An Incident of the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee

Today is the 152nd Anniversary of the battle of Franklin, Tennessee, the engagement that effectively tore the heart out of the Army of Tennessee. In honor of the hundreds of Mississippians killed or wounded in the fight, I would like to share this article about Jesse Rice, a private in the “Live Oak Rifles,” Company A, 3rd Mississippi Infantry. Private Rice fought and was captured at Franklin, afterwards spending the remainder of the war in a Union prison. Amidst the horror he had witnessed at Franklin, Rice also saw an act of bravery so compelling that years later he was moved to have his memory of the event recorded by the clerk of the Jackson County circuit court. The following account was published in The Jackson Daily News, February 5, 1912:



Affidavit of Mississippian Brings to Light Interesting Incident of Battle of Franklin – Copy Sent Reunion committee

Macon, Ga., Feb. 5 – A copy of a deposition from Jackson County, Mississippi, to the reunion executive committee, brings up an interesting incident of the battle of Franklin, which is directly connected with the gory and fierce fighting which was waged around the historic old cotton gin in the Tennessee town. It was at this gin that the gallant and chivalric Gen. Adams went down; it was from the region of this gin that the renowned Gen. John C. Brown of Tennessee was carried, sorely wounded, to the rear, and it was near this gin that the rash “Pat” Cleburne met his death while storming the breastworks of the federal forces. The federal soldier mentioned in this deposition was killed near the gin in the conflict at late eve.


The 3rd Mississippi Infantry was part of Brigadier General Winfield S. Featherston’s Brigade at the Battle of Franklin. Their position can be seen on this map on the Confederate right, astride the Lewisburg Pike. (Civil War Trust)

The deposition follows:

“State of Mississippi, Jackson County.

Personally appeared before me, a clerk of the circuit court of said county, Jesse W. Rice, who being duly sworn according to law, deposes and says:

That he was a private in the ranks of Company A, Third Mississippi Regiment Volunteers.


Post-war photo of the cotton gin at Franklin (Wikipedia)

Featherston’s Brigade, and Loring’s Division, Stuart’s Corps of the Confederate army, and that he, with his company, was engaged in the battle of Franklin, Tennessee, on the 30th day of November, 1864, and that he [was] in the charge on the last breastworks of the enemy’s line, arrived at the point directly at the old cotton gin house which stood inside of the enemy’s line and that  the reserves of the enemy came on the run and gained possession of the ditch inside of the line, or breastworks, and he saw one of the federal soldiers there making repeated attempts to shoot and kill his lieutenant, S.R. Thompson, and that the said lieutenant repeatedly prevented him in his aim by throwing dirt in his eyes, at or near the old gin house on the day and the date above mentioned.


Sworn to and subscribed before me, this 21st day of March, 1904

Fred Taylor, Clerk Circuit Court.”

This incident deserves to rank along with Ney’s use of ammonia at the battle of Ligny, Togo’s mirrors in the glaring sunlight of the Russian harbors and the Moro custom of painting their costumes the color of Philippine clay.

Mr. Rice, who vouches for the authenticity of this incident, will be one of the visitors to the Confederate reunion to be held in Macon May 7.

Editor’s Note: Jesse W. Rice enlisted in the Live Oak Rifles on September 20, 1861, along with his brother Bryant C. Rice. The brothers were both captured at the Battle of Franklin, and eventually sent to Camp Douglas prisoner of war camp. Bryant died on April 16, 1865 of pneumonia, but his brother Rice survived and was released from captivity at the end of the war. He died on February 26, 1905, in Jackson County, Mississippi, and is buried in Havens-Fletcher Cemetery at Vancleave.


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They are Hostile in Spirit: The Arrest of Miss Emma Kline


After the fall of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, the victorious Union army had to settle into the difficult role of occupier to a city filled with pro-Confederate sympathizers. Over time most of Vicksburg’s residents settled into an uneasy peace with the Federal garrison guarding the city. There were a few civilians, however, that loudly proclaimed their loyalty to the Confederacy, and took every opportunity to aid the Southern cause. Writing of this troublesome portion of the population, Vicksburg’s post commander, General James B. McPherson complained that they “require watching, although seemingly disposed to remain quietly at home and pursue their peaceful avocations, they are hostile in spirit…”

“Hostile in spirit” was a very good description for Miss Emma Kline, a feisty Rebel who made it quite clear where her loyalties lay. The daughter of Warren County planter Nineon E. Kline and his wife Patience, in the 1860 Warren County Census 17 year old Emma was still living in her father’s home along with five younger siblings.

The entire Kline family was well known to Union authorities, so much so that General James B. McPherson issued the following order in regard to them:

HEADQUARTERS SEVENTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Vicksburg, Miss., January 26, 1864.

Commanding Cavalry, Red Bone Church:

MAJOR: It is reported to me on good authority that a party of Whitaker’s band, say 15 or 20, contemplate crossing the Big Black to-night in the vicinity of Hall’s or Regan’s Ferries, and will probably come over to Mrs. Stowe’s place, or possibly to Nelian Kline’s. I desire you to entrap and catch these outlaws, if you can.

I am also well satisfied that the Kline family, and especially Miss Kline, are guilty of acting in bad faith toward our Government and imparting information to the enemy.

You will, therefore, take immediate steps to put the whole family across the Big Black, not to return to this side without written permission from the proper military authorities, under penalty of being dealt with as spies.

They will be permitted to take their household furniture and private clothing, and a complete inventory will be taken of what remains and a guard placed over it until it can be turned over to the U. S. Treasury agent.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,



Official Records, Series 1, Volume 32, Part 2, 227

Emma Kline would be little remembered today if not for one photograph of her that was taken in 1864. It shows a defiant young lady standing between two guards from the 5th Iowa Infantry after her arrest for smuggling.


Emma Kline under arrest at Vicksburg in 1864. Vicksburg and the War, page 106.

While the photograph of Emma is very well known in Civil War circles, not much was known about the circumstances of her arrest, other than it was for smuggling. After the Union authorities detained Emma, they had her picture taken with her guards, supposedly as a warning to others in Vicksburg that might be inclined to aid the Confederacy.

As fate would have it, while doing some research, I found the following newspaper article in The Vicksburg Herald, April 16, 1908. It was written by Alonzo L. Brown, the Union officer who arrested Emma Kline:


A.L. Brown, captain Company E, Fiftieth U.S.C.T., Brounton, Minn., in regard to the arrest of Miss


Postwar picture of Alonzo L. Brown, the Union officer who arrested Emma Kline –

Emma Kline at Vicksburg, Miss., for attempting to smuggle contraband goods through our lines to the Confederates, says that in May, 1864, he had command of that part of the picket line at Vicksburg which extended from the railway south and west beyond the Hall’s Ferry wagon road. At this point there was a tent.

About 3 o’clock in the afternoon one day a young man rode up on horseback from Vicksburg and told him a Miss Emma Kline had been stopping in the city at the house of Dr. Anderson, and that she would try to pass out of the lines in a carriage that afternoon with another young lady (a granddaughter of Dr. Anderson) on a family pass. The ladies would have a large quantity of contraband goods concealed on their person. The man added: ‘When they come up here I want you to arrest her and send them back to the city under guard. Do not allow them to pass out. I would rather not be seen, and when they appear I will step inside your tent.’

In a short while the carriage approached, and its occupants had a pass signed by Gen. McPherson for Mr. Thompson and family through the lines at Vicksburg. One of the ladies had bright red hair, a pale complexion and rather sharp features. The writer asked her if she was a member of Mr. Thompson’s family, and she said she was not. She gave her name as Miss Emma Kline. The writer could hardly repress a smile as he noticed their distended skirts. He informed Miss Kline that he had received instructions not to allow her to go through the lines, but to send them back to the city under guard.

At this juncture, the young fellow, who was a detective, drew near and told Miss Kline he had orders to arrest them and took them in charge. Miss Kline lived with her parents about ten miles southeast of Vicksburg, toward Hall’s Ferry.

IN the spring of 1864 two ladies, Mrs. Reynolds and Miss Maggie Oliver, of New Orleans, were arrested at Vicksburg and imprisoned in the third story of the Old Main Street school building. The ladies were smuggling quinine through the lines into the Confederacy. They were moved from Vicksburg to Alton, Ill., and put in prison, where Mrs. Reynolds died. Miss Oliver after being released from Alton prison returned to New Orleans.

