Murder Will Out: A Story of Bloody Kansas

In the summer of 1890, Joseph Tribble, a carpenter living in Grenada, Mississippi, decided to make a trip to his boyhood home in Kansas. Having been gone for thirty years, Tribble probably felt that no one would remember him, but he couldn’t have been more wrong. Shortly after arriving, Joseph Tribble was recognized, and immediately arrested. He was charged with the murder of Alexander Kincaid – a crime which had taken place in September, 1861, and had its roots in the conflict known as “Bloody Kansas.”

In the 1850s the turmoil in the Kansas territory foreshadowed the coming Civil War. The conflict had its roots in the

Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, author of the Kansas - Nebraska Act - Library of Congress

Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, author of the Kansas – Nebraska Act – Library of Congress

Kansas-Nebraska Act, which was a measure proposed by Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas to organize the territories because he wanted to build a railroad linking Illinois with California. Douglas realized that for the act to pass, he would have to make concessions to the South if he was to obtain their support for the measure. Thus the act repealed the provision of the Missouri Compromise that prohibited slavery north of 36* 30′ in the Louisiana Purchase lands. In addition, both Kansas and Nebraska territories were thrown open for settlement, and the immigrants  themselves would decide whether these lands would be slave or free – a concept known as popular sovereignty.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed by Congress in May 1854, and the law set off an immediate firestorm of protest. Abolitionists in the North denounced the act as a slave holder conspiracy to add additional slave states to the Union. In the South, the law was very popular, as it was seen as an opportunity to add Kansas as a new slave state north of the old 36* 30′ Missouri Compromise line. An unintended consequence of the law was that Kansas turned into a battleground as abolitionist  and pro-slavery settlers flooded into the territory.

In his biography of Confederate guerrilla leader William Clarke Quantrill, writer Edward E. Leslie summed up very eloquently this not-quite-a-war going on in Kansas in the 1850s:

Just as in Northern Ireland and the Middle East in recent decades, it was a tit-for-tat war, a war of retribution and retaliation. It was characterized by fiery rhetoric, with talented and unscrupulous propagandists on both sides. ‘War to the knife, and knife to the hilt!’ one newspaper editor cried. It does not matter which side he was on; such

Illustration from the book, "The Reign of Terror in Kanzas" - Kansas Historical Society

Illustration from the book, “The Reign of Terror in Kanzas” – Kansas Historical Society

sentiments were echoed by both sides. - The Devil Knows How To Ride, page 6.

Joseph Tribble was born into this simmering cauldron of violence; I first found him on the 1850 United States Census as an 11 year old, living in Platte, Andrew County, Missouri, with his mother and his seven brothers and sisters. His mother, Cassandra, was a native of Tennessee, and all of the children were born in Missouri. Andrew County, located in the Northwestern part of Missouri and bordering on Kansas, was home to both pro-Union and pro-Confederate citizens during the Civil War, and was on the front lines of the guerrilla war during the conflict.

Sometime after 1850 the Tribble family picked up stakes and moved just across the state line to the town of Burr Oak, in Doniphan County, Kansas. There the family eked out a living as farmers; on the 1860 Census, Cassandra Tribble reported that she owned real estate worth $200.00, and had a personal estate valued at $100.00. Twenty-one year old Joseph was still living with his mother at this time, and listed his occupation as “farm hand.”

With the outbreak of war in 1861, citizens in Missouri and Kansas began taking sides and donning uniforms to fight. But in Missouri and Kansas, the war would not be confined to soldiers; civilians would be caught up in the ever expanding whirlwind of violence and terror. I don’t know much about Joseph Tribble’s life prior to the Civil War, but given subsequent events, it is safe to say that he was pro-Confederate in sentiment. Living in Kansas, he was bound to rub elbows with pro-Union men, and eventually one of these encounters turned violent. On September 19, 1861, the White Cloud Kansas Chief (White Cloud, Kansas), ran the following story:

A Union man named Kincaid, was murdered, on Sunday week, in Burr, Oak Township, by a Missouri Secessionist named Tribble. Kincaid was coming out of church, when Tribble stepped up to him, and asked him whether he was a coercionist? Kincaid replied in the affirmative, when Tribble stabbed him to the heart, then escaped over the river, with the assistance of Kansas traitors. The murderer is a brother to the ruffian whom the Pro-Slavery Democracy of this County attempted to shove into the office of County Treasurer, two years ago.

 

Map of the Missouri/Kansas Border where Joseph Tribble grew up - He was born in Andrew County, Missouri, but his family moved to Doniphan County, Kansas between 1850 and 1860

Map of the Missouri/Kansas Border where Joseph Tribble grew up – He was born in Andrew County, Missouri, but his family moved to Doniphan County, Kansas between 1850 and 1860

The murdered man was Alexander Kincaid, a small farmer who lived in Doniphan County. In the 1860 United States Census for Doniphan County, Kincaid listed his birthplace as New York, and he stated he had a personal estate worth $120.00. One interesting fact about Kincaid’s listing in the 1860 Census – he was on the same page as Joseph Tribble, meaning that they were neighbors. The two probably came into contact with each other quite often, and over time their political differences grew into an animosity that led to murder.

After killing Kincaid, Joseph Tribble did not wait around to face Kansas justice; where he went I have not been able to

Joseph Tribble's enlistment information from his Civil War Service Record - Fold3.com

Joseph Tribble’s enlistment information from his Civil War Service Record – Fold3.com

discover, but he next appears as a private serving in Company A, 1st Missouri Cavalry. Enlisting in December 1861, Tribble’s service record gave the following synopsis of his wartime service:

Served in Missouri State Guard, engaged at Blue Mills, Lexington, Sugar Creek, Bentonville, Elk Horn, Farmington, Iuka, Corinth. Deserted May 1, 1863, returned February 1, 1864. New Hope Church, Latimore House, Kennesaw Mountain, Atlanta, Lovejoy. Transferred to Company I, September 12, 1864. Allatoona, Georgia, Franklin, Tennessee; deserted at Nashville December 6, 1864.

Joseph Tribble enlisted in the 1st Missouri Cavalry along with his brother Andrew. The older sibling was soon promoted to sergeant, but he was captured at the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern, Arkansas, and sent to a prisoner of war camp at Alton, Illinois. Apparently Andrew had seen enough of the war to suit him, as he took the oath of allegiance to the United States and was released from prison.

After deserting from the 1st Missouri Cavalry in December 1864, Joseph Tribble drops from sight until 1880, when he shows up on the United States Census in Grenada, Mississippi. The forty-one year old listed his occupation as carpenter, and he was living with his wife, Levisa J. Tribble, and their children, Claudia, Andrew, and Cassandra.

Joseph Tribble had spent a considerable amount of time in Mississippi during the war, and perhaps he liked what he saw of the state. He also had to know that with the war over and the Union victorious, returning to Kansas or Missouri would have entailed considerable risk for a man wanted for murder. By 1890, however, with 30 years between him and his crime, Tribble must have felt safe in taking a trip back to his old haunts in Kansas. But he could not have been more wrong. On July 6, 1890, the New York Herald ran the following story:

Murder Will Out.

Arrested for Killing A Man in Kansas Nearly Thirty Years Ago

St. Joseph, Mo., July 5, 1890 – Joseph Tribble, whose residence is on a plantation in the State of Mississippi, was arrested at an early hour this morning at Wathena, a little town just across the river from St. Joseph and in the state of Kansas. Tribble was a resident of Wathena twenty-nine years ago at a time when the border ruffians and bushwhackers run almost everything on the Kansas and Missouri sides of the river.

It was during these times in the year 1861 that Tribble, who sympathized with the Confederate cause, murdered Thomas Kincaid, who was a Northern sympathizer and who was at the time preparing to enlist in the Union Army. Immediately after the murder, on account of the feud then existing between Missourians and Kansans, Tribble made his escape, going to Mississippi, where he entered the Confederate army and served as a private until Lee’s surrender.

After the war he settled down on a Mississippi plantation, was married and now has in Mississippi a wife and three children, who have not yet been notified of the trouble he has gotten into. He had never visited his old home until the first day of the present month, when he came to St. Joe, then went to see friends in a little town ten miles north of here, and on the 4th he went to attend a celebration. He had no idea that any of his old acquaintances would recognize him, but they did, and his arrest followed. The murder was committed by a butcher knife in the month of September, 1861, and curious to say, the identical knife was found on his person when arrested. Tribble acknowledged that the knife was the one he used to murder Kincaid, and when asked why he carried it yet he answered: ‘I was coming back here on a visit the first time since the crime was committed and thought I would bring my friend of those times back with me.’ Tribble is now in jail at Troy, Kansas.

Justice moved quickly in the 1890s, and on July 16,1890, The Wichita Daily Eagle (Wichita, Kansas), reported on the opening of the trial:

The Tribble Trial

Troy, Kan., July 15 – The preliminary trial of Joseph Tribble, charged with the murder of Alexander Kincaid in September, 1861, is being held here today. A number of witnesses have been examined, but none have testified positively to the facts of the killing. Tribble is a resident of Mississippi and was here on a visit when he was recognized and arrested.

The Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha, Nebraska), also published an account of the trial on July 16, and their story includes more details about the murder:

Great was the excitement at Troy, Doniphan County, this state, today, the occasion being the preliminary examination of Joseph Tribble, who was arrested July 4 at Wathena for the murder of Alexander Kincaid on September 8, 1861. Tribble was rebel, Kincaid a man of union tendencies, although neither belonged to the regular armies. On the day mentioned, which was Sunday, the boys, both under twenty-one, met at a campmeeting. A quarrel ensued and they went at each other, Kincaid with a butcher knife, Tribble with a bowie knife. Kincaid was killed. Tribble went to Mississippi and did not reappear until July 4, when he was arrested. Today he was bound over in the sum of $7,000, which he is unable to give. The most intense excitement prevailed at Troy during the trial. The court room was crowded by men who had rebel tendencies and men of union proclivities and who openly stated them now. Tribble has a wife and five children in Mississippi, in destitute circumstances. He made no defense at the preliminary examination today.

 

Main street of Troy, Kansas, circa 1912 where the trial of Joseph Tribble took place - Special Collections, Wichita State University

Main street of Troy, Kansas, circa 1912 where the trial of Joseph Tribble took place – Special Collections, Wichita State University

One interesting statement was put forward in the Bee article – it noted that both Kincaid and Tribble were armed with knives – all of the previous statements about the murder made it sound as if Tribble simply stabbed an unarmed man to death. This information would turn out to have a great impact during the course of Tribble’s trial.

By early August, word of Joseph Tribble’s predicament had made its way back to Mississippi. On August 2, 1890, The Grenada Sentinel (Grenada, Mississippi), ran the following article:

Mr. Joe Tribble In Trouble

Arrested in Kansas for Killing a Man in 1861

Several weeks ago Mr. Joe Tribble of Jefferson, left here to visit relatives at Troy and other places in Kansas. While there he was arrested, charged with the killing of one Mr. Alexander Kincaid, in 1861. It seems that Mr. Kincaid was a rabid Federalist man, while Mr. Tribble was equally as strong a Confederate. They got into a dispute in which Mr. Kincaid was killed, and Tribble left the country and joined the Confederate Army. Mr. Tribble had a preliminary trial in Kansas some time since, and was bound over in the sum of $5,000, which bond he has not yet been able to give. None but state witnesses were examined and Mr. Tribble and his lawyers, as well as friends claim that they can easily prove that the killing was done purely in self-defense, when the trial comes before the Circuit Court. Some of his army comrades and other friends have been appealed to, and are now raising money to help him out of his trouble. We trust that all who can will contribute towards this end, and that Mr. Tribble will be acquitted. He made a brave Confederate soldier, and has a number of friends in this section. It will be hard for him to get full justice amongst strangers who know and care nothing for the South but to hate and malign her and her people.

