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)
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
I am still lingering among my boys, or the remnant of those who blazed a road to glory
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
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.
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)
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 VicksburgHerald, 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.
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:”
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).
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.
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.
The most chronically underrepresented group in first person accounts of the Civil War are without a doubt those of African Americans. Their voices are often silent, or their stories have to be told by others, simply because of the dearth of letters, diaries, and reminiscences of black soldiers and slaves. Thus I was very excited to find the following letter published in a Greenville newspaper in 1890:
Fort Adams, Miss., April 25, 1890
Mr. J.S. McNeily, Greenville:
Dear Sir – I write to you to ascertain if yourself and Mr. W.K. Gildart and any of Company
E, 21st Mississippi Regiment expect to attend the reunion of the Confederate soldiers at Vicksburg on the 25th to the 30th of May, as I would like to see and meet with all my friends, as we may never meet again. Please be sure and answer me at once, as I don’t wish to go unless I can meet you all. I will be more than proud to meet you, especially on account of your favors in the past, which I will never forget.
I am still a true and tried Democrat and am still with my party and the people. I wish to hear from you in regard to the meeting. I have nothing more to write. Only write soon.
I remain your obedient servant,
Henry Wyatt, Col’d
Henry was a popular member of the regimental servants squad. He will especially remembered by a pathetic circumstance at the death of his master, Orderly Sergeant Beech of Company E, a mere boy but a brave and tried soldier. Killed at the battle of Cedar Creek, the news of his death brought Henry to the front, regardless of the dangers of which he ordinarily had a ludicrously lively sense. After a brief indulgence in lamentations he set about burying the corpse, but was interrupted by the renewal of battle and rout of the Confederates. Under hot fire he bore the remains on his shoulders along with the retreat, only relinquishing his sad task to avoid capture.
(The Weekly Democrat-Times, Greenville, Mississippi, May 10, 1890)
Henry Wyatt, was not a soldier; he was a slave, bound to serve his master, William H. Beach, a member of the “Hurricane Rifles,” Company E, 21st Mississippi Infantry. Beach had enlisted in the 21st Mississippi on June 6, 1861, as a private, and he must have shown some talent as a soldier, for he was promoted to 4th corporal on January 1, 1863, and to 1st sergeant on August 1, 1863. This was a very rapid rise in rank for a boy who was only 17 at the time he enlisted. William H. Beach received a minor wound at the battle of Chickamauga, on September 20, 1863; he recovered from his injury only to be killed in action at the battle of Cedar Creek, October 19, 1864, leading to the recovery of his body by his slave Henry Wyatt.
I started looking for background information on Henry Wyatt, and the first thing I found on him was a listing in the 1870 United States Census for Wilkinson County, Mississippi. He was listed as a “farm laborer” along with his wife Anna, and children Malinda, Monroe and Robena. I was unable to find Wyatt in the 1880 census, but I did find him in the 1890 Veteran’s Schedules – it was only supposed to record Union veterans, but some former Confederate soldiers and servants were enumerated as well, and he was one of them.
I was curious to know if Henry Wyatt attended the 1890 reunion at Vicksburg. I did some looking and was rewarded with an article in a local newspaper published under the title, “A Veteran’s Arrival.”
Henry Wyatt, colored, attached during the late war to the 21st Mississippi Regiment and
who was noted throughout the war for going wherever the regiment did, arrived yesterday on the steamer Laura Lee from Fort Adams, to attend the reunion and was received as an honored guest and at once provided with quarters. He went out with the regiment and returned with it at the close of hostilities, being faithful to the end, as he has been indeed ever since. He now holds a position of trust at the Fort Adams landing acting as night watchman and clerk, handling and receiving freight, etc. His only object in coming, as he expressed it is “to meet the boys.”
He will be remembered by all survivors of the gallant Twenty-First and especially by the members of Company E, for his gallant attempt to recover the body of his young master, in the midst of a heavy fire from the enemy.
(The Daily Commercial Herald, Vicksburg, Mississippi, May 24, 1890)
Wyatt apparently made regular appearances on the reunion circuit, as I found this article in an 1895 Jackson newspaper:
There is present in attendance on the Reunion of the Veterans a colored man from Wilkinson county, Henry Wyatt, who has a record to be proud of. He was a servant in the Twenty-First Regiment, and at the battle of Cedar Creek he went into the thickest of the fight and bore off the body of his young master, who was killed. Henry has been a staunch Democrat since the war and is still an enthusiastic ex-Reb. All honor to such colored men. (The Clarion-Ledger, January 22, 1895) This same issue of the paper listed the veterans attending the Jackson reunion – among those mentioned was ‘Henry Wyatt, (col.)‘ an ‘honorary member‘ of Woodville Camp Number 48 of the United Confederate Veterans.