Alonzo L. Brown served in Company B, 4th Minnesota Infantry during the siege of Vicksburg. Shortly thereafter he was commissioned as 1st Lieutenant of Company E, 50th United States Colored Infantry, and eventually rose to the rank of captain. After the war Brown went home to Minnesota, where he founded the town of Brownton, and served as its first mayor. A devoted amateur historian, Brown wrote a regimental history of the 4th Minnesota Infantry that was published in 1892. –


Fourth Minnesota Regiment Entering Vicksburg, July 4, 1863. Painting by artist Francis Davis Millet.

Emma Kline survived her imprisonment and the war, marrying William Lum Lane in the 1870s. Emma died in 1878, shortly after the birth of her daughter and namesake, Emma Lane. Emma Kline Lane may have died in childbirth, or she may have been a victim of the Yellow Fever epidemic that scourged Vicksburg in 1878. She is buried in Asbury Cemetery located just south of Vicksburg. –

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We Have a Winner!

I had a number of entries in the contest to choose the subject of my next blog

16th Miss. Inf.

Private Silas A. Shirley, Company H, 16th Mississippi Infantry (Library of Congress)

article, and I am happy to say we have a winner! I put all of the entries in my old reenacting hat, and my daughter Sarah picked the winning entry. Without further ado, the subject of my next blog post will be the 16th Mississippi Infantry! I had multiple entries for this regiment, so I know there will be a number of people happy tonight. The 16th Mississippi Infantry compiled a notable war record with the Army of Northern Virginia, and was, in fact, the only Mississippi unit to serve under General Stonewall Jackson. I am looking forward to writing about the 16th Mississippi, and I plan to have the article finished before the end of the month.

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Contest Time is Here Again! Help Me Choose My Next Topic!


Soldier’s Voting (Harper’s Weekly, October 29, 1864)

It has been a long time since my last contest, so it is well past time to do another one. If you would like to see me write an article about your favorite Mississippi Civil War regiment, this is your chance! That said, here are the rules:

1. All votes must be sent to my email address:, and put “Vote” in the subject line.

2. Only one vote per person – but feel free to have your friends and family vote as well.

3. You can vote for any Mississippi unit except the 38th Mississippi Infantry/Cavalry, 21st Mississippi Infantry, 31st Mississippi Infantry, or 33rd Mississippi Infantry – I have already written extensively about the first two regiments, and the 31st Mississippi and 33rd Mississippi have been picked in previous contests.

4. Votes must be received by me before midnight on April 1, 2016.

5. I will announce the winner on April 2, 2016.

6. Each person that votes for a regiment will get the name of that unit thrown into a hat. The winner will be chosen from the hat, so every entry has a chance, and the more votes a particular unit gets, the better its odds of winning.

7. Good Luck to Everyone, and I look Forward to Your Entries!

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“The First Fruits of a New System:” Freedmen’s Schools at Vicksburg

After Vicksburg fell to United States forces on July 4, 1863, the city served as a beacon to slaves throughout Mississippi. Thousands of African Americans ran away from their owners and flocked to Vicksburg to begin their lives as freedmen. In addition to feeding and clothing the throngs of former slaves in the hill city, Northern benevolent associations also opened schools offering an education to eager students of all ages. I found the following article concerning the Freedmen’s schools at Vicksburg in the Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph (Gloucester, Massachusetts), April 1, 1865:

SCHOOLS FOR FREEDMEN – An interesting account of the colored schools at Vicksburg, Miss., will
be found on the outside of our paper to-day. Miss Wright, who is mentioned as one of the teachers at DeSoto, formerly taught several terms in this town, where she is well known. Several ladies have gone out from Gloucester Freedmen’s Aid Society are engaged in raising funds to support a teacher in this field of labor. We trust they will be successful in their effort to help along the work.


Inside a Freedmen’s school at Vicksburg – Harper’s Weekly, June 23, 1866

The new system for the education of the colored people in this city is fully inaugurated. The reports for the month of December, show that the system is already a success. In the prosecution of this work, the greatest difficulties were to be overcome. Among the chief of these is the want of suitable rooms, and as the numbers of pupils increase, the overcrowding of the schools becomes increasingly uncomfortable and damaging. It is well known that the military disposes of a very large proportion of the buildings of the city, for quarters, depots, &c. The ordinance department alone requires forty buildings. But against all these obstacles and many others, the work has been carried on.
In the basement of the Methodist Church, a school is taught by the mission of the “United Brethren,” in three good rooms. The primary department is in charge of Miss. Lizzie D. Hunt, and is well conducted. The intermediate department is taught by Misses Dickey and Stubbs, and the more advanced scholars are in charge of Miss. Minnie Hanson. This school is well managed. It was the first established for the colored people in this city, is the largest school, and the pupils, on the whole, constitute a better class than any other in Vicksburg. The school numbered, in December, 300; average attendance, 198.
In the Baptist Church, is a school taught by Misses Burnell and Hibbard, and Mrs. Edwards. It numbers 227, average attendance 136. It is under the auspices of the “Northwestern Freedman’s Aid Commission.” This school has the great disadvantage of having but one room, and the confused noise of three distinct and simultaneous exercises, comingling with a multitude of voluntaries from the little urchins, must discipline the teachers minds to self possession and control. The teachers deserve much credit for “patient continuance in well-doing.”

Primary School for Freedmen Vicksburg

Freedmen’s school at Vicksburg – Harper’s Weekly, June 23, 1866

On Washington Street, over the Freedmen’s store, is another school, taught be Misses Stowe and Case; under the patronage of the “National Freedman’s Relief Association,” numbering, in December, 115; average attendance, 70. If anybody in Vicksburg wants to be amused gratis, let them call in at this school and hear the singing of “original negro minstrels,” and see them gymnasticate. It is better than the Theatre, because it is useful as well as amusing. There is an industrial school in this building, taught by Miss Green, under the same auspices. This is regarded as one of the most important schools, in which instruction is given not in letters only, but in the economy of life. It is an excellent institution, embracing fifty persons, with an average attendance of thirty. 310 garments were made in December, besides any amount of mending. Thirty-seven of the fifty wee paid for their labor. The rest were learners.
Near the Prentiss House is another school of seventy-two, with an average attendance of forty, taught by Miss Barnes, under the auspices of the same society, which also ministers largely by the gift of clothing gratuitously, and also in the way of trade, at about cost prices, under the able management of their efficient and gentlemanly superintendent Mr. E. Wilkes, to the wants, the necessities and the comforts of this people. The last named school was mainly gathered by the industry of their excellent and devoted teacher.

Prentiss House Vicksburg

Illustration showing the Prentiss House at Vicksburg – Harper’s Weekly, August 1, 1863

Adjoining this is another school taught be Miss Brown, from the mission of the “United Presbyterian Church.” It numbers eighty-five, and the attendance averages sixty. This school is well managed. It is very orderly, and the progress it has made is highly creditable. The pupils in this school belong to the more destitute class, which makes the success of the school more striking and commendable.
In the Episcopal Church is a large school also sustained by the U.P. Mission. It has three rooms and better than almost any other. Misses Glasgow, Gibson, and Hammond, are the teachers. In December, there were 138 pupils enrolled, with an average attendance of seventy-five.
There is another school at DeSoto, the village opposite this city, sustained by the National Society, which may be reckoned among the Vicksburg schools, as the teachers go from this place, and reside here. They have taught so far in very poor, insufficient and uncomfortable rooms. But a new building, thirty by fifty feet, is commenced, and will greatly facilitate the work, and increase the comfort and success of these skillful and self-denying teachers, laboring among the most destitute and neglected of the colored population. They have 200 pupils enrolled; average attendance 125. Misses Skinner and Wright, and Mrs. Dr. Varney are the teachers.
The whole number enrolled in Vicksburg was 1,137; average attendance 704. This is a very encouraging exhibit, and it is only the beginning. It would be impossible to sustain these schools for even a single month, but for the benevolent contributions of the various boards and Freedmen’s societies already referred to. The greatest want now is, of more and better schoolrooms.
The financial aspect is not very flattering, and yet the amount for December (including a little in November,) if regarded as the first fruits of a new system among the lately enslaved, it not to be despised. Up to December 31st, 1864, it amounted to $171.55. Small indeed, but the seed of a growth not easily estimated. On the whole, here is food for great encouragement! – What would have been thought of the prediction, three years ago, that this should so soon be in Vicksburg? Darkiedom is in the ascendant, and the fogies may as well clear the way. As the “Herald” of the times we simply chronicle it is great step of progress, as a matter of public interest.
We understand that Chaplain Hawley, the Superintendent of Colored Schools, for this District, has appointed Chaplain Buckley, of the 47th regiment U.S.C.I., assistant for this city, to whose industry and efficiency much of this success is due. – [Vicksburg, (Miss.) Herald.

