January & February Private William Meek Furr listed as present on the Company E Muster Roll.
On February 5, Alexander R. Lawton, Quartermaster General of the Confederate Army, wrote to General Lee in response to previous correspondence concerning the making of shoes in the field instead of in a depot. General Lawton was against diverting resources from the depots "where leather can certainly be worked up with more safety and economy." He stated, however, that "the samples forwarded from your command, especially that from Posey's brigade, compare favorably with shoes manufactured elsewhere." The Richmond Sentinel reported, "A new feature in the Army is the establishment of shoe shops in several of the brigades. The one attached to Posey's old brigade, and under the control of the very efficient Brigade Quartermaster, will be capable of turning out twenty pair of shoes a day, as soon as a sufficient supply of tools is procured, and these shoes are much superior to the English 'iron-clads' as they are to be Confederate russetts."
On February 6, an article in the Richmond Sentinel reported, "the Mississippi brigade, late under the command of Gen. Posey, is composed of the 16th, 12th, 19th and 48th. The two latter regiments had enlisted for the war at the commencement of the struggle, and as the 16th and 12th were about to take action upon the subject of their re-enlistment, being composed of three years' men, Col. D.C. Glenn, one of Mississippi's most gifted sons, took occasion to make a few remarks. Colonel Glenn was formerly Attorney General of the State, and is now one of the Judges of the Military Court attached to Gen A. P. Hill's corps." After his speech, "a vote was then put to the meeting on the question of re-enlistment, which resulted in an entirely unanimous vote to re-enlist for the war; the 48th and 19th thus re-affirming their original enlistment." The author of this article also noted that "the announcement made some time ago in the papers, that Gen. Wirt Adams* had been assigned to the command of Posey's brigade, proved to be erroneous. Information has been received, although not of an official character, yet from a source that there can be no possibility of an error, that Col. Nat H. Harris, of the 19th, who is now commanding the brigade, has been promoted to a brigadiership and assigned to command the Mississippi brigade. Col. Harris is a brother of Judge Harris, who has recently been appointed Third Auditor, and the selection is one which, I learn, is very popular in the brigade, as Col. Harris has long borne a high reputation as a good officer, conspicuous for his gallantry and much liked for his affability of manner; besides flattering the amour propre of the brigade by selecting the general from the regimental commanders."
[*William Wirt Adams was born in Frankfort, Kentucky on March 22, 1819. He saw service in the army of the Republic of Texas in 1839 and then engaged in planting and banking in Mississippi, where he was a member of the legislature in 1858 and 1860. He raised the 1st Mississippi Cavalry and became its colonel. For his services in the Vicksburg campaign, he was promoted to brigadier general on September 25, 1863. Towards the end of 1864, his brigade was attached to Forrest's corps with which it served until the end of the war. After the war, he resided in Vicksburg and then Jackson. On May 1, 1888, he was killed in a street encounter with a Jackson newspaper editor with whom he had quarreled.]
Colonel Nathaniel H. Harris (October 14, 1863 to April 9, 1865) of the 19th Miss was appointed Brigadier General on January 17 with a January 20 date of rank. On March 3, Special Order #61 formally appointed him commander of Posey's former brigade. General Harris had served in every capacity with the 19th Miss from captain to colonel. Colonel Thomas J. Hardin* was appointed commander of the 19th Miss, their fifth since the beginning of the war. He would not be their last since he would be killed together with Colonel Samuel E. Baker of the 16th Miss less than three months later.
[*Thomas Joseph Hardin was born July 27, 1829 in Monroe County, Kentucky. He was a farmer in Marshall County, Mississippi. Elected Captain, Company I, 19th Miss on May 25, 1861, he was promoted to major on May 5, 1863, lieutenant colonel on July 17, 1863, and colonel on January 20, 1864. He was killed at the "Bloody Angle" during the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse on May 12, 1864 and is buried in the Spotsylvania Confederate Cemetery. He also has a monument at Hill Crest Cemetery, Holly Springs, Mississippi.]