The Grenada Sentinel article was very sympathetic to Tribble, but he was going to be tried by a Kansas jury, and his defense attorney would certainly have to work hard to obtain an acquittal for his client. The trial started in early October, 1890, and the Kansas City Times devoted considerable ink to the proceedings in the October 10, 1890, edition of the paper:

Joseph Tribble’s Hearing for a Murder in 1861 Opened at Troy

The case of Joseph Tribble for the murder of Alexander Kincaid in September, 1861, was called in the district court yesterday morning and the day was consumed in endeavoring to secure a jury. A special venire of twenty-six names was issued and this morning a jury was obtained and the trial begun. At 3 o’clock this afternoon the state rested its case and a short adjournment was had to enable the defense to prepare for its side.

One witness for the state testified that he stood by and saw Tribble stab Kincaid without any hostile demonstration on the part of the latter and that he repeated the blow in the back after Kincaid started to run. Also that before the first blow Kincaid had declined to fight Tribble. A lady testified that on the day of the murder she was visiting at a neighbor’s when Tribble came with bloody hands and upon being offered a basin of water to wash them, replied that he wanted the blood to remain so that when he reached Price’s army, he could show them the blood of an abolitionist.

After the killing Tribble went south with Price’s army, and had since made his residence in Mississippi, where he married and raised a family. Last Fourth of July he came back on a visit and was immediately arrested and placed in jail at Troy. Four witnesses who saw the killing, said that Kincaid had a sharpened butcher’s steel in his hand when he was stabbed by Tribble. By the few witnesses introduced by the defense up to adjournment it was proved that Kincaid had threatened Tribble’s life and the morning of the killing had sharpened the butcher’s steel for the purpose of killing Tribble. They met at the school house on Sunday, where church was held, and Kincaid struck Tribble and drew the steel. In self-defense Tribble drew a knife and struck the blow that caused death. The defense will set up the plea of self defense.

On this first day of the trial, the jurors had the difficult task of determining the truth from witnesses that told two entirely different stories of what happened 30 years earlier. If they believed one set of witnesses, Joseph Tribble had basically assassinated an unarmed, defenseless man. If you believed the other witnesses, Joseph Tribble had defended himself from a man who was intent on taking his life. Only time would tell which set of witnesses the jurors believed.

Today, a major murder trial might last for months; but in the 1890s justice was swift and sure, and on October 12, 1890, the Omaha World Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), announced the verdict in all caps:

A CASE OF SELF DEFENSE

Joseph Tribble was acquitted of a murder in Doniphan county, Kansas, today committed over thirty years ago. Tribble was a southern sympathizer and the man he killed was Alexander Kincaid, a recruiting officer for the Union army. The evidence conclusively showed that Tribble acted wholly in self defense. Tribble is a resident of Mississippi and was arrested here the 4th day of last July while on a visit to his relatives in this section.

Without having access to the transcripts of the trial, it’s hard to second guess the verdict of the jury. The thirty years between the killing and the trial must have worked in Tribble’s favor; memories fade over time, witnesses die or move away, and the animosities generated by the war had decades to subside. All of these factors probably had something to do with Tribble’s acquittal.

With his name cleared, Tribble returned home to Mississippi and the loving embrace of his wife and children. He had endured a difficult few months, but I have to think that the acquittal must have given him peace of mind; no longer would he have to look over his shoulder waiting for law to catch up with him. As the Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), put it in their October 22, 1890 edition:  “He has been 29 years in dread of the hangman’s noose.” Tribble would no longer have to worry about a death on the gallows, but I have to wonder if his conscience ever bothered him. Was he forced to relieve the killing in nightmares night after night? Unfortunately, the historical record is silent on the subject.

The last mention I can find of Joseph Tribble is in the Confederate Widow’s Pension application of his wife, Levisa. In 1916 the 71 year old woman applied for a pension in Hinds County, Mississippi, declaring that she owned no property and lived with her son. Levisa wrote that she and Joseph were married on March 3, 1867, and that he had died on July 10, 1898.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Often Defeated, Never Doubted: A Veteran Defends the Army of Tennessee

The Civil War was a bloody affair, but in the decades that followed another war was fought in the pages of books, newspapers, and magazines as

Confederate Veteran at the 1913 Gettysburg Reunion - http://www.shorpy.com/node/11647

Confederate Veteran at the 1913 Gettysburg Reunion – http://www.shorpy.com/node/11647

veterans battled over their understanding of the conflict. In this new war, no blood was spilled, but plenty of ink was, as soldiers both Blue and Gray sought to remind the public of the importance of the sacrifices made in their behalf for four long and bloody years. Quite often this war of words was between former comrades, as the old veterans jealously guarded the reputations of their former units from any slight, real or perceived. In particular, men who had served in the Army of Tennessee often felt that their service was overlooked in favor of their comrades who served in the eastern theater with the Army of Northern Virginia. The cult of personality that grew up in the post-war South around Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia was considerable, and for the men who served in the Western theater, it often felt like they were living in the shadow of that more successful army.

From time to time, men who served in the western theater took up the pen and sought to vindicate their service during the war. I found a good example of such recently, and wanted to share it on my blog. The following article, published in the Holmes County Times, August 3, 1906, was written by Thomas W. Smith of Lexington, Mississippi, who served in Company A, 38th Mississippi Infantry, during the war. Enlisting in the “Holmes County Volunteers” on March 15, 1862, Smith fought in some of the most important battles of the western theater, including the Siege of Vicksburg where he survived 47 days of siege before the garrison surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant.

 

Comrade Smith’s Recent Able Address to Veterans of Holmes

Comrades: Forty years ago, the last shot was fired, and the last roll call was had in the Confederate army. Those of us who were spared through the four preceding years of bloody warfare, returned to our humble homes to be tried anew through the ever memorable years of reconstruction. We passed from period to period, until finally the passions and bitter animosities engendered by the war were either ameliorated or forgotten, when the present dawned upon us, and by that present we were reminded that history had been, and was being, written.

It also dawned upon us that such as had been written was not in all respects a true statement of facts, and placed the people of the South and the cause for which they fought falsely before the world and the children of our Southland. To correct, as far as possible, these errors, and to give to future generations a true conception of the aims and purposes of the Confederates, camps, such as our own, were formed, and it should be the duty of each and every member of these camps to place on record such facts as shall assist the future historians to write of us truly. History is only valuable as true. Opinions are not history. Acts and facts alone constitute matters historic. With this line of thought in view, I wish to bring to mind a few facts and acts, pertaining to the armies of Virginia and the West, or the Army of Tennessee.

Some fifteen, or perhaps twenty years ago, a young man born and reared in our town said to me, that “the Army of Virginia did

Union Broadside with the "On to Richmond" slogan - https://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/tag/richmond-is-a-hard-road-to-travel/

Union Broadside with the “On to Richmond” slogan – https://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/tag/richmond-is-a-hard-road-to-travel/

more fighting, severer fighting, and against greater odds, than did the Army of Tennessee; that the world accorded the Army of Virginia the greatest [measure] of praise, and that it was justly entitled thereto.” This opinion was neither new nor strange. That such opinions prevailed is not a matter of surprise when we remember that the fighting began on Virginia soil. That Richmond, the Confederate capitol, was the goal of the Federal soldier, and the cry “On to Richmond” the slogan of the Federal government. On the other hand, the Confederate soldier strained every nerve, and the government exhausted every means for its defense. Every maneuver by either army was heralded both from Richmond and Washington like lightning flashes, throughout the globe. All felt that with the fall of Richmond the dissolution of the Confederacy would follow.

General Lee, whose star of glory rose at his first battle, rose higher and higher, and shone with greater luster and brightness with each successive encounter, and did not go down with his surrender at Appomattox, commanded the Army of Virginia the greater part of the war continuously. Being in close proximity to the Confederate capitol, he had the full confidence of the president and cabinet – was in close touch with them and they each day knew his intentions and contemplated moves against the enemy. His army was at all times thoroughly organized under his various lieutenants, and was never divided or broken up, except when Longstreet was sent to Tennessee. Never a maneuver or movement was made that it was not give to, thoroughly understood, and if possible, executed by his subordinates, and they, together, with all his army, had perfect confidence in his ability.

Again, the contracted area covered by the Army of Virginia, enabled it by quick and rapid marching and counter marching, to foil the enemy, and attack him with the whole army when he might least expect it. Not so with the Army of Tennessee. The vastness of territory to be defended, the great distances between the various subdivisions, and the long hard marches to be made, rendered it a matter of impossibility to always unite in time to give battle.

Again, the commanding general was not at all times calculated to win the confidence of his men and lieutenants, and frequently, when with them long enough to inspire that trust and confidence necessary between them, some breach would occur between him and Richmond authorities, or for some other cause, he would be relieved, sent to another department, and another sometimes new and almost untried, placed in command. These and various other causes, all of which you, comrades, may call to mind, detracted from the Army of Tennessee, or the West.

I yield to no one a greater admiration for Lee and his men, the Army of Virginia, who won laurels that are deserved and imperishable, and those who utter a word in depreciation of their superb worth and splendid works of heroism, must be traitors to the glorious memories of the Confederacy. Its achievements made illustrious both its officers and men, who met every requirement that patriotism, undaunted courage and self-denial could demand or accomplish. It suffered losses, endured dangers and hardships, and evinced a valor which are among the greatest treasures of the most chivalric army that ever battled for sacred rights and the land they loved. As said before, the very purpose for which it was organized, and the positions it held gave it a presence and tendency to overshadow all other portions of the Confederate hosts.

In the west, Price with his little band of Missourians were pouring out their life’s blood freely for the mastery in that state, finally

General Sterling Price, veteran of many battles in the Western Theater - Library of Congress

General Sterling Price, veteran of many battles in the Western Theater – Library of Congress

closing their campaign with the battle of Elkhorn in Arkansas, but the actual great battle of the war was not fought until April, 1862.

Shiloh, with its terrible loss of life, gave to the South and her people a foretaste of the awful holocaust that was demanded of her in her efforts to be free and independent. Thirteen thousand federals killed and wounded and eleven thousand Confederates, were appalling figures, and staggered the minds of the people in their contemplation. On this bloody field, the chivalric soldiers of the South, was met in stubborn conflict by the sturdy western warrior. The losses in all other encounters dignified with the name of battle were insignificant when the minds of the people were awakened to the terrible casualty list of twenty-five thousand in a single battle. The enormity of these figures forced into the hearts and homes of the people both north and south, the calamity of war, and demonstrated the fierceness with which free men could meet free men, in defense of a principle for which they are willing, if need be to lay down their lives.

The army of the west made no claim of being better soldiers than the army of the east. They recognize the fact that the record of one Confederate redounds to the glory of all. All that the men who marched or died along the great father of the waters – from Belmont, Mo., to New Orleans, and in the states of Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and North Carolina ask, is that it be known that they exhibited the same willingness to suffer and die, the same unselfish patriotism, as did the men whose blood crimsoned the Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania soil.