The previous article mentioned a “Miss Wright” as being one of the teachers in a Freedmen’s Bureau school at Desoto Point, Louisiana, just across the river from Vicksburg. She was Savira Wright of Clinton, Massachusetts, an experienced teacher who felt so strongly about the importance of educating freedmen that she left her home and family and made the difficult journey to wartime Mississippi. I did a little looking, and was rewarded to find that Savira wrote several letters back to her hometown newspaper describing her work. I found the following article in the Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph (Gloucester, Massachusetts), May 13, 1865:

THE FREEDMEN – The work of improving the condition of the freed blacks, both as regards education and in respect to their physical comfort, is being vigorously carried forward in all of the Southern States, under the auspices of the National Freedmen’s Relief Association and other benevolent agencies at the North- The work is a gigantic one, and of course these agencies are unable to cover all the ground at this early stage of affairs. The only marvel is that they are enabled to accomplish so much. – They are doing a glorious work, and the amount already achieved is an earnest of what we may expect in the future.
Miss Savira Wright, well known in this town, a teacher in the school at De Soto, opposite Vicksburg,


Vicksburg National Military Park Text Panel Showing the relationship of DeSoto Point to Vicksburg

Miss., narrates some of her experiences, in a letter to the General Superintendent of the Department of the Valley of the Mississippi, which we find in the April number of the National Freedman, and publish for the gratification of our readers.
Vicksburg, Miss., Dec. 3d, 1864.
Dear Sir – On Monday, the 28th, I went to De Soto, according to your directions. I spent that day and a part of the next in visiting the people and the remainder of Tuesday and the whole of Wednesday in assisting Miss Skinner in the school. I called at about twenty different places; at seven of them I found persons very much in need of clothing. Miss Skinner went with me to the store; but we could obtain nothing with which to relieve their necessities. We were told there was nothing to be given away, except some men’s clothing. That which is most needed is for children from six to twelve years of age. The warm weather has been very favorable for them the past week; if it should be cold they would be obliged to remain at home; they could not go to school without more comfortable clothing.
I found one woman with five children of her own – the eldest only six – and a niece twelve years of age, dependent upon her. Her husband has been dead three months. She “was raised” in Richmond, Va. She says: “Dat was a big city, sure as you was born. Dey use me well – neber whip me. I never had no mother; ‘spec’ she died when I was a little bit baby. Sold down south jes cause I was young; dey sell the young folks, an’ keep de ole folks an’ de children. – Spec dey has to work now; but dey got little ‘pendance to lean ‘pon. Ise got no ‘pendance but the Lord; I just ‘pend on him. Some days I gets work an’ gets somthin for de children, an’ some days I nothin for um to eat; but I trusts de Lord – he’ll take care of me.”
Most of the people have a commendable spirit of independence. They are proud to say they “neber had nothing from de government. – Jes give me a chance and I’ll take care of myself and my family.” It would be impossible to give a full account of what I hear and saw in those two days. I listened with the deepest interest to the story of many a life of toil under a hard master; of whippings at the post; and then of the joyful time when the “Yankees” came and made them free. Many expressed a desire to see their old homes again, but none wished to return to their former condition; they were willing to suffer, if need be, that their children might enjoy the blessings of freedom.
Yours respectfully,

Savira Wright
May 13, 1865

This next letter by Savira was published in the Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph, June 10, 1865:

We publish in another column a letter from Miss E. P. Bennett, who is teaching the Freedmen at Roanoke Island, under the auspices of the National Freedmen’s Relief Association, supported in part by some of our citizens interested in the good work. The description of Roanoke Island, and the condition of the blacks and whites, are exceedingly interesting. We shall publish in our next issue a continuation of this letter, giving interesting information respecting the schools, etc., and have made arrangements for future letters from the same source, which will keep our readers posted on the progress of the work at that point.
We also publish an interesting letter from a teacher at Vicksburg, Miss., who is known to many of our readers, and from whom we shall receive similar favors from time to time. We have perfected arrangements for regular correspondence in relation to the Freedmen’s cause from Charleston, S.C., Newbern and Roanoke Island, N.C., Townfield, Va., and Vicksburg, Miss., and shall make this a speciality of our paper for the present. The Freedmen’s Cause is one in which our people have a great interest. For four years our soldiers have been fighting to liberate the bondsmen – for this has been the issue, to perpetuate and strengthen slavery by the South, and to defeat their machinations by the North. To this end our best blood, our tears and our treasures have been expended freely.

May 23d, 1865.
Just at present there is nothing unusual occurring in this department. The schools are in good condition, and the pupils making rapid progress. Some changes have occurred recently, particularly in the schools connected with the National Freedmen’s Relief Association. – A High School has been established, of which Mr. J. H. Zelie of New York is principal and Miss Wright and Mrs. Hart assistants. The pupils are not very advanced as yet, but are making good use of their privileges, and we have every reason to hope for great and good results. Mr. Zelie is also superintendent of the N.F.R.A. Schools, and is a most efficient and zealous worker. Rooms have been secured in the old Vicksburg Hotel, to which several of the schools have been removed. They are light, airy, pleasant and comfortable, qualities which were wanting in those previously occupied, except in some cases the second.
De Soto, where we formerly had a school, has become a part of the Mississippi River, with the exception of a little hillock, crowned with a few cabins, which are still inhabited. By its overflow more than two thousand Freedmen were driven from their homes, to seek shelter elsewhere, leaving behind everything they could not carry on their heads, – their usual mode of conveyance.
I wish I could give you a true picture of our life here in Dixie, but that is impossible; no one who has not experienced it can realize its strange, wild nature. It is life indeed, so full of new experiences, of change; every day something new to be seen – something to be learned.
A few days since a rebel soldier remarked – “Dixie is the best country God ever made.” I could have answered – “You are right, God made it a glorious country, you and your comrades have laid it in ruins; but when peace is once more fully established we will show you what Yankee enterprise and Northern institutions can make of so good a country.
I must not forget to tell you of a scene I witnessed two days ago. Nearly a thousand sons of the Southern Chivalry marched through the streets, dressed in almost every style of garment known since the days of Noah, though nearly all of the same color – grey. They were rough, ragged and filthy, and were guarded by colored troops, dressed in their neat suits of Uncle Sam’s blue. A proud day it was for the dusky blue-coats. The next day two of them came to our door with a note signed by two of the prisoners, in which they said that they had nothing to eat, and begged us to send them something. We questioned the guards, who said nothing had been furnished them since their arrival at the barracks. The ladies of the household sent such food as they had, with a note stating that it was from Union ladies. – They considered that in doing so they were fulfilling the command of our Lord, “Do good to them that hate you.” There are thousands of rebel soldiers in the city, awaiting an exchange. They are no more conquered in spirit than they were in the most hopeful days of the Confederacy, and say that they will yet fight it out, though it be not for many years to come.
Last Friday evening we received a call from Lieut. Thomas Stephens, 3d Texas Cavalry, C.S.A., in his full uniform of rebel gray. He said that he had engaged in this contest from a sense of duty, and had discharged that duty so far as was in his power; had fought the Yankees with all his might at every opportunity. He acknowledged that they were completely whipped, but not subjugated, and never would be; declared they would yet be independent, if it took years to accomplish it; they would never live under the United States government. He said – “We had the better of you for two years, but when you brought Europe, Asia and Africa against us, it was too much. There are no braver men on the face of the earth than the Yankees, but I claim that we are equally brave. I once honestly thought that one Southerner could easily whip five Yankees, but that idea is ‘played out’ long ago; one is enough for me to engage with.
He expressed his detestation at the manner in which our soldiers in their hands had been treated, and denounced in the strongest terms the assassination of the late President, saying he respected Abraham Lincoln, and if he must live under our government, would prefer him to any other man in the country for president. He said he knew Jeff Davis was not captured, one of his own company pulled the oars of the boat that took him across the Mississippi, about two weeks ago, and he was now with Kirby Smith in Texas. No doubt they found it necessary to invent some such story to preserve the last remnant of their waning hope. He pitied the colored people, and thought them worse off than when they were slaves. We were obliged to acknowledge that most of the race are possessed of less of the comforts of life than when with their masters, but we would like to have him ask them which condition they preferred. At this moment a colored sergeant called at the door, and the question was put to him. A response came through the open door from a comrade waiting without, “Tell him no, no, NO, ebry time.”

