On the 16th day of April, 1861, the Claiborne Guards
were organized and mustered into the service of the State of Mississippi
by Lieutenant N. F. Hawkins
, of the Mississippi Rifles.
The officers were: John G. Hastings, Sr.
, captain; A. J. Lewis
, first lieutenant
; W. H. Hastings
, second lieutenant
; W. T. Jeffries
, third lieutenant
; R. Shoemaker
, first sergeant, and H. C. Knight
, second sergeant.
Before the departure of the company from Port Gibson
, Captain Hastings
resigned, and Henry Hughes
, author of Southern Sociology
, and classmate of the great French imperialist, Paul Cassagnac
, was elected in his stead.
How well do I recollect that bright April day, when the ladies of Port Gibson
presented to the Claiborne Guards
, in Apollo Hall, a beautiful silken flag, wrought by their own fair hands!
How our chivalric captain, Hughes
, in responding to the address made on that occasion, promised that ‘my brave boys will come back from the war corpses rather than cowards.’
How, on the evening of that lovely spring day, amid the sobs and tears of dear ones, we bade farewell to Port Gibson
, while the loudmouthed cannon pealed forth its prophetic Godspeed.
We faithfully kept the promise made by our gallant captain, for of the 125 comrades who left with us on that bright April day, but thirteen veterans now survive, and thirteen more who severed their connection with the company after the expiration of their first year's service.
And the rest!
Ah, where are they?
Dead on the field of glory.
They gave up their lives, a precious offering on freedom's bloody altar.
Amid flame and smoke, and yells and groans, their young hearts beat life's last tattoo, and their spirits flew back to the God who gave them, like incense ascending in the sight of heaven.
Far away from home they fought and fell on the sacred soil of Virginia
There, on a hundred fields, they are sleeping the holy