The next five months were spent in the normal camp duties and many furloughs were granted. During this period, the infantry of the Army of Northern Virginia fought no battles. On January 21, Harris' Brigade received a resolution from the Mississippi Legislature conveying thanks to their troops in the field. Lots of letters and other news from home were obtained from those returning from furlough.
March & April On March 12, General Grant took command of all Union forces. The weather was much milder this winter than the last. However, on March 22-23, it snowed 12 inches. "Snow fights the order of the day. The right and left wings have a heavy engagement. Snow effigies erected all over camp."
On April 11, Private Emmet D. Cavett of Company A, 19th Miss participated in a Ring Tournament sponsored by the officers of General Hill's 3rd Corps. At the time, he was 19 years old and a two and a half year veteran of the Army of Northern Virginia. For the previous nine months, he had been on detached duty as a courier at the Headquarters of the 3rd Corps. According to Cavett, "All the Knights having assembled we proceeded to Register our names alphabetically and out of the 50 there were only 5 privates, (myself among the number,), we were to ride 5 times apiece (and all had sabres) we had first to cut off a head on a post, next take a ring then cut a head on the ground and last take off a bag of straw (about the size of a man's head) from a pole, on the point of your Sabre." The tournament also consisted of a riding contest and was followed the next day by a Coronation Ball. The Knights raised about $3000.00 and ". . . sent the money to Richmond and foraged around in the surrounding country and got up a most splendid Supper, Cake of all sorts and kinds, Icecream, Lemonade, Champagne, Candy, Chicken Salad, meats of all kinds and served in every style. Oysters in the greatest abundance, and every thing else that we could possibly get." At the Coronation Ball, each Knight crowned his Maid of Honor, danced, and ate supper with her.
May & June Private William Meek Furr listed as present on the Company E Muster Roll.
At the Battle of the Wilderness (May 5-6), the 19th Miss was assigned to Hill's 3rd Corps, Anderson's Division, Harris' Brigade. On May 2-3, Anderson's Division camped on the Orange Turnpike near General Lee's Headquarters at Orange Courthouse. Acting as a rear guard, they went into position on May 4 on the Rapidan Heights near Summerville Ford on the Rapidan. On the morning of May 5, they were shifted down from the Rapidan Heights toward the Plank Road to reinforce General Hill. By the end of the day, they had reached New Verdiersville and left near midnight. Marching up the Orange Plank Road, they arrived at Parker's store around 5:00 a.m. on May 6, a short time after Longstreet's 1st Corps had entered the road. Anderson's Division was obliged to rest on their arms while Generals Kershaw and Fields' divisions filed by. As the men of Hill's Corps fell back from the Union assault on the right of the Confederate line, Longstreet's Corps attacked up the Plank Road. At 6:30 a.m., Anderson's Division moved up the Plank Road to reinforce General Longstreet. To help fill the gap between Longstreet and Ewell's Corps, General Longstreet dispatched the leading brigade (Harris') of Anderson's Division. Colonel Palmer, General Anderson's Chief of Staff, led Harris' Brigade to the Chewning farm. At 7:45 a.m., Harris' Brigade moved further left to join up with Ramseur's Brigade near Jones field. At 1:00 p.m., they shifted closer to Miss Hagerson's between Ramseur and Lane's brigades. At 3:00 p.m., they encountered two Union columns moving to the left and rear of Davis, Perry, and Law's brigades. They charged and forced the Union troops to fall back to an entrenched position, capturing 150 prisoners. Harris' Brigade lost a considerable number killed and wounded. Later, in line with the other brigades, they repulsed the repeated attacks by the Union line. At 7:00 p.m., they rejoined their division, going into reserve behind Walker and Cooke's brigades. Captain Charles Burrage of Company A, 19th Miss was mortally wounded in the head.