[Editor’s Note: Lieutenant Thomas S. Stephens enlisted in Company B, 3rd Texas Cavalry, on June 13, 1861. He was captured at Jackson, Mississippi, in July 1863, and sent to Johnson’s Island Prisoner of War camp. Because of poor health, Stephens was exchanged in October 1864, but before this happened, he was required to fill out a questionnaire. Apparently Stephens had a good sense of humor, because where the document asked why he had been captured, the Lieutenant replied, “Being a Rebel soldier.”  Another question asked, “Do you sincerely desire to have the southern people put down in this war, and the authority of the U.S. Government over them restored?” To which Stephens wrote tersely, “I do not.” After being exchanged, Stephens returned to his regiment, and served until the unit surrendered in May 1865. – Compiled Service Record of Thomas S. Stephens, 3rd Texas Cavalry.]
I notice in your paper allusion to the loss of the Sultana, whereby some fourteen hundred of our noble prisoners from Andersonville and Cahawba met with a sudden and awful death. I visited their camp a short time before they left Vicksburg, and at some future time may give you an account of what I saw and heard there. My letter is sufficiently long this time.

Savira Wright was born about 1836 in New Hampshire, and she moved to Clinton, Massachusetts, with her family, sometime prior to 1850. She is listed with her parents, Henry and Lois, and siblings in that census. – 1850 U.S. Census, Worcester County, Massachusetts.

By 1859, Savira was employed at Leonard Grammar School in Gloucester, Massachusetts, serving as principal of the institution. She may have worked at more than one local school, as the newspaper also listed her as principal of the grammar department at Lane School. In 1862, the young teacher was principal of Parsons School in Gloucester, a job she held as late as September of that year. – Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph, March 26 & 30, 1859, April 5, & September 13, 1862.

The first mention I can find of Savira Wright in connection with Vicksburg is the Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph article of April 1, 1865. She worked in Freedmen’s schools around Vicksburg until the fall of 1865, when she took a job as principal of the junior department of the Freedmen’s school in Washington, D.C., located on the corner of 14th and M streets.- Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph, October 28, 1865. Her time in Vicksburg was short, but Savira Wright’s letters to her hometown newspaper shed some light on the hard work done by numerous individuals to help former slaves prepare for a life of freedom.


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The Court Does Therefore Sentence…

I found the following letter in the correspondence of Mississippi Governor John J. Pettus, and thought it was very interesting, as it gives a detailed description of the punishment meted out by a court-martial to Private Henry Taylor of the 16th Mississippi Infantry. The hapless soldier was convicted of theft, and his sentence was both swift and sure:

Headquarters, Army Northern Virginia
23d January 1863
Gen. Order No. 8
And the court does therefore sentence the said Henry Taylor Co. F, 16th Miss. Regt. to have one half of his head shaved immediately after the publication of his sentence, and thereupon be marched, his head so shaved, his hat off, wearing a barrel shirt on which shall be hung an overcoat and which shall be distinctly labelled “thief” and the Rogues March beaten on a drum, before him, up and down every regiment of his brigade when on any parade once, then to be sent to the Mississippi Penitentiary provided the Governor of Mississippi will receive him, and there to be confined for two years. But if the said Governor shall not receive the said accused, then to be sent to the Va. Penitentiary and there confined for the said two years, and to be kept on bread and water for fourteen days immediately after the publication of this sentence unless sent to the penitentiary.
By Command of General
R.E. Lee
R.H. Chilton
A.A. & I. General

J.W. Pegram
Headquarters, Dept. of Henrico
Richmond, Va., April 9, 1863


Civil War Soldiers Forced to War Barrel Shirts as Punishment – The soldier on the far right has a sign with the word “Thief” written on it. (


A copy of the court-martial was sent to Governor John J. Pettus, along with this cover letter:

To his Excellency
The Governor of
The State of Mississippi
I have the honor to enclose herewith a copy of an order from General Lee publishing the sentence of the Court Martial in the case of Henry Taylor, Co. “F” 16th Miss. Regt. He is now confined here awaiting your decision as whether he can be received in the State Penitentiary of Mississippi. I have the honor to request that you will let me know your decision.
Very Respectfully,
Your Obdt. Servant,
Jno. H. Winder
Brig. Genl. Comdg.

I did a little research on Private Taylor, and found him in the 1860 United States Census for Jasper County. The 18 year old was living with his mother, Elizabeth, age 36, his brother J.Z., age 8, and sisters E.A., age 11, and Elizur, age 5. Elizabeth Taylor listed her occupation as farmer, and Henry was described as a “day laborer.” In fact, the family was just barely making enough to keep body and soul together: Elizabeth listed the value of her personal estate at $100, and the column for value of real estate owned was left blank, so the family may have been renting the plot of land they were working.

Henry Taylor enlisted in the “Jasper Greys,” Company F, 16th Mississippi Infantry, on March 3, 1862, at Paulding, Mississippi. His service record shows nothing out of the ordinary until the muster roll for January-February 1863, when he was listed as “In arrest or confinement.” In the next muster for March-April 1863, the private is listed as “In prison by sentence of court martial.”

Although Confederate authorities attempted to turn Taylor over to the State of

Castle Thunder 2 LOC

Castle Thunder Prison in Richmond, Virginia. (Library of Congress)

Mississippi, apparently the transfer never took place. On September 22, 1863, Taylor was sent to General Hospital No. 13 in Richmond, suffering from constipation. After receiving treatment, there was a notation that he was returned to “Castle Thunder.”


Castle Thunder was a notorious prison in Richmond that housed all manner of criminals. The facility was known for its brutality toward prisoners, so Taylor’s time there was most likely very unpleasant.

There was one final notation made in Taylor’s service record, giving a hint to his fate: “Released from confinement, Dec. 1, 1864.” I did a little more research, and found the following concerning Taylor in the General Orders and Circulars of the Confederate War Department, 1861 – 1865:


By the end of 1864, the Confederacy badly needed soldiers in the field, even those convicted of theft. I have not been able to find out where Private Taylor was transferred, but I do believe that he survived the war. I found a Henry Taylor, age 26, living in Jasper County, living with an Elizabeth Taylor, age 21, who may be his sister. The veteran was making his way just as he had before the war, scratching out a living on a small farm in Mississippi.

The letters concerning Henry Taylor’s court-martial were found here:

John J. Pettus Correspondence
Series 757
Folder 10, Box 944
Mississippi Department of Archives and History

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A Letter from Vicksburg During the Siege

I found the following letter, written by a civilian resident of Vicksburg during the 1863 siege, in the Natchez Daily Courier, June 30, 1863. As civilian accounts written during the siege are somewhat rare, I wanted to share this very interesting letter:


Republic of Vicksburg, June 13th, 1863

  Friend F. – An opportunity is just offered me, through a friend, of communicating with the “outside barbarians,” of which I gladly avail myself.

I am not scarred, nor shelled, nor starved out of existence yet, as you perceive; nor even driven to live on worse fare than beef and bread, with the customary concoction of corn coffee. Indeed, no one here is starving – nor any fears of it entertained. The idea of surrender, for any cause, is never dreamed of here. The hissing abominations flying upon the city in every direction produces a pleasing (?) excitement to aid digestion and break the monotony of our isolation. They fly right and left, up and down, almost incessantly except during the midday heat – which is made up for with renewed vim at sundown. Then they boom loud enough to wake Hannibal or Hugh O’Neil, if they slept this side of the Atlantic.


Modern illustration by Jerry McWilliams of Vicksburg during the siege. The point of view is from Sky Parlor Hill, where Antonio Genella had his residence.

