Longtime MSU Archivist, Civil War author writes new chapter

From Mississippi State University

Civil War author, professor and Mississippi State University archivist Michael B. Ballard will turn the page and begin writing another chapter in his own life-retirement.

Ballard, whose most recent book “The Civil War in Mississippi: Major Campaigns and Battles” was released in 2011 by University Press of Mississippi, is an MSU doctoral graduate in history, who also earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the university.

In addition to his role as university archivist, Ballard has served as coordinator of the Congressional and Political Research Center in Mitchell Memorial Library. Additionally, he has been the associate editor for publishing projects of the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, housed in Mitchell Memorial.

The Ackerman native is author of numerous books chronicling Civil War history, with particular focus on Mississippi and its Confederate leaders.

Ballard’s works include “Vicksburg: The Campaign That Opened the Mississippi,” “Civil War Mississippi: A Guide,” “A Long Shadow: Jefferson Davis and the Final Days of the Confederacy,” and “Pemberton: The General Who Lost Vicksburg.”

Frances Coleman, dean of MSU Libraries, said Ballard’s in-depth knowledge of the history of the university will be missed.

“His knowledge and expertise has been invaluable to us through the years as we have worked with archives and oral histories. He has been an asset and has made an outstanding contribution,” Coleman said.

She noted that Ballard always enjoyed his work, which impacted not only the university libraries, but also students, the entire university and the state of Mississippi. John F. Marszalek, executive director and managing editor of the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, said Ballard has a first-rate reputation among the nation’s historians.

“Mike is one of the nation’s leading Civil War historians. His book on the Vicksburg campaign is the definitive version,” Marszalek said.

Ballard also is the author of “Maroon and White, Mississippi State University, 1878-2003.” The 402-page book named for his alma mater’s colors and published in 2007 was written as a successor to John K. Bettersworth’s “The People’s University.”

“I have been privileged to be a part of the growth of the library and to have delivered to the reading public books that illuminate the history of our Civil War and other aspects of American history, including our university,” Ballard said. “Our collections give us opportunities to transport ourselves back in time, and when we do, we see that the reality of history is much more exciting than fiction.”