War Comes to the Mississippi Delta was developed by the Museum of the Mississippi Delta to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War as it took place in the area in 1863.
The exhibit explored topics outside of traditional battle stories such as:
- Everyday life of the soldier
- The role of women in preserving the family and the farms
- Effects of the Emancipation Proclamation on slaves, including the formation of the U.S. Colored Troops
- Overall economic impact of the war on the Delta
- Lasting effects of the war with respect to flood control and transportation.
The storyline for War Comes was supplemented by artifacts from the museum’s collection and those borrowed from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Vicksburg National Military Park, and from private collections. The artifact selection included a frock coat, haversack, canteen and forage cap worn or carried by Mississippi soldiers, a homespun dress, a child’s outfit, furniture, photographs, newspapers, and other personal artifacts.
In addition to the exhibition, the project consisted of a one-day symposium with Civil War historians and scholars and a two-day encampment at Fort Pemberton where Company K, 30th Mississippi Infantry and their wives participated in a living history encampment. This event was highlighted by the firing of the 1863 Lady Polk cannon, now housed at the museum. Additionally, tours for students and special programming were held during the summer by Park Rangers from Vicksburg National Military Park.
While many Civil War exhibits throughout the Delta focus on military strategy and battles, War Comes approaches Mississippi’s involvement in the war through a personal aspect. By focusing on 19th century social and women’s history and African American military participation following emancipation, this exhibit and its programming help to highlight the important role of both women and African Americans during the Civil War in the Mississippi Delta.