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Chapter 3:

The first troops sent out of Mississippi were not designed to make war upon a friendly power or to invade any State of the old Union, but were sent to the assistance of a seceded State, Florida, in whose territory the United States persisted in maintaining forts threatening the independence which that State had resumed. At Pensacola, when the navy-yard and mainland fortifications passed into the hands of Florida, January 12th, Lieutenant Slemmer with the garrison occupied Fort Pickens and refused to surrender on demand of the governors of Alabama and Florida, declaring that ‘a governor is nobody here.’

A military force was then assembled at Pensacola for the defense of the port and the reduction of the hostile work. Among the troops called out for this duty by President Davis he asked 1,500 men of Mississippi, and the State honored the requisition by sending 20 companies, which reached their destination early in April, 1861. These were the first soldiers sent out of the State by Mississippi to serve in the cause of the Confederate States. They were organized at Pensacola in April, 1861, in two regiments, the Ninth and Tenth Mississippi infantry, and were so numbered, presumably because the organization of the eight regiments within the State provided for by the ordinance of the convention, January 23d, had not then been completed and was not completed till the month of August following. Their numbering, [20] therefore, would have to begin where that of the eight regiments would leave off, otherwise confusion would result. Their organization was as follows:

Ninth regiment, Jas. R. Chalmers, colonel; James L. Autry, lieutenant-colonel; A. R. Bowdrie, major; Eugene Whitfield, adjutant. Company A, Irrepressibles, De Soto county, Capt. J. R. Chalmers, T. W. White. Company B, Home Guards, Marshall county, Capt. T. W. Harris. Company C, Corinth Rifles, Tishomingo county, Capt. W. H. Kirkpatrick. Company D, Jeff Davis Rifles, Marshall county, Capt. Samuel Benton. Company E, Horn Lake Volunteers, De Soto county, Capt. John W. Foster. Company F, Quitman Rifle Guard, Marshall county, Capt. Robert McGowan. Company G, De Soto Guards, De Soto county, Capt. S. O. B. Crockett. Company H, LaFayette Guards, LaFayette county, Capt. Wm. Delay. Company I, Invincibles, Senatobia, Capt. Robert R. Bowdrie. Company K, Panola Guards, Panola county, Capt. B. Moore.

Tenth regiment, S. M. Phillips, colonel; Jos. R. Davis, lieutenant-colonel; E. H. Gregory, major; H. Powell, adjutant. Company A, Mississippi Rifles, Capt. Robert A. Smith. Company B, Ben Bullard Rifles, Itawamba county, Capt. Jas. H. Bullard. Company C, Madison Rifles, Madison county, Capt. Jos. R. Davis. Company D, Lowndes Southrons, Lowndes county, Capt. W. T. Wade. Company E, Bahalah Rifles, Copiah county, Capt. Octavius Gibbs. Company F, Southern Avengers, Columbus, Capt. George H. Lipscomb. Company G, Hill City Cadets, Vicksburg, Capt. Jesse E. White. Company H, Rankin Rifles, Rankin county, Capt. Geo. M. Miller. Company I, Yazoo Rifles, Yazoo county, Capt. S. M. Phillips, H. Powell, H. P. Garrison. Company K, Port Gibson Rifles, Claiborne county, Capt. William McKeever.

The Ninth and Tenth, the Castor and Pollux of the Mississippi regiments of volunteers, rose and fell with [21] the Confederacy, fighting side by side from start to finish, and, only because their ranks had been thinned in battle, were consolidated at Smithfield, North Carolina, in April, 1865, standing after consolidation as the Ninth Mississippi regiment, officered as follows: W. C. Richards, colonel; S. S. Calhoun, lieutenant-colonel; T. H. Lyman, major.

Accounting for the confusion of numbers, the adjutant and inspector-general of the State, in his report made November 1, 1863, says: ‘The irregularity of the numbers of battalions is occasioned by being first organized as battalions and subsequently as regiments. Many regiments and battalions of Mississippi volunteers were organized beyond the limits of the State, and others, raised under special authority, reported directly to the war department.’

