The Bonnie Blue Flag

On January 9, 1861, the Mississippi secession convention voted to leave the Union, making it the second southern state to secede. The dramatic scene at Mississippi’s capitol building was witnessed by hundreds of well-wishers, and included in the crowd was the nationally known entertainer Harry McCarthy, billed as “The Man of Many Parts.” What McCarthy witnessed at the secession convention inspired him to write one of the great songs of the Civil War, a ballad that would be sung by thousands of Southern voices during the course of the conflict; “The Bonnie Blue Flag.”

Old Capitol
Mississippi’s capitol building where the 1861 Secession Convention Voted to Leave the Union (MDAH)

John Logan Power was a printer living in Jackson in 1861, and he was at the state house reporting on the meeting for one of the local newspapers. Many years later he wrote an account of what he saw during the convention:

It so happened that I reported the proceedings of the convention for the Mississippian; was admitted, by special resolution, to the secret sessions, and my report was so full, and regarded as so accurate, that the convention ordered five hundred copies printed in pamphlet form…At this point, Mr. C.R. Dickson entered the hall, bearing a beautiful silk banner, with a single star in the center, which he handed to the President of the convention, (Hon. Wm. S. Barry, of Lowndes,) as a present from Mrs. H.H. Smythe, of Jackson. The President remarked that it was the first banner unfurled in the young Republic, when the members saluted it by rising – the vast audience uniting in a shout of applause.”

Power went on to explain how the song ‘The Bonnie Blue Flag’ came to be written:

I was a deeply interested spectator of all this, having a seat at the secretary’s desk, and in my ‘Recollections’ of the occasion, occurs this paragraph: ‘It may be interesting here to note that the popular war song, “The Bonny Blue Flag, That Bears a Single Star,’ was the product of this episode. Harry McCarthy, a comic actor, was then holding forth in the old theatre near Spengler’s corner, on Capitol Street. He wrote the song immediately after the scene at the Capitol, your speaker put it in type from his manuscript – the ink being scarcely dry on the paper – and that night it was sung, for the first time, by its author.’

(The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi, February 7, 1895)

The first time Harry McCarthy performed “The Bonnie Blue Flag,” he knew he had a hit on his hands by the audience reaction to his new tune. In 1879, a correspondent identified only as “C.E.M.” wrote an account of the first time that patriotic air was sung in front of a live audience:

During the last few days of the Convention, Harry McCarthy, supported by a young lady,

Harry McCarthy
Harry McCarthy and his wife Lottie Estelle on the cover of a published edition of his songs (www.battleofraymond.org)

who accompanied him in his original and selected songs, was giving a variety of entertainments at Spengler’s Hall, in that city, consisting of songs, serious and comic, dancing, instrumental music, &c. On the afternoon of the 9th of January, Judge Wiley P. Harris, one of the soundest lawyers living, met the gifted young Irishman on the street, and remarked: ‘Mac, the Convention will adopt the ordinance of secession sometime this afternoon, and you will have a large audience this evening. Permit me to offer a suggestion: Why can you not compose a song pertinent to the occasion? Give us a patriotic song – one which shall, perhaps, be universally received as a national air – something soul-stirring and patriotic, that may become as immortal as the ordinance itself.’ Young McCarthy caught the idea at once, retired to his room, and in three or four hours was singing, for the first time in public, the ‘Bonnie Blue Flag,’ to a house crowded to its utmost capacity. And not once, or twice, or thrice only, did he sing the new song that night; but he was encored again and again, twelve or fifteen times at least, until he became hoarse from singing and the audience almost exhausted from applauding. The scene was one which, literally, must have been seen to have been appreciated…From that hour there was nothing but the Bonnie Blue Flag in Southern air. As the visitors to Jackson returned home – north, east, south and west – they spread it everywhere. (The Comet, Jackson, Mississippi, December 20, 1879)

After leaving Jackson, Harry McCarthy made his way to New Orleans, where he met with the firm of A.E. Blackmar and Brother, one of the largest music publishing houses in the south. Blackmar bought the rights to “The Bonnie Blue Flag” for $500 and a piano, and soon was selling beautifully decorated sheet music of the tune. (“Musicman of the Confederacy,” by Lawrence Abel. Civil War Times, Volume XLIII, Number 3, page 50, August 2004)

Bonnie Blue Flag 2
Cover of the sheet music to “The Bonnie Blue Flag,” Published by A.E. Blackmar & Brother of New Orleans (Library of Congress)

The lyrics of “The Bonnie Blue Flag” are as follows:

We are a band of brothers, and native to the soil,

Fighting for the property We gain’d by honest toil;

And when our rights were threaten’d, The cry rose near and far, 

Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag, that bears a Single Star!

Hurrah! Hurrah! for Southern Rights Hurrah!

Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag, that bears a Single Star!

As long as the Union was faithful to her trust,

Like friends and like brothers, kind were we and just; 

But now, when Northern treachery attempts our rights to mar,

We hoist on high the Bonnie Blue Flag, that bears a Single Star.

Hurrah! Hurrah! for Southern Rights Hurrah!

Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag, that bears a Single Star!

First, gallant South Carolina nobly made the stand;

Then came Alabama, who took her by the hand;

Next, quickly Mississippi, Georgia and Florida,

All rais’d on high the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a Single Star.

Chorus: Hurrah!

Ye men of valor, gather round the Banner of the Right,

Texas and fair Louisiana join us in the fight;

Davis, our loved President, and Stephens, Statesman rare,

Now rally round the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a Single Star.

Chorus: Hurrah!

And here’s to brave Virginia! the old Dominion State

With the young Confederacy at length has link’d her fate;

Impell’d by her example, now other States prepare

To hoist on high the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a Single Star.

Chorus: Hurrah!

 Then here’s to our Confederacy, strong we are and brave,

Like patriots of old, we’ll fight our heritage to save;

And rather than submit to shame, to die we would prefer,

So cheer for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears the Single Star.

Chorus: Hurrah!

Then cheer, boys, cheer, raise the joyous shout,

For Arkansas and North Carolina now have both gone out;

And let another rousing cheer for Tennessee be given – 

The Single Star of the Bonnie Blue Flag has grown to be Eleven.

Chorus:

Hurrah! Hurrah! for Southern Rights; hurrah!

Hurrah! for the Bonnie Blue Flag has gain’d th’ Eleventh Star!

(Macarthy, Harry. TheBonnie blue flag. Oliver Ditson & Co., Boston, 1890. Notated Music. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200002434/>.)

Although he wrote many other patriotic tunes during the Civil War, “The Bonnie Blue Flag” was his biggest hit, and it is the one that he is remembered for today. The account of how Harry McCarthy came to write the song is well known, and has been published many times over the years; however, I believe there is a little more to the story that has never been told. I believe Harry McCarthy’s inspiration for “The Bonnie Blue Flag” was a song he had either heard or read about in Vicksburg Mississippi several weeks before the state secession convention met.

In early December 1860, Vicksburg’s citizens were swept up in the furor following the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency of the United States. Secession and war were the topics on everyone’s lips, and Vicksburg’s young men, like those all across the south, were preparing for a fight. The city had a number of militia units, including one named the Vicksburg Sharpshooters. On May 9, 1861, a local newspaper noted:

The Citizen Office has made an humble contribution to the brave Vicksburg Sharpshooters, by presenting each member with a beautiful blue badge, bearing the code [coat] of arms of the State of Mississippi, and the mottoes, ‘Southern Rights,’ ‘For this we Fight.’

 

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The Daily Evening Citizen used this image on a badge given to members of the Vicksburg Sharphooters, (The Daily Evening Citizen, May 6, 1861.

It was a good time to be a performer in Vicksburg, as the excitement over the current political situation made the locals eager to see patriotic entertainments. On December 11, 1860, Harry McCarthy gave his first performance in Vicksburg, and it was very well received. The next day one local citizen that attended the performance gave McCarthy and his group a very strong endorsement:

I was present at McCarthy’s Entertainment last evening, and can freely say that I have seldom, if ever, been more amused and attracted. His personations are to the life, in whatever character he represents. Dutch, Irish, Yankee or negro, his songs are inimitable, and his style, in all his efforts, impressive and unique; he stands alone and wholly unrivalled in his line…This is truly Southern entertainment, Mr. McCarthy being a citizen of Arkansas, and the Legislature of that state has given him a free license to exhibit anywhere within her borders and he comes to us, unlike most men in his line, well and highly recommended. Advise all your readers to go and hear McCarthy if they would enjoy an hour devoted to mirth and good feeling.

C.H.

 

(Daily Evening Citizen, December 12, 1860)

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Advertisement for Harry McCarthy’s Performance at Vicksburg (The Daily Evening Citizen, December 11, 1860)

Harry McCarthy performed in Vicksburg until December 13, having his last concert that night. The newspaper article about the performance noted:

Last night this gentleman performed to a small, but highly respectable audience. His Lament of the Irish Emigrant, was the best we ever heard, and we must say if Harry ever makes his mark, (which we consider he has done,) it will be with that song. Miss Fanny Pierson, who assisted him, did it well. Harry informs us that he will pay us another visit in a short time; his engagements are due at other places and he must fulfill them. When he returns let him have a rousing house.

