After Grant returned to Memphis in January 1863 the pattern of the war in the west changed abruptly. Assuming rightly that his attack on Vicksburg would keep most of the Confederate forces in the region occupied, Grant advanced the Union front from the old Corinth - Bolivar - Memphis line to the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, at the same time giving up the Mississippi Central south of Grand Junction. On January 29 he moved south to assume active direction of the Vicksburg. campaign, leaving north Mississippi and west Tennessee to be watched by the 16th Corps under Gen. S. A. Hurlbut, with headquarters at Memphis. Hurlbut kept a strong garrison at Corinth and smaller cavalry units at Pocahontas, Saulsbury, Grand Junction, Lagrange, Collierville, and Moscow on the railroad. His total force was about 20,000 men, mostly cavalry; he was opposed by Confederate and Mississippi troops that on paper totaled about 10,000 infantry, Cavalry, and artillery; but because of the chaotic conditions prevailing throughout the area, and the necessity of taking the better troops to southern and central Mississippi, were far from effective.
The line held by the Federal troops was a fluid one, as they not only had to keep a close watch on the movements of the Confederates in Mississippi but were also charged with keeping order in west Tennessee, which throughout the war contained great numbers of Confederate sympathizers despite its location behind the Federal lines. Hurlbut's tactics therefore consisted principally of sending cavalry scouts, normally of regimental strength or less, south from the railroad
During the first three months of 1863 that old bane of Tippah County, the mud, was friendly for once and only one Federal party got as far south as Ripley; that was on January 29 when about 150 men of the Seventh Illinois Cavalry raided the town. Their main purpose appears to have been the taking of horses and mules, but they also captured Lt. Col. Lawson B. Hovis and a private of the First Mississippi Partisan Rangers, and recaptured several Union soldiers.1 After that visitation, during which no private homes were disturbed, the town enjoyed a respite until March 22, then the First Tennessee Cavalry (Union), Col. Fielding Hurst, came in from Pocahontas and remained all day. This regiment, composed entirely of Tennesseans and Mississippians, was the first such "Tory" organization to venture so far south.2 Their trip, like that of the Seventh Illinois in
On the day after Colonel Miller's death Ripley was occupied for about 24 hours by 500 to 600 men of the Seventh Illinois, who came from Lagrange. This unit was guilty of more barbarities than any that had visited Ripley up to that time. They burned the north side of the square and one private house, and broke
With the onset of spring weather and the drying up of the roads, the activities of the Union troops increased in April, when four raids went as far south as Ripley, and in May when the number increased to seven. The raid of April 27 penetrated to Molino, where the Federal troops under Colonel Hatch skirmished with Col. Smith's Rangers.7 During May most of the incursions to Tippah were made by Colonel Hatch's Second Iowa. The worst day experienced by the citizens of Ripley up to that time was May 5, when Hatch's men passed through from the south, each one leading a stolen horse or mule. A little later another regiment, the 56th Ohio, passed through and took Rev. C. P. Miller and A. Brown, Sr., as prisoners to Memphis;8 and still later a regiment of infantry came in from Saulsbury, camped overnight, and returned the next day to Lagrange.9
On May 20 Hatch went as far south as Salem, where he skirmished with about 300 of Smith' s and Sol Street' s men.10
During the first three months of 1863 there was practically no opposition to the Union cavalry raids into north Mississippi. Pemberton had been forced to take practically all the Confederate infantry to the defense of Vicksburg, and in March Van Dorn took most of the cavalry, including all the better trained units, into middle Tennessee. Only a skeleton force was left in the ten northern counties of Mississippi, which were placed in the Fifth military District of the State under the command of Brig. Gen. Jas. R. Chalmers, who had been recommended to Pemberton by Governor Pettus as the best of the men available.11 Chalmers stepped into a well-nigh impossible task. Not only was he expected to protect the citizens of the ten counties that comprised his district from the incursions of Union troops who outnumbered his force several times over; that was probably the smallest of his problems. His other duties were to create an army out of the heterogeneous mass of independent companies, a few raised for the Confederate army but most for State service, that were scattered over his district; to supply his army when and if he could raise one,
While Chalmers was attempting to create a Confederate army in the northern ten counties of Mississippi, Maj. Gen. S. J. Gholson of the State army was also attempting to combine the numerous companies of State troops into workable units. A clash of interests was inevitable, because nearly all the troops in Chalmers' district except the Partisan Rangers were in State rather the Confederate service. A tremendous amount of querulous letter-writing went on between Chalmers, Gholson, the superior officers of both generals, and the governor of Mississippi, during the spring and summer of 1863. All of this correspondence resulted in many promises but not too much actual cooperation between the armies of the Confederacy and those of Mississippi. 12 Under stress, however, of Federal invasions, a more or less informal modus vivendi was worked out under which Chalmers defended the western part of District No. 5 from headquarters at Panola with the Rangers and some State troops, while Gen. Daniel Ruggles of the Confederate army, commander of District No. 1 with headquarters at Okolona, looked after the eastern part with a force composed entirely of State troops. Though Ruggles headquarters were at Okolona, he actually spent much of his time and kept much of his force at Columbus, where they were too far from the front to be of much service. In
The most concentrated activity of Union troops in Tippah County during the entire war was in June 1863, when all of the county, but especially that part within reach of the Saulsbury - Pontotoc road, was thorougly overrun. Ripley was visited 13 times during the month by units ranging in size from two men to more than 1,000. The town was "captured" once by troops under Colonel Mizner from Corinth, on June 8. With their usual detailed knowledge of everything that went on inside the Confederate lines, the Federals learned that many men of Falkner's
The most persistent of the Union visitors in June were Col. Jesse L. Phillips and his Ninth Illinois Cavalry, who were usually accompanied by companies or platoons of "Tories" from Mississippi and west Tennessee. On June 8 Phillips left his headquarters and ranged as far south as Ruckersville, taking in the raid 10 loads of forage, four mules, two horses, 97 sheep, and 38 cattle. He reported that there was no force at Ripley except Falkner's regiment, which he said was scattered in the Hatchie Hills; he added that a few of Chalmers' men were south of Ripley. On his way back to Pocahontas he was followed by 20 or 30 of Sol Street's men, who hung on his flanks but did not attack.14 On the basis of his experience during this raid Phillips considered the region to be so lightly defended that he could roam through it at will. Accordingly on June 12 he moved from Pocahontas with about 300 of his own regiment and several groups of Tories. This group was composed of "by far the most inhuman and barbarous men, and the most
On June 18 Phillips again swung south into Tippah County. With about 300 men he went to Ripley, "consulted his friends", and returned to Ruckersville where he was joined by three companies of Tories.20 The following day, with 600 men, two pieces of artillery, six wagons and two ambulances, he passed through Ripley and camped a considerable distance south of town. Hearing that Col. C. R.
