05 February 2012

Mississippi Marine Brigade ~ Civil War

Early in my research journey, I learned about the Mississippi Marine Brigade, thanks to my 2nd great grandfather, Oscar (you can read about him in earlier posts). The unit was relatively obscure, and it appears to have been that way both during the war and in the multitude of historical texts since then.

There are few reference sources, two of which are invaluable resources on this federal unit. Notice I said federal; the majority of the men and women fighting at this time were organized by state. The MMB was one of the few units designated under the federal government. Essentially designed to counter attack the ram fleet of the Confederacy, protecting the valuable Mississippi River corridor. Although largely considered to be reckless and "of little use", it was one of the first operations to essentially carry land units on boats within the confines of the US military. Oscar was a Captain in the MMB.

Chester G. Hearn produced Ellet's Brigade; The Strangest Outfit of All (Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 2000). A well researched text, it provides a wonderful look into everyday life in the brigade, including this:

[describing an event on 22 March 1863 with "widespread dissatisfaction"]  "... When the officer of the day, Captain Oscar F. Brown, Cavalry Company C, attempted to stop the riot, one of the men punched him in the face. Captain Calvin G. Fisher, commanding Adams, distributed revolvers and with help from Brown subdued the troublemakers. Ellet arrested four of the ringleaders and placed them in leg irons connected to 20-pound balls. 'It was a severe lesson,' Captain Crandall recalled, 'but a salutary one to the entire command.'" (page 147-148).

The other, available on Google Books, History of the Ram Fleet and the Mississippi Marine Brigade in the War for the Union on the Mississippi and its Tributaries: The Story of the Ellets and Their Men.  1907, Warren D. Crandall and Isaac D. Newell, http://books.google.com/ebooks/reader?id=rl0tAAAAYAAJ&num=10&authuser=0&printsec=frontcover&output=reader. Not only is this a rich historical text, and necessary reading for anybody interested in the MMB, it includes numerous photos and illustrations of members of the unit and their leadership.

Online resources are also available, and easy to find with a standard search engine. I will leave that to you.

Examples of MMB uniforms on models.