On January 9, 1861, Mississippi seceded from the Union and was soon involved in fighting for its life against forces of the United States. On May 6, 1863, as Union troops advanced towards the capital of Jackson, state government bureaus and offices were forced to evacuate the city and Governor John Jones Pettus had to flee his residence in the Governor’s Mansion. Jackson fell to Union troops on May 14, 1863, who then left the city to take part in their campaign against Vicksburg. On May 29, 1863, Dr. R. N. Anderson addressed Governor Pettus that he was using the Mansion to care for wounded and ill Confederate soldiers. In early June 1863, Governor Pettus returned to Jackson, but after the surrender of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, he left the city before it was reoccupied by Northern soldiers. On the evening of July 18, 1863, General William T. Sherman and other Union officers dined in the Governor’s Mansion and toasted the joint successes of the U.S. Army and Navy.
During the remainder of the Civil War, restless state government offices remained on the move and exiled from their capital city, Jackson. First settling briefly in Meridian, the capital moved to Columbus and Macon. Furniture from the Governor’s Mansion was sent to the temporary capital of Macon for safekeeping. In the wake of the tragic war, in October 1865, Governor Benjamin G. Humphreys authorized a person to retrieve the Mansion furniture from Macon. It, however, had been either stolen or destroyed and could not be located.
Today, Mansion visitors can view the c. 1850 sofa (on exhibit in the Gold Bedroom) which belonged to Governor Benjamin G. Humphreys and was probably used in the Governor’s Mansion during his 1865 – 1868 term as governor. This Rococo Revival style sofa was the private property of Governor Humphreys and was donated to the Governor’s Mansion by his descendents in 1993.
Free tours of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion are given Tuesdays through Fridays, 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. on the half-hour. Reservations are required for groups of ten or more. Because the mansion may be closed for official state functions, you should call 601-359-6421 to confirm tour availability.
Cain, Helen and Anne D. Czarniecki. An Illustrated Guide to the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1984.
Howell, H. Grady, Jr. Chimneyville: “likenesses”of early days in Jackson, Mississippi. Madison, Mississippi: Chickasaw Bayou Press, 2007.
Lohrenz, Mary. Mississippi Governor’s Mansion Docent Manual. January 2011.
Sansing, David G. and Carroll Waller. A History of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1977.
Skates, John Ray. Mississippi’s Old Capitol: Biography of a Building. Jackson: Mississippi Department of Archives and History, 1990.
Smith, Timothy B. Mississippi in the Civil War: The Home Front. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi for the Mississippi Historical Society and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, 2010.