Baldwyn, Mississippi, (population 3,600) evolved from the village of Carrollville, founded in 1834. Many early settlers came from North and South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia. The settlement gradually moved eastward to a site closer to the railroad, and the town of Baldwyn emerged from this relocation.
Baldwyn’s economy relied mostly on farming in the early days, followed by clothing and furniture manufacture. The earliest buildings constructed in Baldwyn were a log store and log blacksmith shop. The first real frame house or building was a two-story building hauled by wagon in sections from Marietta. The tornado of 1942 destroyed many historic structures, but the town was rebuilt. Today Baldwyn is a Certified Local Government, a Main Street Community, and has chronicled the town’s historic events on a downtown mural.
Baldwyn’s most notable historic attraction is the nearby Brice’s Crossroads National Battlefield, where the Confederates were victorious under the leadership of Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest. This battle was fought to prevent the Confederates from interfering with General William T. Sherman’s railroad supply line during the Atlanta campaign. Forrest scored a decisive victory over General S.D. Sturgis’ Union forces on June 10, 1864 and managed to capture desperately needed supplies, including guns, ammunition, artillery, and wagons. The battle was considered a major tactical victory for the Confederacy but did not diminish the effectiveness of Sherman’s campaign, as supplies continued to flow.
In 1929 Brice’s Crossroads was declared a National Battlefield Site. The National Park Service erected and maintains monuments and interpretive panels on a one-acre site. In 1994 concerned local citizens formed the Brice’s Crossroads National Battlefield Commission, Inc. and began working to preserve additional battlefield land. With assistance from the Civil War Preservation Trust and the support of federal, state, and local government, more than 1,400 acres of the original battlefield have been acquired for preservation and interpretation.
Down the road in Baldwyn, the Visitors’ and Interpretive Center showcases a battlefield model that uses more than 1,500 finely painted miniatures to show the final stages of the battle. It includes interactive exhibits and Civil War artifacts, many from the Brice’s Crossroads battlefield.
An elaborate living history encampment is staged every two years by the Brice’s Crossroads Museum Commission, the Battlefield Commission, the city of Baldwyn, the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, and several Baldwyn organizations. It includes a reenactment of the battle and tours of the camps for a glimpse of 19th century military life. Costumed sutlers, craftsmen, vendors, and ladies accompany the reenactors, demonstrating sunbonnet making, blacksmithing, popcorn and soapmaking, and selling period merchandise.
Designated a Preserve America Community in July 2007.