Private Stephen R. Compton Letter
Anne Ross Heinle, a great, great niece of Stephen R. Compton, provided the following letter and explanatory notes. Stephen R. Compton enlisted May 28, 1861 and served as a Private, Company D, 19th Mississippi Infantry Regiment.
From The History of the Descendants of the Jersey Settlers, Adams County, Mississippi (p.614) Vol. 1: "Susan Sillars Darden's Diary": p.163: June 3, 1861: "Cicero told Mr. Darden that Jacob Stampley went with Capt. Coffey's company, Rich Stampley, Jeff Stampley, Steph. Compton, Ambrose Geoghegan, 2 Trimble's and Billy Baldridge. that makes 8 went from this neighborhood."
One letter from Stephen R. Compton to his brother Alexander B. Compton has been preserved.
Bristole Station near Broadtown, August 6th 1961
I received your kind and welcome letter a few days since and I now proceed to answer the same. I wrote a letter to you about a week ago but not knowing whether it will reach you or not, I write another to be more certain, knowing that you all are uneasy and very anxious to hear the truth of what had become of us. I have been informed that you all had received the false report that our regiment had been cut all to peices, but I am happy to inform you that it (is) not so. We were not in the fight at Mannasas. Only a part of our brigade and our brigadier General Smith was mortally wounded and has died since. The whole brigade would have been in it but the cars ran into each other between Mannassa Junction & Peadmont where we were at the time of the battle (only about six or eight hours trip) and consequently our regiment did not arrive until next morning but we went out and viewed the fields of the great battle of Stonebridge, and there beheld the dead & the dying in almost every direction. It is impossible for me to describe it to you. It was one of the most horrible sights that I ever beheld in my life. I never wish to (see) such another sight, as long as I live, but as you say, we are forced to do it and if they come here to rob us of our property and destroy our glorious south, so we are bound to kill them in defence of our country our homes and our all. It was a bloody battle and great numbers lost on each side. It was a hard fight. They fought all day from early in the morning until about six or seven in the evening, when the Yankess retreated at a double quick step and Davis with two thousand men following them. They (gradually?) went on to Washington City before they stopped retreating. The loss on their side (as near as I can learn) was something over six thousand killed, wounded and taken prisoner. We took 74 pieces canon, 40 thousand stand of arms, besides other things to numerous to mention. The loss on us I am informed was about 2 thousand or 25 hundred, but I can not say positively whether these are the exact numbers or not, for I do not think anyone could give a correct history of it except Gen. Beauregard. I can only say that it was one of the greatest victoreis ever won on the continent of America. This is about all I can say about it. I have been informed that therre has been a big battle in Missouri, in which about 9 hundred Yankees were killed and the balance taken prisoners. (This is the report coming in at present.) I expect you all get about as much news as we do, for we get but very little I can tell, and then we (are) at a loss to know whether to believe it or not. We are now in camp at a place called Bristole Station, about ten miles from the Mannasas Junction. I expect we will stay here some time, on account of the health of the regiment. There is a great many down with the measles. Every one of our (troop?) were sick yesterday. Some measles, some fever some headache, and generaly all of us with cold and coughs. We are all a little better today. I was thin enough when I left home but I am nothing but skin and bones and burned as brown as negroes. If you were to meet us you would not recognize us now, but I am in hopes that we will all get home in the course of three months more for the Yankeys are the worst whipped nation now upon the face of the globe and I think it will (not) be long before peace is made. I will now close. Give my love to all. Your brother
Stephen R. Compton
Well as is (?) I will write a few more lines of my nonsense to fill out the vacant sheeet of paper. Dave Osteen and I together will try and fill it out. (We?) you say the "home guards are drilling in "linen and fine cloth" and having a plenty to eat and drink of the very finest kind, fruits, mellon wines, (among ?) just at hand and close and then dreaming of the bright days in future when they will not have to endure such hardships. I say God help them to know what hard times and hardships are if they pronounce that hard times. If they don't know it, permit me to tell them that they are living in clover. They have (home?) houses to sleep in, chairs to set, beds to sleep, their families and friends (around) with a promising crop to look at, a horse and they can mount and ride to their hearts own content, go to church, listen to sermons, see their Dulcemias, and everybody else and then complain of such hard times. Well I will close as I am called. I will close