These two regiments, Ninth and Tenth, served in camp and at Fort McRee during the Confederate occupancy of Pensacola, and participated in the night attack upon ‘Billy Wilson's Zouaves’ on Santa Rosa Island, October 8, 1861. This expedition, under the general command of Gen. Richard H. Anderson, was made by three special battalions; the first, under command of Colonel Chalmers, including detachments from the two Mississippi regiments and the First Alabama. A silent landing was made on the island about two o'clock in the morning, and Chalmers advanced rapidly along the north beach.

After a trudge of three or four miles in the sand, his advance encountered a picket, who fired and was promptly shot down, but the reports served to alarm the Confederates' quarry. The three detachments pushed forward rapidly driving in the outposts, but when the camp was reached the Zouaves had flown. Colonel Chalmers, continuing along the north shore, encountered pickets and outposts, and had some sharp skirmishing, but quickly beat them off and joined the other battalions [22] in the work of destroying the camp and storehouses. When this work was done, daylight appeared, and the troops were withdrawn to the landing place, after a sharp skirmish with a force that attempted to intercept them. On account of trouble with the boats, the enemy had time to do considerable damage by firing into the massed soldiers on the shore. A number of brave men were killed, wounded or captured in this affair.

On November 22d and 23d, the Mississippians, with the other troops, were under the forty hours bombardment from Fort Pickens and the sand batteries. Fort McRee suffered mostly in this fiery trial, and the Mississippians there, under Col. John B. Villepigue, with their Georgia comrades, made a gallant defense which elicited the laudatory comments of General Bragg.

During 1861 other Mississippi regiments arrived at Pensacola, the Fifth, Col. A. E. Fant; Eighth, Col. C. G. Flynt; Twenty-seventh, Col. Thomas M. Jones; and a battalion. On March 9, 1862, Colonel Jones was put in command at Pensacola, preparations having been made to evacuate the city. The Twenty-seventh Mississippi, which had been assigned to Fort McRee and adjacent batteries and had been distinguished for coolness and gallantry, was the last to leave the Florida post.

The Third Mississippi, Col. J. B. Deason, was on duty during 1861 at New Orleans and on the coast. It was composed of coast men, and though ordered up to Columbus in December, 1861, was soon afterward sent back for service on the Mississippi coast. Also at New Orleans were the Seventh regiment, Colonel Goode, and Vaiden's artillery. The Twenty-fourth regiment, Col. W. F. Dowd, was stationed at Tallahassee, and several companies at Mobile. All of these were ordered back to Mississippi late in 1861 and early in 1862, to meet the threatened invasion from the north.

It was in Virginia, however, that Mississippians won the greatest military distinction during the first year of [23] the war. Before the battle of Manassas, five excellent regiments had been sent to the two armies in northern Virginia. The Second, Col. W. C. Falkner, and Eleventh, Col. Wm. H. Moore, were attached to the Third brigade, Gen. B. E. Bee, army of the Shenandoah. The Thirteenth, Col. William Barksdale, which reached Manassas Junction on the day before the battle, was attached to Early's brigade; and the Seventeenth, Col. W. S. Featherston, and the Eighteenth, Col. E. R. Burt, were under the brigade command of Gen. D. R. Jones, Beauregard's army.

