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Michael B. Ballard

Retired Professor and Coordinator of the Congressional Collection, MSU Libraries

E-mail address: mburronb@gmail.com

Michael B. Ballard is a native of Ackerman, MS, where he stills lives. He earned his B.A. degree in history at Mississippi State University in 1975, his M.A. in history and archives at MSU in 1976, and his Ph.D. in history at MSU in 1983. He has been an archivist in MSU's Mitchell Memorial Library since 1983, serving successively as Associate University Archivist, University Archivist, and University Archivist and Coordinator of the Congressional Collection. He has assumed full-time duties as Coordinator of the Congressional and Political Research Center.

He is also associate editor of the U. S. Grant publishing projects.

In addition to his 11 books, Ballard has published some 25 articles and over 75 book reviews. His books A Long Shadow: Jefferson Davis and the Final Days of the Confederacy, Pemberton: A Biography, and Vicksburg: The Campaign That Opened the Mississippi were History Book Club selections. Pemberton was chosen as best non-fiction book by a Mississippi author in 1991 by the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters. Ballard's writings on the Civil War have led to numerous speaking appearances before many Civil War round tables and symposiums, professional meetings of historical societies and associations, and civic groups. He has also served as a consultant to several university presses and in 1998 appeared as a guest historian on the Greystone Television production regarding the fate of Confederate gold; the program has aired on the History Channel and the A&E Network. Ballard is a co-founder of the Golden Triangle Civil War Round Table, Starkville, MS, and edits the round table newsletter, The Arsenal. In 1998, he co-founded, along with his former major professor John F. Marszalek of Mississippi State University, the Civil War Historians-Western Theater group that meets annually.

Ballard is active in many professional archival and historical organizations. In 2005, Ballard received the Dunbar Rowland Award from the Mississippi Historical Society in recognition of his scholarly publications and other contributions to the documentation of Mississippi history.

The Civil War in Mississippi: Major Campaigns and Battles

Ballard, Michael B.
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi for the MS Historical Society & MS Dept. of Archives and History
ISBN: 9781604738421

This book is a volume in the Heritage of Mississippi Series, sponsored by the Mississippi Historical Society and published by the University Press of Mississippi. At the time of publication, it is the only single volume that covers the major military events in Mississippi during the Civil War. Included are the various stages of the Vicksburg campaign, actions at Corinth and Iuka, the Meridian Campaign, the battles of Brice's Crossroads and Tupelo, and the Union cavalry raids that came in the latter days of 1864.

Maroon and White: Mississippi State University, 1878-2003

Ballard, Michael B.
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
ISBN: 9781578069996

Mississippi State University was founded in 1878 and opened its doors in 1880 as a land-grant school designed for teaching agriculture and mechanical arts. Building upon the work of John K. Bettersworth, Michael B. Ballard traces the evolution of this institution. From the beginning, first president Stephen D. Lee wanted to expand the university's vision beyond agriculture and engineering. While admitting that these should be the focal points, the school gradually introduced studies in the humanities.

The university evolved around the expectation of being the "People's College," drawing students from rural areas and poor back-grounds and giving them a chance to succeed in higher education. There remains a broad cross-section in the student body from many backgrounds, including a substantial number of African American and international students. This kind of mix, which extends to the faculty, has strengthened the research capabilities of the university and broadened the academic landscape in ways Lee never dreamed.

The author covers many other facets of MSU, such as how it has been affected by national events through the years, including the Great Depression, World Wars I and II, and the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Michael B. Ballard is the university archivist and coordinator of the Congressional and Political Research Center at Mississippi State University. He is the author of numerous books on the Civil War, including Pemberton: The General Who Lost Vicksburg and Civil War Mississippi: A Guide, both from University Press of Mississippi.