(Daily Evening Citizen, December 14, 1860)

Vicksburg’s citizens loved a good show, but one thing they most decidedly did not like performers that held sympathies for the North. On December 14 the Evening Citizen noted that such a group was in the city:

SHOWS The hard times are too tight upon our citizens now to allow them to spend much money in attending the performances of traveling minstrels. Even when a well known and popular troupe comes along this way, it is a hard matter to get a good house in these pinching times. But when a company that borrows part of its name from a Northern city, and whose political sympathies are suspected by many as being of too equivocal a character to receive much encouragement from a Southern community comes along, we think it is no more than justice for our citizens to look around and see who they are dealing with before they extend the hand of welcome to the company which intends to open tonight.

(Daily Evening Citizen, December 14, 1860)

The newspaper did not give the name of the group with the suspect sympathies, but four days later they did note that the Metropolitan Troupe of Minstrels played, and that “we have never seen a company play to a better house; the only drawback was that there were no people in it.” This may very well have been the group eluded to in the paper on December 14.

(Daily Evening Citizen, December 18, 1860)

Into the politically charged atmosphere of Vicksburg came another group, one with a national reputation; the Kneass Family, head by Nelson Kneass. Born in Philadelphia in 1823, Nelson Kneass made his first stage performance at the age of five. By 1860 he was touring the country with his wife and children who performed with him. Nelson Kneass was best known for his song “Ben Bolt,” first performed in 1848, which became a major hit in the United States and Europe.

(https://sites.google.com/site/pittsburghmusichistory/pittsburgh-music-story/teachers-and-schools/nelson-kneass)

The Kneass Family was known to perform patriotic Southern songs, and the Evening Citizen highly recommended the show to their readers:

It is with pleasure that we announce to our readers a real musical and artistical concert by

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Advertisement for the Kneass Family (The Daily Evening Citizen, December 19, 1860)

the talented Kneass Family, each one of whom has a thorough musical education – no clap trap such as bones or tamborines, are resorted to attract the public: pure music from the soul, is the attraction. Mr. Nelson Kneass, universally known in this country, as a composer and author of many beautiful songs and ballads, among which is the famed Ben Bolt, (that has run through twenty-seven editions), the Veteran, Miller Song, Aunty Brown, Deep in a Shady Dell, Only See my Jenny Spinning, and many others; also Mrs. N. Kneass, who has a superior Mezzo Soprano voice, and is unsurpassed in such songs as the Star Spangled Banner, Marsellaies Hymn, France I Adore Thee, &c. Then there is the singing bird of the South, Miss Annie, of sweet sixteen, who is the centre of all attractions, in the melodius soprano voice; and lastly though not least is Master Charles with his stoical face, which in anything comic is funny indeed. We would here take occasion to inform the public, that we are to have some truly soul stirring patriotic Southern songs and ballads, composed by this talented family (and which has created great sensation everywhere they have been sung.) During their stay here which along should be enough to fill the Apollo Hall to overflowing, we predict that some of those songs will be the national songs of the Southern Republic of Columbia. We say to one and all go hear them.

(Daily Evening Citizen, December 18, 1860)

The Kneass Family had their first show in Vicksburg on December 19, 1860, and from the account of the show, it was very well received:

The celebrated Kneass Family commenced a series of entertainments last night at the above place, and the brilliant success which they achieved will insure them crowded houses for the remaining nights they stay. We cannot particularize upon their ‘bill of fare’ last night, but to our mind, there was more music in their song, ‘We Come from the Hills,’ than in any other they produced. The ‘Female Auctioneer,’ by Miss Annie, and the “Southern RIghts Song,’ by Mrs. Kneass, wee both most rapturously encored while the ‘Batchelor’s Advertisment,’ and ‘Yankee Doodle Played Out,’ kept the house in a perfect uproar. As this is emphatically a ‘Southern Institution’ of great talent, we sincerely hope that they may be well patronized. We quote a stanza from the song of ‘Don the Blue Badge,’ composed and sung by Mrs. Kneass:

Tis time to secede – our cause it is right,

In urging us on to keep foes from our shore,

We’ll stop not to think, now danger’s in sight.

But fight as our forefathers have fought before.

And God in his greatness, in whom we trust,

With terror will strike our foes to the dust,

CHORUS:

Then don the blue badge, our foes we’ll defy,

We’ll fight for our rights or for them we’ll die.

(The Evening Citizen, December 20, 1860)

It is the last song, “Don the Blue Badge,” which I believe was the inspiration for the “Bonnie Blue Flag.” Unfortunately the Evening Post did not print the complete lyrics to the song, and despite a diligent search, I have not been able to find them. However, on December 29, 1860, the “Evening Citizen” published an article entitled “The Conflict,” which stated the necessity for immediate Southern secession to protect the rights of the slave holding states.

The reason that “The Conflict” is of interest is because the author quoted from “Don the Blue Badge” in his article. In one part he says the following:

When everything that is dear on earth to a true-hearted Southerner is threatened to be taken away, he must be utterly demoralized, and have totally lost his caste, if he does not raise his voice and his hands in defence of his rights. And yet a submission on the part of the South could be regarded in no other light than as an act of contemptible cowardice. The question has resolved itself into a very simple one; it is to submit to wrong and opppression, or fight for our rights. 

So long as the Union kept firm to her trust, like brothers, like friends, we were kind, we were just; But not treachery throws its dark pall o’er our sight, each man for himself, and God speed the right, Heed not fanatics, we’re strong and we’re brave, like patriots we’ll fight our birth-place to save.’

(The Evening Citizen, December 29, 1860)

This part of ‘Don the Blue Badge’ has stanzas very similar to ‘The Bonnie Blue Flag,’ and ‘The Conflict‘ included more lines from the song in its final paragraph:

South Carolina has already taken her departure, and the 20th day of December 1860, will, for all time to come, be remembered as the day on which was inaugurated the first step to a Southern Confederacy. Mississippi and Alabama will go out simultaneously on or about the 8th of January 1861. ‘Tis time to secede – our cause it is right, in urging us on to keep the foes from our shore, we’ll stop not to think, now danger’s in sight, but fight as our forefathers have fought before, and God in his greatness, in whom we trust, with terror will strike our foes to the dust. Then don the blue badge, our foes we’ll defy we’ll fight for our rights or for them we’ll die.

(The Evening Citizen, December 29, 1860)

The Kneass Family performed in Vicksburg through December 22, 1860, and the day before their final performance the newspaper wrote of the troupe:

Last night there was a good attendance at the above place to witness the excellent entertainment of the Kneass Family. We were sorry to see so few ladies present, as we are certain they would enjoy themselves hugely in listening to the ‘singing bird of the South.’ We can heartily recommend this family to the patronage of our citizens, not only because they possess talent of a high order, but also because of their truly Southern sentiment, and as we can vouch for their being ‘sound on the goose,’ we hope to see them rewarded as their merits deserve.’

(The Evening Citizen, December 21, 1860)

After the Kneass Family ended their stay in Vicksburg, Harry McCarthy was about to being his second tour of the “Hill City.” His latest set of engagments started on December 27, and continued through January 1, 1861. It was during this time that some of the lyrics to “Don the Blue Badge” were published in the Evening Citizen.

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Advertisement for Harry McCarthy’s second set of engagements in Vicksburg (The Daily Evening Citizen, December 26, 1860)

On January 1, 1861, just eight days before his rendezvous with destiny at the Mississippi statehouse, Harry McCarthy gave his last performance in Vicksburg. The Vicksburg paper urged its readership to see the show:

HARRY MACARTHY – To-night Mr. Maccarthy will give the last of his inimitable entertainments at Apollo Hall. We hope to see a full house to give him a grand farewell bumper. He has given our citizens a heap of fun, and to-night he presents a bill far ahead of anything he has yet produced. We understand he intends visiting Jackson from here, and we would advise our Jackson friends to be on the lookout for a rich treat when Harry comes.

(Daily Evening Citizen, January 1, 1861)

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The Bonnie Blue Flag was so popular in Mississippi that it was incorporated into the design of the state flag in 1861. 

Given the sparse evidence available, its hard to say how much influence that ‘Don the Blue Badge‘ had on Harry McCarthy – I can’t even say to a certainty that he saw a performance by the Kneass Family or read any of the newspaper articles that contained stanzas from the song. What I have is simply circumstantial evidence; McCarthy performed at Apollo Hall, the same venue where the Kneass family played; he was in the Vicksburg area, if not Vicksburg itself, during their stay in the city, and copies of the Vicksburg newspaper would have been readily available. I hope in the future that additional evidence will come to light to offer more evidence on the creation of one of the most popular Southern songs of the Civil War – ‘The Bonnie Blue Flag.’