From the enemy’s works, back of the city, Parrott shells are often thrown as far as the river, while, simultaneously, the mortars, from their cover of woods beyond the Peninsula, send the bombs, in bursting fragments, to the remotest ends of our Republic.

Numerous caves have been constructed in the sides of the hills within the lines by citizens for the protection of their families. Compared with the fury of the bombardment since the investment, the casualties are very small. In the intrenchments, the danger is very little – unless to the over-curious, who are, duck like, given to popping their heads over the breastworks, which the Yankee sharpshooters promptly pop at, frequently popping their heads over the breastworks, which the Yankee sharpshooters promptly pop at, frequently popping the owner into eternity.

Vicksburg siege caves

Illustration of Vicksburg Siege Caves

But the tedium and monotony of trench duty is its most disagreeable feature. There is an unceasing din of sharpshooters’ rifles kept up daily along the lines, doing little damage. On the river front, little of importance has occurred. The boats sometimes shell our batteries at long range from below – none venturing near since we sunk the ironclad Cincinnati, on the 27th ult. She sailed boldly down under the upper battery. Soon found in a sinking condition, she was put up stream and abandoned. Within an hour she sunk to the hurricane deck.


U.S.S. Cincinnati

Yours, very sincerely,

A. G*****


Although the writer of this letter is only identified by the first and last initials of his name, I can make a guess as to who he was. “A.G.” is probably Antonio Genella, a very prosperous Vicksburg merchant.

Antonio Genella was born in Switzerland, and immigrated to the United States as a young

Genella Ad

Ad for Antonio Genella’s store from The Eastern Clarion, August 9, 1861

man.  He ended up settling in Vicksburg, and by the time of the Civil War he had made his fortune as a merchant specializing in fine china. On the 1860 Census for Warren County, Genella listed the value of his real estate holdings at $40,000, and the value of his personal estate at $100,000. In 2016 dollars, Genella’s net worth would be over 3 and a half million dollars.

During the Civil War Genella apparently did a booming business with the Confederate Medical Department, supplying them with literally hundreds of different items for their soldier’s hospitals in Vicksburg. During the siege of Vicksburg, Genella was able to keep his doors open, but not without some difficulties; the Portland Daily Advertiser (Portland, Maine), noted on July 25, 1863: “Gen. Pemberton, it is said, refused to allow citizens to draw from the army stores, insisting that the private stock in the city should be used for that purpose. Mr. Genella, a prominent merchant in this city, being accused of extortion in this matter, publishes a card in vindication of his character.”

Genella Bill 2

Ad from Antonio Genella to the Medical Superintendent of the Port of Vicksburg for goods supplied by his firm in May 1862. Confederate Citizens File, National Archives.

After Vicksburg surrendered on July 4, 1863, Genella remained in the city; the Richmond Enquirer of January 13, 1864, noted that the enterprising gentleman had managed to reopen his store. To keep his store open during the Yankee occupation of Vicksburg, Genella apparently established a close relationship with the city provost marshal. In fact, some felt his business dealings with the provost marshall, whose last name was Wardell, were not entirely above board.


Broken Plate dug from a privy pit in Vicksburg originally sold by Antonio Genella. (Author’s Collection)

In 1865 The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War issued a report about the activities of the provost marshal in Vicksburg; one witness told the committee, “That the provost marshal of Vicksburg, Wardell, is a thorough secesh friend; that the said Wardell sells passes to the rebels to get through the lines…That every storekeeper in Vicksburg has to bribe said Wardell by sums from $500 to $2,000 to carry goods through the lines; that one merchant, A. Genella, is Wardell’s especial protege; that said Genella is a rank secesh, and that before the attack on Vicksburg, by General Grant, said Genella offered $5,000 to the battery that may sink the first Yankee cannon-boat.”

Antonio Genella managed to weather these storms, and after the war ended his kept his business intact. The old merchant passed away on June 12, 1871, and is buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Vicksburg.


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“We were Mississippians and Resolved to Stand:” Stanford’s Battery at Murfreesboro

153 years ago today, two mighty armies, the Union’s Army of the Cumberland, commanded by Major General William S. Rosecrans, and the Confederate Army of Tennessee, commanded by General Braxton Bragg, were locked in a bloody stalemate at the Battle of Stone’s River, Tennessee. The fighting started on December 31, 1862, and after a pause on New Year’s day, the bloodletting continued on January 2, 1863. The following account of the battle was written by Benjamin Watkins Leigh Butt, a corporal in Stanford’s Mississippi Battery of Light Artillery.

Butt sent this account to the Memphis Daily Appeal, which published it in the January 22, 1863, edition of the paper. This is the second time the writings of Corporal Butt have been featured in this blog; back in 2012 I posted a history of Stanford’s Battery written by the soldier after the war. That article can be found here:

The Battle of Stones River, or Murfreesboro as it was known by the Confederates, took a heavy toll on the Mississippi units that fought at this Tennessee killing ground. The Mississippi infantry regiments alone suffered a loss of 1,513 killed, wounded, and missing. Particularly hard hit were the 29th Mississippi Infantry and the 30th Mississippi Infantry. – Portraits of Conflict: A Photographic History of Mississippi in the Civil War, page 96.

Benjamin Watkins Leigh Butt wrote a very descriptive account of the Battle of Stones River, that vividly recounts the suffering of the Mississippians who fought there. I am proud to be able to share it with you:


Camp Near Shelbyville, Tenn., January 12, 1863

EDITORS APPEAL: Again by the kind hand of providence has my life been spared, and I have been permitted to pass through a series of bloody fights, unhurt. From my personal observation, and the best data I can collect, I will endeavor to give your readers a faithful account of the battle of Murfreesboro, or Stone River more properly, as it was fought along the banks of that stream.

On Friday, December 26th, the enemy, with his entire force, except a small garrison at Nashville, commenced his grand advance, our cavalry disputing his way and slowly falling back before him. On Saturday and Sunday, all the tents and equipage of our army were transferred to the baggage wagons and sent back to the rear, some two miles south of Murfreesboro’.

Monday morning found our troops drawn up in line of battle along the banks of Stone river, our center being a mile and a half northwest of town. Our right wing, Breckinridge’s division, with Cleburne’s division in reserve, was posted on the eastern bank of Stone river; while our center, Wither’s division, with Cheatham’s division as a reserve, and our left, under McCown, were on the opposite side of the stream. The distance between our advance and reserve divisions was about one thousand yards.

Federal Troops at Stones River

Federal Troops Drawn up in line of Battle at Stones River –

The enemy’s lines were drawn up within a mile of ours, and during the whole of Monday there was skirmishing on our left, but with no definite or important result. Occasionally the sullen roar of a cannon, followed quickly by the shrieking of a shell, told us that the enemy was feeling, as military savants say, for our position. On Monday night it rained, and, as our front lines were not permitted to have fires, and each soldier had only a single blanket, the long night hours passed drearily away. During the night, however, temporary breastworks were thrown up along our lines, to protect the troops, in case a charge should be made by the enemy. 

On Tuesday morning skirmishing again commenced on our left, and was kept up during the day, but much heavier than on the day preceeding. Toward noon the enemy made a charge on Robinson’s battery, which was quickly repulsed. About 3 1/2 P.M. Captain Stanford was ordered to send a section (two guns,) of his rifle battery around to the left wing where the enemy had succeeded in obtaining a favorable position for his artillery. Accordingly Lieutenant Hardin took command of the section designated, and we proceeded for half a mile through a dense cedar grove, coming up immediately behind Robinson’s battery, which was engaged in a terrible conflict with a battery of the enemy only four hundred yards distant. Here we remained a few minutes for orders, while the shells were exploding among us every minute. There was scarcely a tree to be seen which was not shattered by these terrible missiles. 

Video of the author’s reenactment unit, Battery C, 1st Mississippi Light Artillery, live firing a 3-inch Ordnance Rifle at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, on July 2, 1993. The rifled cannon that were being fired by Stanford’s Battery would have looked and sounded much the same.


Presently we were ordered into a cornfield just to the left of Robinson. We unlimbered and opened immediately upon the enemy in front. As soon as we uncovered, our position exposed us to the view of another Yankee battery, on a hill to the right, some seven hundred yards distant, so situated as to give it a raking fire upon us.