Henry Wyatt passed away in 1907, and the newspaper carried a lengthy obituary for him:
A Worthy Negro Goes to His Reward.
Col. Matt Johnson, who served his full term as a Confederate soldier, and who is a prominent citizen of Natchez, states that ‘Henry Wyatt, a good old Confederate negro was buried today (Friday) and is gone to where the good negroes go. In a letter from Capt. J.S. McNeily of the Vicksburg Herald, he speaks of old Henry as an honest, worthy and brave man. His owner was my friend and messmate during the war. Henry cooked for us until late in the war when his master was killed on the battlefield.
Henry went forward between the line of battle, shouldered his master and carried him to the rear. In so doing he was severely wounded in both hands, one shot entirely off. He has been receiving a Confederate pension of which he was worthy. He wore the cross of honor of Confederate Veterans and other insignias of worthy conduct. Since the war for the last twenty-six years, old Henry has been landing-keeper at Fort Adams and performed his duty to the satisfaction of the owners and all river men who knew him and speak of him in the highest praise of many acts of honesty and bravery.
Capt. McNeily of Vicksburg, in writing to me about him, says: ‘I will stand for anything that this good man needs. It is with great pleasure to tell you and the public of the life and deeds of this good old negro for there are not many left of his character.’ – Natchez Democrat
That old darky was what he was because of his training by white people, and for his white folks he would have suffered any kind of torture. Here in Yazoo there are still some of the ‘old guard,’ of blacks, but they are fast passing away. Would not training by whites have some influence on the younger generation, and be better for them and the country than cutting them off entirely, leaving them to be trained by their own superstitious race?
(The Yazoo Herald, Yazoo City, Mississippi, April 19, 1907)
There was a place for men like Henry Wyatt at Confederate reunions, as long as they fit into the very narrow confines of the Lost Cause narrative: faithful slaves that willingly served their masters in time of war. To all outward appearances, Wyatt cheerfully stayed within the boundaries set for him by white society, but he did have a powerful financial reason for doing so. Henry Wyatt began receiving a Confederate servant’s pension from the state of Mississippi in March 1894, and to continue receiving this allotment he had to be very careful about what he said and did.
Without additional information, such as letters, diaries or interviews, it’s hard to say with any certainty what Wyatt’s true feelings about the war and his place in it were. I will keep a sharp eye out, and perhaps someday I will find some additional evidence regarding Henry Wyatt’s thoughts on the Civil War.
I have been a Civil War collector for as long as I can remember – I bought my first relic,
a dug U.S. General service button, in the 1970’s when I was about 10 years old. I paid fifty cents for that button, and I still have it proudly displayed among my many Civil War artifacts.
Some 40-odd years after buying that button I am still adding to my collection, and this article concerns one of my latest acquisitions – a small pamphlet written by Confederate soldier C.W. Shipp of Water Valley, Mississippi.
I purchased the Shipp pamphlet from the same place I get most of my relics these days – on Ebay. It didn’t cost much; I think I paid about 10 dollars for the document, planning at the time to use it in an article for the blog. It has taken me a couple of years to get around to it, but I am finally writing the article – I hope you like it!