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“They Dared to go Where Duty Called:” Casualties of the 21st Mississippi Infantry at Gettysburg

In October 1886, The Clarion-Ledger published a letter written by Colonel W.D. Holder, former commander of the 17th Mississippi Infantry, to John S. McNeilly. who had served

William Dunbar Holder
William Dunbar Holder was colonel of the 17th Mississippi Infantry until a wound at Gettysburg ended his military service. (Findagrave.com)

as a private in the 21st Mississippi Infantry. Holder spoke in his letter about the battle of Gettysburg, in particular the part played by Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade, to which both the 17th Mississippi and 21st Mississippi belonged. Holder wrote with admiration about his old brigade saying:

Barksdale’s brigade, in line of battle on the day in question, stood thus: Extreme left, 13th Mississippi Regiment, Colonel Carter; 17th, Colonel Holder; 18th, Colonel Griffin; 21st, Colonel Humphreys. Colonel Griffin was wounded in the leg, Colonel Carter killed on the field, and Gen. Barksdale fell in the midst of his gallant old 13th Regiment. He always gravitated to this beloved regiment in every battle. I regret that I cannot name the color-bearer, who signalized himself at the ‘Trostle House.’ No color bearer of that gallant brigade, however, could be other than a hero. The prerequisites were ‘every inch a soldier,’ and equal to any emergency. They dared to go where duty called, and knew by the crucial test of many an ensanguined field, that their regiments would stand by them to the bitter end. (The Clarion-Ledger, October 6, 1886)

July 2018 is the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, and to mark the occasion I wanted to write about the 21st Mississippi’s participation in the battle, as it was their bloodiest fight of the entire war in terms of total casualties. The 21st Mississippi had 32 men killed and 106 wounded at Gettysburg, and I decided to really try to bring home the magnitude of this loss by listing every man in the regiment that was  killed, wounded or captured. In addition to listing each casualty, I will tell stories I have found about some of these men to help bring them to life and make them more than just a name on a casualty list.

21st Mississippi Infantry

Gettysburg Casualties

 

Field & Staff

Adjutant Robert G. Sims – No age listed, wounded in the left thigh July 2, 1863

 

Company A, “Volunteer Southrons”

(Organized in Vicksburg, Warren County)

Private William H. Barnett – Age 21, wounded July 2, 1863

Pvt. Henry F. Briley – Age 23, captured July 2, 1863

Sgt. John Marshall Collier – Age 27, wounded July 2, 1863

Volunteer Southrons

Sergeant John Marshall Collier survived his Gettysburg wound and returned to the 21st Mississippi, serving until nearly the very end; he was captured at Harper’s Farm, Virginia, on April 6, 1865. When he died at Vicksburg in 1898, his old wartime comrade, Roswell Valentine Booth, said of him, “In all the relations of life he was a most exemplary man, but that characteristic which seemed to me to most dominate his nature, was his deep sense of duty; an honest and earnest desire to truly perform all the obligations which devolved upon him, wherever he might be, or by whatsoever circumstances surrounded.” (The Vicksburg Herald, April 16, 1898)

Corp. Singleton C. Cooke – Age 24, wounded July 2, 1863

While recuperating from his Gettysburg wound, Singleton C. Cooke received a lieutenant’s commission and transferred to the Confederate Engineer Corps. He survived the war and became a successful businessman, working for the Illinois Central Railroad and the Whitney National Bank. Cooke died in New Orleans in 1911, and in his obituary it noted that “Two of his brothers, William and John, were killed at Gettysburg, where he too, was wounded.” I was not able to find any information on William, but I did identify John, and he was killed during the war, only not at Gettysburg. Sergeant John A. Cooke of Company H, 48th Mississippi Infantry, was “Killed on picket lines Oct. 27, 1864.” (Vicksburg Evening Post, September 20, 1911, and the Compiled Service Record of John A. Cooke, 48th Mississippi Infantry, accessed on Fold3.com)

Pvt. Vincent Corre – Age 28, wounded in the knee July 2, 1863

Lt. Harry H. Hayes – Age 34, wounded July 2, 1863

Pvt. John R. Hume – No age listed, wounded July 2, 1863

Sgt. John Lee – Age 26, wounded in the arm July 2, 1863

Pvt. Virginius A. McElroy – Age 30, captured July 1863

Pvt. Willis B. Oates – Age 39, wounded July 2, 1863

Sgt. Francis Fogg Weller – Age 23, captured  July 1863

Lt. Walter W. Wolcott – Age 33, killed July 2, 1863

Some of the men fighting in the 21st Mississippi at Gettysburg were Northern born, and literally had to break with their families when they decided to fight for the South. A good example was Lieutenant Walter W. Wolcott, who was born in Starkey, New York. I found the following passage about him in a history of Yates County, New York: “Walter Wolcott, Jr., the third son of Dr. Wolcott, was born in Starkey in 1827. He was educated at the common schools and at Starkey Seminary, and was afterwards a book-keeper in Rochester, N.Y., and St. Louis, Mo., and a merchant at Rodney and at Vicksburg, Miss. At the outbreak of war he enlisted in the rebel army, and held the rank of Lieutenant in the ‘Vicksburg Volunteer Southrons.’ In Longstreet’s terrible charge at Gettysburg he was slain. All accounts describe him as a brave man, leading his men with undaunted courage on that bloody field. He was remarkable as a mathematical student, and as an accomplished violin player.” I found this passage in the book The Military History of Yates County, New York, page 124.

 

Company C, “Stevens Rifles”

(Organized in Brookhaven, Lawrence County)

Pvt. John J. Carson – Age 24, captured July 4, 1863

Pvt. Elias B. Golmon – Age 19, wounded in the head July 2, 1863

Elias B. Golmon
Elias B. Golmon (Findagrave.com)

It was very common during the Civil War for kinfolk to fight side by side in the same regiment, and it certainly happened in the 21st Mississippi Infantry at Gettysburg. A good example is Private Elias B. Golmon and his brother, Corporal Henry Ithamer Golmon, who were both wounded in the fierce fighting at the Peach Orchard. The two brothers were lucky, they survived their wounds; they had two other brothers that were not as fortunate. John Harrison Golmon died of “Congestive Fever” in 1861 while serving in the 18th Mississippi Infantry, and Josiah Golman, a member of the 12th Mississippi Infantry, was killed in 1862 at the battle of Seven Pines. (Findagrave listings for Elias, Henry, John and Josiah Golmon, and their Compiled Service Records, accessed on Fold3.com)

Corp. Henry Ithamer Golmon – Age 20, wounded in the head July 2, 1863

Pvt. John W. Hollinsed – Age 37, wounded in the right foot, July 2, 1863

Sgt. Daniel Madden – Age 28, mortally wounded in the right side July 2, died July 5, 1863

Trostle Farm
Dead Horses from the 9th Massachusetts Battery in front of the Trostle Barn at Gettysburg (Library of Congress)

The 21st Mississippi Infantry was heavily engaged at the Trostle Farm at Gettysburg, capturing much of the 9th Massachusetts Battery there, but suffering heavy casualties in the process. One of those struck down was Sergeant Daniel Madden, who was mortally wounded and died on July 5. Sergeant Madden was buried in a common grave at the Trostle Farm, put in the same hole with another casualty, Sergeant Benjamin Knabke of the 18th Mississippi Infantry. On August 3, 1872, both Madden and Knabke were disinterred, and their bodies shipped to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond for burial in Southern soil. (Confederate Casualties at Gettysburg: A Comprehensive Record, by John W. Busey and Travis W. Busey, page 2050)

Pvt. William E. Northern – Age 34, captured July 2, 1863

Pvt. Anderson B. Sandifer – Age 20, wounded July 2, 1863

Capt. George W. Wall – Age 21, wounded in the arm July 1863

 

Company D, “Jeff Davis Guards”

(Organized in Woodville, Wilkinson County)

Pvt. John Abernathy – Age 25, killed July 2, 1863

Corp. Charles A. Anderson – Age 22, wounded and captured July 2, 1863

Pvt. John Andrew – Age 40, wounded and captured July 2, 1863

Pvt. H. Harrison Baker – Age 22, wounded in the arm July 2, 1863

Pvt. William H. Boyd – Age 23, killed July 2, 1863

Pvt. William Ratliffe Brandon – Age 29, wounded in the thigh and captured July 2, 1863

Pvt. J. Ford Brannan – Age 22, wounded in the thigh July 2, 1863; erysipelas set in and he died at Richmond, September 30, 1863

Pvt. Fred Brewster – No age listed, wounded in the knee and captured July 2, 1863, died on his wounds July 24, 1863

Pvt. Sumberlin C. Brown – Age 40, killed July 2, 1863

Corp. Amos B. Cawbitt, – Age 23, wounded July 2, 1863, died of his wounds July 3, 1863

Pvt. Henry P. Cobb – Age 22, died, date of death unknown, was in hands of enemy July 2, 1863

Corp. Henry E. Evans – Age 22, wounded in the leg and captured July 2, 1863

Lt. John Farmer – Age 19, wounded in the thigh July 2, 1863

Pvt. Lemuel Glass – Age 21, killed July 2, 1863

Some families lost multiple family members at Gettysburg; brothers Lemuel and William O. Glass of Wilkinson County were both killed on July 2. (Family of William and Rebecca Glass, listed on the 1850 U.S. Census for Point Coupee, Louisiana, page 38b. Accessed on Ancestry.com)

Pvt. William O. Glass – Age 26, killed July 2, 1863

Pvt. Harmon M. Joseph – Age 20, wounded in both thighs July 2, 1863

Pvt. Samuel D. Lanehart – Age 27, died, date of death unknown, was in hands of enemy, July 2, 1863

Pvt. James D. McDaniel – Age 33, wounded in the thigh and captured July 2, 1863

Pvt. Calvin S. Neal – Age 21, captured July 2, 1863

Sgt. Wilbur F. Phares – Age 23, wounded in the hand July 2, 1863

Pvt. William S. Phares – Age 23, wounded July 2, 1863

Adjutant Robert G. Sims – Age 24, wounded in the left thigh July 2, 1863

Pvt. Lewis T. Timon – No age listed, wounded and captured July 2, 1863; left arm amputated.