The army of the west, at all times overwhelmed by numbers, never despaired; often defeated, never doubted. No misfortune discouraged it, or cast a gloom over its spirits. Being far removed from the center of attraction Richmond, it did not have the best equipment the Confederate authorities could provide, but this aroused no complaint. It was too loyal not to be in sympathy with the efforts being put forth by the government to drive back the mighty hosts of federal soldiers who were pressing down upon the Confederate capitol.

The Federal army on its front and flank supplied, to a very great extent, its quarter-master’s stores, and the ever brave and vigilant knights of the saddle under Forrest, Buford and Wheeler, were its most bountiful commissary. Naked or clothed, barefoot or shod, hungry or well fed, it declined no service and hesitated at no sacrifice. Whether on the march or on the field of battle, it exhibited unsurpassed courage and fortitude. One single thought dominated every soul. The defense of home and loved ones, and the defeat of the foe, being the all-absorbing principle that made them such splendid fighters in battles like Vicksburg, Shiloh, Chickamauga, and Franklin.

Comrades, permit me to call your attention to the fact that every battle engaged in by the Army of Virginia had its counterpart in the west; and also to compare two assaults on the enemy, one by Saunder’s brigade at the “Crater;” the other by Mabry’s brigade at Harrisburg. Both insignificant, but got to show more forcibly the point I am endeavoring to make. The first has been eulogized in books and public prints. The latter was published in a county newspaper in our state. For the first I quote extracts from Capt. John C. Featherston in the Confederate veteran. “On we went, as it seemed to us, literally to the mouth of hell. This practically ended the fight inside the fort; but the two armies outside continued firing at this common center, and it seemed to us that the shot, shell, and musket balls came from every point of the compass and the mortar shells rained down from above. They had previously attacked us from below. So this unfortunate fort was one of the few points in the war or any other the history of which I have read, which had the unique distinction of having been assailed from literally every quarter. By the report of Capt. George Clark, assistant adjutant general, this brigade of five regiments carried into the battle of the ‘Cratre,’ six hundred and twenty-eight men, and of this number it lost eighty-nine.”

For the last, I quote from Lt. Col. Jones’ letter to the Woodville Republican: “The 38th Mississippi regiment made the charge that

Colonel Hinchie P. Mabry commanded the brigade to which Thomas W. Smith's regiment served at the Battle of Harrisburg - Confederate Veteran Magazine, Volume 20, (June 1912)

Colonel Hinchie P. Mabry commanded the brigade to which Thomas W. Smith’s regiment served at the Battle of Harrisburg – Confederate Veteran Magazine, Volume 20, (June 1912)

day with about 300 men, rank and file. Forty-four escaped unwounded. Every field and line officer was killed or wounded except Jasper Green, now a Baptist minister in Rankin County. The little remnant of survivors rallied around him in a thicket not over fifty yards from the entrenched line and a four-gun battery of the enemy. Col. Mabry ordered him to renew the charge, and his reply , as I was afterwards informed, was this: ‘Colonel, we have exhausted every round of ammunition, but if you say so, we will try again with empty guns.’ Nothing could be more Spartan like than this.”

Gen. S. D. Lee does the men who made the charge at Harrisburg but simple justice when he says that he “never saw soldiers fight better. Except in numbers engaged, Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg did not excel the desperate charge of Mabry’s brigade at Harrisburg. Nor did the famous charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava equal in desperation that of the 38th Mississippi regiment, if we may judge by the percentage of loss incurred by each.”

I wish now to draw your attention to a few of the battles of the west which are fearful in mortality and show the courage of the men engaged in them, whose conduct challenges human admiration, and give them highest rank among the world’s heroes. Having mentioned Shiloh, I pass to Chickamauga, where, in the month of September, 1863, forty thousand Confederates were met by fifty thousand Federals in deadly conflict. Sixteen thousand Federals and eleven thousand Confederates attest the determination of both. No fiercer fight had been witnessed on this continent. On these two days, assistance was out of the question. No reserves were to be had, and every man was at his post.

Some of the men who had won distinction on many fields in Virginia were to charge the enemy side by side with the men who had valiantly fought at Fishing Creek, Corinth, Shiloh, and Stone River. These Virginia veterans soon learned that the Army of Tennessee were their equals. In this bloody battle the Army of Tennessee lost none of their daring courage as compared with the men who at Sharpsburg, Manassas and Seven Pines had written in the great book of fame the story of Confederate heroism.

On the 8th day of October 1862, Gen. Bragg with 15,000 Confederates, confronted Gen. Buell with 28,000 Federals at Perryville Kentucky. The Confederates being elated at the forward movement through the blue grass state, felt confident of victory, and when the order to assault the enemy came, it met with the heartiest response. The battle was begun at 2 o’clock in the evening and by the shade of night came on 3400 Confederates and 4400 Federals killed and wounded, show how terribly earnest were the men engaged. Those who witnessed Shiloh and many other hotly contested fields declare that for numbers engaged, Perryville was the most dreadful they had________________ Franklin, Tennessee, to cover with glory as unfading as time the Army of Tennessee.

Poetry and song alike magnify the assault of Pickett at Gettysburg as being paralleled only by the charge of the Old Guard at

Waterloo, and as being the bloodiest of the age. Pickett’s loss was 21 per cent, while the loss at Franklin reached the enormous percentage of 33. Thirteen regimental commanders were killed, 32 wounded and nine captured. Of the brigadier generals, 4 in one division, 3 were killed and the other captured, and the major general so severely wounded that the day after the battle, his division was commanded by a colonel. In proportion to the numbers, the battle of Franklin was the bloodiest of modern times, and it was a sad fate in a noble response to the call of duty, for the Army of Tennessee to meet with practical annihilation.

Of the 70 regiments in the Confederate service holding the highest percent of loss in a single battle the west has to its credit 17 of these at Chickamauga alone. Of the 18 brigades suffering the greatest loss in a single battle Chickamauga had 4 and Gettysburg had 4 and it is said that the west is entitled to a majority of all so far reported.

And now, comrades, in conclusion, the reverberating peals of the thundering artillery in the seven days around Richmond, proclaiming the severest trials that men could endure, are answered by the clash of resounding arms from Missionary Ridge to, and around Atlanta. When the east speaks with pride of the glory won at Gettysburg, the west answers, here is Chickamauga.

As the east catching the echoes of heroism that rise from the hills of Sharpsburg, the west answers with consciousness of duty well done, and points to the blood stained field of Shiloh. When the east lifts to view the glory head of Malvern Hill, and when Second Manassas and Fredericksburg are mentioned, the west answers back with the requiem of its slain and the heroism of its deeds at Franklin, Stone River, Corinth, Iuka, Vicksburg and Port Hudson.

And from the regions beyond the great Mississippi comes the refrain of the fearless deeds of our comrades who dared and did all that human could do. And the world listens with wonder and admiration, as from all sections of our sunny south comes the same story of illustrious courage, patriotism and unselfish consecration to the cause of truth, right and justice.

T.W. Smith,

Holmes County Camp No. 398,

Lexington, Miss.

 

Thomas W. Smith made it very clear in his letter the importance he attached to his memory of the past; and he did his part to make sure that this history was not forgotten. When the Holmes County Veterans memorial was dedicated on December 2, 1908, the monument was accepted on

The grave of Thomas W. Smith in Odd Fellows Cemetery, Lexington, Mississippi - www.findagrave.com

The grave of Thomas W. Smith in Odd Fellows Cemetery, Lexington, Mississippi – http://www.findagrave.com

behalf of the veterans by Smith. In his acceptance speech the veteran spoke eloquently on how he hoped future generations would remember the Confederate soldier:

May it forever stand, as a perpetual memorial to induce them to emulate the virtue and devotion to duty, of the Confederate soldiers, who offered their lives in defense of that independence and political freedom, bequeathed to us by our revolutionary fathers. It will speak in silent language to them of a citizenry and soldiery scarcely equaled, and never excelled, in any age.

Thomas W. Smith died in Lexington, Mississippi, on April 27, 1919. In his obituary it was noted that “He served with conspicuous bravery and unswerving loyalty in the Confederate army during the Civil War. In civil life he was always aligned with the forces and influences that worked for the moral and material advancement of the community.” Smith is buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery at Lexington, Mississippi; in addition to the dates of his birth and death on his tombstone, there is a simple inscription: “Company A, 38th Miss. Regt., C.S.A.”

 

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“A Few of Us Remained True to the Old Government:” Unionists in Tippah County, Mississippi

Mississippi is so strongly identified with the Confederacy during the Civil War that it is easy to overlook the fact that not all citizens of the state supported secession. One of the strongholds of Unionist sentiment in the state was the hill counties of Northeast Mississippi. Once the Magnolia State secession convention voted to remove themselves from the United States, many Unionists in Mississippi searched their hearts and made the difficult choice to stay loyal to the government of their birth. For more than a few, this meant turning their backs on friends and neighbors, and the possibility of being forced into exile or worse by their pro-Confederate neighbors.

Documentation on Unionists in Mississippi can be hard to find – after the war ended, and particularly after Reconstruction, most whites that supported the Federal government during the conflict were not eager to advertise the fact. Many left the state for more welcoming climes, while those that did remain in Mississippi were decidedly low key about their wartime sentiments.

Thus I was very interested when I found the following documentation concerning a group of pro-Union men from Tippah County, Mississippi, that not only remained loyal to the Federal government, but they felt so strongly about it that they joined the Union army. The following letter was written on August 11, 1865, to William L. Sharkey, who was installed as provisional governor of Mississippi by the Federals after the Confederate surrender:

Tippah County, Miss., Aug. 11, 1865

Hon. Gov. Sharkey

Sir, with a degree of backwardness, I write this letter, but being promoted by pure motives, I beg you to excuse its imperfections. At the

Post Civil War Tintype of William T. Rowland - Ancestry.com

Post Civil War Tintype of William T. Rowland – Ancestry.com

commencement of the late rebellion, a few of us remained true to the Old Government. After doging [dodging] the Confederate Conscripters for a few months we went to the Federal lines where we enlisted in different Regts.

I with a number of others enlisted on the 24 of July 1862 in Company “I” 11th Ills. Cav. We were discharged at Memphis, Tenn., June 9, 1865. Since which time we have returned to our former homes in Tippah County, Miss. Those who are acting in authority here require us to take the Amnesty Oath, not that there is any thing in the Oath that we would object to, but it seams strange that we should have to undergo the same process that a Rebel Soldier does to become a loyal citizen of our native state and county.

If you consider this worthy of your notice pleas send us information on the subject of what it takes to constitute a loyal citizen.

Your Obt. Servt.,

W.T. Rowland

My address at presant is Pochahontas, Tenn.

- W.L. Sharkey Letters and Petitions, 1865 (Series 771, Box 956, Mississippi Department of Archives and History).

The writer of this missive to Governor Sharkey was William T. Rowland, a Union man from Tippah County who served nearly three years in Federal blue as a member of the 11th Illinois Cavalry. I wanted to find out a little more about this man, so I looked for him in the United States Census. I found Rowland on the 1850 U.S. Census for Tippah County, living with his parents, David and Nancy Rowland, and his five younger siblings. Among the children listed was William’s younger brother,  James, who also served in the 11th Illinois Cavalry.