Chickasaw: A Mississippi Scout for the Union, The Civil War Memoir of Levi H. Naron

Ballard, Michael B.
Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
ISBN: 0807131016
Collaborators: Thomas D. Cockrell

The memoir of Naron as told to Richard Surby; first published in 1865 as part of a book on Benjamin Grierson. Naron, a native Mississippian, was pro-Union, and scouted for the Union army in Mississippi, northwest Alabama and west Tennessee. He survived the war, and he wound up living in Kansas, where he is buried. This book was co-edited by Thomas Cockrell.

U. S. Grant: The Making of a General, 1861-1863

Ballard, Michael B.
Publisher: Rowman and Littlefield
ISBN: 0742543080
Series: American Crisis

An evaluation of the qualities and experiences that shaped U. S. Grant as a man and a general during his service in the western theater of the Civil War.

Vicksburg: The Campaign that Opened the Mississippi

Ballard, Michael B.
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
ISBN: 0807828939

An examination of the campaign that covers the years 1861-1863, focusing on leadership, strategy, tactics, army and navy operations, common soldier experiences, impact of the campaign on various locales, and guerrilla warfare.

Sonny Montgomery: The Veteran's Champion

Ballard, Michael B.
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
ISBN: 1578065542
Collaborators: G. V. Sonny Montgomery and Craig Piper

This book is a collection of memories on various aspects of Sonny Montgomery's life and years (1967-1997)in the U. S. House of Representatives. Some of the major topics are Montgomery's military experience, the Montgomery G. I. Bill, the investigation of MIAs and POWs in the Vietnam era, political activities, and Montgomery's relationship with various presidents.

Civil War Mississippi: A Guide

Ballard, Michael B.
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
ISBN: 1578061962

In the Civil War, Mississippi experienced a protracted and devastating invasion. Confederate and Union armies fought fiercely at Corinth, Holly Springs, Iuka, Port Gibson, Vicksburg, and many other sites throughout the state.

For both tourists and Civil War buffs, this book is the first comprehensive coverage of the war in Mississippi. With its easy-to-follow maps and its wealth of historical information, you can trace the progress of the war in its campaigns, battles, present-day battlefields, and exploits of the soldiers and generals who fought.

In Mississippi the war was complex, for it involved sieges, trench warfare, naval bombardments, and brilliant cavalry engagements. Some of the most storied names of the war- Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, Nathan Bedford Forest, and John Pemberton- experienced their most triumphant and harrowing moments on Mississippi battlegrounds.

As it captures the turbulent drama, this handy guide takes you through the history of momentous times and over the landscapes where the war was staged.

Pemberton: A Biography

Ballard, Michael B.
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
ISBN: 0878055118

It was the sad fate of General John C. Pemberton (1814-1881), a northerner serving in the Confederate army, to die in disgrace and humiliation. Because he surrendered Vicksburg to General Grant, Confederates considered him a traitor. Because he lost this strategic southern port on the Mississippi, Pemberton was branded as an incompetent.

In this discerning new biography, the first to examine Pemberton's life and career in full scope, Michael Ballard credits General Pemberton for military prowess that previous Civil War scholars have denied him. Here his strength is shown to be in administration, not in the theater of combat. Ballard persuasively argues that if Pemberton's abilities had been properly used, he could have made a positive contribution to the Confederate cause.

Ballard focuses upon Pemberton's theory of commend in South Carolina, where his foremost conviction was the preservation of his army. Pressure from both state officials and the Confederate War Department in Richmond, however, dictated that he must hold Charleston at all costs. Submitting to his superiors, Pemberton carried this new philosophy to Mississippi for his next assignment, where his main objective was to defend Vicksburg, a city whose river defenses blocked Union commerce along the Mississippi River. Throughout the winter of 1862-63 Pemberton's forces held off Ulysses S. Grant's army, but in the spring of 1863 Grant's complex diversions confused Pemberton and allowed the Union to gain a beachhead on the east bank of the river and to launch an inland campaign that trapped the Confederates in Vicksburg. Remembering the lesson of Charleston, Pemberton tried to save this river city but lost both Vicksburg and his men.

