proximity to the Marine hospital and city cemetery, Federal troops used this 18th century house as a medical facility.
The Federal government purchased the original 11 acres site from local residents in 1866 although some of the earliest interments date from the 1850s. Notable graves include those Wilson Brown, a former slave and Medal of Honor recipient, two Buffalo Soldiers, and members of the 58th U. S. Colored Soldiers.
Douglas and Eliza Rivers were evicted from their home, The Wigwam, in the spring of 1864. Federal troops used the home as officer barracks and staff offices. This photo shows members of the 23rd Iowa Infantry on the front porch.
Natchez's best example of Italianate architecture, this house served as headquarters for Fort McPherson. Union troops resided there with members of the Fleming family until their eviction in 1864.
The earliest purely Greek Revival mansion in Natchez, The Burn served as offices forthe Engineering Department responsible for designing and constructing Fort McPherson. Prior to the occupation, The Burn was home to the John Walworth family.
The former owner of the Natchez Foundry, Maurice Lisle built this house in late 1850s. Lisle sold the foundry in 1858 and became a gas fitter, installing gas pipes and lines in scores of Natchez houses and businesses. The Union Army hired Lisle to assist in the construction of a water works inside Fort McPherson.
Federal troops occupied the home of George Malin Davis, a Natchez lawyer and rabid secessionist known as a "fire eater." Family legend holds that troops picked the jeweled eyes of the inlaid birds from a valuable center table.
Stanton Hall is one of the great houses of the American South. In 1857, Frederick Stanton died shortly after the house was completed. During the Civil War, Stanton's widow and family continued to occupy the opulent mansion throughout the 19th century.
Prior to the Civil War, Forks of the Road was the second largest slave auction site in America. After the Federal occupation of Natchez, members of the 14th Wisconsin and the 58th U. S. Colored Troops worked throughout the night to destroy the slave pens. The destruction of the market symbolized the end of slavery in the Natchez District.
The home of John and Katherine Minor, this house was often referred to as the Union Hotel, due to the fact that the owners frequently entertained Federal officers. A member of a prominent slave-owning family, Katherine Minor once referred to herself as an "abolitionist at heart."
Members of the 12th and 14th Wisconsin and 28th Illinois Infantry camped on the lawn of Monmouth, the former home of General John Quitman, once governor of the State of Mississippi and a Mexican war hero. Quitman's daughters, who had married Confederate officers, continued to reside there during the Federal occupation.
Jane Gustine Boyd Conner is often referred to as Natchez's "Mother of the Confederacy," as she sent all five sons and three sons-in-law into the Confederate ranks. The war took a heavy toll on Jane Conner's family; she would lose one son, a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law, a sister-in-law, and seven grandchildren during the conflict.
Although John McMurran, the builder of Melrose, was considered to be a Union man, his son, John Jr., joined Quitman's Light Artillery, a Confederate unit. After the occupation of Natchez, Federal troops set up a picket line at McMurran's front gate while members of the 58th U. S. Colored Troops regularly drilled on the front meadow.
Completed in 1812, Auburn was home to Stephen Duncan, widely recognized as one of the wealthiest planters in the South on the eve of the Civil War. In September, 1863, the staunch Unionist and his family boarded the Forest Rose, a Union gunboat that had been put at their disposal. Duncan and his family lived in New York City for the remainder of the war.
During the war, this house was home to the Elias Montgomery family. Three of the Montgomery sons would fight for the Confederacy, including Eli, Jr., age 14. Young Eli appears to have died in a Lauderdale Springs Hospital before seeing battle. He is buried in the Natchez City Cemetery with a tombstone emblazoned with the words, "Victim of War."
The only remaining house in Mississippi with an encircling colonnade, Dunleith was built by Charles Dahlgreen, who raised two infantry units for service in the Confederacy. Dahlgreen's brother, John, however, became an admiral in the Union navy, a case of brother pitted against brother. During the Civil War, the Confederate sympathizer, Alfred Vidal Davis family resided at Dunleith.
Charles DuBuisson built the main portion of Twin Oaks in the 1850s, although sections of the house are believed to be much earlier. DuBuisson was a professor of classics at Jefferson College, and later, practiced law in Natchez. His son, also named Charles, was a corporal in the First Mississippi Light Artillery and later, served in Wirt Adam's regiment of the Mississippi Cavalry.
This raised Greek Revival house was moved to is present location in the 1850s to make way for the construction of Magnolia Hall. During the war, members of the prominent Postlethwaite family, many of whom fought for the Confederacy, lived at Pleasant Hill.
Considered to be the last great mansion built in Natchez prior to the war, Magnolia Hall was home to the Henderson family. In May, 1864, Maj. Christensen, Chief of Staff to General Canby, and his fellow officers occupied the mansion. According to family letters, the Union soldiers "were well-behaved, sang well and liked to dance."
Since its construction in 1820, this building has been the seat of Adams County
government. It was remodeled in the 1920s. Photographers captured images, such as this one, of Union troops milling about the grounds.
The design of this house is attributed to Levi Weeks, an accomplished New York architect active in Natchez in the early 19th century. Later occupied by wealthy physician and planter, William Newton Mercer, the house was occupied by Federal troops who are depicted on the front steps in this photograph.
Considered the earliest brick house remaining in the Old Southwest Territory, Texada was appropriated by Federal troops in 1865. Lt. Theodore D. Johnson issued the order which specified that "all the furniture would be retained in the house."