Pvt. S.N. Timon – No age listed, wounded July 2, 1863; left arm amputated.

Musician Benjamin White – Age 24, wounded in the shoulder and captured July 2, 1863

 

Company E, “Hurricane Rifles”

(Organized at Woodville, Wilkinson County)

Pvt. Edwin G. Baker – Age 32, wounded in the lungs and captured July 2, 1863; died of wounds July 14, 1863

Pvt. Ovid L. Bell – Age 20 – captured while on a foraging detail, July 1, 1863

Pvt. John Dagler – Age 42 – wounded in the right thigh July 2, 1863

Pvt. Robert M. Davis – No age listed, wounded in the left hand July 2, 1863

Pvt. Jacob W. Enlow – Age 27, wounded in the arm July 2, 1863

Pvt. Henry Ghelt – Age 22, wounded in the left thigh and shoulder, July 2, 1863

Pvt. Frank Ghen – Age 35, captured July 2, 1863, afterward took the oath of allegiance to the United States

Pvt. William Kercheville Gildart – Age 19, wounded in the foot July 2, 1863

Some of the men who were wounded at Gettysburg recovered from their wounds and led long and productive lives. William K. Gildart lived long enough to see another destructive conflict: the 1st World War. In 1917 the old veteran wrote a letter to former Mississippi Governor Edmond F. Noel, in which he criticized Mississippi Senator James K. Vardaman, who was an outspoken opponent of American entry into the war:

For four years I followed Lee in Virginia. You, Captain Noel, eagerly responded to your country’s call in ’98 and served under the younger Lee. In your regiment I had a son. Recently I have given to the army my youngest son, the stuff of my declining years. But I do it gladly….I take it that you will agree with the solemn conclusion to which I came some months ago, namely, that next to doing her share towards winning the war, Mississippi’s chief duty now confronting her is to defeat the junior senator for re-election. It must not be permitted to go out to the world at large that treason can flourish in Mississippi.” (The Daily Commonwealth, Greenwood, Mississippi, August 25, 1917)

Pvt. James Gordon – Age 24, captured at Gettysburg, July 1863, afterwards took the oath of allegiance to the United States

Pvt. John W. Hunter – Age 27, wounded in the arm July 2, 1863

Pvt. James Kinney – Age 42, wounded in action, July 2, 1863; bruised by shell and started for Virginia, got drunk and was captured

Pvt. James A. Lennox – Age 37, wounded at Gettysburg July 1863

Sgt. William F. Miller – Age 25, captured July 2, 1863

Pvt. Louis Plitt – Age 29, wounded in the hand and thighs July 2, 1863, furloughed to Mississippi and never returned to the regiment

Corp. William F. Roberts – Age 25, wounded in the leg July 2, 1863

Pvt. Jerry D. Rutlege – Age 27, wounded in the thigh July 2, 1863

Pvt. George F. Smith – Age 32, wounded in the left leg July 2, 1863

Captain Isaac Davis Stamps – Age 32, wounded in the bowels July 2, 1863, died July 3, 1863

Isaac Davis Stamps
Captain Isaac Davis Stamps (Findagrave.com)

One of the men killed in the 21st Mississippi was Isaac Davis Stamps, nephew of President Jefferson Davis and son-in-law of Colonel Benjamin Humphreys, commander of the regiment. His wife was Mary Humphreys Stamps, and she had made Isaac a promise that if he were killed, she would have his body brought back to Mississippi for burial in their family graveyard. Using her political connections in Richmond, she was able to have the body of her husband sent to the Confederate capitol under a flag of truce. From there, she loaded her husband’s body on a train and began the long journey to Mississippi. Near Montgomery, Alabama, the railroad track had been destroyed by Union Cavalry, so Mary hired a wagon and driver and drove her husband’s body back to Wilkinson County to fulfill her promise. Isaac Davis Stamps is buried in the Davis Family Cemetery at Rosemont Plantation in Wilkinson County. (https://womenofeverycomplexionandcomplexity.weebly.com/mary-humphreys-stamps-undefeated-rebel-with-an-educational-cause.html)

Sgt. John M. Stricker – Age 21, killed July 2, 1863

Pvt. James M. Watson – Age 25, captured July 2, 1863

 

Company F, “Tallahatchie Rifles”

(Organized at Charleston, Tallahatchie County)

Pvt. Henry S. Boisclair – Age 25, captured in Pennsylvania and escaped July 1863

Boisclair Gravestone
Grave of Henry S. Boisclair at Beauvoir (Findagrave.com)

Some of the men wounded at Gettysburg did receive some compensation after the war. Private Henry Shippey Boisclair was awarded a pension by the state of Mississippi in 1906, and some years later was admitted to the state veteran’s home at Beauvoir. Boisclair died at Beauvoir on March 3, 1909, and is buried in the cemetery there. (Series 1201, Confederate Pension Applications, accessed on the Mississippi Department of Archives and History website. Also the Findagrave.com listing for Henry S. Boisclair)

Corp. William J. Burgess – Age 26, killed July 2, 1863

Pvt. Stephen T. Dunlap – Age 25, wounded in the right hip and captured July 3, 1863

Pvt. Franklin Freil – Age 34, captured July 4, 1863

Pvt. C.C. Haynes – No age listed, captured July 1, 1863

Pvt. James Hogan – No age listed, captured at Cashtown, July 4, 1863

Pvt. Patrick Henry Houston – Age 25, wounded July 2, 1863

Pvt. Robert D. Houston – Age 25, wounded in the arm July 2, 1863

Pvt. George W. Magee – Age 25, wounded in the arm July 2, 1863

Pvt. P. Bailey McDaniel – Age 22, wounded at Gettysburg July 1863

Pvt. John T. Neely – No age listed, wounded and captured July 2, 1863; left leg amputated

Pvt. Lewis G. Polk – Age 20, wounded in the jaw and captured, July 3, 1863

Pvt. Robert Riddick – Age 22, wounded in the head and leg and captured July 2, 1863

Capt. Henry Harper Simmons – No age listed, wounded in action and captured July 2, 1863; left leg amputated

Despite having to have a leg amputated due to the wound he received at Gettysburg, Captain Henry Harper Simmons lived a long life, dying in Texas at the age of 85 in 1923. In his obituary it was said of him:

Capt. Simmons was one of the first to respond to the call of the South; going out with Barksdale’s Brigade, Twenty-First Mississippi Infantry, Company F, Tallahatchie Rifles. He served with Lee and Longstreet in Virginia and Maryland and was in all the battles this glorious brigade participated in from Virginia to Gettysburg. At Gettysburg in the second day’s charge on Peach Orchard Hill, leading his men as captain of Company F under Colonel Humphries, he fell, as it was thought mortally wounded. He was captured by the Federal troops, was imprisoned at Ft. McHenry and Point Lookout, where he remained prisoner for eight months, and being a cripple for life, having lost his left leg in battle. (Obituary of Henry H. Simmons, posted on his listing with Findagrave.com)

Corp. James Lawrence Simmons – Age 23, detailed as nurse at Gettysburg and captured July 4, 1863

H.H. Simmons Pension
When his brother Henry applied for a Confederate Veteran’s Pension in Texas, James L. Simmons wrote this letter to the pension board affirming his brother’s service to the Confederacy. (Alabama, Texas and Virginia, Confederate Pensions 1884 – 1958, accessed on Ancestry.com)

Corporal James Lawrence Simmons was the brother of Captain Henry Harper Simmons, and he was captured on July 4, 1863, when he volunteered to stay behind and help tend to the wounded that were too badly injured to be moved. James Simmons was a doctor by profession, so it makes sense that he would stay behind, but I can’t help thinking that the fact that his own brother was wounded might have played into his decision as well. Sent to Point Lookout Prisoner of War camp, Simmons was released on exchange in February 1865. (Compiled Service Record of James L. Simmons, accessed on Fold3.com)

Pvt. H. H. Sommons – Age 27, wounded in action at Gettysburg July 1863; right leg amputated

Pvt. John M. Thompson – Age 20, wounded and captured July 2, 1863; left leg amputated

Pvt. James I. Toole – Age 22, wounded in the side and leg and captured, July 2, 1863

Pvt. Charles C. Williams – Age 20, wounded and captured at Gettysburg July 1863

Pvt. Joseph Joshua Williams – Age 20, wounded in the groin and captured at Gettysburg July 1863

Joseph Joshua Williams
Private Joseph J. Williams survived his Gettysburg wound and lived to the age of 77, dying in Yalobusha County in 1920 (Findagrave.com)

Pvt. James M. Worley – Age 24, wounded by a shell which fractured his leg, July 2, 1863; died of his wounds, date not listed

 

Company G, “Madison Guards”

(Organized at Canton, Madison County)

Pvt. James R. Cochran – Age 25, wounded in the right leg and captured July 2, 1863

Corp. William Collum – No age listed, wounded July 2, 1863; leg amputated; died of wounds July 6, 1863

Pvt. Thomas Alexander DeHart – No age listed, wounded in the shoulder July 2, 1863