William’s father, David, listed his birthplace as North Carolina, and his occupation as farmer. He must have had a small farm, as the value of his

William T. Rowlands 1865 discharge from the Union Army - Ancestry.com

William T. Rowlands 1865 discharge from the Union Army – Ancestry.com

real estate was listed as only $250.00 on the 1850 Census. This is just the sort of family that was hostile to the Confederacy – small farmers from the hill country with few or more likely no slaves, just trying to eke out a hardscrabble existence from the rocky soil. By the time the next census rolled around, in 1860, William was living on his own, albeit next-door to his parents, and like his father, he was making a living as a small farmer – in the Census that year he listed the value of his real estate at $300.00.

When William and James left home to join the Union army, they did not go alone; a number of their friends and neighbors went with them. The group traveled to Bethel, Tennessee, about 90 miles north from Tippah County, where they enlisted in the 11th Illinois Cavalry. It seems that most of the Mississippians were placed into Company I of the regiment; Francis A. Luthey, a member of the unit, wrote in a letter to his hometown newspaper: “Since we arrived at Bethel, ten Mississippians have joined our company, thereby making it the biggest and best company in the regiment.” - Macomb Eagle, August 23, 1862

I wanted to get a better idea of just who the Mississippians were that joined the 11th Illinois Cavalry; but research was hampered by the fact that the Civil War service records of the 11th Illinois Cavalry are not yet on the fold3.com website. I was, however, able to find the Illinois Adjutant General’s roster for Company I of the 11th Illinois at http://www.civilwar.illinoisgenweb.org. This roster gives some details about the men in the company, including where they enlisted. I decided to focus my research on the men that joined Company I at Bethel, Tennessee.

Through the power of the internet, using ancestry.com, fold3.com, findagrave.com, the United States Census, and the 1890 Veterans Census for Mississippi, I was able to document pretty conclusively that 10 men from Tippah County served in the 11th Illinois Cavalry. Further, I found a number of other men from Tippah that I believe served in the regiment based on a match of names from the U.S. Census for 1850 and 1860 in Tippah County.

In addition to William and James Rowland, the men who definitely served in the 11th Illinois Cavalry from Tippah County were as follows:

Moses Parker and Talbot F. Parker – I found Moses Parker on the 1860 U.S. Census for Tippah County; the 43 year old farmer was living with his wife and seven children, the oldest of whom was 15 year old T.F. Parker. Moses died during the war, and was originally buried in Pocahontas, Tennessee. After the conflict ended his body was moved to the Corinth National Cemetery where he was buried in Plot 14, Grave number 3606. The Illinois Adjutant General’s roster states that Talbot “deserted March 1, 1863,” so the teenager may have decided to return home after the death of his father.

Hansel E. Moore – Listed in the 1860 U.S. Census for Tippah County as H.E. Moore, the 40 year old lived with his wife, Mary, and four children. He joined the 11th Illinois Cavalry at Bethel, Tennessee, date not listed. I will be speaking more of Hansel Moore shortly.

Eli Moore - Listed in the 1860 U.S. Census for Tippah County, Eli Moore, probably related to Hansel E. Moore, was living with his wife and two children. He enlisted in the 11th Illinois Cavalry at Bethel, Tennessee, on August 18, 1862, and was discharged on November 1, 1862, for unknown reasons. Eli is listed on the 1890 U.S. Veteran’s Census as still living in Tippah County, and he filed for a veteran’s pension on July 31, 1890. He died on February 23, 1906, and is buried in Tippah County.

John B. Sasser - I found J.B. Sasser on the 1870 U.S. Census for Tippah County, he was 29 years old. According to information I found on the 1st Alabama Cavalry, United States Volunteers website, John was the half-brother of David and Thomas Stephens/Stevens, both of whom served in Company I of the 11th Illinois Cavalry. Sasser joined the 11th at Bethel, Tennessee, on July 24, 1862, and was discharged December 6, 1864, to take a promotion to 1st Lieutenant in the 1st Mississippi Mounted Rifles. The 1st Mississippi was the only Union white regiment officially credited to Mississippi during the Civil War.

David Stephens – Enlisted at Bethel, Tennessee, date not known. He was the brother of Thomas Stephens and half-brother of John B. Sasser.

David Stephens/Stevens served in the 11th Illinois Cavalry with his brother and half brother. He died in Vicksburg of chronic diarrhea on September 18, 1864 - www.1stalabamacavalryusv.com

David Stephens/Stevens served in the 11th Illinois Cavalry with his brother and half brother. He died in Vicksburg of chronic diarrhea on September 18, 1864 – http://www.1stalabamacavalryusv.com

Thomas Porter Devereaux Stephens – listed on the 1860 U.S. Census for Tippah County, the 23 year old was living with his wife and two children. He was the brother of David Stephens and the half-brother of John B. Sasser. Stephens filed for a U.S. pension in 1910 while living in Arkansas.

John C. Whitley and William T. Whitley - These brothers enlisted in the 11th Illinois Cavalry at Bethel, Tennessee on August 1, 1862. Both men survived the war, and they mustered out of service on June 9, 1865. I found them in the 1860 U.S. Census for Tippah County, living with their father, J.H.B. Whitley, and mother Ann Whitley. John was listed as being 18 years of age, while his younger brother William was only 16.

The other men I found that I suspect were from Tippah County were as follows: William R. Boyd, William S. Dawson, Almonta May, Jesse Overton, William Rainey, and Samuel M. Thompson. All of these men enlisted at Bethel, Tennessee, and I have found individuals with the same names living in Tippah County on the U.S. Census for 1850 or 1860. I am hoping that further research will enable me to definitely prove the service of these men with the 11th Illinois Cavalry.

While doing a little background research on the 11th Illinois Cavalry, I noted that the regiment saw extensive service inside the state of Mississippi. This would have put the Union men in the unit in the position of having to fight against their fellow Mississippians, and often in their familiar stomping grounds of the northern part of the state. I was also struck by the fact that these men would have been of invaluable aid to the 11th – being residents of north Mississippi, they would have been very familiar with the terrain, and could serve as expert guides.

Among the battles and skirmishes in which the 11th was engaged in Mississippi were the following: Corinth; Grant’s Central Mississippi Campaign; Expedition from Memphis, Tennessee to Grenada, Mississippi; Expedition from Big Black River to Yazoo City; Expedition to Canton; the Meridian Campaign; Expedition from Vicksburg to Yazoo City; Expedition from Vicksburg to Rodney and Fayette; Expedition from Natchez to Woodville; Operations in Issaquena and Washington Counties; and Egypt Station. During its term of service, the 11th Illinois Cavalry lost 2 officers and 32 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded, and 8 officers and 237 enlisted men that died of disease. (A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion by Frederick H. Dyer)

The 11th Illinois Cavalry mustered out of service in the fall of 1865, with the majority of the men returning to Illinois for a heroes welcome from their friends, family, and neighbors. For the Tippah County contingent, however, going home meant something entirely different – they would have to resume their lives while living amidst the very people they had fought against for nearly three years. Their ex-Confederate neighbors were bound to hold grudges, and the threat of violence was a very real possibility. To protect themselves, the Union men of Tippah County formed a militia company for self defense. On September 23, 1865, Hansel E. Moore, a former member of the 11th Illinois, wrote the following letter to Governor Sharkey:

Tippah County Miss., Sept. 23rd/65

Gov. Sharkey, Jackson, Miss.

Dear Sir, I am credibly informed that several men in this county have, or are going to join together and petition to you to “put down” my company by stating that the company is composed of “bad men, tories &c,” and also that there is “not any use for a company of any kind here.” You can do as you wish in regard to putting down my company – But I can prove by the oldest citizens of the county several of whom are Secessionist & Union men too, that these statements against my company are false, entirely so. And the men whom I say I can make the proof by are men who has not been in the army on neither side. 

     When you remove this company (mine) you then leave this country in a bad condition – the northern part of the county is composed mostly of Union men (I mean loyal men), and numbers of them too are men who have served their time out in this war in the U.S. Service. And these very men who are saying the most against the company are the very men who are saying that “There is not any Union and that all Union men and men who served in the U.S. army shall leave their homes, land &c, and shall move north as soon as the U.S. troops leave the state & the rail-roads close by here.”  Now we, as loyal men call on you to sustain yourself & us in all patriotical efforts.

My company is made up in compliance with your proclamation, and agreeable to an act of the revised code & the amendment thereto, passed on the 10th day of Feb. 1860. I wish an answer from you in regard to all this immediately. In haste, Yours respectfully,

H.E. Moore Capt.

P.S. – I do nothing secretly nor try to undermine any person, all I do and say I wish it published to the world. My last & most earnest wish is that you have this letter published in the Miss. & Memphis papers. If those men have, or do send, such a “petition” to you, I wish it and their names published also.

Yours truly,

H.E. Moore Capt.

Write to me at Jonesboro, Miss., via Pocahontas, Tenn.

H.E. Moore

- W.L. Sharkey Letters and Petitions, 1865 (Series 771, Box 956, Mississippi Department of Archives and History).

It’s no surprise that the pro-Confederate population of Tippah County would have been angered by the formation of a county militia made up of

Wartime image of T.P.D. Stephens/Stevens, probably taken after he had joined the 1st Mississippi Mounted Rifles, as he is wearing officer's rank on his uniform - www.1stalabamacavalryusv.com

Wartime image of T.P.D. Stephens/Stevens  - This photo was probably taken after Stephens was made an officer in the 1st Mississippi Mounted Infantry, and he is wearing officer’s insignia on his uniform. – http://www.1stalabamacavalryusv.com

former Union soldiers, and done their utmost to have it disbanded. I wish I knew what Governor Sharkey’s response to Moore was, but so far I have not been able to find one. I did, however, find one last piece of information regarding Moore’s militia company – the captain submitted the official results of the election of officers in his unit, probably in an effort to prove to the governor that they were a legitimate militia unit. The document begins by giving the results of the militia company’s voting for officers:

For Capt. H.E. Moore – 25

1st Lieut. T.P.D. Stevens – 25

2nd Lieut. W.T. Rowland – 25

All three of the men elected officers in the company were veterans of the 11th Illinois. The document goes on to explain the particulars of the election:

We the judges and clerks of an election held at Jonesburough on the 9 day of Sept. 1865, for the offices of Capt., 1st Lieut., and 2nd Lieut., of a Cav. Com. organized at Jonesburough Miss., in pursuance to Gov. Sharkey’s proclamation do certify H.E. Moore received Twenty-five (25) votes for Capt., that T.P.D. Stevens received Twenty-five (25) votes for 1st Lieut., that W.T. Rowland received Twenty-five (25) votes for the office of 2nd Lieut.

D.T. Bobo, Judge; T.P.D. Stevens, Judge; Clerks: W.T. Rowland, W.L. Skinner

State of Miss., Tippah County

Charles A. Stevens {Seal} Justice of the Peace

- W.L. Sharkey Letters and Petitions, 1865 (Series 771, Box 956, Mississippi Department of Archives and History).

I wish I knew more about what happened to the Unionists in Tippah County during Reconstruction, but documentation can be very hard to come by. That’s why I would like to make an appeal to any descendants of Union soldiers from Tippah County, or anyone with more information about them, to please contact me – I would love to post additional information about these men.

