|Ghosts Along the River: The Old Port of Rodney, MS
You would never guess it now but, in its day, Rodney was a very important port and, in fact, only missed becoming the capital of Mississippi by 3 votes. There are maps as far back as 1715, identifying the location, where it's said that Native Americans used to cross the Mississippi River. By the 1840's, it was a thriving town and the busiest port between New Orleans and St. Louis, a main port of call for the riverboats of the time. Rodney was home to the first opera house in the state and its citizens saw plays otherwise seen only in places like New York or Philadelphia. However, Rodney's prosperity was betrayed by its biggest asset. The Mississippi River would eventually chanage its course and abandon Rodney and this, in combination with the economy of the post-Civil War south, doomed Rodney's future.
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During the Civil War, in the spring of 1864, the town was involved in a skirmish that the US gunboat, Rattler, found it hard to live down. Docked at the port of Rodney, the Rattler was protecting the MS River and the crew had orders that no one was to go ashore. But some of the men found it difficult to resist the charms of the young ladies passing by on their way to the Presbyterian church one Sunday morning and decided to join the congregation for service. At which point, CSA Cavalry Lt. Allen announced from the pulpit that the sailors were surrounded and should consider themselves captured. Gunfire ensued, with frightened parishioners diving under the pews and one Yankee sailor seeking refuge in the skirts of his southern ladyfriend. The ruckus caused the remaining Rattler crew to start firing into the church. When the dust cleared, the Rebels had taken 17 prisoners, including the captain and a lieutenant. The unlucky Rattler became the butt of many jokes, the incident becoming known across the country, the first time in history that a small cavalry squad had ever captured the crew of an ironclad gunboat!