For some reason or other, I fear for no good one, Robinson’s battery to our right ceased firing as soon as we had opened, thus turning the whole of the enemy’s fire upon us. In a moment our ears were greeted with a perfect hurricane of shell and cannister, the latter coming from the battery nearest us.

The enemy had every advantage of us. Our pieces were in an open field, while his batteries were partially protected by woods. Our chief advantage, that of long range, was lost by our proximity to the enemy, while his guns were of large calibre, and we were as near as he could wish. It was a rash and unwise order that sent us to such a position. But we remembered that we were Mississippians, and resolved to stand though our lives should be sacrificed in the attempt.

Stones River Illustration

Federal Artillery Firing During the Battle of Stones River –

Whiz, rattled the cannister – bang, exploded the shells around us, while the sharp crack of our two rifle pieces responded to the roar of the enemy’s twelve guns. Fortunately, providence smiled upon us. The greatest portion of the enemy’s shots were aimed too high, and passed just over us. I suppose that at least a dozen shells passed within ten feet of my head. We maintained this unequal contest for half an hour and were then ordered from the field, having fired about sixty rounds. Up to this time we had lost only two men wounded. We regarded our preservation as little less than a miracle. We had the satisfaction before leaving the field of noticing that the enemy’s battery immediately before us had ceased firing, our pieces having fired eight or ten rounds without a reply. As we were leaving the field to avoid a company of sharpshooters who were flanking us with the intention of picking off our cannoneers, one of the enemy’s pieces reopened, and about the third shot our commanding officer, Lieut. Hardin, was struck with a shell, and instantly killed. We bore him off the field, and rejoined our command without further loss.

About dark the enemy made another charge on Robinson’s battery, but it being well supported by infantry, the charge was gallantly repulsed. This ended the fighting for the day. The night closed in with a cold wind from the North, while most of our poor soldiers had to lie on the damp and frozen ground without fires.

The Great Battle of Wednesday

Finding that the enemy seemed indisposed to attack us in our position, our generals determined on Tuesday night to assault his right wing early in the morning. Accordingly Cleburne’s division was detached from our right and transferred to the left, to be ready for the attack.

The last day of the dying year dawned upon us cold, clear and beautiful. The rising sun dispelled the mists that hung like phantoms along the river banks, tinging the emerald cedars with gold, and making the frost-clad fields resplendent with myriads of miniature diamonds. But ere it had risen, the scattering fire of pickets swelling into the angry crash of opposing brigades, and mingled with the deep thundering of artillery, told us that the action had commenced in earnest on our left. So sudden and impetuous was the attack of our troops under McCown and Cleburne, that the enemy steadily gave way before them. Brigade after brigade was hurried up to reinforce their broken ranks – battery after battery was placed in position to rake our advancing troops; but vain were their efforts to hurl back the mighty onward tide, though they fought with a desperation worthy [of] a nobler cause.

On, on pressed our gallant boys, their enthusiastic cheers rising above the din of battle. About eight o’clock Withers’ left became engaged and fought as Alabamians and Mississippians know how to fight. They were seconded by brave “Old Cheat” and his Tennessee veterans. About this time Generals Polk and Bragg rode along our lines (our brigade was still in reserve), and were greeted with three hearty cheers. Bragg’s hard, grim old visage was wreathed with smiles as he announced to us that we had taken all the enemy’s batteries on our left, and that “Hardee was driving them before him like sheep.”

About 9 A. M., Walthall’s Mississippi brigade made the most desperate charge of

Patton Anderson

Brigadier General Patton Anderson commanded Walthall’s brigade at the Battle of Stones River. At that time Walthall was on sick leave – wikipedia

the day. They had to pass through an open field to attack the enemy in a cedar thicket in front, while a battery on each flank poured a murderous fire of cannister into their ranks. They pressed on to within a hundred yards of the enemy’s lines, when they were compelled to fall back before the terrific storm of lead and iron that swept down half their numbers. The 29th and 30th Mississippi regiments suffered awfully. The 30th had sixty-four men killed in five minutes. 

At this juncture Stanford’s rifle battery was ordered round to the right to silence one of the batteries that was making such havoc in our ranks. We unlimbered with a hearty good will, poured in a few rounds rapidly, and diverted the enemy’s fire. Our veterans, by this time reinforced, again charged the enemy’s lines, drove them from the woods, and took their two batteries.

By 10 o’clock the fighting was general on our left and center and for four or five hours was of the most desperate character. The enemy’s right wing had been forced back so as to form almost a right angle with his center; but here he massed his troops in such numbers as to make that point almost invulnerable. By far the hardest fighting was done in the center. For hours each army stood without giving or taking an inch, while the ground was being literally covered with the slain.

At noon we were ordered on a bid to fire upon a celebrated rifle battery that had annoyed our lines for some time. We exchanged some savagely complimentary shots, and then the aforesaid battery thought proper to take a better position. About this time a brigade in Withers’ division being ordered to charge, we accompanied it through the field for four hundred yards, where we halted and unlimbered.

Three batteries now opened upon us with a terrible fire of shell. A number exploded in the very ranks of the infantry, killing and wounding many. I was gunner of one of our pieces, and had fired but once when a cannon ball killed two men at my gun. The head of one was shot off within a foot of mine, and his brains spattered my face. We remained in this dangerous place for half an hour, but without further loss, except that of several horses, and a limber so badly shattered that we had to get another before the gun could be removed. The brigade that had charged was compelled to fall back. We then retired to our former position, and fired several more rounds, after which we were relieved by another battery, and were in the fight no more during the day. From this time, about two P.M., for an hour, the fire of the infantry almost ceased, and the action was kept up by artillery. The enemy’s right wing had been driven back for two miles, and his center forced back for half a mile. Our right was but partially and slightly engaged during the day.

Toward evening the fighting again became general with the infantry along the


Civil War Cannister Shot – Wikipedia

center, and here the “high pressure” (Chalmers’ Mississippi brigade) made a splendid charge. Ketchum’s battery, connected with this brigade, did splendid execution. It was charged once, and had to fire double charges of cannister. During the charge it had three men killed, and eighteen wounded. The battle closed before dark, by which time the enemy’s center had been driven back fully a mile, we holding the battlefield.

The last sun of 1862 went down in blood – a sad, but fit representative of the eventful year that has just sped by on the wings of father time. While we engaged the enemy in front, Wheeler had swept round in his rear, burning about 300 wagons and taking a large number of prisoners, besides about 2,000 mules. During the night our forces were busy bringing off our wounded and securing the captured artillery. We took about forty pieces, a large number of small arms, and from 4,000 to 6,000 prisoners.

The enemy fell back during the night to a strong position, and busied himself in reorganizing his shattered forces, and throwing up breastworks. Thursday, New Year’s day, passed without any fighting except a few slight skirmishes. 

Gen. Bragg has already been censured for not attacking the enemy on Thursday. Why he did not, it is not for me to say. This much, however, can be said for Gen. Bragg. Like a good General he wants to save his men. If the “Army of Tennessee” were annihilated, we have no new troops to fill its place. An attack upon the enemy’s lines would have been attended with heavy loss on our side, and though success would probably have attended our efforts, yet the risk was very considerable.

At daybreak on Friday morning the four batteries of Cheatham’s division, Scott’s, Carnes’, Smith’s and Stanford’s, supported by Chalmer’s brigade, formed on a hill eight hundred yards from the enemy’s lines, and had a lively time during the day, shelling the enemy’s sharpshooters from the woods, and engaging a line of the enemy’s batteries in front. At times the fire of the enemy was tremendous, but being just behind the crest of the hill we suffered but little. About three o’clock P. M., we were ordered to engage the enemy’s batteries, while Breckinridge should charge their lines. He met them, and drove them back with great slaughter for a mile, when suddenly falling behind their entrenchments, and being supported by a number of batteries, our forces were compelled to fall back with heavy loss. Here the enemy took three pieces of Breckinridge’s artillery; so he lost everything that had just been gained, and was driven back to his original position. This was certainly an unfortunate move. 

If Breckinridge had had a supporting division, the result would have probably been quite different; but he had no reserves at hand. There was no fighting of account on Saturday, and Saturday evening, to our surprise, the whole army was ordered to fall back. 

