Historic Jefferson College

Historic Jefferson College

Special exhibits will be presented at the 12th annual Black & Blue Civil War Living History Program on Oct. 26 at Historic Jefferson College in Washington, Miss., according to organizer Ser Seshsh Ab Heter-CM Boxley.

The event begins at 10 a.m.

Boxley said the special exhibits include displays about Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) local posts from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Vicksburg National Military Park, Natchez National Historical Parks, universities, historians and private collections.

A Reenactors Round Table Encampment of Delegates representing various locations where GAR posts existed will be presented as well as a keynote address on research into these posts.

According to Boxley, GAR posts were located in Mississippi at Greenville, Vicksburg, Jackson, Natchez, Fayette and Port Gibson. Locations in Louisiana were in Vidalia, Waterproof, Baton Rouge, Port Hudson, Thibodeaux, Lafayette, New Orleans, Shreveport and Lake Providence.

The African American Commander of the Mississippi-Louisiana Department of the Grand Army of the Republic Union Civil War Veterans was William Rochester of the 6th U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery. He is buried in the Natchez National Cemetery.

Cheryl Wilkinson, a former student at Cal State University Northridge, studied the history of the two GAR posts in Natchez and one in Vidalia. She will share her research on that and on Rochester.

She has done extensive research about and is the expert on African descent Union veterans who were members of the Grand Army of the Republic Posts in Natchez and Vidalia, Boxley said.

Local Miss-Lou Grand Army of the Republic posts once operated throughout Mississippi and Louisiana and also in Natchez and Vidalia as well as the Women’s Relief Corps Auxiliary that is still active in Vidalia attached to the Parson Brownlow No. 23 GAR Post’s building located at 604 N. Magnolia Street.

The Vidalia Louisiana based Woman’s Relief Corps is believed to be the only active organization of its kind in the Miss-Lou region.

It was organized on June 13, 1898 under the Department of Louisiana and Mississippi Grand Army of the Republic by vote of the 24th National GAR Convention.

Vidalia WRC was officially chartered April 16, 1907. In April 2019 it was 121 years old.

In 1868 The GAR established the 30th of May, officially called Decoration Day, as the Day to go to the cemetery in remembrance of their Civil War comrades. It is now known as Memorial Day.

A mock GAR encampment meeting during the 12th Black and Blue Civil War Living History program will bring alive local Miss-Lou Union Civil War veterans who fought for freedom, built the “Black Community” after the war as it exists today.

They were once enslaved but self emancipated men like William Rochester co-founded the Beulah Baptist Church along with two other members of the Sixth U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery.

There was Wilson Brown a Union navy Medal of Honor recipient who was a co-founder of Clermont Church.

Henry Bell once enslaved on the Stampley Plantation in Jefferson County became a Natchez policeman after the war.

Boxley said these and thousands of other civil war veterans were the contemporaries of Congressman John Lynch, U. S. Senator Hiram Revels, Mayor Robert Wood, and Councilman Louis Winston and so on.  

Starting at 10 a. m. on Oct. 26, the public is encouraged to attend the 12th annual Black and Blue Civil War program.

For more information, 601-442-4719 or 601-446-6345.

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