At the battle of Manassas, July 21, 1861, the Mississippians had their full share of both suffering and glory. Bee's brigade, including the Second regiment and two companies of the Eleventh, under Lieut.-Col. P. F. Liddell, were among the first troops which hurried to the assistance of Evans, who met the onslaught against the Confederate left, and for an hour formed part of the heroic line which stood its ground under a terrible fire of musketry and artillery. They finally fell back with heavy loss to a position in the rear of the Robinson house, where they were reinforced. About noon the enemy had occupied the plateau on which the Henry and Robinson houses stood, the position of General Bee before he moved forward to reinforce Evans, and with powerful batteries was working destruction in the Confederate lines. About two o'clock an advance was ordered to recover the plateau. There, as the lines surged back and forth amid the din of battle, the Mississippians were distinguished for heroic deeds. Many had fallen throughout the forenoon, and here many more fell in glorious charge or desperate fight to maintain their ground. Colonel Falkner, leading his men against Rickett's battery, was a conspicuous figure on account of the black plume which adorned his hat. General Beauregard, pointing to him, cried to a fresh arrival of reinforcements: ‘Men, follow yonder knight of the black [24] plume, and history will not forget you.’ Yet, despite his daring exposure, he was the only field officer of the brigade who was not killed or disabled. The Thirteenth came up under Early in time to participate in the rout of the enemy. The Seventeenth and Eighteenth, which according to the original Confederate plan of battle would have been among the first engaged on the right, lost that privilege through the Federal attack on the left, but nevertheless took part in the advance of Jones' brigade up Rocky Run, driving the enemy from a strong position and encountering a furious fire, under which many fell. Captain Fontaine and Company F of the Eighteenth received the especial mention of General Jones for steady fighting. The loss of the Mississippi regiments in this first great battle of the war, in killed and wounded, was as follows: Seventeenth, 11; Eighteenth, 38; Second, 107; Eleventh, 28.

The Mississippi soldiers who fought with such gallantry on this famous field were mostly armed with flint-lock muskets which had been altered into percussion, and were poorly supplied with clothing; they had not the splendid equipment of the troops they met in shock of battle, but they demonstrated no lack of daring and intrepid manhood.

After the battle the Thirteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth regiments were brought together in a brigade commanded by N. G. Evans; and the Twelfth regiment, a later arrival, under Col. Richard Griffith, was assigned to Ewell's brigade. The new Seventh brigade, distinctively Mississippian, was distinguished in October, 1861, in the battle of Leesburg, in honor of which General Johnston issued an order of congratulation, declaring that ‘the skill and courage with which this victory has been achieved entitle Colonel Evans and the Seventh brigade to the thanks of the army.’

Associated with the Mississippians in this victory were the Eighth Virginia and Jenifer's cavalry. At the time [25] of the combat the Potomac river was the line between the Northern and Southern armies in the vicinity of Leesburg, where, and from that place to Goose Creek, Evans' brigade was stationed. On October 20th, in obedience to orders, Gen. Charles P. Stone, commanding the Federal forces on the opposite side of the river, made demonstrations at Harrison's Island and Edwards Ferry, sending a small reconnoissance toward Leesburg from the former and shelling the Confederate forces within range on Goose Creek. Colonel Barksdale's Thirteenth regiment, at the latter point, was again under fire on the morning of the 21st, and withdrew to a position near Fort Evans, not far from Leesburg, where Capt. L. D. Fletcher's company was detached to reinforce the other wing of the brigade. Later in the day Barksdale advanced toward Edwards Ferry and encountered the advance of General Stone, who with a considerable force was approaching Leesburg from that direction, and brisk skirmishing followed, which checked the enemy in that quarter.