Pvt. William Henry DeHart – No age listed, wounded in the chest and arm and captured July 2, 1863

Lt. Cicero W. Denman – No age listed, wounded in the fact July 2, 1863

Pvt. Benjamin F. Mitchell – No age listed, wounded in the right foot and captured July 2, 1863

Pvt. George T. Mitchell – Age 22, wounded in the leg July 2, 1863

Pvt. Albert G. Stewart – Age 15, wounded in the side July 2, 1863

Pvt. Hezekiah Stewart – Age 23, wounded in the left breast and arm, July 2, 1863

 

Company H, “Warren Volunteers”

(Organized at Bovina, Warren County)

Pvt. Dickson Henry Alverson – Age 20, wounded in the thigh July 2, 1863

Pvt. Tyre M. Davidson – Age 18, wounded in the army July 2, 1863

Pvt. George W. Davis – Age 23, wounded in the left shoulder July 2, 1863; missing in action and supposedly died in a Northern prison

Pvt. Hardy D. Dear – Age 18, wounded in the right foot by a shell, July 2, 1863

Pvt. David Downs – Age 29, wounded in the hip and bowels and captured, July 2, 1863; died of his wounds September 19, 1863

Pvt. Robert W. Fox – Age 19, wounded July 2, 1863; left thumb amputated

Reverend Fox
Reverend James Angel Fox, father of Private Robert W. Fox (Old Court House Museum, Vicksburg)

Private Robert W. Fox survived his Gettysburg wound, and despite having to have his thumb amputated, he returned to the 21st Mississippi. Fox was wounded again at the Battle of Spotsylvania on May 8, 1864, and later that same year received his third wound of the war on September 26, 1864. Fox was the son of James Angel Fox, an Episcopal minister who was outspoken about his Unionist sentiments. In December 1863, Union occupation authorities in Vicksburg brought in Reverend Fox to make the traditional blessing of the United States, and its president, Abraham Lincoln. When Fox gave this prayer at Christ Church, several local ladies walked out in protest, leading to them being banished from the city. (Vicksburg and the War by Gordon Cotton and Jeff Giambrone, page 116)

Pvt. James O’Neil – No age listed, wounded and captured at Gettysburg July 1863

Corp. Pleasant C. Romain – Age 20, wounded in the arm July 2, 1863

Sgt. Robert F. Spears – Age 25, wounded in the leg July 2, 1863

Pvt. Samuel B. Stephens – No age listed, killed July 2, 1863

Pvt. Waller W. Wilson – No age listed, wounded in the elbow July 2, 1863

 

Company I, “Sunflower Guards”

(Organized in Sunflower County)

Pvt. Jesse Barcus – Age 24, wounded in the thigh July 2, 1863

Lt. Lewis Turner Basket – Age 32, wounded in the hand July 2, 1863

For Lieutenant Lewis Turner Basket, the injury he sustained at Gettysburg was the second of three wounds he received during the war. Wounded at the Battle of Malvern Hill, July 1, 1862, he was also hurt in fighting around Petersburg on June 18, 1864. Basket survived the war, and died in Memphis in 1903. In his obituary it was said of him:

His conceptions of duty and right were clear and plain, and to fulfill their demands upon him was his law of life – no interposition of peril and privation swerved Capt. Basket from their pathway. He was the personification of a true, unselfish and unassuming manhood. (Compiled Service Record of Lewis T. Basket, accessed on Fold3.com, and obituary, The Vicksburg Herald, January 7, 1903)

Pvt. George W. Carras – Age 39, captured July 2, 1863

Pvt. George Fisher – Age 37, wounded in the arm July 2, 1863; captured at Greenwood, Pennsylvania, July 6, 1863

Pvt. Theodore W. Gee – Age 27, wounded and captured July 2, 1863; died of his wounds August 2, 1863

Sgt. Gadi G. Gibson – Age 21, wounded in the neck July 2, 1863

Gadi Gibson gravestone
Gravestone of Gadi G. Gibson in Crystal Springs Cemetery notes his service with the 21st Mississippi Infantry (Findagrave.com)

Capt. Tully Stewart Gibson – Age 30, wounded in the thigh July 2, 1863

Some of the men who fought at Gettysburg were able to put the war behind them when the conflict ended in 1865; Doctor Tully S. Gibson was not one of them. On May 7, 1865, he wrote his former commander Benjamin G. Humphreys a letter and shared his thoughts on the end of the war:

Yours of the 5th inst. was recd. this morning, confirming what I had already heard of the sadly humiliating condition of the country. I find but little comfort in the conviction that we were right and that I did my best- my opinion is that it is better to have fought & lost than never to have fought at all. Barnes, Dave and Ben with their contemporaries will renew the struggle, and I trust succeed if we do not in our day. ..I am anxious to get into a country where Yankees cannot ride about in peace, comfort & Safety…(Tully S. Gibson to B.G. Humphreys, May 7, 1865, Benjamin Grubb Humphreys Papers, MDAH)

Gibson was true to his word, and he did give the Yankees plenty of trouble. He was involved in the reconstruction riots that took place in Sunflower County, and on January 1, 1870, the Deputy Sheriff of Sunflower County, J.J. Gainey, along with a group of soldiers from the 16th United States Infantry attempted to arrest Gibson at his home. The good doctor refused to submit, and in the ensuing gun battle Tully S. Gibson was killed. (Statement of J.J. Gainey, The Weekly Clarion, August 25, 1870) In his obituary, one of his friends eulogized Gibson by saying:

He was with the regiment at Yorktown, at Seven Pines, at Chickahominy, at Malvern Hill, at Harper’s Ferry, at Sharpsburg, at First and Second Fredericksburg, and at Gettysburg, where he was disabled for life. He never missed a march or a duty that his company was called upon to perform, and though he might at any time have been appointed surgeon, and have been detailed for hospital duties, he preferred to share the hardships and dangers of those he had gone to Virginia with from his beloved and native Mississippi. (The Weekly Clarion, January 20, 1870)

Pvt. Frederick Henick – Age 19, wounded in the mouth July 2, 1863

Pvt. John L. Irwin – Age 24, captured July 2, 1863

Pvt. William Frank Jones – Age 26, killed July 2, 1863

Capt. George C. Kempton – Age 21, wounded in the thigh and captured July 2, 1863

Sgt. James McLaughlin, Age 32, killed July 2, 1863

Pvt. Philip McNellis, Age 29, wounded in the arm July 2, 1863

Corp. John S. Payne, Age 24, wounded in the wrist July 2, 1863; captured at Cashtown, Pennsylvania, July 5, 1863

Sgt. Stephen H.T. Shaw, Age 22, captured July 2, 1863

Pvt. Eugene A. Smith, Age 20, wounded in the arm July 2, 1863

Pvt. William B. Smith, Age 22, killed July 2, 1863

Pvt. Marshall F. Spells – Age 27, wounded in the hand July 2, 1863

Sgt. Godfrey C. Stancill, Age 21, wounded in the left leg July 2, 1863

Corp. John Summers, Age 39, wounded July 2, 1863

Pvt. Bazil L. Tate, Age 30, wounded in the arm July 2, 1863

Pvt. Jefferson J. Weatherly, Age 24, captured July 3, 1863

 

Company K, “New Albany Grays”

(Organized at New Albany, Pontotoc County)

Pvt. Wiley D. Baker – Age 31, missing in action July 2, 1863; supposed to have been killed

Pvt. James M. Bottoms – Age 21, wounded July 2, 1863

Pvt. David C. Crawford – Age 19, wounded July 2, 1863; missing in action and supposed killed

Corp. James W. Cullins – Age 23, wounded in the arm July 2, 1863

Pvt. George W. Freeman – Age 27, gunshot wound left hand July 1863

Pvt. N.G. Garris – No age listed, wounded and captured July 3, 1863

Pvt. William J. Jarvis – Age 28, wounded in the leg and captured July 2, 1863

Pvt. James Joines – Age 20, wounded in the arm July 2, 1863

Pvt. David T. Meader – Age 31, wounded in the left lung and captured July 2, 1863

Pvt. William H. Murrah – Age 20, killed July 2, 1863

Pvt. John H. Nowlin – Age 32, wounded in the right foot and captured July 2, 1863

Capt. John W. Renfroe – Age 32, wounded in the arm July 2, 1863

Pvt. Elijah L.J. Roberts – Age 27, wounded in the groin July 2, 1863

Lt. Theodore B. Sloan – Age 31, wounded in the right lung July 2, 1863; captured in the hospital July 3, 1863

Pvt. William J. Sloane – Age 21, detailed as a nurse for the wounded at Gettysburg; captured July 4, 1863

Pvt. George L. Wilhite – Age 36, wounded in the foot and captured July 2, 1863

 

Company L, “Vicksburg Confederates”

(Organized at Vicksburg, Warren County)

Pvt. John Bresenon – No age listed, wounded in the left leg July 1863

Pvt. Fredrick R. Brewerton – No age listed, wounded in the leg and captured July 2, 1863; died of his wounds, date unknown

Pvt. Robert E. Butler – No age listed, wounded in the hip and captured July 2, 1863

Pvt. John Carr – No age listed, killed July 2, 1863

Sgt. Frank Clark – No age listed, wounded July 2, 1863

Pvt. Jerry Cronan – No age listed, killed July 2, 1863

Pvt. Henry Drybud – No age listed, wounded in the right hand and captured July 2, 1863; two fingers on hand amputated

Pvt. Patrick Hall – No age listed, wounded in the leg July 2, 1863

Sgt. William Henderson – No age listed, killed July 2, 1863; “struck by the same shell that hit Lt. Simmons and Jas. Worley”

Corp. Jacob Hertzel – No age listed, captured Cashtown, Pennsylvania, July 3, 1863

Pvt. Michael Roach – No age listed, wounded in the thigh and captured July 2, 1863

 

Company Affiliation Unknown

These men served in the 21st Mississippi, but their service records do not state to which companies they belonged

Pvt. F. Fewell, No age listed, captured Gettysburg July 4, 1863

Pvt. William Kuver, No age listed, captured Pennsylvania July 1863

 

This list of casualties covers just one of the dozen or so battles that the 21st Mississippi participated in. For each and every one of those battles, there would have been a list like this one, with stories like these. I can only imagine what it must have been like for the families back home, waiting for the latest casualty list to be published in the local newspaper, knowing that in an instant that one piece of news could change their lives forever. It must have been hell.