During the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse (May 8-12), the 19th Miss was assigned to Hill's 3rd Corps (under temporary command of General Early), Mahone's Division, Harris' Brigade. General Anderson was promoted to lieutenant general and was detached to the 1st Corps replacing General Longstreet who was wounded on May 6. On May 8, as the two armies were moving toward Spotsylvania Courthouse, Mahone's Division in about an hour's fighting succeeded in driving back the Union forces blocking the Shady Grove Church Road. A reconnaissance party from Harris' Brigade encountered some Union cavalry in the morning south of the Orange Plank Road and captured 80 troopers, 107 horses, and two guidons. General Harris was ordered to guard the bridge over the Po River. Here he posted two regiments, which, after skirmishing through the night, aided General Mahone on May 10 in the repulse of a Union attack. The Washington papers headlined a modified quotation from General Grant's dispatch of that day, "I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer." On the morning of May 12, Harris' Brigade camped on the north bank of the Po River. About daybreak, they were ordered to fall in and were soon on a quick march toward the center of the Confederate Army. After a rapid march of about three miles, they began meeting wounded and straggling men.
As Harris' Brigade marched from the vicinity of the Brock House Bridge toward Spotsylvania, they halted for a rest at the Brock Road intersection. There Lieutenant Colonel Venable of General Lee's staff discovered them and directed General Harris to lead his men into the battle salient. Near the Harrison house, General Lee joined General Harris at the head of his column. The following incident occurred near the "bloody angle." "At one time he [General Lee] rode at the head of Harris' Mississippi Brigade, which by his orders I [Lieutenant Colonel Venable] was guiding down in column to the assistance of Rhodes. The men marched steadily on until they noticed that Lee at their head was riding across a space swept by the artillery fire of the enemy. Then were renewed the same protesting shouts of 'Go back, General Lee,' [such calls having previously been made by men in Gordon's Division] and the same promises to do their duty. Harris' (Mississippi) and McGowan's (South Carolina) brigades were ordered forward and rushed through the 'blinding storm' toward the works on Ramseur's right." Harris' Brigade advanced in the direction of the McCoull house. They passed immediately to the west of the house and reached the lane. Their order from front to rear was 16th, 19th, 12th, and 48th Miss.
From another report, "Harris directed his men along the McCoull house road toward the end of Ramseur's line. When he drew near the area of the west angle, enemy fire became so heavy that Harris was unable to form a full line of battle. His two regiments [the 16th and the 19th Miss] on the right braved the storm of lead and charged through the smoky haze straight at the bank of fiery orange flashes that marked the Federal position. True to their word, the Mississippians seized a section of works at bayonet point, capturing 200 Federals, and extending the Confederate line closer to the west angle." They secured their grip on the captured works only after hard hand-to-hand combat. It had been raining for five days, and the men of the 19th Miss were soaked to the skin. However, they stayed in these wet trenches and in close contact with the Union troops for over 20 hours from 7:30 a.m. on May 12 until 4:00 a.m. on May 13. Many were captured in the desperate hand-to-hand fighting including most of Company K with their Captain, Thomas J. Rowan.
Sometime between midnight and 2:00 a.m., a large oak tree near their position was severed by Union musket balls and fell to the ground. The circumference of the stump immediately below where it had been severed was 63 inches. What remains of this stump is now in the Armed Forces Section of the Smithsonian Museum of American History. After being ordered to withdraw, "The exhausted infantrymen of Brown's and Harris' brigade stumbled through the mud to the rear and assembled in a field behind Early's line of works, one-half mile northwest of the courthouse. Their losses were cruel. Approximately one-half of Harris' eight hundred troops had become casualties, including two regimental commanders killed."
From May 6 to 12, the 19th Miss lost 22 killed, 55 wounded, and 45 missing. The dead included Colonel Thomas J. Hardin, who is buried in the Confederate Cemetery at Spotsylvania Courthouse. Colonel Richard W. Phipps* replaced Colonel Hardin as the commander of the 19th Miss. On the afternoon of Sunday, May 15, Harris' Brigade was sent to help Wright's Brigade seize a hill on the Mayer's farm, a mile or so southeast of the Beverly house, near the Ni River. A small group of prisoners and a stand of colors were captured.
[*Richard Wright Phipps was born in Marshall County, Tennessee, on October 1, 1883. He moved with his parents to the vicinity of Oxford, Mississippi, in early 1843. He entered the University of Mississippi the first day it opened and graduated as valedictorian in 1852. He studied law at Cumberland University and practiced in Oxford until the beginning of the war. He assisted in raising what became Company F, 19th Miss in Oxford and was elected its first lieutenant. He was promoted successively from lieutenant to colonel and surrendered his brigade at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865. After the war, he was elected a delegate to the Mississippi Constitutional Convention and later to the state legislature. He died in Terra Ceia, Florida, on October 21, 1912 and is buried in Myrtle Hill Cemetery, Tampa, Florida.]
