THE PINEY WOODS 159 slaves or more. So while slavery was not as pervasive in the Piney Woods as in some other regions of the state, it was to have a huge impact. An impending national crisis over the right to own slaves would shake the nation to its foundation and directly impact life in the backcountry of the Piney Woods. The Civil War in the Piney Woods In the decade prior to the Civil War, Mississippi experienced a wave of prosperity based on the world cotton economy. The voracious textile mills in England and the United States created a demand for cotton on the world market, and the United States supplied a majority of the world’s raw cotton to feed these mills. In 1859, Mississippi ginned more cotton than any other state, with 1,202,507 bales of cotton weighing roughly 400 pounds each. As mentioned earlier, this demand for cotton created a system of plantation agriculture, where groups of slaves toiled in the fields to produce the cotton crops. The notion that plantation slavery was a common practice in Mississippi is belied by population figures: In the census of 1860, Mississippi contained 353,901 whites and 436,631 slaves. The largest concentrations of slaves were in counties along the Mississippi, Yazoo, and Tombigbee rivers. These cotton-producing regions were tied to the global cotton economy, and the elimination of slavery would threaten the livelihood of the planters. The election of Abraham Lincoln, an avowed opponent of slavery, to the office of president of the United States in November 1860 was the event that caused the slaveholding states to question their status in the Union. In December of 1860, South Carolina called a state convention and voted to secede, or remove itself, from the United States. Mississippi followed a similar path. Governor John J. Pettus, a states’rights advocate, quickly called for a special session of the Mississippi legislature to convene on November 26, 1860, to address the events at hand, in particular the safety of the state and the relationship of Mississippi with the federal government. The special session of the legislature called for elections to be held in December 1860 for delegates to a state convention to be held in January 1861. This convention would decide the fate of Mississippi as it related to the United States government. Like many other Southerners, all Mississippians were not firmly convinced that departure from the Union was a certainty. While the great majority of the delegates elected to the state convention supported secession, at least two Piney Woods counties elected delegates who favored other methods. Porter Jacob Myers of Perry County, for example, voted against secession, despite the fact that he owned sixteen slaves. In Jones County voters elected John H. Powell, a Unionist candidate who garnered 65 percent of the total vote, to the state secession convention. When Powell voted in favor of secession, local residents voiced their displeasure by burning him in effigy. The convention delegates ultimately voted 83 to 15 in favor of secession from the federal government of the United States. The vast majority of the delegates of the Piney Woods supported this measure. Mississippi quickly moved to arm itself and to join the newly formed Confederate States of America. When war arrived with the firing upon Fort Sumter, South Carolina, in April 1861, the white males of the Piney Woods were quick to enlist to fight for Mississippi. Piney Woods counties raised a number of volunteer companies to fight in the war. Perry County, for example, with a white male population of less than 1,000 in 1860, raised at least seven Confederate units of men during the war. One of the first units to enlist from Perry County was Company G, the Kennedy Guards, of the 27th Mississippi, organized in September 1861. Among their number was a twenty- one-year-old John Prentiss Carter, a Piney Woods native who graduated from Centenary College just one year prior. Listed as a third lieutenant on the original roster of the unit, Carter rose to the rank of first lieutenant before his capture at the Battle of Lookout Mountain in November 1863. Carter spent the remainder of the war in the Johnson’s Island Union prison camp and was paroled in June 1865. After the war, Carter served as delegate to the Constitutional Conventions of 1865 and 1890 and was a member of both the Mississippi House of Representatives and the Senate for multiple terms. Elected lieutenant governor in 1903, he served from 1904 to 1908. One with a more typical war experience is William J. Bass, from the western Piney Woods, who recorded his memories of the war in a detailed diary. Bass enlisted in August of 1861 in Goode’s Rifles, Company G of the 7th Mississippi Rifles. Goode’s Rifles consisted of men primarily from Lawrence County. The remainder of the units in the 7th Mississippi came from Piney Woods and neighboring southwestern counties of the state. The 7th Like many other Southerners, all Mississippians were not firmly convinced that departure from the Union was a certainty.