 

 

 

“A Friend so Highly Valued:” The Death of Benjamin Grubb Humphreys

Over the past few weeks I have finally begun the arduous job of writing a regimental history of the 21st Mississippi Infantry. I have been putting this book off for many years, as it is a daunting task; the 21st Mississippi fought in about a dozen major battles with the Army of Northern Virginia. For good measure, the regiment went west with General Longstreet’s First Corps in 1863 and fought at Chickamauga and Knoxville as well with the Army of Tennessee. To properly document the regiment’s service in each of these battles is a monumental undertaking.

From 1861 to 1865, over 1,400 men served in the 21st Mississippi Infantry, and of that multitude, one name looms large in the history of the regiment: Benjamin Grubb Humphreys. A native of Claiborne County, Humphreys moved to a plantation in Sunflower County before the war. In 1861 he raised the “Sunflower Guards,” and took them to Virginia as their captain.

Humphreys did not remain a captain for long; shortly after arriving Humphreys was

Benjamin G. Humphreys
Brigadier General Benjamin G. Humpreys (Heritage Auctions)

made colonel of the newly organized 21st Mississippi Infantry. After the death of William Barksdale in the Peach Orchard at Gettysburg, he was promoted to brigadier general and given command of the brigade that would henceforth bear his name: Humphreys Mississippi Brigade, consisting of the 13th, 17th, 18th, and 21st Mississippi Infantry regiments.

Benjamin Grubb Humphreys was only in command of the brigade for about a year; wounded in the battle of Berryville, Virginia, on September 3, 1864. He went home to Mississippi on furlough, and did not recover sufficiently to return to the brigade before the war ended.

In the short time he commanded his brigade, Humphreys formed a bond with the men he led, and those soldiers would remember their old colonel fondly for the rest of their lives. When Benjamin G. Humphreys died on December 22, 1882, the papers were filled with tributes written by the veterans that had served under him in so many hard fought battles. The following letter was published in The Southern Reville, Port Gibson, May 26, 1883:

Letter from Gen. Goggin.

Austin, Texas, May 10, ‘83

Nowell Logan Esq., Port Gibson, Miss.,

My Dear Sir: In the last number of the Historical Society publications for April and May I find a ‘Memorial’ of my old friend Gen’l B.G. Humphreys, signed by yourself and others as a committee of the Claiborne County Branch of the Southern Historical Society. You will say that when a noble citizen dies it becomes the community in which he lived to bear testimony to his virtues.

You will not, I am sure, receive otherwise than with pleasure this sincere endorsement of all that you have said from one who, during the long years of the war, not only knew well the subject of your ‘Memorial’ but honored and loved him.

He was not a man swift to make friends, but, if he once admitted you to his heart, there was no one on God’s green earth to whom the words ‘steadfast and true’ could be more appropriately applied. This was not only characteristic of him as a friend. As a soldier there was no one who fought for the Confederacy of whom it might be more justly said. He was ‘Steadfast and true’ – That he was ‘brave and zealous’ – no one had better opportunities of knowing than I, and I will venture to say there is not a surviving member of the old 21st, no not of the Brigade but will promptly endorse what I say when I declare that there was in the whole Southern Army no braver man and no one more devoted to the cause for which he fought than ‘Ben Humphreys.’

21st Mississippi Infantry Flag
Flag of the 21st Mississippi Infantry (Old Court House Museum, Vicksburg, Mississippi)

Such a man as I knew him must have been an ‘obedient and affectionate’ son – ‘as a brother social and kind’ and as a husband and father ‘loving and considerate’. How could my dear old friend with all those noble qualities of which I know him possessed be otherwise?

You speak of a cause in which he was engaged as ‘dearer to his loyal soul than life itself.’ I have before me a letter written in ’68, while Governor, in which he alludes to an article of mine published in the New Orleans Crescent on the Battle of the Wilderness (as a proper contribution to the ‘History of a cause that will never die,’ though Pollard may call it ‘Lost Cause,’ and further on says ‘I have been vain enough to write a good deal that I shall not publish, but have put on record for my children and fear not the verdict of posterity. For the present the wrong must prevail, justice may never be done the Southern people, but history we show that they deserved a better fate.

If Gen’l H’s manuscript is still in existence, you, as a member of the S.H. Society, will agree with me that it would be a valuable contribution to our records. I know not what family Gen’l. Humphreys left, but I beg, should the opportunity offer, you will express to them my heartfelt sympathy in their great bereavement. The tears spring to my own eyes when I think of the loss I have sustained in the death of a friend so highly valued.

Very Respectfully,

Jas. M. Goggin

Editor’s Note: James M. Goggin was major and assistant adjutant general of McLaw’s/Kershaw’s Division, and in that capacity he had considerable contact with General Humphreys. (Compiled Service Record of James M. Goggin, General and Staff Officers, Corps, Division and Brigade Staffs, accessed on Fold3.com)

This second letter was published in The Clarion (Jackson, Mississippi,) October 17, 1883:

General B. G. Humphreys – ‘A Greeting from the Grave’

‘My son, whenever you meet any of my brigade, speak to them for me.’ Upon meeting one of the ‘old brigade’ recently, Mr. Barnes Humphreys told him that these were his father’s last words. 

How the stored memories quicken and throng in the thoughts of those whom their dying captain held in remembrance as he obeyed marching orders into the dark valley. In the days to come, when the past rises from its grave and possesses the present; this remembrance for those he loved will come as a beckoning from eternity, from the nevermore to the evermore.

‘The Old Brigade!’ The words sound as a bugle, recalling a life as far away, from which the

Humphreys Grave
Grave of Benjamin G. Humphreys in Wintergreen Cemetery, Port Gibson, Mississippi. (Findagrave.com)

actors are as remotely removed, as though generations intervened. Its central figure, to the brigade survivors will always be Benjamin G. Humphreys. And as we recall those days and deeds of twenty years ago, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, the Wilderness and Spottsylvania, we have before us a figure that would be unknown to those who had not seen him in the riot of battle.

At all other times his temperament verging upon melancholy and his habits to indolence, gave no impression of his dormant energy. In the clash of arms, the thrill of combat, his form literally dilated, his voice had the trumpet ring and his eyes flashed with a fire that once seen will ever be remembered. But beneath an exterior of extreme modesty, the heart daring, the nerve and temper perfect in emergency, lay unrevealed until summoned forth by the fitting occasion.

Gen. Humphreys was to his brigade what the immortal Lee was to the Army of Northern Virginia. He inspired a blended love and respect, merging into blind confidence, only achieved by the truly noble and excellent, the pure in purpose, the good of heart. No cause can ever be banned, can ever pass into history unhallowed, that enlisted such champions. 

We can close this tribute to one we loved with no truer praise than to repeat the language of the true, J. M. Sutton, whom his friends laid to rest yesterday. He said to us a year ago, after a recent visit to Gen. Humphreys, ‘I have known Ben Humphreys for sixty years; and if ever a man’s heart hung straight up and down his does.’ – Greenville Times.

As my work on the regimental history of the 21st Mississippi proceeds, I will be  writing more stories about “my” regiment. I call them that because when you take on the task of writing a regimental history, you also take on an obligation to the men who served in that unit to tell as accurate and complete story as possible. To do that properly requires an extreme amount of time and dedication. In the years I have spent researching the 21st Mississippi, I have read the letters and diaries of the soldiers, shared their hopes and dreams, and come to see them almost as friends. In the coming months I look forward to telling you about my friends in the 21st Mississippi Infantry.

“Those Who Blazed a Road to Glory:” Lt. Colonel Thomas B. Manlove Remembers His Men

I found the following letter a few days ago in The Fayette Chronicle, January 9, 1880, and wanted to share it, as I think the story perfectly illustrates how war forged  men who served together into the closest of comrades.