I want to close this story with a brief quote from the book The Iron Furnace: Or, Slavery And Secession, by Reverend John H. Aughey of Choctaw County, Mississippi. Aughey was an outspoken supporter of the Union during the Civil War, so much so that he was arrested and thrown into prison at Tupelo and threatened with execution. The good reverend eventually escaped from prison, but he was weak and exhausted and left with the dilemma of whom to turn to for help. For Aughey, the choice was simple:

I despaired of getting much further. I thought I must perish in the Iron Furnace of secession, which was heated very hot for me. Feeling confident that I must be near Tippah County, and knowing that there were many Union men in that county, I resolved to call at the first house on my route. If I remained where I was, I must perish, as I could go no further, and if I met with a Union family, I should be saved; if with “a secesh,” I might possibly impose upon their credulity, and get refreshment without being arrested. They might, however, cause my arrest. It was a dilemma such as I hope never to be placed in again. - The Iron Furnace, page 192.

Reverend Aughey’s instincts were good; the first house he came to in Tippah County was owned by a Unionist who aided him in escaping to the Federal lines. Aughey did not name his benefactor, as his book was published during the war, and he did not want to place him in any danger. I like to think, however, that the unnamed farmer had relatives or friends fighting for the Union in the 11th Illinois Cavalry.

 

 

 

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There The Skeletons Lie: Corinth in 1866

I found the following article in The Weekly Democrat of Natchez, which was published on May 14, 1866. The writer was not identified, but whoever it was painted a graphic picture of Corinth one year after the war ended:

Not the least mentionable of the ‘pitched battles’ of the late war was that which was fought in front of this grand ‘intrenched camp’ that we call Corinth, on the 3d and 4th days of October, 1862. During the past two days a portion of my sojourn here has been spent as a partial exploration of that part of the battlefield which lies in the Northwestern angle formed by the crossing of the Memphis, Charleston, Mobile and Ohio Railroads.

Wartime image of the Railroad Depot and adjacent Tishomingo Hotel at Corinth - Library of Congress

Wartime image of the Railroad Depot and adjacent Tishomingo Hotel at Corinth – Library of Congress

The sight that I saw of vast numbers of Confederate ‘bones’ – whose skeletons and parts of skeletons – lying exposed and bleaching on the field, in the bushes and on the hillsides, under logs and on stumps; of the neatly enclosed and well marked graves of Federal soldiers, all buried at the proper depth; and of the forest trees rent in all directions, rent and torn by shot and shell, and the storm of ‘furious war’ and of many separate and distinct, desperate conflicts, hand to hand, and muzzle to muzzle; all of these ‘sights,’ I say, are well worthy of a brief record. Besides, I have another object in calling attention to the battlefield of Corinth apart from the gratification of public curiosity, and that is to urge upon our people the propriety of collecting the bones of their dead brethren, at some suitable spot near this place, and giving them decent interment. It is estimated by an intelligent gentleman of this town, that upon the two fields of Shiloh and Corinth, in this vicinity, there are not less than 12,000 ‘Confederate dead,’ whose bones for the most part, lie bleaching above ground!

Confederate dead in front of Battery Robinett at Corinth - Library of Congress

Confederate dead in front of Battery Robinett at Corinth – The bearded man on the far left is Colonel William Rogers of the 2nd Texas Infantry – Library of Congress

 

Of all the Confederate dead on this field, Col. Rogers is, I am told, the only one who was buried deep enough to prevent the rains from washing the dirt away and exposing the bones. He, it is said, was buried under the immediate supervision of Gen. Rosecrans. In the North western angle, formed by the crossing of the railroads, from Corinth out to and beyond the outer line of works, three and a half miles distant, the whole of this great battle-ground is dotted, here and there – in some places thick as meadow mole-hills – with the graves of Federal and the exposed remains of Confederate dead.

The Confederate dead, it clearly appears, were merely covered up on the ground where they fell. The Federal dead were neatly interred, in the

Post Civil War photo of the Grave of Colonel William Rogers

Post Civil War photo of the Grave of Colonel William Rogers

usual way, with head and foot-boards in every instance, and in most cases, I believe, were enclosed with wooden palings. I saw but one Federal grave where the bones were at all exposed. I saw but one Confederate timulus where the bones – generally the skull – were not more or less exposed and scattered around in all directions. At the outer line of entrenchments, where a portion of Maury’s division made the assault, I saw two human skull bones, one pelvis, and two jaw-bones, lying on a stump, with no trace of a grave or timulus nearer than fifty or one hundred yards.

In front of the outer breastworks not far from the same spot, I saw two timuli, where some six or eight Confederate dead had been covered up on one side of a hill. Here several of the skulls and feet of most of the bodies had been uncovered by the action of the elements, and were lying around upon the ground, already bleached, perfectly white, and of course, rapidly crumbling to decay. The condition of these timuli, I am told by gentlemen residing in the vicinity who have examined every part of the field, is a fair specimen of all the rest. In one place (as I was informed by Capt. Mask, of this town, who, with Col. Polk, rode over the field with me.) The bodies of two or three Confederates were placed by the side of a log, (to save labor I suppose,) and a little dirt thrown over them; the dirt had all washed away, and there the skeletons lie, wholly exposed and uncared for, ‘like the beasts that perish!’

 

After reading this article, I have a better appreciation of why cemetery associations, created to properly bury Confederate dead,  flourished in the post-war South. There was a terrible need for them.

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“He’ll See it When He Wakes:” A Poem of the Battle of the Wilderness

From May 5 – 7, 1864, one of the great bloodlettings of the Civil War took place in a forbidding and isolated section of Virginia countryside known as the Wilderness of Spotsylvania. Among the estimated 61,025 Confederate troops engaged in the battle were Humphrey’s, Harris’, and Davis’ brigades of Mississippi infantry, Richard’s Mississippi Battery, and the Jeff Davis Legion of Cavalry. This poem, which I found in The American Citizen, (Canton, Miss.), April 26, 1866, is about an unnamed casualty from one of these commands that fell during that titanic struggle in the forest. The author of the poem is identified only as “SIGMA,” which is a shame, as I would love to know more about him. The man certainly had a way with words:

[For the Citizen]

“He’ll See it when he wakes”

We remember at the Wilderness, a gallant young Mississippian had fallen, and at night, and just before burying him, there came a letter from her he loved best. One of the group around his body – a minister whose tenderness was womanly – broke the silent tearfulness with which he saw the dead letter; he took it and laid it upon the breast of him whose heroic heart was stilled: ‘Bury it with him. He will see it when he wakes.’ It was the sublimest sentence of his funeral service.

Amid the clouds of battle smoke

The sun had died away,

And where the storm of battle broke

A thousand warriors lay.

A band of friends upon the field,

Stand round a youthful form,

Who, when the war cloud’s thunders peal’d,

Had perish’d in the storm.

 

"Rebel Seizure of the Works on the Brock Road" - Library of Congress

“Rebel Seizure of the Works on the Brock Road” – Library of Congress

 

Upon his forehead, on his hair,

The coming moonlight breaks;

And each dear brother standing there,

A tender farewell takes.

 

But e’er they laid him in his home

There came a comrade near,

And gave a token that had come,

From her the dead held dear.

A moment’s doubt upon them press’d

The one the letter takes,

And lays it low upon his breast:

‘He’ll see it when he wakes.’

 

Oh! thou, who dost in sorrow wait,

Whose heart with anguish breaks,

Though thy dear message came too late,

He’ll see it when he wakes.

 

Ne’er more amid the fiery storm

Shall his strong arm be seen,

No more his young and manly form,

Press Mississippi’s green.

And e’en thy tender words of love -

The words affection speaks -

Came all too late: but oh! thy love -

‘Will see them when he wakes’

 

No sound disturbs his gentle rest,

No noise his slumber breaks,

But they words sleep upon his breast,

‘He’ll see them when he wakes!’

SIGMA

 

 

 

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Mourning for our Chieftain: The Funeral Procession of Jefferson Davis

From the end of the war until his death in 1889, Jefferson Davis was the living personification of the Lost Cause to his fellow Southerners. The

Jefferson Davis at his home Beauvoir, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast - Library of Congress

Jefferson Davis at his home Beauvoir, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast – Library of Congress

Confederacy’s only chief executive never sought a pardon, believing to the end of his days that he had done nothing wrong. When he died in New Orleans in 1889, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children throughout the states of the former Confederacy mourned his passing.

Davis’ body was placed in the vault of the Army of Northern Virginia at Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans, but it was never meant to be a permanent resting place; Varina Davis would make the decision as to the final resting place of her husband. It took a few years, but eventually Varina chose Richmond, Virginia, the Confederacy’s former capital, as the final resting place for Jefferson Davis.

On May 27, 1893, Davis’ body was removed from the vault in Metairie Cemetery, and the next day it was placed on the train that would take him to Richmond. During the course of the trip, the train made a stop at Beauvoir, Davis’ post-war home on the Mississippi Gulf coast, and the body also lay in state at the capitols of Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina. All along the way, thousands of Southerners met the train to pay their last respects to Davis. On May 31, 1893, the train reached Richmond, and Jefferson Davis was taken to Hollywood Cemetery, where his body was interred.

Jefferson Davis had been accompanied to Richmond by a delegation of notable citizens, including a contingent of Mississippians. One of the Mississippians who made the trip was Patrick Henry, who had served as an officer in the 6th Mississippi Infantry during the Civil War. In the years after the conflict Henry had become a very successful politician, serving in the Mississippi State Legislature and in the United States Congress. He was also a delegate to the 1890 Mississippi Constitutional Convention.

As fate would have it, Henry was the last survivor of the members of the Mississippi delegation that accompanied Jefferson Davis’ body to Richmond. In 1927, Henry wrote the following letter to newspaper editor Edgar S. Wilson, giving his account of the trip. The original letter is located in the Patrick Henry Papers, Z/0215.000/S, Box 1, Folder 2, Mississippi Department of Archives and History:

Brandon – 10/19/27

Hon. Edgar S. Wilson, Jackson, Miss.

My Dear Friend,

Mindful of my promise to send you the personnel of the Escort to the body of President Jefferson Davis, from New Orleans, to Richmond, Va., I

Patrick Henry of Brandon, Mississippi - www.findagrave.com

Patrick Henry of Brandon, Mississippi – http://www.findagrave.com

had you the list, all gone to their reward, save the writer, Viz:

Gen. Stephen D. Lee, Commanding Escort, Gen. W.S. Fergerson, Col. J.L. Power, Capt. R.J. Harding, Capt. J.R. McIntosh, Col. J.R. Binford, Col. E.T. Sykes, Judge Newman Casey, Col. J.H. Jones, Lt. Gov’r., and Maj. Pat Henry. I write names and rank, as per my picture.

We had a wonderful trip, many stops en route, often the rail road yards were strewn with flowers, and hosts of people lining up on either side of the track, many in tears, all seemingly mourning for our chieftain, who even then had been registered among the immortals. We rested the casket in the Capitols at Montgomery, Raleigh, and Richmond, where great crowds of sorrowing people met us. It was placed in Hollywood Cemetery beside the body of his beloved, and beautiful daughter, lovingly known as the “Daughter of the Confederacy,” Miss Winnie Davis.

