The Civil War community–and the Western Theater, in particular–lost a great friend this week.
Retired Professor Michael B. Ballard passed away at his home in Ackerman Mississippi on October 11, 2016. Professor Ballard was a professor, University Archivist for Mississippi State University, and most recently, Coordinator of the University’s Congressional and Political Research Centre.
Dr. Ballard is well known to the Civil War community, authoring numerous volumes; including The Civil War in Mississippi: Major Campaigns and Battles; U.S. Grant, The Making of a General, 1861-1863; Vicksburg: The Campaign that Opened the Mississippi; Pemberton: A Biography; and A Long Shadow: Jefferson Davis and the Final Days of the Confederacy. He also contributed many scholarly articles and book reviews, as well as, in association with Dr. John F. Marszalek, an editor on The Ulysses S. Grant Papers.
My own connection to Dr. Ballard was through a group he co-founded, the Historians of the Western Theater. The group has met for annual conferences every year since 1998. I have been a member since about 2007, and came to appreciate Dr. Ballard’s insights and detailed knowledge of the subject. His loss was sudden, and saddening. As of this writing, there is discussion of a memorial fund being set up in Dr. Ballard’s name to help fund research grants among Mississippi State’s extensive Civil War holdings (including the superb Ulysses S. Grant papers collection) and in future expand the center’s mission.
Mike was a fine person and a first-rate historian. He will be sorely missed at our annual gatherings.