The pamphlet was written by Cleophas W. Shipp of Water Valley, Mississippi, and after looking up his service record on Fold3.com, I found the document had the basic information of his Civil War service correct. Shipp enlisted in September 1861 as 3rd Sergeant of the “Dave Rogers Rifles,” Company G, 1st Mississippi Infantry. He was captured at Fort Donelson in February 1862, and sent to Camp Morton, Indiana. After being exchanged, Shipp returned to his regiment, only to be captured again at Port Hudson, Louisiana, when the garrison surrendered in July 1863. Returning to his unit in the fall of 1863, Shipp served until November 30, 1864, when he was wounded in the foot during the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, and sent to a local hospital. Captured by Federal forces in December 1864, Shipp was sent to Camp Chase, Ohio, where he remained until taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States on June 13, 1865. (C.W. Shipp Compiled Service Record, Accessed on Fold3.com)
Shipp’s pamphlet stated that he was paralyzed, but after examining his service record, it didn’t appear that his disability was related to any of his Civil War injuries. I did some research through Newspapers.com, and was able to find some answers in a 1902 newspaper article:
A CALL FOR AID
OLD VETERAN ASKS HELP TO SAVE HIS HOME
An old soldier, C.W. Shipp of Water Valley, Miss., sends me his photo as he lies in his bed, where he has been for twenty-two years, paralyzed from wounds received at the battle of Franklin. He enlisted in Company G, First Mississippi Infantry; was in fights at Fort Donaldson and Fort [Port] Hudson and followed Hood from Atlanta to Tennessee; was wounded at battle of Franklin and taken prisoner. He has written a poem and dedicated it to his comrades. His home has an old debt of $400 hanging over it, and will be sold before long. How many of the veterans who are going to Dallas will send him a dollar or a half to save his old home? He will send each one [of] his picture[s] and a copy of his poem.
The above call for aid was clipped from Bill Arp’ letter in the Atlanta Constitution of April
21. It was handed us by R.O. Simmons of Lebanon, Miss., who says he will give fifty cents toward saving the old veteran’s home to him. Mr. Simmons is an old veteran himself having served during the war in the 25th Georgia regiment, Company A, Longstreet’s corps, Kershaw[‘s] division, Walthall’s brigade. He is very much in earnest about helping Mr. Shipp and makes the request that other state papers publish the extract above. (Clarion-Ledger, May 14, 1902)
The Clarion-Ledger article was interesting, but I felt it was incorrect in one regard; it stated that Shipp’s paralysis was the result of his wound from the battle of Franklin. The service record of Shipp stated that his wound was only a “simple flesh wound of left foot, outer surface.” This does not sound like the kind of injury that would leave a man permanently crippled.
I did some additional research, and found an article in Confederate Veteran Magazine that gives, I believe, a much more accurate account of how Shipp came by his injury:
“Comrade C.W. Shipp, of Mississippi, writes that his State is doing well by its crippled Confederates. The State gives $150,000 a year to them. Mr. Shipp was thrown from a horse March 6, 1880, and his spine broken and his entire body paralyzed, and his lower extremities completely paralyzed, which has confined him to his bed for more than sixteen years.” (Confederate Veteran Magazine, Volume 8, Number 8, August 1900)
The timing of Shipp’s accident seems correct – I looked him up in the 1880 U.S. Census for Lafayette County, and found him listed as a 37 year old farmer. Also under the category “Sick” was written one word: “Paralysis.” For a relatively young man with a large family to support, Shipp’s injury must have had a huge impact on the family finances. In addition to his wife Sarah, age 38, he had 3 sons and 2 daughters, ranging in age from 17 to 3 years old. (United States Census for Lafayette County, Mississippi, accessed on Ancestry.com)
Unfortunately for Cleophas Shipp and his family, at the time of his accident in 1880, there were few, if any, government programs to aid the disabled. Those unable to work had to rely on the kindness of family, friends, and local private charitable institutions for assistance.
In 1888 the state of Mississippi did pass a pension law to aid Confederate veterans, but as
it was written, it would seem that Shipp did not qualify. The legislation was very narrowly focused to allow pensions to only those veterans who were unable to work because of a war-related injury.
Although Shipp’s wounds were not caused by the war, he did indeed receive a pension under the 1888 law. In August 1889 he received his first yearly payment which amounted to $17.85.
Although he technically did not qualify for a pension under the 1888 law, the county officials may have disregarded the letter of the law and approved the pension for an obviously needy veteran. This flouting of the letter of the law would only have been necessary for two years; in 1890 the state adopted a new constitution, and it changed the rules of eligibility, making Shipp qualified for a pension:
“The legislature shall provide by law, pensions for indigent soldiers and sailors who enlisted and honorably served in the Confederate army or navy in the late civil war, who are now resident in this state, and are not able to earn a support by their own labor. Pensions shall also be allowed to the indigent widows of such soldiers or sailors now dead, when from age or disease they cannot earn a support. Pensions shall also be allowed to the wives of such soldiers or sailors upon the death of the husband, if disabled and indigent as aforesaid. Pensions granted to widows shall cease upon their subsequent marriage.” (http://www.mdah.ms.gov/arrec/digital_archives/pensions/desc).
