Tour Stop 2 - Shirley House

A newspaper ad description of the Shirley Plantation
Article From Jan 17, 1863, page 2 - Vicksburg Daily Whig

Courtesy of

The Shirley House was owned by James and Adeline Shirley and is the only wartime structure remaining inside Vicksburg National Military Park, and was referred to as the 'White House' by Federal soldiers during the siege. The Shirley's involvement in the institution of slavery included both rural and urban environments. James, a lawyer by trade, relied on enslaved individuals to care for his family's comfort and economic security. The enslaved African Americans performed both menial household tasks and labored on his 100-hundred-acre orchard. As a lawyer, Shirley engaged in countless numbers of legal cases influencing the fate of hundreds of Warren County enslaved men, women, and children. Personally, the Shirley's enslaved more than forty individuals, including 20-year-old Eliza, who was likely purchased to be Adeline's body servant.

On May 18, 1863, as the Confederate rear guard fell back into the Vicksburg defenses, soldiers were ordered to burn all the houses in front of their works. The Shirley barns and outbuildings were quickly burned to the ground, but the soldier assigned to destroy the house was shot before he could apply the torch.

Mrs. Shirley, her 15-year-old son Quincy, and several servants, were caught in the cross-fire as Union soldiers approached Vicksburg. Fearing for their lives, they remained in the house huddled in a chimney corner for three days before Mrs. Shirley tied a sheet to a broom handle and had it placed on the upper front porch. The frightened occupants of the 'white house' were finally removed by Union soldiers and given shelter in a cave.
A White Plantation home sits atop a grassy hill.
Present-day Shirley House

NPS/ L. Brewer

It was near the Shirley House that mining operations against the Confederate forts guarding Jackson road were initiated. When Major General Grant chose not to waste more soldiers' lives assaulting the southern strongpoints, digging mines underneath the Confederate lines became a viable alternative. West of the Shirley House lies the Third Louisiana Redan, a triangular earthwork, where Federal soldiers dug trenches to near the base of the redan. This avenue was known as Logan's Approach, since troops digging the trenches were commanded by Major General John A. Logan. Here a mine was started with the plan to explode a charge under the redan, allowing and Union soldiers to rush into the gap created in the fort's wall.

Last updated: May 1, 2024

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