Stephen R. Compton
Well I will go on a little further
They do not know what times are I think if they were with us a while they would then learn how to apprecite home and the comfort they have around them. Know one knows when they are doing well until they are doing worse. You must tell them all to put up a plenty of fruit, for I will be home certain this winter, if nothing particularly happens to prevent it. I do not think we will be out more than one year at the outside from the way things are working. Old Abe is beginning to get his eys opened and if he does not quit his foolishness he will be very apt to get them opened a little wider. I do not think he will quote his old Mother (nobody is hurt) anymore for somebody is hurt now and badly hurt at that. The (?) is now that he will not attact us anymore but wait for us to attact him. It is report that Kentucky has come out and is fighting her way out. If that be true it will not be very long ere (peace) will be made and weary soldiers returning to their happy homes. You speak of the troops being in readiness and being sent to prevent their attact on New Orleans. There is no danger of them ever attacting West Point and those that go that way may consider that they are going on a pleasure trip to spend the summer in (bay) with pleasant and healthy sea breses to refresh and add to their pleasure. I would like to be there now myself. I would get such nice fat oysters to eat, for I am sick tired and worn out on flower bread and bacon. Cornbread, cabbage, snapbeans, mellons, peaches and such things would be the greatest treat in the world to us. I feel like If I just (get) home and set down to a dinner of vegetable cornbread, buttermilk, fresh butter, that I could eat about one level bushel & well heaped up. And as to putting linen clothes and gold buttons, I would never get done looking in the glass to see how I looked. I do real(ly) believe some of (us) would nearly twist our necks off looking around at our coattails, we (take?) at owl fashion. Well it is now getting dark and candles are scarce. I will bring nonsense to a close. Dave Osteen says he has taken the flux since he wrote his letter, or he would help me finish these few lines. You must write and give me all the new, no difference what it is, it is interesting to me. Tell sol and Sophia that I have not forgotten and must write to me occasionly they must not wait for me to write to them, as money time paper, ink and time are all very precious up here. I have been called out on duty about three times since I commence this so you can judge how it is about times. So farewell until you hear from me again. Give my respect to all. All the boys send their best.
Stephen R. Compton.
Ada Belle Compton (Stephen's niece) stated he returned from the War wounded and either went blind or returned blind. His certificate of disability discharge states:
S.R. Compton of Captain C.S. Coffey of the ?????? regiment of Confederate States, Company D., was enlisted by Captain C.S. Coffey, of the 19th Regiment of Mississippi at Fayette, Jefferson Co., Mississippi on the 28th day of May, 1861, to serve ??? years; he was born in Jefferson County, in the state of Mississippi, is twenty five(?) years of age, five feet, nine inches high, dark complexion, Black eyes, dark hair, and by occupation when enlisted a farmer. During the last three months said soldier has been unfit for duty 90 days.
STATION: Near Richmond
Date: August 8th , 1862.
Lieutenant A.(?) Georghesan(?)
I certify that I have carefully examined the said S.R. Compton of Captain C.S. Coffey's Company, and find him incapable of performing the duties of a soldier because of wound received at the Battle of Williamsburg in the arm implicating the elbow joint causing an anchylosis of the joint.
John W. Sharp, Assist. Surgeon in charge.
A certificate of disability for discharge was filed on Aug. 19th 1862. The final muster pay for S.R. Compton was $100.63, paid on the 16th of Aug., 1862.
Series 1, Vol. 11, part 1, page 569- Confederate records, archives, Jackson, MS. #1371: R. Compton, Pvt., Co. D, 19 reg't Miss. Vols. appears on an official opy of a report of casualties, of the 19th Reg't Miss. Vols., at the Battle of Williamsburg Va., May 5, 1862. Report dated near Long Bridge, VA, May 13, 1862. Remarks: wounded.
Another archive (642) lists him as being Disable by wound recd in Battle of Williamsburg, May 5th. Final statement given-Discharged.
Another archive lists him as Private in Capt. C.S. Coffey's Company, Mississippi Volunteers. (This company subsequently became Company D, 19th Regiment Mississippi Infantry. The 19th Regiment Mississippi Infantry was organized in June 1861, and was mustered into the Confederate service for the war. Some of the companies had previously been in the State service.) Stephen is listed as being 23 yrs. old on June 12, 1861.
Stephen's signature on his mustering out pay record is not comparable to his signature on the letter he wrote to his brother. There is a mark by his name, resembles a pen mark. He must have been wounded in the arm that he used for writing. He never married.