Meanwhile, a body of infantry and artillery had crossed the river at Harrison's Island, under Colonel Devens, later in the day under Colonel Baker. Upon their first advance beyond the Jackson house, the Federal troops were met with great resolution by Capt. W. L. Duff, Seventeenth Mississippi, on picket duty in that vicinity. With 40 men he took a good position at the foot of a hill, and ‘ordered the enemy to halt five or six times,’ as he reported. ‘The Federals responded each time “Friends,” but continued to advance within sixty yards, when I ordered my men to kneel and fire, which they did with deadly effect, completely breaking his line. The second time he fell back, but, getting reinforcements from the reserve, rallied and maintained his position about twenty minutes, when the whole force fled in confusion to a thicket of woods.’ Duff then discreetly retired to a position commanding the Leesburg road, [26] with 3 prisoners and 15 stand of arms he had captured. There he maintained his position under fire, and about ten o'clock assisted Capt. Welborn and J. C. Campbell of the Eighteenth, who had reinforced him on his right, in driving the enemy from the front of the latter. About this time Captain Fletcher came up and entered into action, skirmishing about the Jackson house, and Colonel Jenifer with a body of cavalry also joined the Mississippians and took command. About one o'clock, the Eighth Virginia arrived, and a line of battle was formed, and an attack begun on the Federals, who were strongly posted on an eminence with an open field in front, their right protected by woods, their left by woods and a deep ravine, and with artillery advantageously placed. At 2:30 o'clock, the Eighteenth Mississippi, under Colonel Burt, which had reached the scene of battle, was ordered to attack the enemy's left flank, and made a gallant charge, the force of which was broken by an unexpected and heavy fire from a body of the enemy concealed in a ravine. Now the Seventeenth came up, breathless after a double-quick march of two miles, to the support of Colonel Burt, and the fight raged with increased severity. In one of the early charges of his gallant regiment, Colonel Burt fell mortally wounded. This hero was a native of South Carolina. In speaking of his untimely death, Governor Pettus, in a message to the legislature, said: ‘It is my painful duty to inform you that Col. E. R. Burt, auditor of public accounts, fell mortally wounded at the battle of Leesburg, while gallantly leading a regiment of Mississippi's brave sons to one of the most brilliant victories which has crowned our arms during the war.’

The battle raged all day, finally culminating toward six o'clock in a gallant charge all along the Confederate line. The Eighth Virginia, with the companies of Captain Upshaw, Seventeenth; Fletcher, Thirteenth; and Kearney and Welborn, Eighteenth, having exhausted their [27] ammunition, gave the enemy the bayonet; and the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Mississippi, under Colonel Featherston and Lieut.-Col. T. M. Griffin, drove the foe, fighting desperately, back to Ball's Bluff on the river, where the main body surrendered, only a fragment of the imposing invasion escaping down the steep banks and over the river.

It will be interesting to read here the report of Lieu. tenant-Colonel Griffin, in which he mentioned the conduct of his men: ‘They did their whole duty. Captains Jayne, Hann, Singleton, Brown, Hill, and Lieutenant Day, in command of the McCluney Rifles, who composed the right wing, behaved most gallantly. Adjutant S. T. Nicholson and Serg.-Maj. O. E. Stuart were active in the performance of their duties. Lieutenant Bostwick, of the Hann Rifles, was seriously wounded while charging with his company on the enemy's battery. Capt. A. P. Hill received a wound while gallantly leading his company in the charge. Captain Welborn received a wound in the neck; Lieutenant Fearn, of the Burt Rifles, was seriously wounded. Captains Luse and Kearney were deployed to the left of the enemy's battery, under the command of Major Henry. This detachment was joined by the companies of Captains Welborn and Campbell, and Captain Fletcher's company of the Thirteenth regiment, who rendered most efficient service. Captain Kearney's company was afterward sent to reinforce the right, and ably assisted to bring about the rout and capture of the enemy. Major Henry, who commanded on the left, displayed the utmost coolness in handling the men under his charge. Captain Jayne and Lieutenant Day, of the McCluney rifles, were thrown forward on the right flank during the last charge, with their companies, and contributed much to the capture of the enemy at the river bank. There were many instances of individual heroism which I have not space to particularize. The Federal force fought well. A number were killed with the bayonet [28] by my men.’ The loss of the Eighteenth, the largest of any command in action on the Confederate line, was 22 killed and 63 wounded.

Colonel Featherston, of the Seventeenth, in his report mentioned with praise the service of Lieut.-Col. John McQuirk, field officer of the day; Major Lyle, who acted as lieutenant-colonel; Capt. W. D. Holder,--who acted as major; Adjutant Fiser, Capt. E. W. Upshaw, and the particularly gallant record of Captain Duff. ‘In the last charge which crowned our success and completed the discomfiture of the enemy, no troops could have behaved better,’ wrote Featherston of the Seventeenth. ‘The whole line marched forward in the most admirable order upon a vastly superior force, reserving their fire until within the most effective range; then pouring it in with deadly effect and rushing forward over ground broken into abrupt hills and ravines, and covered with thick woods, without a single halt or waver, until the enemy were literally driven into the river; and this, too, under a heavy fire and after having been under arms almost without intermission for more than thirty-six hours, and while wearied with several long and rapid movements made during the preceding day and night.’ The loss was remarkably small in this regiment, two killed and nine wounded.

