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General little's Burial. [from the New Orleans, Picayune, August 11, 1901.]

One of the few midnight Funerals in War or peace.

Only one Confederate general was buried at night time, so far as the records tell, and that was General Henry Little, who was laid to rest in a garden at Iuka, Miss., at midnight, September 19, 1862. Captain Frank Von Phul, of this city, was present at the weird, [213] pathetic ceremony, and a few nights ago he related the thrilling old war incident to a few friends who had gathered in his apartments on Rampart street.

“To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever written just how General Henry Little was buried on that eventful night,” began Captain Von Phul, turning the pages of a treasure book.

I shall never forget it, and although I was in several phases of the service with Price on his Missouri raid and down the Mississippi, yet the way we laid General Little in the cold ground that night, cautiously and hastily, will cling to me until the last.

We were mostly Missourians, and in order to appreciate the scene enacted at Iuka, Miss., you must follow me from the start, which was in St. Louis in the year 1860. General Sterling Price went out in the command of the Missouri State Guard for the Confederacy. Brigadier-General Little was placed in command of a brigade of the First Missouri. We were sworn in on Sock river, down in Missouri, and it was for a three years term. Well, there was plenty of fighting all down the river and we were in a number of engagements, but my story centers about Corinth and Iuka, Miss. Iuka Springs was a little place, and it was there that the enemy attacked us in overpowering numbers. Rosecrans was bearing down upon General Price with his whole army. The first battle of Iuka had taken place on this direful September 19, 1862. I was an aid-de-camp on General Little's staff, and it was only Little's division that had been engaged in the day's fighting. It was a hard struggle, and we had lost somewhere near 800 men when the fighing ceased, near sundown.

I had been dispatched off to the northeast to bring up General Elijah Gates, who was wanted to re-enforce Little. The four generals—Price, Little, Herbert and Whitfield—were sitting on their horses in the road holding a consultation as to whether they should attack the enemy on the morrow or fall back, when I rode up from summoning Colonel Gates.

General Price was sitting at rest on his charger, his arms akimbo, with his back towards the lines of the Yankees. General Little was facing him. Just as I reached the spot a minie ball came whizzing through the group, passing under the arm of General Price and striking General Little square in the forehead. He threw up his arms, the reins dropping to the horse's neck, and the brave man, limp and lifeless, fell into the arms of a comrade. He was borne [214] away to his headquarters, a small cottage in the center of the town of Iuka.

Going to the headquarters of General Price a little later, I said: “General, what shall I do with General Little's body?”

“My little, my little; I've lost my little,” was the reply, and the lines of sorrow were like furrows on his brow.

“General,” I said, after a moment's hesitation, “what shall I do with General Little's body?”

“My little; I've lost my little, my only little.”

I waited again, and once more tried: “General Price, what shall I do with General Little's body?”

“My little is gone; I've lost my little.”

That was the only reply I could get from General Price. He was almost crazed with grief, and I don't believe he knew what I was asking him.

Going down the steps, I met Colonel Tom Sneed, the adjutant of General Price, and I asked him. He told me he would see Price and would come over to our headquarters after a while.

It was about 10 o'clock at night when he came. They had held a consultation in the meantime, and had decided to retreat from Iuka. General Price wanted to fight, but General Hebert and the others said the death of Little had so completely demoralized the soldiery that they believed they would not fight with any spirit. So it was decided to retreat at daylight.

“General little's body must be buried at once,” said General Price to me, coming over to our headquarters; “for we retreat before the dawn.”

The soldiers dug a grave .in the little garden just to the rear of our headquarters, and a few minutes before 12 midnight the saddest funeral train I ever witnessed in my life formed in line and moved to where the fresh earth had been rolled back.

Each of us carried a lighted candle that flickered mournfully in the night air, and we gathered about the open grave as the rough coffin was lowered in the earth. Father Bannon, of St. Louis, the chaplain of the First Missouri brigade, stood at the head. Wright Schaumburg, afterwards the private secretary to Mayor Shakspeare, of this city, came next. Then we were all grouped around the sacred spot, each man with a lighted candle. There were Colonel Thomas Sneed, the adjutant to General Sterling Price; Lieutenant Peter Sangrain, of the army; John Kelly, a civil engineer; Colonel [215] John Reed, myself and General Little's orderly. There may have been some others whom I have forgotten.

It was just midnight as the last spadefull of earth was placed upon the grave and patted into shape. Our candles still flickered in the darkness, sending out weird shadows. A plain piece of pine board was set at the head marked: “ General Henry Little.”

Before daybreak we were on the march, retreating to Tupelo, Miss., where we were re-enforced. That was the only midnight funeral I ever attended, and it is the most vivid recollection of my life. The body of General Little was later exhumed and sent to Baltimore, where he had relatives. He was in the old United States army before the war, belonging to the Seventh infantry. Colonel Selus Price, who was on General Price's staff, and John Kelly, the engineer, who were at the funeral, are now in St. Louis. I am here. I believe we three are the only survivors.

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