General Ewell wrote General Harris on December 27 that he had delayed acknowledging Harris' Brigade's service on May 12 because he wished his thanks "to rest on the solid foundation of official reports. The manner in which your brigade charged over the hill to recapture our works was witnessed by me with intense admiration for men who could advance so calmly to what seemed and proved a most certain death. I have never seen troops under a hotter fire than was endured on this day by your brigade and some others. Major General Ed Johnson, since his exchange, has assured me that the whole strength of the enemy's army was poured into the gap formed by the capture of his command. He estimates the force engaged at this place on their side at 40,000, besides Birney's perfectly fresh troops. Prisoners from all of their corps were taken by us. Two divisions of my corps, your brigade and two others, one of which was scarcely engaged, confronted successfully this enormous host and not only won from them nearly all the ground, but so shattered their army that they were unable to make a serious attack until they received fresh troops."
The two armies left Spotsylvania Courthouse about May 20 and marched in parallel lines with each other. "Fighting has become an everyday business. It is no longer an occasional affair from which we can relax into peaceful camp life. Now we have become hardened to it as our normal condition." On May 23, they arrived near Anderson's Station on the Virginia Central Line just to the west of Hanover Junction where some skirmishing occurred. On May 24, the Confederate Army moved back about a mile to prepare for the advance of the Union forces who had crossed the North Anna River near Ox Ford. Late in the afternoon, a fierce thunderstorm broke over the battlefield. Simultaneously, the Confederate forces noticed the small size of the attacking Union forces. They sent flanking parties from Harris' Brigade and two regiments of Sander's Alabama brigade to surround them. The Union forces were driven back and lost a considerable number in killed, wounded, and prisoners. That night, General Harris, under a flag of truce, returned the personal effects, which included a daguerreotype of a young woman, of Lieutenant Colonel Charles L. Chandler of the 57th Massachusetts who had been mortally wounded during the battle, to the 57th so that they could be sent home to his mother. Marching again, Harris' Brigade entrenched on Totopotomoy Creek and skirmished there until June 2, when they moved to Cold Harbor. The Confederate Army took position on the Chickahominy at almost the same spot it had occupied during the Seven Days Battles in 1862.
During the night of June 2, Harris' Brigade relieved a brigade of Breckenridge's Division on Turkey Ridge. During the Battle of Cold Harbor (June 3), they were entrenched on the right of the line between New Cold Harbor and the Grapevine Bridge. From June 4 to 12, they were engaged in a continuous battle of sharpshooters and artillery. The lines were very close together. On June 6, a body of picked men from Harris' Brigade went out on a reconnaissance and lost half their number killed or wounded. During this period, General Harris reported the daily losses of his brigade from artillery and sharpshooters were 10 to 15 men. On the night of June 12, the Union forces withdrew and marched south toward the James River. By noon on June 13, Harris' Brigade marched across the Chickahominy to Newmarket Heights. Here they had their first opportunity for a bath and a change of clothing since the beginning of the campaign.
General Grant's next target was Petersburg and the railroads that provided needed supplies to the Confederacy. The Siege of Petersburg began around June 15 and continued until April 2, 1865. During this period, the 19th Miss was assigned to Hill's 3rd Corps, Mahone's Division, Harris' Brigade. Several of Harris' soldiers deserted to the Union forces (see page 70).
