"Milliken's Bend: A Civil War Battle in History and Memory"

Aug 22, 2013

On this edition of ST, we welcome Linda Barnickel, a former Tulsa resident with master's degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and The Ohio State University who now works as an archivist, researcher, and writer in Nashville. She's also the author of "Milliken's Bend: A Civil War Battle in History and Memory" (LSU Press). In June of 1863, on the banks of the mighty Mississippi, at Milliken's Bend, Louisiana, a Union force composed mainly of former slaves met their Confederate foes in one of the most vicious --- and most "hand-to-hand" --- small battles of the entire Civil War. This book tells that important story: an admittedly rather obscure facet of the year-long Vicksburg Campaign that's only recently (in the last decade or so) started to receive its due attention from scholars and academics, as Barnickel shares with us on today's program. Indeed, as we read at this book's website: "What ensued [at Milliken's Bend] was one of the most severe --- and most overlooked --- small engagements of the Civil War. Despite their lack of training, the [Union's] black soldiers put up stubborn resistance, but were quickly overwhelmed. Two gunboats on the Mississippi River shelled the oncoming Confederates, halting their advance, and the Rebels withdrew about midday. But the story doesn't end there...." This award-winning book draws on ample research as well as numerous personal accounts, diary entries, and contemporary reports to give a fully detailed picture not only of this battle but also of its wider historical and socio-cultural contexts.