Ballard's new slant on Pemberton's life, fair and revisionist, must be considered in future assessments, for it details fateful moments in Pemberton's career and offers new insights gained from family papers and manuscripts not previously examined. "I find the author's arguments to be convincing," says Civil War historian Herman Hattaway, "and like him, I am led to a keener appreciation of Pemberton than I ever had before."

A Long Shadow: Jefferson Davis and the Final Days of the Confederacy

Ballard, Michael B.
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
ISBN: 087805295X

This fascinating book examines a series of events that assured Jefferson Davis a symbolic and influential position in the southern pantheon of heroes.

He was the president of a nation that survived only four years. The effort he led to preserve that nation resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, economic devastation, and ultimately, a lost war that destroyed southern dreams of an independent Confederacy. Why, then, did he emerge in the post-Civil War period as a revered symbol of the Lost Cause movement?

The answer most often given is that Davis's capture and imprisonment by federal authorities at the end of the war made him a martyr to those who had fought for the Confederacy. Through a narrative account and analysis of the last days of Davis's presidency, including the retreat of the Confederate government from Richmond to Georgia, A Long Shadow demonstrates that Davis's incarceration was in fact the apex of a series of events that assured his positive image in the defeated South.

During the last three months of his presidency, Davis deftly handled such sensitive issues as states' rights, the arming of slaves, peace movements, and challenges to his presidential authority regarding the promotion and reinstatement respectively of General Robert E. Lee and Joseph E. Johnston. On the retreat from Richmond several events occurred that would hone Davis's post-bellum image as a defiant and persecuted defender of the Confederate cause.

These included a Davis proclamation urging southerners to continue fighting even though Richmond had been lost, as well as an insulting reception given the Confederate government in a North Carolina town, an unjust accusation of Davis's compliance in the Lincoln assassination conspiracy, Davis's refusal to concede defeat after Lee and Johnston had surrendered their armies, and degrading stories regarding the capture of Davis by the Union cavalry in Georgia.

Another significant theme developed in A Long Shadow occurs within the context of Davis's role in the last days. The attitudes and reactions of many southerners along the government's route of retreat suggested that defeat forecast an embracing of the Confederate movement rather than a rejection of what it had wrought. The romantic notion of the Lost Cause clearly began to take shape before the guns fell silent.

As Michael Ballard shows, Davis's actions and southern attitudes merged within the Lost Cause movement. Davis's imposing stature grew in large part from seeds sown during the last days of the Confederate epoch.

A Mississippi Rebel in the Army of Northern Virginia: The Memoirs of Private David Holt

Ballard, Michael B.
Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
ISBN: 0807119814

David Eldred Hot was born in 1843, the eighth child of wealthy plantation family in Wilkinson County, Mississippi. Eighteen years later, after his state seceded from the Union, he enlisted in Company K of the 1 6th Mississippi Regiment and was soon on his way to the northern Virginia theater, where he served throughout the Civil War. Late in his life, at a time when many former soldiers on both sides of the Civil War were reliving their memories of that event, Holt penned this memoir, recounting the idyllic life of an affluent southern boy before the war and experiences of a common soldier.

In the first part of his narrative, Holt depicts what life was like for an upper-class white male coming of age in the mid-nineteenth-century south. His comments on the social customs, slavery, and education add details to our picture of antebellum southern plantation society. Holt also chronicles the local reaction to the secession crisis, giving an evenhanded account of the white population's agony over the issue.

Although Holt's antebellum observations are enlightening, he is at his best when describing his wartime experiences. Holt saw action in most of the major campaigns and battles of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, and his battle descriptions rank among the most graphic, dramatic, and poignant accounts written by any situation, to penetrate the confusion of battle and see the human emotions behind the faces of anonymous combatants.

Holt also colorfully details the life of the Confederate soldier camp vividly depicting the camaraderie, the pranks, the verbal jousting, and other aspects of camp life during the war. Holt's fellow soldiers and officers come alive through his brilliant descriptions.