There was aboard the train a reporter for a Boston paper, who seemed deeply impressed with the general grief manifested by the people along our route. We passed a one legged ex-soldier plowing in his field, on the road side, and altho’ it was raining lightly, he stopped his mule, faced the funeral car, hat off, and head bowed, remaining uncovered with head bowed till the train passed. He had done his bit, it seemed to impress the reporter, and he turned to me, and said “What manner of man is this that brings forth such evidences of devotion, from an entire people. All seem to have sustained a personal loss.”

I told him he was the leader of a proud people, who yielded to numbers, but whose principles still lived, and he was the vicarious suffer[erer], for the so so called sins of his people. Why, he says, “I never witnessed anything like this, from the whole people, regardless of station or rank; think of that old fellow stopping his plow, and standing with bowed head, hat off, even in the rain.” He said, “I attended the funeral of General Grant, but witnesses [witnessed] nothing like this, no grief, or tears, there seemed to be a sort of machinery effect that is wanting here.”

We liked the reporter for his seeming interest, and suggested the same to him, and told him, when we reached Richmond, we would take him down to the James River, and baptize him in the waters of Democracy, but never saw him, after reaching the city, but it was his loss.

Ed, I recount this just for you, the memory of it came welling up, as I wrote, so you will excuse me. With great respect, and affection, I am your friend of the olden time.

Patrick Henry died three years after he wrote this letter, on May 18, 1930, and was buried in the Brandon City Cemetery in Rankin County, Mississippi. Henry’s obituary was carried in papers throughout the state; the Daily Herald of Biloxi published it on May 18, 1930. The tribute noted, “Death closed the colorful career of Major Pat Henry Sunday morning, and with it brought to a close a life devoted to the welfare of Mississippi.” The paper also noted, “Among the honorary pallbearers were the seven remaining members of the United Confederate Veterans camp here.

 

The Grave of Jefferson Davis in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia - www.virtualtourist.com

The Grave of Jefferson Davis in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia – http://www.virtualtourist.com

 

While Jefferson Davis never sought a pardon, and never apologized for his part in the rebellion against the United States, he did, in the twilight of his life, urge the Southern people to put aside any lingering animosity left over from the Civil War. In a speech he gave at Mississippi City in 1888, he told the audience:

“Mr. Chairmen and Fellow Citizens: “Ah, pardon me, the laws of the United States no longer permit me to designate you as fellow citizens, but I am thankful that I may address you you as friends. I feel no regret that I stand before you this afternoon a man without a country, for my ambition lies buried in the grave of the Confederacy. There has been consigned not only my ambition, but the dogmas upon which that Government was based. The faces I see before me are those of young men; had I not known this I would not have appeared before you. Men in whose hands the destinies of the South land lie, for love of her I break my silence, to let it bury its dead, its hopes and aspirations ; before you lies the future – a future full of golden promise; a future of expanding national glory, before which all of the world shall stand amazed. Let me beseech you to lay aside all rancor, all bitter sectional feeling, and to make your places in the ranks of those who will bring about a consummation devoutly to be wished – a reunited country”

 

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Well Do I Remember that Exciting Day: The Capture of the Crew of the U.S.S. Rattler

On September 12, 1863, the parishioners of Rodney Presbyterian Church in Jefferson County, Mississippi, filed into their house of worship for a

Modern Photo of the Rodney Presbyterian Church -www.jayssouth.com

Modern Photo of the Rodney Presbyterian Church -www.jayssouth.com

typical Sabbath service. This Sunday, however, the service was anything but typical, as anchored just offshore was the United States tinclad gunboat U.S.S. Rattler, and some of the Federal tars were about to join the congregation for their worship.

The commanding officer of the Rattler was Acting Master Walter E.H. Fentress, and even though he had very clear orders against going ashore, the officer felt that there would be no harm in attending the service as there were thought to be no Confederates in the immediate area. Fentress, along with some of his men, took a rowboat to shore and quietly walked into the church – what transpired next made this particular worship service one of the most memorable of the entire war in Mississippi.

I found the following account of what happened that Sunday at the Rodney Presbyterian Church in The Port Gibson Reveille, March 10, 1910. This article was written for the paper by Elijah Conklin, who as a teenager had attended the church that fateful Sunday. While I have seen several other reminiscences of the incident at Rodney, I don’t think Mr. Conklin’s has been in print since it was originally published in 1910:

The following letter, written by Mr. Conklin, of Omaha, referring to an incident of the late war had been furnished us by Major Broughton. At the time referred to Mr. Conklin was a youth, living in Rodney; later he enlisted and served two years in the Confederate army:

Omaha, Neb., Jan. 8, 1910:

Maj. Jno. W. Broughton, Lorman, Miss.

Dear Friend and Comrade: As you mentioned in your last letter that the Fayette Chronicle would soon publish an account of the capture of a federal naval captain and sailors in the Presbyterian church in Rodney, during the war between the states, I thought as I was in the church that day, and had the experience of having both a Federal and Confederate officer level their pistols on me within two or three minutes time, that perhaps my experience might also be interesting to the readers of the Chronicle.

As a preface, I will say the captain of the Federal gunboat was a very sociable man and frequently came ashore and talked in a friendly way with the citizens, and had attended church a few times previous to the day of his capture. The citizens of Rodney did not know of there being any armed Confederate soldiers in that vicinity at that time; there were though several paroled Confederate soldiers in the town, it being their home, they having been captured and paroled, some at Vicksburg, others at Port Hudson, when those places surrendered to the Federals.

 

The tinclad U.S.S. Rattler

The tinclad U.S.S. Rattler – U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph

 

Well do I remember that exciting day. It was a beautiful, sun-shiny Sabbath morning. The church was crowded so much that a bench had to be brought from the negro gallery and was occupied by sailors who could not find seats in pews. The Federal captain was seated immediately in front of me. The pew he was sitting in was entirely taken up by himself and sailors. A Federal officer who had accompanied a lady of the town to church was seated on the opposite side of the church from the captain. He was the only one of the party that was armed, he having a navy revolver. Soon after the services commenced, we were startled by noises on the outside of the church, such as running of horses in the street and a rattling noise which we afterwards found out was caused by the Confederate cavalrymen’s spurs rattling on the brick walk in front of the church.

We could not imagine the cause of the noises, but everybody seemed to have a premonition of something dreadful going to happen. Before we had time to take in the situation, a Confederate officer ran in the church from the left entrance. He had a revolver in each hand, and with them pointed toward the Federals, said, in a loud tone, with an oath, ‘Surrender, you are my prisoners.’ The Federal captain quickly arose to a standing position with uplifted hands, facing the Confederate, said, ‘We surrender, for God’s sake don’t fire among the women and children.’

At that instant the Federal officer from the opposite side of the church fired at the Confederate, who immediately fired at the Federal and then such excitement and confusion never witnessed before or since. Women and children were screaming, men, women and children were rushing in every direction endeavoring to get out of the church, some jumping out of windows, others rushing out of the doors. Back in the choir looked to me to be the safest place, and in my excitement I climbed over the top of the pews to get there. I found a few of the citizens of the town in the choir, the only ones I can remember now were James Wilson.

 

Interior of the Rodney Presbyterian Church - http://www.pinterest.com/pin/447686019180754519/

Interior of the Rodney Presbyterian Church – http://www.pinterest.com/pin/447686019180754519/

 

We could hear the Confederates on the outside of the church shooting and calling on the sailors to surrender, and occasionally heard a shot fired from the inside of the church by the Federal officer. Presently he came running down the side of the church and into the corridor and stopped in the door-way leading into the choir and covered me with his pistol. I had met this officer on the street a few days before and had a heated argument with him, and when he pointed his cocked pistol at me I thought his intention was to kill me.  I threw up both my hands as quickly as possible and said, ‘For God’s sake don’t shoot me.’ He replied, ‘Then take those men away from here.’ I answered, ‘That is not in my power; I have no control over them.’ He then left me and I went farther in the church. One of the Confederates ran in the left entrance and leveled his revolver in the direction of the choir, but instead of covering the Federal with it as he expected, it covered me. I thought in his excitement he would surely shoot me, Instantly up went both of my hands and again I cried out, ‘For God’s sake don’t shoot me.’ He said, ‘Where did that Yankee go?’ I answered, ‘I don’t know.’

In my excitement I did not think to tell him that the Federal had gone further in the church. The Confederate went outside without searching the church for the Federal. We learned afterwards that when the Federal left me he hid under a pew and remained there until the Confederates left and then made his way to the river bank and gave a signal to the gunboat which was anchored in front of the town, and a yawl was sent ashore and he and a sailor who had escaped capture were taken aboard of the gunboat.

After my experience with the Confederate officer I realized that instead of getting, as I supposed, in the safest place in the church, I had got into the most dangerous, and I followed the Confederate officer out of the church and found most of the people who had been in the church congregated in front of it. Just at that time the squad of Confederates, mounted on their horses, passed in front of the church with the Federal captain and eighteen sailors with them as their prisoners. One of the Confederates, a mere boy as he appeared to me to be, waved his hat and said, ‘Three cheers for the Southern Confederacy,’ and addressing the crowd of citizens, said, ‘You must excuse us for disturbing your church services, but it was too good an opportunity to pick these men up.’

The Confederates left town and we Rodneyites hastened to our homes and hurriedly tied in sheets some provisions and clothing, ready to throw the bundles over shoulders and run from the town in case the Federals burnt it, which they usually did when they were fired on from towns. When the Federal officer and sailor who had escaped capture reached the gunboat and informed those on the boat what had occurred, the gunboat raised her anchor and steamed up and down in front of the town, firing broadside after broadside of shells into the town. Several houses were struck by the cannon balls, one entering the church; finally the cannonading ceased.

 

Modern Ruins of the town of Rodney

Modern Ruins of the town of Rodney

 

After the Confederates left town, they sent a written communication to the gunboat, stating that the citizens should not be held responsible for what had occurred, for the citizens did not know of their being in that vicinity or their intentions, and if the Federals burnt the town they would hang the prisoners they had captured. The communication was given to one of the old men of the town who immediately consulted other citizens and they decided it would be poor policy to send the communication to the Federals for they might capture nineteen citizens, burn the town and say to the Confederates, ‘Now hang our men and we will hang these citizens.’ So the communication was destroyed instead of being sent to the commanding officer of the gunboat.

In an hour or two after the cannonading stopped it commenced again. We soon discovered they were shelling the roads leading into the town and were landing a force of sailors who marched up town and set fire to the hotel. Rev. Mr. Price, came running down the street; he was bareheaded and in his shirt sleeves, and asked on of the sailors for their commanding officer; when he was pointed out to him he told him of the communication the Confederates had sent in and why it had not been delivered, and as they had commenced burning the town he thought it best to inform him of it. The Federal officer said he had orders to only burn the hotel; that the Confederates threats would not influence him to put the fire out, but he would call his men off and if the citizens could put the fire out they might do so. As the fire had hardly got started the citizens did not find it difficult to stop it. The Federals returned to the boat and we were told they would not disturb the town any more until the matter had been reported to the general in command at Natchez. He, I suppose, decided not to take any action, for we were not molested again. The reason they intended burning the hotel was on account of the sailor who escaped capture having run into the hotel and asked for protection which was refused him.