On June 18, Harris' Brigade crossed the James River on a pontoon bridge at Drewry's Bluff after midnight. They were later put in the trenches at Petersburg where they remained for four months, exposed to a constant cannonading and fire from sharpshooters. On June 22, their position was attacked at dark, but the Union forces were repulsed with some 1800 prisoners taken by Mahone's Division. On June 23, they were ordered to occupy the works from which the Union forces had been driven. They encountered a heavy force and had to retreat with some losses. On the same day, they marched to the Nine Mile house on the Weldon Railroad to attack the Union line on the left and rear. They were able to push the Union force back to an entrenched line and held them there until flanked and captured by Perry's Brigade. They then returned to the trenches. Skirmishing and sharpshooting were constant as well as deadly. Union bombardments were regular and nerve racking. However, the troops in the trenches suffered less from the enemy than from the heat, filth, and bad food. The temperature soared several times above 100 degrees that first month of the siege. Clouds of impalpable dust hung everywhere, and sickness was widespread. The 19th Miss lost nine killed, 25 wounded, and two missing during June.
July & August Private William Meek Furr listed as present on the Company E Muster Roll.
"For the last two months, this Company [Company E] has for the most part occupied the trenches near Petersburg, Va, performing arduous labor in the construction and completion of various works. It was ordered north of James River on the 16th August where it participated in an engagement with the enemy near Fussells' Mills. It was also engaged in storming the enemy's works near Johnson House on the 21st Aug. where it suffered much loss."
On July 2, Harris' Brigade moved a mile to the left and took up new positions in the trenches between Finegan and Weisiger's brigades. "Our picket line is close up to the enemy. Lively and continuous sharpshooting on the left. None in front. The pickets here had come to a mutual agreement to stop the 'barbarous practice' of sharpshooting. The enemy's line of battle and pickets are over 150 yards from us, but no shooting. Some of the boys exchange papers, tobacco, etc. with the Yankees, contrary to orders." On July 17, Harris' Brigade was again taken out of the trenches. They were sent to Richmond by rail where on July 18, they engaged in a fight at Newmarket. On July 19, they returned to Petersburg by rail.
On July 30, Harris' Brigade was ordered to have all men in the trenches at 3:00 a.m. as an attack was expected. At sunrise, the famous Petersburg mine explosion occurred. "Harris' (our) Brigade did not leave the trenches, but stretched out in one rank to fill up the space vacated by Mahone." After the failure of the Petersburg mine assault, the Union forces attempted to extend their lines to the west and to further cut Confederate communications into Petersburg. The result was a series of battles at or near Globe Tavern on the Petersburg and Weldon Railroad. On August 16, Harris' Brigade left the trenches, passed through town, and took the train to Richmond, arriving about midnight. They spent the night at Rocketts and boarded a boat the next morning, disembarking on the north side of the James River at Drewry's Bluff. On August 18, they were involved in a minor skirmish on the Darbytown Road near Fussells' Mills (Keys Bottom). General Harris was in command of three brigades, including his own under the temporary command of Colonel Joseph M. Jayne (48th Miss). The skirmish caused some loss and was not decisive. On August 19, they returned to Petersburg by crossing the James River on a pontoon bridge at Chaffins farm and taking the train about three miles beyond. From July 30 to August 21, the 19th Miss lost four killed, 32 wounded, and nine missing out of a total loss for Harris' Brigade of 14 killed, 103 wounded, and 131 missing. On August 21 near Globe Tavern on the Weldon Railroad, Harris' Brigade, with only 450 men present for duty, lost 254 killed, wounded, or captured. The small number present was because just before this battle, they had 900 men on picket duty on this side and the north side of the James River. According to the Brigade Adjutant, the men were worn out and there were many stragglers. Also during this battle, Corporal Horace A. Ellis, 7th Wisconsin, captured the flag of the 16th Miss and was later awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor for this act. The 5th US Corps reported capturing 339 men and 39 officers in addition to 139 wounded Confederates. These included Colonel Edward C. Councell, 16th Miss, and Lieutenant Colonel Samuel B. Thomas, 12th Miss. It was falsely rumored and reported to Union forces by deserters that General Harris was wounded in this affair.
September & October Private William Meek Furr listed as present on the Company E Muster Roll.
