Mississippi--Military Board

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Shortly after declaring the state of Mississippi separated from the United States in January 1861, its secession convention passed an order entitled “An Ordinance to Regulate the Military System of the State of Mississippi.” This ordinance created a Military Board to oversee Mississippi’s military personnel and resources. This board was to be made up of four brigadier generals and a major general in charge of the state’s militia, and the governor. On January 23, the convention elected the board members as Jefferson Davis (as major general) and Earl Van Dorn, Charles Clark, James L. Alcorn, and Christopher H. Mott (as brigadier generals). Shortly thereafter, the Military Board met to build and prepare Mississippi’s armed forces. It appointed Richard Griffith to the position of adjutant general, Samuel G. French to oversee the ordnance requirements, and William Barksdale for the quartermaster general. With appointments complete, the board then published instructions for Mississippi’s military structure, procedures, tactics, and equipment in the form of Orders of the Military Board of the State of Mississippi. Over the next several weeks, the board handled a wide variety of strategic and administrative tasks, such as planning the defense of Mississippi’s coastline and facilitating the purchase of rations and weapons for Mississippi troops.

Although the Military Board began well, it soon ran into problems. Many of its members vacated their positions for promotions into Confederate service. Davis was elected president of the Confederacy, and the brigadier generals took military positions within the Confederate army. Mississippi officials appointed new generals to take their place on the Military Board, but the governor’s dislike of Alcorn caused controversy and led to another individual—Reuben Davis—being promoted to major general. Additional problems arose when most of Mississippi ‘s troops and equipment were transferred into Confederate service. Continued enlistments into that army prevented the state’s militia force from maintaining a steady number or presence. The Military Board spent much of its time during the summer of 1861 trying to procure sufficient weapons and soldiers for state service. By the fall, Mississippi officials believed that the Military Board was an inefficient method of governing the militia. The board was discontinued in November 1861. (Timothy B. Smith, Mississippi in the Civil War, 52–60)

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