NORTH MISSISSIPPI 447 PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS IDA B. WELLS-BARNETT African-American journalist, sociologist, and early civil rights crusader Ida B. Wells-Barnett was born in Holly Springs on July 16, 1862. The eldest of eight children, Wells-Barnett was raised by her parents, James, a carpenter, and Lizzie, a cook, who both advocated for the rights of African American Southerners during Reconstruction. As a teenager, Wells-Barnett attended Shaw University—now Rust College—in Holly Springs, although she was later expelled for rebelling against the college president. In 1878, Ida’s parents and younger brother suffered a yellow fever epidemic and died when she was just sixteen years old. Rather than let her remaining younger siblings be sent to live in separate foster homes, Wells-Barnett worked as a teacher in an African American elementary school to support them herself. Wells-Barnett was able to make just enough money, with the help of relatives and friends, to keep her family together. In 1883, Wells-Barnett moved with three of her siblings to Memphis, Tennessee, to be closer to family members and to earn a higher wage. In 1906, Wells-Barnett established the National Association of Colored Women, and in 1909, worked with other prominent African American leaders to found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Wells- Barnett continued to fight for the rights of women and African Americans until shortly before her death in 1931 at the age of sixty-eight. riddled with partisans, and the Confederacy demonstrated a real talent for using cavalry to break supply lines. Grant’s invasion was dependent on a vulnerable supply line, the Mississippi Central, stretching back to Grand Junction, Tennessee. Pemberton ordered Confederate Major General Earl Van Dorn to “swing around Grant’s left flank, strike the big enemy supply depot at Holly Springs and wreak havoc on the Mississippi Central & Memphis & Charleston Railroads.” On December 16, Van Dorn’s command of 3,500 cavalry left Grenada east along the Yalobusha River, covering forty- five miles the first day, then turned north parallel to the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. After a few brief skirmishes with Union cavalry, Van Dorn turned west toward Holly Springs. Inexplicably, the U.S. cavalry didn’t inform Grant, who finally received word of Van Dorn’s raid on December 19. Grant sent a flurry of confused orders to the commander of the Union garrison at Holly Springs. The Union commander in a serious dereliction of duty neglected to prepare for an attack, and as Van Dorn arrived on the outskirts of the town, he achieved almost total surprise. The attack commenced a few hours before dawn on December 20. Multiple witnesses recalled the utter panic of the Union troops. Captain James C. Bates of the Ninth Texas Cavalry asserted that some of the Yankees “were not yet out of bed, some were making fires—others getting breakfast & still others sitting down to eat. As soon as they heard our yells & the clatter of our horses’feet most of them took to their heels.” Southern civilians, especially women, rushed out to cheer on the galloping raiders. The vast majority of Northerners threw down their arms without firing a gun. The Union commander was captured in his nightclothes. Van Dorn raiders seized and paroled 1,800 soldiers and 440 officers. The raiders captured 600 to 800 horses and mules but had to destroy 300 wagonloads of ammunition and 7,000 stands of small arms. Hundreds of cotton bales accumulated by Yankee speculators were burned. At the railroad depot, a long string of fully loaded boxcars were burned as the fire consumed every building except the brick freight house. Van Dorn estimated the destruction at $1,500,000, while Grant reported the losses at $400,000. On December 28, Van Dorn’s command arrived safely in Grenada after riding 500 miles in twelve days. The Van Dorn raid was arguably one of the most brilliant and effective cavalry attacks of the war. Historian Edward C. Bearss writes, “For the first and only time during the Civil War cavalry and cavalry alone was the decisive factor in a major campaign.” Grant was forced to abandon his overland campaign against Vicksburg and retreat back to Memphis. Bearss argues that the raid staved off the fall of Vicksburg by at least six months.