Harris' Brigade occupied part of Rives' Salient in the Petersburg line between King and Finegan's brigades. On September 7, the men of Harris' Brigade learned that General Sherman's forces had captured Atlanta. General Harris reported, "Daily exposed to a heavy artillery fire, and a continuous fire day and night from the enemy's sharp shooters; and, in addition, at night a constant hammering from the enemy's mortar batteries; and daily there was a list of casualties. But, notwithstanding all this, and the heavy labor the men had to perform, in repairing the old and building new works, and the meager fare and scant clothing, they faced the enemy with undaunted spirits." On September 9, Harris' Brigade picket line was attacked near its right flank where it joined Finegan's Brigade by elements of Mott's Division, 2nd Army Corps. Twenty-four (24) men from the 12th, 19th, and 48th Miss were taken prisoner. On September 29, General Harris reported 498 men and 61 officers present for duty. During the Battle of Williamsburg in May 1862, the 19th Miss alone numbered about 800 men.
"Since last muster, the Company [Company E] has been for the most part in the trenches near Petersburg, Va. On the 27th of October, it moved with the Regiment to meet the Enemy near Burgess Mills where a sharp skirmish ensued with no casualties however in this Company, and on the following day it was ordered back to the trenches where it remained as before. Two men were wounded during the two months stay in the trenches."
On October 1, Harris' Brigade was pulled out of the trenches. They were placed in reserve behind Battery #45 (Fort Lee) as part of the troop movements during the Battle of Popular Spring Church. Following this battle on October 2, they returned to the area of Rives' Salient and camped on Wilcox's farm behind General Mahone's center. On October 10, they relieved 350 men of Wise's brigade. On October 27, they followed their division down the Boydton Plank Road in the direction of Burgess' Mill to help prevent the enemy from cutting the South Side Railroad. According to General Harris, "Soon, firing before me, announced the cause of the movement, and that the conflict had begun. Hastening forward as rapidly as possible, I arrived at the scene of action at 3 P.M., and was first ordered to support a battery that was in position near the bridge; but before I had obeyed that order, Genl Heth ordered me to 'take position on the bank of the Run, and in conjunction with the Cavalry Brigade (dismounted) of Dearing's, to make a demonstration when Gen Mahone attacked the enemy in rear, but not to risk the loss of the bridge or let the enemy effect a crossing.' In obedience of this order I formed on the left of Dearing, but owing to the distance to be covered I was compelled to deploy very nearly the whole of my command as skirmishers. When Gen. Mahone made his attack, I advanced my line in order to make the required demonstration, but my force was too weak to press the enemy to advantage. I held the same position during the night. At daylight on the 28th I discovered that the enemy had withdrawn, and pushing forward two companies, succeeded in picking up eighty stragglers. My loss in this action was small." Members of Harris' Brigade were reported among the 722 Confederate prisoners captured by the Union 2nd and 5th Corps. They returned to Petersburg on October 28 and were relieved from duty in the trenches.
November & December Private William Meek Furr listed as present on the Company E Muster Roll.
On November 3, two deserters from the 48th Miss described themselves as recent conscripts and said that there were few conscripts in Harris' Brigade. They reported that their brigade was located lying to the left of Wilcox's old brigade and across the Jerusalem plank road.
"Since last muster, this Company [Company E] has been principally engaged in building winter quarters and assisting in keeping up a Picket line in front of the brigade. On the 7th day of December 1864 during the Yankee raid on the Weldon Rail Road [at Hicksford], this Company with the Regiment and brigade was ordered to march towards Bellefield in which place the Yankee raiders were checked and driven back. No casualties of importance having occurred, it returned with the balance of the regiment and brigade and reentered quarters on the 14th day of Dec. 1864. Where it has since quietly remained."endno
On November 9, Harris' Brigade was again relieved from the trenches and put in reserve. They built their winter quarters on the Boydton Plank Road near Battery 45 and Fort Gregg. On November 13, part of Harris Brigade relieved Mahone's brigade on picket. From December 7 to 13, they marched to Jarrah's Station on the Weldon Railroad and back to Petersburg (approximately 100 miles). According to the Company D commander, "The Company captured one stray punk Yankee and on our return delivered him to the Provost Guard."
On December 1, 1864, Lucius Q.C. Lamar returned to Richmond and was commissioned Judge Advocate of the military court of the Third Army Corps with the rank of Colonel of Cavalry. Colonel Lamar had returned in January from Europe where he was Special Commissioner of the Confederate States to the Empire of Russia and Special Envoy to England and the French Court.