We camped two miles south of Murfreesboro that night, and Sunday a part of the army marched to Shelbyville, part to Tullahoma and a portion to Manchester. There was at least one good reason for our retrograde movement. Our troops had been out for a week, exposed to the rain and cold, with but a single blanket each, and for the most part without fires. Human nature could not hold out much longer under such exposure.

The enemy slowly occupied Murfreesboro, but did not molest us in our retreat. They were evidently glad to be rid of us on any terms. Our loss in all the fights- killed, wounded and missing – will probably reach eight thousand. The enemy admits a loss of from twenty thousand to thirty thousand. We held the field for four days, buried our dead and secured all the spoils. Hence we claim the victory.

Stanford’s battery lost one lieutenant and two privates killed, and six privates wounded, two severely. We also lost ten horses. The enemy is too much crippled to fight us for a month to come. Whenever he is ready, we will welcome him again “with bloody hands to hospitable graves.”


In the January 31, 1863, edition of the Memphis Daily Appeal, “Leigh” included a postscript to his letter about Murfreesboro:

I wrote an account of the battle of Murfreesboro for your paper some days since, and omitted to mention the casualties in Stanford’s battery. They are herewith appended, and you will confer a favor by giving them publicity.


STANFORD’S BATTERY – This gallant organization from Grenada, Miss., was actively engaged in the late battle of Murfreesboro. The following list of casualties has been furnished:

Killed – Lieut. A. A. Hardin; Privates W. C. Brooks and R. H. Elliott. Wounded – Sergt. B.G. Duncan; Privates m. Hartsfield, Charley Phillips, P. L. Shumate, T. C. Rosamond, and George Sledge. None of the latter were severely hurt.


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Christmas with the 18th Mississippi Infantry

The following account of Christmas in the 18th Mississippi Infantry was taken from a letter published by the Memphis Daily Appeal on January 7, 1862. At the time this account was written, the 18th was camped at Leesburg, Virginia, and the men of the regiment were spending their first Christmas away from home:

While I now write, preparations are going on for ‘winter quarters,’ and the sounds


“Christmas Boxes in Camp” By Winslow Homer – Harper’s Weekly, January 4, 1862

of axes and falling timber are resounding through the weeds on every hand. Game cocks tied to the tent by one leg, are crowing defiantly in all directions – chicken-fights are progressing in every sunny spot, while violins and circles of dancers are scattered in every warm and dry location, while others roar out bachanalian and war-like strains from every tent. It is Christmas! Far away from friends and home, these brave and simple-hearted volunteers make the welkin ring with their boisterous mirth – huge logs are crackling and roaring on camp fires – pots are boiling and bubbling, and hissing for egg-nog, beef and pork are frying, and bread is baking – the regimental band has been imbibing, and is now playing away with great gusto, while some have formed setts for quadrilles to be danced by the fire light.

It is Christmas! Groups are reading the newspapers and deciding the fate and progress of the war, officers and men are hobnobbing over the social glass; negroes are busy and gaseous over a pyramid of pots and pans, while the ear-splitting laughter and incessant rolling of eyes gives positive assurance that they have made acquaintance with something stronger than water. Boxes, bales, and trunks, and parcels have come from ‘home’ – coats, and blankets, and boots, and hats are hawked about, and swapped, and sold, and tossed about, while long letters from the ‘Governor,’ and short ones from ‘sweethearts’ are read, and praised, and laughed at, while ‘payday’ coming on the morrow, cheers are given for the quartermaster, and stentorian groans for the inartistic or tardy cash. 

Snap 2015-12-24 at 16.13.18

“Christmas in Camp” – Boston Public Library

It is Christmas! Friends with mysterious bundles and parcels, hid under the coat, arrive from town, and dive therewith into the depth and recesses of the tent, and hide them under the straw – friends with turkeys and fowl, and a hundred other things, meet together and do hungry justice to the same, while songs and stories go the rounds of tents and camps, and everybody laughs, and everybody is ‘jolly’ except the poor and unfortunate frost-covered sentinel, who, with muffled form and a very red nose, walks his lonely rounds and grins at what he cannot then enjoy.

Minolta DSC

“Christmas Eve” by Thomas Nast, published in the January 1863 edition of Harper’s Weekly

It is Christmas time, and even the lean, lank, solemn looking parson unbends in dignity for the occasion, and while forming one of a circle round the blazing logs, cup in hand, essays to joke, but being ‘coughed down’ for the attempt, winks ominously at the egg-nog, and apostrophises largely on the vanity of things generally. The colonel too, and the lieutenant, and the shrill-toned, brisk and soldierly adjutant smoke their Havanas on the portico of ‘headquarters’ with solemn dignity, while the French band-master electrifies a knot of youngsters with all sorts of ‘impossibilities’ on the trombone.

It is Christmas time, and coming but once a year none care for expenses. The


Offering a toast with Egg Nog –

Yankees are the last persons thought of – cock-fighting and egg-nog, and egg-nog and cock-fighting interspersed with songs and egg-nog and story-telling are the prime order of things just now, and despite all the parson says, and nothwithstanding the ‘starchiness’ of full-blown officials, rye and ‘egg fruit’ are decidedly in the ascendant, and more than that has no baneful effect, since it simply lends to revive old associations and strengthen those bonds of brotherhood which has indissolubly linked us for ever to the fortunes of our country.

The above letter was only signed T.E.C., but fortunately I was able to figure out this these initials stood for Thomas E. Caffey, a private in Company D “Hamer Rifles,” 18th Mississippi Infantry.

Caffey enlisted in the Hamer Rifles at Yazoo City in May 1861 for 12 months service. The 25 year old was a native of London, England, and listed his occupation as teacher. At the end of his year’s enlistment, he applied for a discharge, stating he had to return to England to take care of the estate of his deceased parents. In 1864 Caffey published a book about his experiences in the war titled Battlefields of the South From Bull Run to Fredericksburg. This book is available for free download from the website.

On a personal note I would like to thank everyone who reads and enjoys my blog – your kind comments make it all worthwhile I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!


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The Battle Banquet: The 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Champion Hill

I recently picked up a curious little relic of the Battle of Champion Hill on Ebay; to be honest it doesn’t look like much more than the party invitation that it is. But this party was special; it was held on May 16, 1913, at Newburgh, Indiana, to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Champion Hill. To the attendees of the party, this date and this battle held a special significance, as most of them had fought for their lives on the “Hill of Death.”

Invite 2.PNG

The party was hosted by William A. Warren and his wife Lida, at their home in Newburgh. William was a survivor of the Battle of Champion Hill, having served in Company F, 24th Indiana Infantry. As part of Brigadier General Alvin P. Hovey’s division, the 24th Indiana had fought on Champion Hill itself, and had suffered grievous casualties: 27 killed, 166 wounded, and 8 missing, in a regiment that numbered less than 500 men when the battle started. William A. Warren was one of those casualties in the 24th Indiana; wounded in the right arm during the fighting, he had to have the limb amputated to save his life.

I wanted to find out a little more about the Champion Hill anniversary party, so I went to, and got lucky – the Evansville Courier & Press had detailed coverage of the event in the May 17, 1913, edition of the paper:


Fiftieth Anniversary of Champion Hill Fight Celebrated at Warren Home

At Newburg Home Veterans Revive Memories of Historic Battle Scenes

The 11 o’clock Evansville suburban Newburg car was loaded with veterans, their families and friends, and received a hearty welcome at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. William Warren. The ladies hired themselves to the house, while the gentlemen gathered in groups about the grounds and enjoyed reminiscences over the time of the Vicksburg campaign until Mrs. Warren announced that dinner was ready.

William A. Warren Family

William A. Warren and Family –

Three tables in the double dining room were laden with choice viands not generally found on the soldiers bill of fare at least during the Vicksburg campaign. About 60 of the veterans and their families were seated at the tables and did justice to the tempting viands spread before them. At the conclusion of the meal short readings and talks were in order.

The talk of Comrade John Rudolph, of the Twenty-Fourth Indiana, delivered with

Vicksburg Daily Citizen

July 4, 1863, note added to the Vicksburg Daily Citizen by victorious Union soldiers –

simple pathos, brought tears to the eyes of many, as did the remarks of Comrade Christ Wunderlich of the First Indiana battery. Comrade John Gough delivered a fine address. Miss Sadie Hill read some extracts from the last edition of the “Vicksburg Daily Citizen,” printed on wall paper, of date July 4, 1863. This last edition of the “Citizen” was “finished” by a printer of General Grant’s army on July 4, 1863, and contained the following: ‘Two days bring about great changes. The banner of the union floats above Vicksburg. General Grant has caught the rabbit. He has dined in Vicksburg and he did bring his rabbit with him.’

