Walt's Look Around: 150th anniversary of Jackson occupation - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Walt's Look Around: 150th anniversary of Jackson occupation

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

We had a historic anniversary this week in Jackson. It was 150 years ago last Tuesday that General Grant and the Union Army invaded Jackson during the Civil War, on their way to Vicksburg. I have always heard that Jackson was more or less burned to the ground, but turns out, that may be less true than more.  

The Union Army came into Jackson from this-a-way. Some of the first encounters with the Confederate defenders came down there where I-20 and I-55 are merged west of the Pearl River.

The Confederate defenders were no match for the Union and Grant and the boys took the town.

"Jackson was occupied four different times during the Civil War by the Union army probably for a total of less than two weeks in all," said Jim Woodrick, with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. "The first occupation, the 150th anniversary of it came up May 14, 1863."  

Out of all of this, Jackson got the nickname Chimneyville, because that was all that was supposed to be left standing here after the invasion. We know of several buildings that weren't burned. But how much of Jackson really was destroyed? Woodrick says the answer is debatable.  

"I don't think there is a real firm answer to that," said Woodrick. "Because it looks like there are plenty of buildings that if they were destroyed they were built back pretty quickly."

A part of that questioning of the totality of the destruction of Jackson is because of a photograph taken in 1869, just four years after the war ended. There sure were a lot of buildings built back in a post war economy if the city had been leveled.  

Jerry Lake owns a Jackson business that started before the Civil War and has been in continuous operation since then. We know it as Carter Jewelers today. It was Von Sutter Jewelers then.  

"There was never any mention that the store burned or that the cases burned because we have pictures of the original cases," said Lake. "I'm told that those wall cases were from the original Von Sutter which we've got some old pictures showing those cases."

Well, plenty was burned, no doubt. Maybe not enough to make Jackson like the mythical phoenix, rising from the ashes, but enough to give it the nickname Chimneyville. A nickname that has stuck with us through the ages.

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