We afterwards heard that when the captured captain was exchanged he was courtmartialed and dismissed from service for endangering himself and men to capture. As to the truthfulness of his courtmartial, etc., I cannot vouch. Sometime in the future I will write for publication in the Chronicle an account of my capture during the war, as you have often requested me to do.

Remember me kindly to my Jefferson County friends, and with many good wishes for yourself, I remain, Your friend and comrade,

ELIJAH CONKLIN

Elijah Conklin was born in Grand Gulf, Mississippi, in 1847, and shortly after the incident at Rodney which he so wonderfully described in his

Postwar Photograph of Elijah Conklin - Confederate Veteran Magazine, Volume XIX, Page 492

Postwar Photograph of Elijah Conklin – Confederate Veteran Magazine, Volume XIX, Page 492

letter, the teenager joined Wirt Adams’ Regiment of Mississippi Cavalry. His service record is woefully incomplete, but fortunately in later life Conklin filled out a veteran’s questionnaire for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. In it he stated that he enlisted in the army at Jefferson County, Mississippi, on September 1, 1864. Conklin wrote in his account:

I Elijah Conklin, when 16 years old, served during the siege of Vicksburg campaign as an independent volunteer in Co. K, Wirt Adams Cavl. Regiment, and participated at that time in Cavalry skirmishes, and in Battle of Jackson, Miss., and was a picket on the left wing of the Confederate army at the battle of Raymond, Miss. When 17 years old I enlisted for the war in Co. A, Wood’s Regt., Adams Brigade Cavalry, and served until the end of the war, and surrendered under Genl. Forrest, at Gainesville, Ala., in May 1865. I was captured by Elliott’s Marine Brigade, U.S. Cavalry, and held as a prisoner of war for a few days on boats on Mississippi River. During the winter of 1864 & 1865, I was detailed from my regiment to do service as a headquarters courier for General Frank Gardner, with headquarters at Jackson, Miss.

- Veteran’s Questionnaire of Elijah Conklin, Series 390, Box 16598, Mississippi Department of Archives & History

In 1873 Elijah Conklin moved to Omaha, Nebraska, to join his older brother William, who had found employment there as a bookkeeper. Elijah worked for over a decade as a Pullman Conductor on the Union Pacific Railroad, and later became a successful traveling salesman. Although he lived far from the state of his birth, Conklin never forgot his home, or the war he had fought in as a teenager. He was a member of the J.J. Whitney Camp, United Confederate Veterans, in Fayette, Mississippi. When he died in 1911 it was written that “He was borne to his last resting place in a casket of Confederate gray upon which were entwined Confederate and American flags. He wore the highly prized cross of honor, and his pallbearers were old veterans of both the Confederate and Union armies.” – Confederate Veteran Magazine, Volume XIX, Page 492.

 

 

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Help Save A Confederate Flag

At the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, on November 30, 1864, Brigadier General John Adams lost his life

Brigadier General John Adams

Brigadier General John Adams

while gallantly leading a brigade of Mississippians – the 6th 14th, 15th, 20th, 23rd, and 43rd Mississippi Infantry regiments.

I was recently sent the following press release by James Turner highlighting the work of a Tennessee Group called Save Our Flags, which is engaged in the worthy effort of conserving General Adams’ Brigade Flag. This unique flag stands as a testament to the courage under fire displayed by General Adams and the brave Mississippians he led. It needs to be restored, and I encourage anyone that can help to give to this worthy cause.
The Press Release is as follows:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: James Turner
931-325-9860
jturner@saveourflags.org
Save Our Flags
P.O. Box 782
Lebanon, TN 37088-0782
http://www.saveourflags.orgAdams flag press release  close-up
As the Battle of Franklin raged, Confederate General John Adams was felled
by numerous bullets as he rode his horse into the Federal works. Among his
effects that day was a unique brigade flag, and today the Save Our Flags
Initiative has announced they are sponsoring its conservation.Many historic items were donated to the Tennessee Historical Society after
the American Civil War, and among those is Adams’s headquarters flag,
which was donated in 1907 by the general’s widow. Currently maintained at
the Tennessee State Museum, this flag finds itself in dire need of
conservation. James Turner, chairman of the Save Our Flags Initiative,
says that this flag is different from any he’s ever seen, and he’s glad to
involve Save Our Flags in its conservation.  “The brigade flag of General
Adams has risen to the top of the endangered list at the State Museum,”
says Turner, “and with the 150th anniversary of the battle upcoming, we’re
optimistic that this project will grab the attention of the public.
Confederate originals such as this flag are rare, and we’re excited to
help with a flag that went into the melee that was Franklin.”

Dr. Michael Bradley of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission
added, “In this past year I’ve watched the Save Our Flags people lead the
way for the conservation of the battle flag of the 14th Tennessee
Infantry, the famous kepi of General Cleburne, and the Sam Davis overcoat.
While other organizations are asking for money, it’s refreshing to see
these folks volunteering to raise it.”

The Save Our Flags Initiative has raised and donated tens of thousands of
dollars to help conserve items preserved by the Tennessee Historical
Society and Tennessee State Museum. “We care about these tangible
heirlooms from our ancestors,” said Michael Beck, commander of the
Tennessee Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, “and we intend to do
everything we can to be sure they remain intact for future generations.”

Meanwhile, the group is asking the public to let them know if they have
any particular information on this flag, or its maker. “Records show that
it was made by an unidentified Mississippi woman in 1863,” says Battle of
Franklin historian David Fraley, “but we know little beyond that, and
would like to hear from anyone with more details. Because we know that
brigade flags were carried forward at this particular battle, an educated
guess would be that this flag was unfurled in the midst of the fighting.”

The estimated cost of the flag’s conservation is $6,500, and the Save Our
Flags Initiative typically relies on small donations to conserve these
items. “People often say that they’d like to be involved in things like
this,” said Turner, “and because every penny donated goes toward
conservation, even a ten dollar donation makes a big difference.”

The Save Our Flags Initiative is an outreach of the Tennessee Division,
Sons of Confederate Veterans, and its sole purpose is to help conserve
endangered flags and textiles from the War Between the States. Founded in
1896, the Sons of Confederate Veterans is a genealogical, non-profit
organization of over 30,000 descendants of Confederate soldiers.

###

If you’d like more information on this topic, or to schedule an interview
with James Turner, please call James Turner at 931-325-9860 or by emailing

Show message history

Further details are also available at  http://www.saveourflags.org or at Facebook
at http://www.facebook.com/saveourflags.

Map of the Battle of Franklin - www.civilwartrust.org

Map of the Battle of Franklin – http://www.civilwartrust.org

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A Refusal to Serve Against Liberty: Isaac N. Brown Quits the U.S. Navy

In 1860, Isaac Newton Brown was a respected lieutenant in the United States Navy with over 26 years of honorable service. He was so highly thought of by his superiors that he was selected in May 1860 to serve as executive officer on the U.S.S. Niagara, which was given the plum assignment of returning a group of Japanese diplomats to their homeland. The trip to Japan and then back to the United States took an entire year, and when the Niagara sailed into Boston Harbor in the spring of 1861, she returned to a homeland divided by Civil War.

Isaac Newton Brown had to choose sides, a prospect that must have been daunting to a man that had spent his entire adult life serving in the United States navy. He was, however, a native Southerner, having been born in Kentucky, and since the 1840′s he had lived with his wife and children, when not at sea, on a plantation in Coahoma County, Mississippi.

Brown chose to go with his adopted state, and tendered his resignation as an officer in the United States navy. He wrote of this decision later, “I returned a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy from service abroad after the commencement of the late unhappy troubles. My family home had been in the state of Miss. for more than a quarter of a century previous to that time, and my wife and children were then resident there.” - Confederate Applications for Presidential Pardons, 1865-1867, application of Isaac N. Brown. Accessed via Ancestry.com.

 

1857 Illustration of the U.S.S. Niagara - U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

1857 Illustration of the U.S.S. Niagara – U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

 

Word of Brown’s resignation from the navy spread quickly throughout Boston, and the news stirred up a hornet’s nest of anger toward the former lieutenant. In a letter written to Mississippi Governor John J. Pettus, Brown described what happened when he stepped off the Niagara in Boston harbor:

Confidential
Louisville, Ky May 3rd, 1861
Ex. J.J. Pettus, Gov., &c
Dear Sir
Though unknown to you personally I venture in the exigency of the moment to write what follows – I have just gotten away from Boston

Illustration of Isaac Newton Brown - U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph

Illustration of Isaac Newton Brown – U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph

where I was detained for several days with I presume the intent to be turned over as a prisoner of war. My resignation was immediate upon my arrival in the Niagara from Japan, and as it was made in the usual way its acceptance by the captain of the Niagara should have relieved me from all further dependence upon govt. orders.
So much for myself – premising merely that I was on my arrival at Boston 1st Lt. of the Niagara turned from that position ashore & arrested by the Gov. of Mass. – for treason, my crime being a refusal to serve against liberty – law, the rights of man – in a word my country, wife and children. However I am now here on my way home, and will be free to take my own course as soon as I can hear of my dismissal from the Navy.
While at Boston I was asked very significantly by a friend of the South if I lived near Yazoo City. This question was in connection with the subject of John Brown (Son of the old traitor hung in Virginia) whom my interlocutor termed a Hell Hound, and said that he was loose somewhere, & he feared would soon be heard of. I mention this for what it is worth possibly it might be well to have unusual vigilance directed towards the locality named.
I escaped through Vermont and Canada, Ohio & Indiana. Every where North and West the feeling is terribly hostile to the South, and the least violent demand from us total submission and disarming. Such seems to be the popular sentiment. I told those to whom I could talk that they would have submission from the South when the male race ceased to live there.
The time I think has come for the battle of human liberty to begin, for it seems to have been a mistake about it having been fought in America. I am fatigued with travel & hastening on home to Coahoma Miss. (Helena Ark. Is my P.O.), and I pray you pardon this hurried letter.
In great haste, very truly yours,
I.N. Brown
Late Lieut. U.S.N.

Original letter is in the John J. Pettus Correspondence, Series 757, Box 932, Folder 1, Mississippi Department of Archives & History

I did some looking, and found the following account of the arrest of Isaac Newton Brown in the Charleston Courier, May 7, 1861:

Arrest of Navy Officers in Boston – We find the following in the Boston Courier, of the 27th ult.: Considerable excitement was created on State street yesterday morning by the statement that the First Lieutenant of the Niagara, Isaac N. Brown, had resigned his commission and had purchased a ticket for Louisville, Ky. It was also said that he had avowed his determination to fight for the flag which he should find floating over his plantation. Mr. Wm. C. Dunham heard the above remark, and at his instance Mr. W.L. Burt made a complaint before Mr. C.L. Woodbury, United States District Attorney, that Lieutenant Brown had signified his intention of returning to the South, and also that he had given utterance to seditious language. After hearing the evidence, the Attorney decided that it was not strong enough to authorize him to place Brown under arrest, and referred the complaints to Gov. Andrew, as Commander-in-Chief of the State. He advised Mr. Burt to apply to Gov. Andrew, who at once authorized his arrest. He was then arrested by the Police, and the Mayor informed Mr. Dunham in the following note:

MAYOR’S OFFICE, CITY HALL, Boston, April 25, 1861.

Mr. W.C. Dunham – Sir: – Lieut. I.N. Brown, late of the Niagara, is in the custody of the police of this city, and will so remain until released by the Governor or other competent authority.

