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.
2 thoughts on ““Brothers in the Confederate Cause:” A Story of Two Comrades in Arms”
Reblogged this on Poore Boys In Gray.
What a beautiful story which needs to be told over and over during this time of so much destruction and removal of Confederate Memorial Monuments. The poem was very moving. Thanks so much for sharing this history of two comrades in arms, southern sons who fought for southern independence.