This letter was written by Thomas B. Manlove of Vicksburg, who was Lieutenant Colonel of the 48th Mississippi Infantry and a seasoned combat veteran. He was wounded in the battle of Sharpsburg, September 17, 1862, and after recovering from his injury he returned to the regiment. Manlove was back with the 48th Mississippi by the time of the battle of Chancellorsville, April 30 – May 6, 1863, and was listed as ‘slightly wounded.’ In the last days of the war Manlove was wounded and captured at the battle of Hatcher’s Run, and he was paroled at Varuna, Virginia, on March 22, 1865. He was still in Richmond recovering from his wound when the city was captured by the Federal army in April 1865, and the young lieutenant colonel found himself a prisoner once more. Thomas B. Manlove was paroled for the last time on May 19, 1865. (Compiled Service Record of Thomas B. Manlove, 48th Mississippi Infantry, accessed on Fold3.com)

48th Mississippi Infantry
Flag of the 48th Mississippi Infantry (http://www.civilwaralbum.com/vicksburg/jackson6.htm)

During the war the 48th Mississippi was part of the brigade commanded by Brigadier General Nathaniel H. Harris, and consisted of the 12th, 16th, 19th, and 48th Mississippi Infantry regiments. After the war the veterans of these regiments formed the Harris Brigade Association, and on November 13, 1879, the group held a reunion in Port Gibson, Mississippi. One of the attendees was Thomas B. Manlove, and the experience of seeing the men of his brigade once again inspired him to write this letter:

Letter from Port Gibson

Editor Commercial:

I am still lingering among my boys, or the remnant of those who blazed a road to glory

Silas A. Shirley, Co. H, 16th Miss. Inf. LOC
Silas A. Shirley, Company H, 16th Mississippi Infantry. Killed at Spotsylvania, May 12, 1864 (Library of Congress)

under the folds of the Southern Cross – the boys who marched; the boys who fought; the dear, dear boys who died and are sleeping in peace, from the blue Potomac to the Rio Grande. Their names are written on a nation’s heart, henceforth one and indivisible.

To the noble matrons, the fair, beautiful and ravishing ladies of Port Gibson and Claiborne, and its whole souled men, my soul goes out in hearty greeting. As for the ladies, they stole my heart away. God bless them, and keep them foraye [forever]. The grand and hearty reception accorded Gen’l N.H. Harris, of your city, and his surviving veterans was sublime, and must have assured them that they keep the key to the hearts of their people and have not suffered and endured in vain.

In the annals of the ages no braver men faced the storms of war, or went to battle and

Adjutant Albert L. Peel, 19th Miss. Inf.
Adjutant Albert L. Peel, 19th Mississippi Infantry. Killed at Spotsylvania, May 12, 1864. (https://civilwartalk.com/threads/adjutant-albert-l-peel-19th-mississippi-infantry.116711/)

immortality than the Mississippians who followed the stainless swords of Jackson and Johnson, Beauregard and Lee. Tell me not the days of chivalry are dead and gone. They live as brightly today as when Sarsfield led the Irish legions on the Boyne, and the helmet of Navarre was the oriflamme at Ivry. They are living in the stories Southern mothers tell their little ones when they tell them how their fathers fought and bled, and they will live ‘Till wrapped in flames, the realms of ether glow, and heaven’s last thunders shake the world below.’

My friends here are legion, and I am under obligations for constant hospitality. Capt. A.J. Lewis, an old comrade and a lawyer of prominence in Port Gibson, and Mr. W.T. Morris, a brother of my honored friend, Judge Joshua S. Morris, of your city, whose guest I have been, I desire to thank especially. To Major J.S. Mason, of the Port Gibson Reveille, whose seeming indifference to the success of the re-union of Harris’ Brigade, has been harshly commented upon, I return my heartiest thanks. With sorrow shrouding his home, and mourning the loss of his nearest and dearest, he had no heart to take an active part in any of its proceedings, solemnities or festivities. A parent’s grief is sacred,

and should not be invaded, even by the injudicious advice of friends whose intentions may be good. A Nestor of the press of our grand old State, though his head is silvered with the harbingers of the grave, his trenchant pen is as flowing and eloquent as ever, and the journal of which he is the head, and at the present sole editor, is a power for good in the land we love. To him I am indebted for the freedom of his office and much valuable information, of which I will avail myself at an early day.

T.B.M.

Less than half a year after writing this letter, Thomas B. Manlove was dead; his obituary claimed that he was the victim of his wartime wounds, which had slowly killed him. Manlove died at the Edwards House Hotel in Jackson, and his remains were returned to Vicksburg for interment in Cedar Hill Cemetery. (The Comet, July 3, 1880)

T.B. Manlove Grave
Grave of Thomas B. Manlove (Findagrave.com)

 

“The Brave Man who Carried the Regimental Colors:” John J. Cherry of Bolton, Mississippi

Today is Memorial Day, set aside in observance of those men who have given their lives in defense of our country. In this posting I will tell you about a soldier from my hometown who gave his life in defense of his country: John J. Cherry of Bolton, Mississippi.

John J. Cherry enlisted in the Confederate army in the fall of 1861 as 2nd Sergeant of the “Downing Rifles,” Company C, 3rd Mississippi Infantry. He must have been a good soldier, for in April 1864, Colonel Thomas A. Mellon, commander of the 3rd Mississippi, recommended Cherry for a new position created by the Confederate Congress; that of Ensign. This was a rank unique to the Confederate army, and was intended to be held by a man who had displayed his courage on the battlefield. Ensign was an officer’s rank, although the post did not have any command responsibilities – the job was to carry the regiment’s colors in battle, a post of great honor and even greater danger.

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Photo of John J. Cherry, probably taken about the time he joined the army in the fall of 1861. (https://battleoffranklin.wordpress.com/category/mississippi/)

In recommending Cherry for the position of Ensign, Colonel Mellon wrote a letter of recommendation to General Samuel Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector General of the Confederate army. He said the young sergeant was

in every particular fully qualified for the position, having always been a good and faithful soldier, and has displayed on several occasions, gallant and meritorious conduct.” (Service Record of John J. Cherry, 3rd Mississippi Infantry, accessed on Fold3.com)

Cherry showed that Colonel Mellon’s faith in him was justified at the battle of Franklin, Tennessee, November 30, 1864. The Confederate army under General John J. Hood attacked a strongly entrenched Federal force at Franklin, and it was the fate of the 3rd Mississippi to be ordered to attack one of the strongest parts of the Union line. The regiment suffered terribly in this attack: 13 men killed, 40 wounded, and 20 missing. (Military History of Mississippi, page 153). Among the casualties was Ensign John J. Cherry, shot in the arm and captured during the fighting. He was mentioned in the official report of his brigade commander, General Winfield Scott Featherston, who wrote, “The color bearers of the Third and Twenty-Second planted their colors on the enemy’s works and were wounded and captured with their colors.” (Military History of Mississippi, page 152)

Battle of Franklin 2
“On the Rim of the Volcano: Battle of Franklin, Tennessee,” by Keith Rocco, 1992.

John J. Cherry was taken to a hospital in Nashville by the Federals, where he succumbed to his wounds on January 18, 1865. The cause of death was listed as a fracture of the right humerus caused by a gunshot. Ensign Cherry is buried in Olivet Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Record of Death and Interment for John J. Cherry (Service Record of John J. Cherry, accessed on Fold3.com)

In looking for more information about the life of John J. Cherry, I found an interesting article written by Sallie B. Morgan of Clinton, Mississippi, in 1887. Her article was about the flag of the 3rd Mississippi Infantry which was in the collections of the state historical museum, having recently been returned to the state by the veterans of the 9th Connecticut Infantry, who had captured it in 1862. Miss Morgan went to great lengths to point out this this was not the flag carried by John Cherry at the battle of Franklin:

Speaking of history and its errors, and they are many, reminds one of a flag in the Capitol at Jackson, which is calculated to mislead the future historian of Mississippi. It purports to be the regimental colors of the Third Mississippi, and has words to that effect on the ground of white, on which the Ninth Connecticut puts the remains of the flag when they returned it to the Third Mississippi at New Orleans in 1885. They stated they captured it at Pass Christian during the war. All that is left is a large magnolia, the gilt fringe and some shredings of the flag, held together by a new staff and new ground. 

Now that the regiment appreciates the thoughtful kindness of the Ninth Connecticut in returning the relic, I do not doubt; but as a matter of history, injustice will be done a brave Confederate, John Cherry of Bolton, who fell with the colors at Franklin, Tenn., more than two years after this flag was carried away…It will be but justice to the brave man who carried the regimental colors for so long, and who plunged over the parapets at Franklin, still holding them in his dying grasp. 

3rd Mississippi Infantry Flag 2
Flag of the 3rd Mississippi Infantry captured at Pass Christian in 1862. 

Morgan went on to point out why it was so important that Southerners remember those that fought for them in the war:

Each day something occurs which impressed upon us the necessity of keeping the history of our country before the young people of the land. It should not be left to legendary and traditionary lore. Each generation changes some of the traditions, adds or subtracts legends, until facts become fiction. Though on the main and most important events we have are undisputed and incontestible history in ‘The Rise and Fall of the Confederate States of America,’ yet there are many little memories of our country and soldiers in those dark and trying hours, well worth preserving. Each soldier can bring his offering, each family can add its mite. In a few years all the relics of the Confederacy will have passed away unless we take some means of preserving them. A museum at Jackson would be noble monument to our Confederate dead. (The Clarion, Jackson, Mississippi, May 18, 1887)

I am happy to report that the memory of Ensign Cherry and his comrades in the 3rd Mississippi Infantry have been kept alive by my good friend Grady Howell. He wrote an excellent history of the regiment, “To Live and Die in Dixie,” and if you have never read it, I highly recommend that you pick up a copy. I am also very glad to say that the state of Mississippi does have a history museum in Jackson, and the story of Mississippi’s role in the Civil War is very well told in that facility. If you have not been there yet, you are missing out, as their are many interesting stories of Mississippians told in that building.