J.M. WIGHTMAN, Mayor.

At 2 o’clock, the following order was received from the Navy Yard by Lieut. Brown, who was in custody at the City Hall:

U.S. Frigate Niagara, Boston Harbor, April 25, 1861

Sir: – You are hereby detached from this ship, and will report to Captain William L. Hudson, Commandant of the Navy Yard, Charlestown. I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,

WM. W. MCKEAN, Captain, To Lieut. Isaac N. Brown, U.S. Navy

The Mayor accompanied the Lieutenant to the Navy Yard, and he consented to take the oath to support the Constitution of the United States; and was willing to take an oath not to fight during the war, if released from the service on his parole of honor; but he felt that he could not take the oath to obey any future orders which might be given him, as under the present circumstances of the country the oath might require him to attack and destroy the residence of his wife and children.

The crowd who were in pursuit of Lieutenant Brown, broke open some boxes belonging to him at the depot. They contained only Japan curiosities &c., and were not further disturbed.

As Brown made his way home, Southern newspapers heralded his return. The following article was published by the Memphis Appeal on May 5, 1861, and reprinted by the Macon Telegraph on May 11:

LIEUT. ISAAC N. BROWN

We were happy to meet Lieut. I.N. Brown, late of the United States Navy, and late prisoner of the authorities of Boston, on our streets yesterday, en route to his home in Mississippi. From the accounts we have already published, it will be remembered that Lieut. Brown was in command of the Niagara in the laying of the Atlantic cable. After this service, his ship was detailed to take the Japanese embassy to their far distant home, and on his return to Boston he, among others, was arrested for misprision of treason for refusing to take the new oath of allegiance prescribed by the Lincoln Government. He, however, was not detained as prisoner more than some two hours. By the indisposition of the Mayor of Boston longer to detain him, he was permitted to make his escape through Boston, from whence he paid his fare from station to station until he reached Canada. Being then in a free country, he bought a through ticket to Louisville, from whence he came to this city by rail. He left yesterday evening on the steamer Victoria for his home in Coahoma County, Mississippi, and will probably today be received at his own fireside by the joyous congratulations of wife, children and friends.

Lieut. Brown speaks in high terms of the Mayor and other officials, as well as of many citizens of Boston in rescuing him from the mobocratic spirit that now holds sway throughout the North. He met with many kindly greetings from private citizens, who assured him that there were those yet left in Boston who did not approve of such a spirit, although they might be compelled to keep their peace.

We congratulate Mr. Brown on his release and escape, and indulge the hope that the time may not be far distant when we shall see him a Commodore, commanding not only a single, but a fleet of ships, in the cause of the Confederate States of America.

Isaac Newton Brown’s story was just beginning, as much was to be heard of him during the war. I plan to write of his further exploits in a future blog posting.

 

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Far Away From the Land of Our Childhood: A Tale of Two Brothers at War

The Civil War is often described as a conflict where “brother fought against brother,” and while that is certainly true, it was much more common for brother to fight alongside brother. Confederate regiments were made up of companies filled with relatives – brothers, fathers, uncles, and cousins. It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that the typical Mississippi regiment was one large extended family, bound together by the strongest ties of kinship and community. I recently found a letter in the correspondence of Governor John J. Pettus written by Theophilus P. Green  of Copiah County, which perfectly illustrates the importance that Mississippians placed on serving alongside their kin in the military.

Born on October 23, 1843, Theophilus grew up in a household that placed great importance on religion; his father, John, was a church deacon, and his older brother, William, was a Baptist minister. The young man heard the call from God while still a teenager, and in 1860 he was licensed to preach by the White Oak Baptist Church in Copiah County. That same year Theophilus decided to further his education and became a student at Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi. After one year in college, Theophilus moved to Fort Adams, in Wilkinson County, Mississippi, to live with his brother William, who was pastor of the local Baptist Church. He made the most of his time in Fort Adams, and it was said that he “devoted himself to close study and constant preaching, his youthful appearance, self-possession and remarkably impressive delivery soon made him a very popular preacher.”

When the war started in 1861, Theophilus heard a new call, and felt obligated to help defend his state. His desire to join the army had to be

Post-Civil War Photograph of Theophilus Green - Findagrave.com

Post-Civil War Photograph of Theophilus Green – Findagrave.com

heightened by the fact that his older brother, John Jasper Green, joined the “Mississippi College Rifles,” Company E, 18th Mississippi Infantry, in May 1861. When Theophilus wrote the following letter to Governor Pettus, the Mississippi College Rifles were already on duty in Virginia, and he made it clear just how much he wanted to join them:

Utica Miss. Aug. 12th, 1861

Governor J. J. Pettus

Honored and Esteemed Sir

I wish to know if there is any chance for me to obtain a passport from you to go from here to the Miss. College Rifles in Virginia. I wrote to my bro. who is in that company to know if Captain Welborn would receive me into his company. I received an answer from my bro. J. J. Green not long since stating that Captain Welborn would receive me at anytime.

In order that you may see what he writes I will send you the letter. When I wrote to him I thought something about going into a company at home which he advises me to do. But the company which was trying to be raised when I wrote to him remains as it then did; and I fear will continue to remain in the same state: unfinished. I know of no other company in contemplation in this part of the county to which I might unite myself. My bro. told me to write to him again and let him know more about it. But it will take so long to receive and answer from him I thought I would write to you and see if you would not be willing to give me a paper to carry me there.

Most all my relatives who have gone to fight are in the above named company. I know most all of that Company and know them to be good sturdy boys. The most of them were my class mates and school mates while I went to school in Clinton. I have many reasons why I wish that Company but I will refrain from giving any more hoping it will meet your approbation to give me a passport to said Company. If you are willing to grant me said document please write soon.

Direct yours to Utica Miss.

I remain yours truly

Theophilus Green Jr.

P.S. The young ladies of this vicinity are doing an active part for the support of the war; or rather to see that none of the volunteers from this vicinity suffer for clothes. They assemble once a week to attend to their important business. They also devote every moment almost they can to sewing, knitting, &c.

Yours

Theophilus Green Jr.

Endorsement by Pettus on the back of the letter: Ansd. Sept. 5th/61, Apply to qr.master & ticket will be granted.

To emphasize to the governor how much he wanted to join the Mississippi College Rifles, Theophilus enclosed a letter written by his brother John in Virginia:

Manassas Junction, July 10th, 1861

Mr. Theophilus Green:

My younger brother, your note of the 1st ult., was handed me last evening by Mr. Farmer. I was truly gratified to hear from you, and that you are getting along as well as usual. I was sorry however you did not give me more of the news. I think you all have been too delinquent in writing to me. I had not heard directly from you but once since I left.

You wished to know if there was any chance for you to join our company. I had a chat with Captain Welborn about it this morning. He said as you were my brother, and a college boy he would receive you at any time; notwithstanding he had rejected many others. But it will cost you about 40# to get here; unless you have a paper showing that you were a member of our company. If you decide to come you will have to write to me again definitely about it – stating that it is your wish to join our company, and I will try to arrange it so it will not cost you anything to get here.

But my advice to you is Offie, if you can join a company at home to do so in preference to ours. Although I would like to have you with me, you would have a very hard time here for a while – until you would be thoroughly drilled. I do not want you to leave pa and ma as long as it can be avoided; but I think you will have to go and leave our home to drive the invader from the soil of Va. I think we will have some very very hard fighting to do soon.

When I volunteered I thought we would have it to do, and I am thinking more that way now. But dear bro. though we may be called to wade through blood for our rights; freedom; and God’s holy truth; we should willingly do so. Many of us in a short time no doubt will fall on the battle field far away from the land of our childhood and happy days; but be assured we feel calm on the subject, for we feel that we have Him with us who sticketh closer than a brother.

Offie, if you volunteer do not think of throwing away your bible; but study and do all the good you can. I am well pleased with the course I have taken by joining this company. I have many opportunities of spending my time ideally. Give my love to all and write soon,

Your bro.

Jasper

Theophilus did join the Mississippi College Rifles; his service record indicates that he enlisted in the company in March 1862. As fate would have it, he was seriously wounded less than three months later during the Seven Days Battles. He was on medical leave until early in the next year, not appearing on the regimental muster roll until January-February 1863. Theophilus was captured at Second Fredericksburg, May 3, 1863, but was exchanged shortly thereafter. Promoted to corporal on August 1, 1864, he was captured for the second time at the Battle of Berryville, Virginia, September 3, 1864. Sent to Camp Chase prisoner of war camp, he remained a prisoner until the end of the war. Theophilus signed the Oath of Allegiance to the United States on June 11, 1865, and was released to return home to Mississippi.

Theophilus had made the long hard journey to Virginia to join his brother John; ironically the two spent only a very short time together. John

Photograph of John Jasper Green, used with his obituary in Confederate Veteran Magazine.

Photograph of John Jasper Green, used with his obituary in Confederate Veteran Magazine.

must have shown leadership potential, for he was promoted to 3rd lieutenant on December 20, 1861, but before he had much of a chance to make an impression as an officer, his health took a turn for the worse. In early 1862 he was struck by a disease that was diagnosed as “intermittent fever.” He was hospitalized in February and again in April with this malady, and after being released for the second time he submitted his letter of resignation to the Confederate Adjutant & Inspector General. In this letter he wrote: I respectfully tender my resignation in the Provisional Army. Ill health causes me to take this step – as set forth in the enclosed Surgeon’s Certificate.” - Compiled Service Record of John J. Green, 18th Mississippi Infantry

Either John J. Green was not as sick as he was letting on, or he could not bear to be out of uniform for long, as he enlisted again in the spring of 1862, as a 2nd lieutenant in Company F, 38th Mississippi Infantry. With the 38th he fought in the battles of Iuka and Corinth, and in early 1863 John was promoted to captain of his company. The 38th was at Vicksburg during the siege, and the young lieutenant survived 47 days of near-constant artillery bombardment, musket fire, and exposure to the harsh Mississippi summer. After the surrender of Vicksburg, Green was a paroled prisoner for a short time, but soon he and his regiment were declared exchanged and sent back to fight. Designated the 38th Mississippi Mounted Infantry in 1864, John J. Green saw his most desperate battle on July 4 of that year. At the Battle of Harrisburg, Mississippi, the Confederates attacked a strongly positioned Union force, and the 38th was shot to pieces as it advanced close to the enemy line. In the desperate fighting, the 38th suffered a loss of 20 men killed, 51 wounded, and 3 missing; every company commander was killed or wounded except for one – John Jasper Green.

After the war, Theophilus went back to the job he loved so well; preaching the word of God. He was joined in the pulpit by his brother John, who joined the family business and became a well respected preacher in his own right. Ironically, Theophilus died in the pulpit; on April 22, 1883, he was killed when his church at Beauregard, Mississippi, was struck by a tornado. In his obituary it was said of him, “We feel that a good man has gone from among us; a bright star has set; and a shining light gone out from view; and as we loved him while living, so shall we cherish him when dead.”The Weekly Copiahan, May 19, 1883

John Jasper Green outlived his brother by many years, dying on December 9, 1899, of bronchitis. His obituary was published in Confederate Veteran Magazine, and it said of him, “He was no braver as a soldier and an officer in battle than at all times devout and zealous as a Christian.”

 

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