Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Committee Chair

Dr. Susannah J. Ural

Committee Chair Department

History

Committee Member 2

Dr. Kyle F. Zelner

Committee Member 2 Department

History

Committee Member 3

Dr. Heather Marie Stur

Committee Member 3 Department

History

Abstract

Thousands of southern men avoided regular military service in the American Civil War and enlisted or were drafted into state organized militias. In Mississippi, these units were termed Mississippi State Troops or Minute Men. This thesis argues that Mississippi militiamen’s pre-war positions and localized conception of military service directly influenced their wartime experiences. Militiamen, often in their thirties and forties, were older than the average Confederate soldier, established community members, and heads of families who sought service near home. The Mississippi state government, however, visualized militia service as anything but local and developed a centralized militia system that removed men from their communities for long durations. Overwhelmed by wartime demands, state officials failed to properly utilize these men, which damaged militiamen’s morale. Organized as a local defense force, militiamen expressed devotion to the Confederate cause, but their primary loyalty remained tied to their families and communities.

Civil War militiamen offer a critical lens into the southern home front and soldier ideology, but historians have largely ignored their service. Current scholarship focuses on young, unmarried Confederate volunteers of 1861 and 1862. Historians have falsely assumed that Civil War militiamen fit within this accepted demographic. This study challenges the existing historiography on Civil War soldiers, civilians, and southern communities. Grounded in the fields of War and Society and Southern history, this thesis offers the first scholarly examination of Mississippi’s militia in the Civil War, utilizing governors’ papers, newspapers, military documents, and a quantitative study based on muster rolls and census data.

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