“Disturbing the Slumbering Hornet’s Nest:” The Attack on the Stockade Redan at Vicksburg

On May 22, 1863, the Stockade Redan was the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting of the entire Vicksburg campaign. Sergeant George Powell Clark, a member of the “Harper Reserves,” Company C, 36th Mississippi Infantry, was at the redan that day, and years later he wrote a detailed account of what he witnessed:

There was a continual sharp shooting, skirmishing, and artillery firing kept up until about 10 a.m. on the 22nd of May, at which time we could plainly see that another attack would be made on our works. For the space of perhaps a half hour there was complete silence all along both lines. Not a shot was heard, not a man was seen in our front during the short space and the experienced soldier knew that it was the calm that precedes the storm.

Soon blue columns were seen advancing four lines deep in front of Fort Hill. We knew from all the indications that this was going to be a desperate assault, and we nerved ourselves for the shock. One peculiar feature of this advance was that a large number of men came in front bearing rails on their shoulders. This will be explained in its proper place. As on the 19th they halted just behind the hill for a short rest, before disturbing the slumbering hornet’s nest that lay behind our frowning line of earthworks.

Everything was as still as death, except the wild tumultuous beating of thousands of hearts, as with mingled feelings of dread and awe, we await the shock of the coming conflict with fingers on the triggers of our muskets, ready to send the hurtling messengers of death into the devoted band. We had not long to wait, for soon we heard an officer, with the voice of Stentor giving the word ‘forward.’ Their scurried ranks came pouring over the hill and rushed right on our works. A withering fire of musketry, grape, canister and shells greeted them as they came in sight, and men fell like grass before the reaper, lying on the ground thick as the ‘autumnal leaves that strew the brooks in Vallombrosa.’

Here, now, the eyewitness could have seen war in all its awful sublimity and grandeur. Many years have elapsed since that stormy day; for these lines are penned on the 18th day of May, 1897, liking only four days on being 34 years since the one of which I am writing, but all those scenes come before my imagination as if it had only been yesterday.

But to return, what of the men bearing the rail? As I have said they were in front and of course received the first shock from the tempest of shot and shell that was hurled into their ranks. It seemed that the pitiless storm swept away half of their ranks at the first fire. But others would gather up and bear them on, only to share the same fate. Their battle flags were often seen to go down, but in a moment was soon seen fluttering in the breeze, as other hands bore them on toward the flaming crest of the hill in their front. Their lines wavered not, though hundreds fell in front of Fort Hill, and the rail bearers reached the ditch in front of the fort, bridged it, crossed over to the fort and planted their colors on our breastworks in several places.

Vicksburg Assault
Union soldiers assaulting the Vicksburg Defenses

Then began a fierce struggle for the possession of the fort. A regiment of Missourians was in reserve just in rear of the position occupied by our regiment, and when the stars and stripes were planted upon our works and the fierce struggle going on, their officers could not hold them back, but they came rushing without orders to our assistance. The Federals seeing this reinforcement coming to our aid, wavered and were completely repulsed. Their dead and wounded covered the ground over which they had so gallantly moved to the attack.

(Reminiscence and Anecdotes of the War for Southern Independence by George Powell Clarke, pages 101 – 102)

The violence done at the Stockade Redan forever marked that land as a place of death and destruction. For decades after the battle the citizens of Vicksburg were finding lead and iron reminders of the May 22nd assault on the fort. I found the following article about this very subject in a 1904 Vicksburg newspaper:

WAR RELICS UNEARTHED

CLAVER’S SQUAD FINDS PLENTY OF SHOT AND SHELL

Yesterday morning while the forces under Mr. W.A. Claver were at work, grading the portion of the cemetery, or as known to the old soldiers, the grave yard road, they unearthed a quantity of siege relics. They were found at the north side of the cross road facing the stockade redan, and somewhat to the east of Confederate avenue, and Capt. Rigby has no doubt that they are Union relics.

Stockade Redan 1
View of the Stockade Redan taken in the late 19th or early 20th Century. (Series 573, Vicksburg National Military Park Photographs, Mississippi Department of Archives and History)

Among the other things found in the bank were one 12 pounder shrapnel, one 12 pounder solid shot, one conical shell 20 pounder solid shot, one old spade minus handle, a cartridge box plate, several pieces of cast iron pipe, a set of cartridge box tins, a quantity of minie balls, and what appeared to be a quantity of human bones.

Vicksburg Relics 1
Scene from the Vicksburg National Military Park, late 19th or early 20th Century – note the man kneeling has several artillery projectiles at his feet. (Series 573, Vicksburg National Military Park Photographs, Mississippi Department of Archives and History)

Just at about that point Capt. Rigby states that the two contending lines were nearer together than almost any other point, and the casualties were the heaviest. There were mines and counter mines and no doubt the relics found yesterday were covered during an explosion.

VICK_WilliamRigby
Captain William T. Rigby served in Company B, 24th Iowa Infantry during the siege of Vicksburg. After the war he served as a commissioner and later chairman of the Vicksburg National Military Park (National Park Service)

It is probable when the forces begin the work of restoring the batteries and mounting guns many more of the like will be found.

The Vicksburg Herald, May 28, 1904

Today marks the 155th anniversary of the assault on the Stockade Redan, but the deeds of valor by the soldiers both blue and gray are still remembered so many years later. It is only fitting that we do this, as these brave men earned the right to be remembered.

“A Martyr to the cause:” The death of Captain Hugh Rees Vaughan

Today is Confederate Memorial Day, and I want to spotlight one Mississippi soldier who gave his life during the Civil War. This morning I was looking through some photocopies I had made from John L. Power’s scrapbook, which is in the collections of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. On one page was a small column headlined with just one word – “OBITUARY:”

Obituary
Obituary of Hugh Rees Vaughan, 18th Mississippi Infantry (John L. Power Scrapbook, MDAH)

Hugh Rees Vaughan was born on June 10, 1839, in South Carolina; his family moved to Yazoo County, Mississippi, in 1835. His father, Henry Vaughan, was a wealthy planter in Yazoo County; in 1850 he valued his real estate at $55,000. To work this land Vaughan used a force of 293 slaves. An influential man in his community, Henry Vaughan was elected to represent Yazoo County in the Mississippi Secession Convention. (1850 U.S. Census, Yazoo County, page 500b, and “The Mississippi Secession Convention” by Timothy B. Smith.)

Hugh Rees Vaughan enlisted in the “Benton Rifle Company,” Company B, 18th Mississippi Infantry, as 2nd sergeant on April 27, 1861. Promoted to Captain of the Benton Rifles on April 26, 1862, he extended his 12 month enlistment two days later by reenlisting for “the war.” Wounded at the battle of Sharpsburg, Maryland, on September 17, 1862, he was absent on furlough until the spring of 1863. That summer Vaughan was wounded at the battle of Gettysburg on July 2, 1863, when the 18th Mississippi took part in the assault on the Peach Orchard. After his second wound Henry Vaughan went on furlough in South Carolina, probably recuperating with relatives, as his father was a native of the Palmetto State. Unfortunately the young captain succumbed to his injuries, and his service record noted that he died on March 18, 1864. (Compiled Service Record of Hugh R. Vaughan, 18th Mississippi Infantry, accessed on Fold3.com, April 30, 2018).

Hugh R. Vaughan Tombstone 2
Grave of Captain Hugh R. Vaughan (Findagrave.com)

Captain Hugh R. Vaughan is buried in the Church of the Holy Cross Cemetery in Stateburg, South Carolina. He has a well-marked grave in a well tended cemetery beside a beautiful antebellum church; it’s a fitting resting place for a man who gave his life in defense of his home and family.

Stateburg_holy_cross_1419
Church of the Holy Cross in Stateburg, South Carolina (Wikipedia)

I will close this story with part of a poem written by Ellen Hebron of Vicksburg, Mississippi. She had a brother in the 18th Mississippi who died early in the war, and she wrote these lines as a tribute to him:

He ‘is not dead, but sleepeth,’

The boy that ‘wore the grey,’

With manhood’s pride and boyhood’s grace,

On that bright summer’s day.

His dark-blue eyes were radiant

With a patriotic glow,

And his beardless chin was dimpled

With a smile ‘twixt joy and woe;

While from his fair young forehead

The silken locks were thrown,

With a careless ease, and a winning mien

No painter’s art hart known.

He ‘is not dead, but sleepeth,’

The boy that pined away,

On a couch of pain afar from home,

On that bright summer’s day.

And the words of love he uttered

To a mother’s aching heart,

In the household band of a sunny land,

Are now a treasured part.

He loved his native country,

He loved his Saviour too;

And softly to His bosom

This youthful son He drew.

Virginia’s noble daughters!

We pray you guard the spot

Where sleeps our darling brother;

You will not be forgot.

For in the gentle rustle

Of the wind that passeth by,

You will hear a soft and tender wail –

His tribute from the sky!

In Memory of Our Brother, J.E.,” published in Songs From the South by Ellen Hebron.