The first yearly payment Cleophas Shipp received was $17.85, which was not enough money to support a disabled individual, much less one with a large family. In 1896 the Mississippi House of Representatives introduced House Bill 341 “An Act for the Relief of C.W. Shipp,” but the bill failed to pass. (Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Mississippi, 1896, page 439).
Fortunately for Shipp, there was someone willing to step up and help. Richard O. Simmons, the man who sent the initial information about Shipp’s plight to the Clarion-Ledger in 1902, made another appeal later that same year in another newspaper:
Lebanon, Miss., July 7, 1902
To the Editor of the South.
When I made a call through your most eminent paper for the old veteran, Bro. C.W. Shipp, of Water Valley, Miss., who has been confined to his bed over twenty-two years and can’t even sit up, has to lie all the time, there was a debt on his old home and I said I would be one of 800 to give the old brother 50 cents to pay the old home out. I supposed there would have been that number in the state who would give that amount. Only $50 was paid and the court ordered the old home sold. C.W. Shipp bid off the old home for $150. He paid the $50 leaving $100 due. He said to me in a private letter, if we would pay the $100 for him he would be mighty thankful for the same.
All the Southern States have a home for the old soldiers but Mississippi. Now, I will ask the ladies of the state to help me save the old brother’s home for him. I am no blood kin to him. I was in Lee’s army and he was in the Western and that makes us brothers in the Confederate cause. He lost his old mother last fall and that brought up the sale. Can I find 400 ladies in the state who will give the old Reb 25 cents and pay the $100 for him? Ladies, I will take the lead and give 50 cents more. Where are the Daughters of the Confederacy? Mrs. Hancock, of Red Banks, has given $1 and Mrs. Mary E. Anderson, of Pickens, sent me $1 for the old brother.
God bless the good ladies! Take them out and there would not be a man in these United States in fifteen years.
Who will comfort me in sorrow.
Who will dry the fallen tear;
Gently smooth the wrinkled forehead,
Who will whisper words of cheer?
Let his knapsack be my pillow,
And my mantle be the sky;
Hasten, comrades, to the battle,
I will like a soldier die.
Soon with angels I’ll be marching,
With bright laurels on my brow;
I have for my country fallen,
Who will care for me now?
Lay me where sweet flowers blossom,
Where the dainty lily grows,
Where the pinks and violets mingle,
Lay my head beneath a rose.
(The Canton Times, Canton, Mississippi, August 8, 1902)
I was curious to learn more about the man who was so willing to help a fellow veteran. I found that Richard O. Simmons was not a rich man; he was a farmer living in Marshall County, Mississippi, with his widowed daughter and three grandchildren. In all likelihood he had never met C.W. Shipp, who lived in Lafayette County. But Simmons saw in Shipp a fellow soldier, and even though they had fought in different armies and different theaters of the war, they were comrades united through service in a common cause. (1900 United States Census, Marshall County, Enumeration District 70, Page 10)
Richard O. Simmons enlisted in Company A, 24th Georgia Infantry, in March 1862. He served in the Army of Northern Virginia, and was still with his regiment when it surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse in 1865. (Compiled Service Record of R.O. Simmons, 24th Georgia Infantry; accessed on Fold3.com, March 28, 2018)
In his letter Simmons bemoaned the fact that Mississippi had no veteran’s home to take care of indigent and disabled veterans. In fact, Mississippi was the next to last state of those that joined the Confederacy to establish a facility to care for its old soldiers. On December 10, 1903, Beauvoir, Jefferson Davis’ home in Biloxi, opened as a veteran’s home. (“Jefferson Davis Soldier Home – Beauvoir,” by Lisa C. Foster and Susannah J. Ural, http://www.mshistorynow.mdah.ms.gov)
Unfortunately neither Cleophas Shipp or Richard Simmons lived to see the opening of the Beauvoir soldier’s home. Shipp passed away on March 31, 1903, a victim of typhoid fever. Simmons died on November 13, 1903, less than a month before the opening of Beauvoir. (Confederate Grave Registration Card of C.W. Shipp, Mississippi Department of Archives and History; Findagrave listing for Richard O. Simmons, http://www.findagrave.com)
Although it came to late to help Cleophas Shipp, I’d like to think that both he and Richard Simmons would have been happy knowing that other veterans like themselves lived out their lives in comfort at Beauvoir on the Mississippi gulf coast.