Both an informative picture of one veteran's Civil War experience and a highly readable memoir of a likable, sensitive, articulate man, A Mississippi Rebel in the Army of Northern Virginia is sure to become a Civil War classic.

Landscapes of Battle: The Civil War

Ballard, Michael B.
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
ISBN: 0878053654

In this volume is a collection of David Muench's splendid photographs of the battlefields of the American Civil War. All the scenes and panoramas are here: Wilson's Creek and ElkhornTavern in the Trans-Mississippi Theatre; the Vicksburg hills, Shiloh plateau, Stones River, Fort Donelson on the Cumberland, Chattanooga heights, Chickamauga Creek, and Kennesaw Mountain in the western theatre; Antietam Creek, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, Fredericksburg, the Manassas plains, the environs of Richmond, and the slopes of Gettysburg in the East.

These and Muench's photographs are serenely scenic memorials to the men who fought in the thunder that began at Fort Sumter and was silenced at Appomattox.

Included too are Michael B. Ballard's concise descriptions of the battles, along with maps of the battlefields. These give life to the placid vistas that were the battlegrounds contested over a century ago. Ballard's accounts of each battle and the results of the confrontations are placed in the context of the whole scope of the war.

The millions of visitors to national Civil War parks and battlefields each year attest to the continuing fascination of Americans with the four most tragic years in their history. Now, in this handsome volume the sites where soldiers of North and South fought and died are seen in the tranquil prospect that the battlefields have become today.

Ballard, Michael B. "Tension at Tupelo" America's Civil War 15.2 (2002): 52-57, 74.
Ballard, Michael B. "Congressional and Political Research Center at Mississippi State University" Mississippi Libraries 65.2 (2001): 61-62.
Ballard, Michael B. "Congressional and Political Research Center, Mitchell Memorial Library, Mississippi State University" The Primary Source 22.1 (2000): 1-6.
Ballard, Michael B. "The Vicksburg National Military Park Archives" The Primary Source 21.2 (1999): 1-4.
Ballard, Michael B. "Disaster and Disgrace: The John C. Pemberton Story" Alabama Heritage 27.Winter (1993): 6-18.
Ballard, Michael B. "A Benchmark in the History of Agricultural Research" MSU Alumnus 69.3 (1993): 36-38.
Ballard, Michael B. "[Jefferson] Davis's Last Ride to Richmond" Civil War Times Illustrated 32.1 (1993): 32-39.
Ballard, Michael B. "Remembering the Beginning" MSU Alumnus 67.1 (1991): 5.
Ballard, Michael B. "Preserving Military History in Mississippi: A Comentary" The Primary Source 10.1 (1988): 10-11.
Ballard, Michael B. "A Good Time to Pray: [1864 Siege of Plymouth, North Carolina]" Civil War Times Illustrated 24.12 (1986): 16-25, 47.
Ballard, Michael B. "Deceit by Telegraph: 'Lightning' Ellsworth's Electronic Warfare" Civil War Times Illustrated 22.6 (1983): 22-27.
Ballard, Michael B. "Deceived in Newburgh: To Capture An Arsenal" Civil War Times Illustrated 21.7 (1982): 22-26.
Ballard, Michael B. "The Battle of Baton Rouge: Street Fighting in the Louisiana Capital" Civil War Times Illustrated 19.10 (1981): 10-19.
Ballard, Michael B. "Yankee Editors on Jefferson Davis" Journal of Mississippi History 43.4 (1981): 316-332.
Ballard, Michael B. "Cheers for Jefferson Davis" American Histroy Illustrated 16.3 (1981): 8-15.
Ballard, Michael B. "Customizing a Finding Aid System" American Archivist 43.Summer (1980): 369-370.
Ballard, Michael B. "Breakdown in Macon" Civil War Times Illustrated 19.6 (1980): 31-33.