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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He ‘is not dead, but sleepeth,’

The boy that ‘wore the grey,’

With manhood’s pride and boyhood’s grace,

On that bright summer’s day.

His dark-blue eyes were radiant

With a patriotic glow,

And his beardless chin was dimpled

With a smile ‘twixt joy and woe;

While from his fair young forehead

The silken locks were thrown,

With a careless ease, and a winning mien

No painter’s art hart known.

He ‘is not dead, but sleepeth,’

The boy that pined away,

On a couch of pain afar from home,

On that bright summer’s day.

And the words of love he uttered

To a mother’s aching heart,

In the household band of a sunny land,

Are now a treasured part.

He loved his native country,

He loved his Saviour too;

And softly to His bosom

This youthful son He drew.

Virginia’s noble daughters!

We pray you guard the spot

Where sleeps our darling brother;

You will not be forgot.

For in the gentle rustle

Of the wind that passeth by,

You will hear a soft and tender wail –

His tribute from the sky!

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

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Henry Wyatt

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

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The City of Vicksburg held a “Blue and Gray” Reunion from May 25 –  30, 1890. (Vicksburg Commercial Herald, May 27, 1890)

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.

Henry Wyatt 1890 Veteran's Census
Henry Wyatt’s listing on the 1890 Veteran’s Census (Accessed on Ancestry.Com)

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

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Medal Commemorating the 1890 Blue – Gray Reunion in Vicksburg (www.civilwarbadges.com)

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.

 

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August 1900 Confederate Servant’s Pension Application of Henry Wyatt (Accessed on Familysearchorg)

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.

“Brothers in the Confederate Cause:” A Story of Two Comrades in Arms

I have been a Civil War collector for as long as I can remember – I bought my first relic,

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U.S. General Service Button Purchased by the Author in the 1970’s. (Author’s Photo)

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!

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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

Bill Arp
C.W. Shipp wrote to Bill Arp, syndicated columnist with the Atlanta Constitution; Simmons saw Arp’s article, and sent a copy to the Clarion-Ledger. (Photo from http://www.georgiaencyclopeidia.org

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

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Announcement of Mississippi’s Pension Law in 1888 (The Weekly Democrat, Natchez, Mississippi, February 22, 1888)

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.

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Paperwork for Cleophas Shipp’s first pension payment in August 1889. (Familysearch.org)

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).

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In 1900, Shipp had to fill out a detailed pension application with the State of Mississippi (Mississippi Department of Archives and History)

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:

COMMUNICATION

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.

R.O. Simmons.

(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)

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Confederate Veterans on the Steps of Beauvoir (Cooper Collection, Mississippi Department of Archives and History)

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.