In 1907, the newspaper in Ripley, Mississippi, published a letter written by Cornelius H. Ray, who was then living in Texas but had grown up in Tippah County, Mississippi. This is an interesting letter written by someone who was a child during the Civil War, explaining how the conflict impacted his family:
THE TEXAS LETTER
As I write this my mind runs back to the time when a lad in the hills of Tippah County, Miss., being born in January 1859, I can remember some things that occurred during the war of ’61 to ’64. The people call it the civil war, but I don’t. I call it the cruel war, as all others have been. My father was a Southern soldier and fought four years in that war, but I want to say now that while I am full of Southern blood and had all the Southern principles instilled into me that yet, with me the war is over. I could not be the sort of Christian man I ought to be and hold malice against my fellow-man, so I love them all, and any reference that I should make to the things that I remember about the war is not mentioned in malice, but only as matters of interest.
I remember when the first Northern soldiers came into Tippah county that they wore the uniform of the Southern men, and as they came up by Ruckersville, the good old Dr. Rucker lived there and had a shotgun, and they asked him what he had that gun for, and he said: ‘To kill Yankees with,’ so they took him along with them, and up a little further they met my grandfather, Spencer Gibbs, and my father, Mack Ray. They had started to mill horseback and were in their shirt sleeves, and as they saw the soldiers grandfather hallooed: ‘Hurrah for the rebs!’ so they took them in. In the same raid they got Uncle Jess Ray and took them all off to a Northern prison. Uncle Jess died there, as did many others, and the rest of them wished for their coats after being captured that day. Grandfather saw Dr. Rucker and said, ‘Hello, doctor; what are you doing here?’ He answered that he saw that crowd needed a gentleman in it, so he had just come along with them.
[Editor’s Note: Cornelius Ray’s father, Marion “Mack” Ray, his uncle, Jesse “Jess” Ray, and grandfather, Spencer Gibbs, were Confederate soldiers. All three enlisted in the 2nd Mississippi Infantry (Davidson’s) Army of 10,000, in December 1861. The three were discharged when the unit disbanded in early 1862, and they all later enlisted in Company G, 7th Mississippi Cavalry. Their service records do not mention the incident of being captured by the Federals, but it could have happened before they enlisted for the second time. (Compiled Service Records, Accessed on Fold3.Com). The “Dr. Rucker” may be Charles Covington Rucker, a local physician who lived in Tippah County (1860 Tippah County Census, page 471)]
I remember how my poor mother and our grandmother cried as they came back by home with father and grandfather, and how, as they looked up the road after them as they carried them off. But begging did no good; it was war time and a time it was. I don’t know how long it was before they got back home, but a good while, and I have forgotten what became of that corn. I guess they took it also with the men, mules and horses, as all were needed in war.
[Editor’s Note: Cornelius Ray’s mother was Elizabeth “Eliza” Jane Ray. The grandmother he was speaking of may be Sarah Ann Gibbs, the wife of Spencer Gibbs. (Findagrave.com listings for Elizabeth Ray and Sarah Ann Gibbs).
Later I remember that grandfather had an old fashioned gin and thresher combined, and that it had a lot of wheat straw around it, and one day a man rode up to the gate and asked for a chunk of fire to light his pipe with. Grandmother took it to him and he rode off to the gin and threw it in the straw, but mother went at once with a bucket of water and put it out, so it stood long after the war was over. My grandfather’s place was ten miles south of Pocahontas, Tenn., on the Ripley and Pocahontas road. Many Tippah County folks knew where it is or was. I remember the battle of Corinth. I remember to have heard the cannon and the roar of battle. I was 25 miles away, but we could hear it plain. This letter is long enough. More by and by.
Southern Sentinel (Ripley, Mississippi), September 19, 1907
Cornelius H. Ray was born on January 8, 1859, in Union County South Carolina. His parents and grandparents moved from South Carolina to Tippah County, Mississippi, in the late 1850s. The findagrave.com listing for his grandfather, Spencer Gibbs, notes: “He and his family joined a caravan of several families moving from the Cross Keys area in Union District to Jonesborough in Tippah Co, MS in late October 1859.” The Ray family moved to Texas in the 1870’s, and eventually settled in the town of Weatherford. Cornelius H. Ray became a Baptist minister in Weatherford, and lived there until his death on March 12, 1941.