The Thirteenth Mississippi during the battle had held in check the enemy at Edwards Ferry; the companies of Capts. S. J. Randall, D. R. McIntosh and Wm. H. Worthington watching the Federals, while the remainder of the regiment was posted near Fort Evans. The bold front of his command prevented Stone from advancing upon the Confederate flank, which he might easily have done, and given the battle an entirely different conclusion. On the following morning, Colonel Barksdale sent Captain Eckford, with his own and Mc-Elroy's companies, against the enemy at Edwards Ferry, and presently the whole regiment joined in the action, [29] driving the Federals back to their field works at the river. The loss of the Thirteenth in this fight was four killed and two wounded.

In Colonel Jenifer's report of this battle he stated that the forces engaged at Ball's Bluff were as follows: detachment of Virginia cavalry, 70 men; Eighth Virginia infantry, 375; Eighteenth Mississippi, 500; Seventeenth Mississippi, 600; a company of the Thirteenth Mississippi, 60; total, 1605. Our loss in killed, 35; wounded, 115. The Federal strength, according to their own reports, was from 1,700 to 2,000 at Ball's Bluff, and their loss 49 killed, 158 wounded and 704 missing. Many were drowned in attempting to cross the river, and about 1,500 stand of arms and the artillery were left in the hands of the Confederates. Independent of the Federal force in action were three or four regiments of infantry and one or two squadrons of cavalry at Edwards Ferry, which were held in check by Colonel Barksdale.

The battle was not a great one, but it was one of the most famous of the war on account of the deep feeling it produced in the North. The death of Colonel Baker, and the terrible scene of defeat at the bluff, aroused a storm of censure, which was turned against General Stone and caused his arrest and imprisonment for six months in close confinement at Fort Hamilton, one of the most remarkable examples of a survival of the oriental treatment of defeated generals in the history of North America. To Mississippians the battle has a peculiar interest on account of the great share of the honors which fell to the gallant sons of the State who participated.

On December 8, 1861, the Mississippi regiments in the Potomac district were ordered to be organized in brigades as follows: Second, Col. W. C. Falkner; Eleventh, Col. W. H. Moore; Thirteenth, Col. William Barksdale; Seventeenth, Col. W. S. Featherston; Eighteenth, Col. T. M. Griffin—to form the First brigade, General Whiting, of the First division, which was under the command of [30] Major-General Van Dorn. The Twelfth, Col. Henry Hughes; Sixteenth, Col. Carnot Posey; Nineteenth, Col. H. C. Mott; and the Twenty-first, Col. Benjamin G. Humphreys, were to compose the Fifth brigade of the same division, under Richard Griffith, promoted to brigadier-general.

The last brigade was actually formed with the substitution of the Thirteenth for the Twelfth, and at the beginning of 1862 was stationed under D. H. Hill at Leesburg; but the other brigade was for some reason not formed, and the regiments remained separated—the Twelfth in Rodes' brigade, the Nineteenth in Wilcox's, the Sixteenth in Trimble's, the Eleventh in Whiting's. The Second was transferred from the latter brigade to General Rains' division, at Yorktown.

Gresham's Mississippi battery meanwhile was attached to Ransom's brigade in North Carolina. The Jeff Davis Legion, composed of three Mississippi cavalry companies, two Alabama and one Georgia, was assigned to Stuart's cavalry brigade. The Twentieth Mississippi, Col. D. R. Russell, had been attached to the command of General Floyd, in western Virginia, and shared the frightful sufferings of the forces under Gen. R. E. Lee at Sewell Mountain during the autumn, but on account of the retreat of Rosecrans from their front did not engage in battle.

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