From Memorial Day to Milliken’s Bend

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Discovering the only plaque in the United States dedicated to the African Brigade in the Civil War are, left to right, Gailey Ward of Los Angeles; Bobby and Bishop Alvin Bagby of Tallulah; Dr. Annice Deveaux of Los Angeles; and her sister, Vickie Turner Washington of Montgomery, AL. The plaque, though originally placed at Grant’s Circle in the Vicksburg Nationally Military Park, is practically hidden from public view today at the isolated Grant’s Canal east of Delhi, LA. The Battle of Milliken’s Bend fought northeast of Tallulah on June 6-7, 1863, proved to be the testing ground for the first Black regiments recruited for the Union in the Civil War. Initially named the African Brigade, their numbers increased to more than 208,000 Army and Navy recruits by the end of the war in 1865. Vicksburg was a major garrison for these troops beginning on July 4, 1863. First Mississippi regimental Sgt. John “Big Jack” Jackson was the outstanding hero of the Battle of Milliken’s Bend. He died while leading his men into the heat of combat against overwhelming odds. The three Black regiments and one white regiment won the fight.