After dinner the guests adjourned to the grounds and formed in social groups, reviewing the incidents of the march, the camp and the battle field.

Warriors Who Were Guests

The following survivors of the battle of Champion Hill were present: C.W. Barenfanger, Eleventh Indiana; Henry Baldwin, Twenty-Fourth Indiana; John Behagg, Twenty-Fourth Indiana; Ralph Bonnel, First Indiana Cavalry; John F. Crisp, Twenty-Fourth Indiana; Robert Day, Twenty-Fourth Indiana; John R. Elderfield, Sixtieth Indiana; W.H. Ellison, Forty-Third Tennessee, Confederate; W.P. Graham, Twenty-Fourth Indiana; C.D. Heldt, Twenty-Fourth Indiana; Robert Hornbrook, Eleventh Indiana; Thomas Ingle, Twenty-Fourth Indiana; August Leich, Twenty-Fourth Indiana; Charles Meissner, Twenty-Fourth Indiana; George Nester, First Indiana Battery; Alexander Oliphant, Twenty-Fourth Indiana; John Rudolph, Twenty-Fourth Indiana; John Rohner, Twenty-Second Kentucky; W.H. Redman, Twenty-Fourth Indiana; Frank Snurpus, Eleventh Indiana; Thomas Seifritz, Eleventh Indiana; August Sauer, First Indiana Battery; Joshua Seward, First Indiana Cavalry; Julius Tzschhoppe, Twenty-Fourth Indiana; Christ Wunderlich, First Indiana Battery; William Warren, Twenty-Fourth Indiana.

Other veterans present were Edward Gough, One Hundred and Thirty-Sixth Indiana; William Wilson, Thirty-Third Indiana; John R. Weed, Sixty-Fifth Indiana. Invited guests were Charles Hovey, son of Winston Menzies and grandson of General Alvin T. Hovey.

Souvenirs for Guests

Each guest was presented with a minie ball, picked up on the Champion Hill battlefield a few years ago by William Warren, and also with a blue and gray pencil as souvenirs of the day. Mrs. Major Menzies, daughter of General Hovey sent Richmond roses to be given to the survivors of the battle. Mr. Warren presented each survivor with a double photograph of himself, as he appeared in 1863 and at the present time.

A three-course supper was served at 5:30 o’clock. The 6:30 o’clock car brought more friends and members of Farragut Post who came to express their congratulation and good wishes to Mr. and Mrs. Warren. Refreshments were served during the evening to all present.

A pleasant incident of the evening was the presentation to Mr. Warren of a solid silver loving cup by twenty of his friends. The cup was presented by Dr. S.F. Jacobi. It was in the battle of Champion Hill that Mr. Warren lost his arm and John F. Crisp and Robert Day were wounded, and a number of the members of the Eleventh and Twenty-Fourth Indiana regiments were killed and wounded. This interesting semi-centennial celebration was much enjoyed and will be long remembered by all of the participants.

Story of the Battle

The battle of Champion Hill was the hardest fought battle of the Vicksburg campaign, and Hovey’s division bore the brunt of the fighting, losing 1,202 men and 59 officers. The Eleventh Indiana regiment’s loss was 167, and that of the Twenty-Fourth Indiana was 201.

General Grant in his Memoirs, writes: ‘The battle of Champion Hill lasted about four hours. Hard fighting preceded two or three hours of skirmishing, some of which almost rose to the dignity of battle. Every man of Hovey’s division and of McPherson’s two divisions was engaged during the battle. We had in this battle about 15,000 men absolutely engaged. Our loss was 410 killed, 1,844 wounded, and 187 missing. Hovey alone lost 1,200 killed, wounded and missing – more than one-third of his division.’


Harper’s Weekly Sketch of the Fighting at Champion Hill – National Park Service

Another writer in ‘Indiana at Vicksburg’ gives the following account of Hovey’s division at Champion Hill:

‘With the enemy outnumbering him three to one, Hovey fought him with bulldog


Battlefield Marker Erected at Champion Hill –

tenacity and fierce combativeness. He was ably seconded by his subordinate officers, as they were by the men. Vicksburg, so long striven for, was understood to hang in the balance, as it was the garrison of that citadel which contested the field. Seldom, perhaps never, was a battle more stubbornly fought. Hovey’s veterans, hard pressed, swayed backward and forward, and back again, rising and falling like a sea lashing the rocky shore. Can they hold the ground until the promised help comes? was the war cry. Again and again they rallied to the colors. At last the long-looked for reinforcements arrived. The foe was checked: one more determined charge was made on his lines, and exultant cheers proclaimed the success of that last desperate onset, and the enemy was in full retreat. The pursuit was taken up by fresh troops and Hovey’s tired heroes rested on the bloody field.’

Men that fifty years ago assembled at the call of the bugle, and in obedience to stern orders, faced each other in mortal combat, yesterday again faced each other from opposite sides of the festal board in response to the following summons:

Unfortunately this is where the newspaper article ends – it seems like the end of the article was left off by mistake, as I checked all the remaining pages of the newspaper, but could not find the remainder of the story.

I did however, in my search, find another story which mentioned William

William A. Warren

Post-War Picture of William A. Warren wearing his Grand Army of the Republic Uniform –

A. Warren. In May 1900, the survivors of Company F, 24th Indiana Infantry held a reunion to remember the anniversary of the Battle of Champion Hill. The Evansville Courier and Press published a story about the reunion in its May 17 edition. In the article it stated that the 24th Indiana

…lost all told, killed and wounded, 201 men. Company F went into the engagement with forty-six men and came out with twenty-two. William Warren of this city lost his arm in the engagement.”

The reunion was held at the home of John F. Crisp, and the newspaper gave a detailed account of the arrangements:

The house of Mr. and Mrs. Crisp was beautifully decorated with flags and flowers. On the outside was stretched an army camp and everything had a war like appearance. The old veterans were served with dinner and supper. Mrs. Crisp was assisted at the tables by Mrs. John Bullen, Mrs. Minnie Keller and Al Clark. The women wore red, white and blue aprons and caps. Strains of sweet music were wafted through the house and the old soldiers lived the past over again.”

After William Warren was wounded at Champion Hill, it took more than a month for the folks back home to learn of his fate. On June 23, 1863, the Evansville Journal noted:

PERSONAL – We were pleased to greet the return of Johnny Wheeler, yesterday, who arrived Sunday morning on the steamer Courier. Johnny was a member of Company F, 24th Indiana, and received two wounds in the battle of Champion Hill. He was captured by the rebels while in the hospital at Champion Hill, and paroled. He brings the glad tidings that some of our boys who were reported dead are alive and doing well – among others, William Warren.”

After Warren recovered from his wound, he was discharged from the army and returned home to Indiana. The loss of an arm did not seem to slow the young man down, and in 1864 he ran for public office. In the election results posted by the Evansville Daily Journal, April 5, 1864, for assessor, the paper noted that there were three posts to fill; the leading candidate was William Warren, Jr., with 769 votes.

The assessor’s position was just the beginning of Warren’s political career; on July 23, 1866, The Evansville Journal wrote that the Deputy Collector for the county had resigned, and that “We also learn that Captain Hornbrook, of this city, and William Warren, Jr., a gallant private soldier, who lost an arm at the bloody battle of Champion Hill, are applicants for the position. Both are competent for the place. Young Warren, since he returned home – being only one of nine survivors of one hundred noble men that constituted one of the companies of the 24th – has learned to write handsomely with his left hand and is otherwise amply qualified to discharge the duties of the office. Either of the gentlemen would be acceptable, we think, to the majority of our citizens.”

William A. Warren went on to have a very prosperous future; he served as


The grave of William A. Warren –

deputy collector of internal revenue for Vanderburgh County, Indiana, from 1866 – 1869, as Vanderburgh County auditor from 1878 – 1882, and by the time he hosted the 1913 reunion he was a bank president. He lived to a ripe old age, dying on January 1, 1937; he was the next to last surviving member of his Grand Army of the Republic Post. Warren is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Evansville, Indiana.


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