There was little activity on the part of the Union troops in July and August, probably because the fall of Vicksburg on July 4 made it unnecessary to create diversions in north Mississippi. There was, it is true, more or less continuous small-scale activity in the northern part of the county near the railroad, where Sol Street's company and other small units harassed the Federal troops to some extent. But during the two months only three Federal units penetrated to Ripley, all met Confederate opposition, and none went south of the county seat: this contrasts with 13 visits in June, 6 in May, and 7 during the first three months of the year. Union activity increased somewhat in September when six parties came to Ripley, all of them small except one. The exception was on September 9, when the Seventh Kansas came into town from one direction and about 200 men from the 11th Illinois and Hawkins' West Tennessee Cavalry entered from another road. The two parties fired on each other and there was a little excitement but unfortunately from the Confederate standpoint, no damage was done. On this day no damage, other than the standard carrying off of horses, mules, and negroes was done to the citizens.22
While the Vicksburg campaign was in progress Chalmers was of necessity left much to his own devices. Neither Pemberton, who was bottled up in Vicksburg
On September 1 Johnston abolished the five military districts into which Mississippi had been divided, thus giving Lee more latitude than had been possible under the old "compartment" system. During the month conditions in Chalmers' command improved somewhat, and on October 3 he reported 151 officers and 1,600 men present far duty; aggregate present 2,108, aggregate present and absent, 3,147. On October 2 two small brigades of Tennessee and Kentucky troops under Generals R. V. Richardson and S. W. Fergusen had joined the command at New Albany, after being inspected there by Gen. J. E. Johnston; these were included in the October 3 return.25 On October 4 Chalmers began a series of raids on the Memphis and Charleston railroad in the vicinity of Collierville, Tennessee, and on October 12 wired Johnston that he tore up the railroad in four places, burned an enemy camp and took a considerable quantity of stores, and brought off 20 wagons, 5 colors, and 105 prisoners. His losses were 13 killed and 115 wounded, and the one thing that gave the Confederates the most pleasure was that the attack was made and successfully completed under the eyes of General Sherman himself and his escort, who happened to be passing through Collierville at the time.26
Chalmers' raid against the railroad was the first offensive movement on the part of the Confederates in north Mississippi since the attack on Corinth,
On November 15, 1863, Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest was placed in command of the Confederate forces in west Tennessee, which at that time was entirely within the Union lines. As he had to create an army before he could even enter his assigned district, he made temporary headquarters at Okolona, where he was ably assisted in his operations by General Lee. No sooner had the "Wizard of the Saddle" reached Mississippi than the Federal commanders learned of it; and although the time had not yet come when his name inspired the paralysis it later brought to the Union troops and their commanders, they yet recognized that here was a true fighter, and divined that his destination was to be west Tennessee which Chalmers' raids had shown was no longer inviolate. They had not long to wait before Forrest swung into action. Late in November the Cenfederates made a series of demonstration against the Memphis and Charleston Railroad and at the same time assembled in the Tupelo- Pontotoc - New Albany area units of Forrest's and Lee's men. General Hurlbut, commanding at Memphis, accordingly and as it turned out most obligingly moved Col. Hatch's force from Lagrange and Saulsbury
During 1863 there had been hardly a day when some part of Tippah County had not been the scene of fighting, and as the year ended the only food, forage, and livestock left in the area were in those isolated places which the armies
Notes of Chapter I
1. Davis, 10; O. R. Ser. I, Vol. XVII, Pt. II, p. 334; Hovis was sent to Gratiot Street prison, St. Louis, on Feb. 15; to Camp Chase, Ohio, Feb. 24; to Fort Delaware, April 10; and to City Point, Va., for exchange May 29. His prison records describe him as 36 years old, 5 feet 11 inches tall, and having blue eyes and sandy hair. (A. G. O., Service Record of L. B. Hovis). The orthography of both his native town and the county seem to have given his captors considerable trouble. The town is given once as "Ripperly," the county as "Tipperary".
2. Davis, 11; Before the end of 1862 the Federal commanders had recruited several companies and larger units in Tennesse and Mississippi, among them the "Tippah and Mississippi Rangers", which were probably incorporated into the First Tennessee Cavalry (Union).
Hurst was considered by the Confederates to be a renegade of the worst sort, and even allowing for the natural bias of statements made about him during his life, it appears that he and his
regiment were primarily a band of plunders intent only on lining their own pockets. Hurst's service record (A. G. O.) gives an outline of his career. He lived near Bethel Tennessee and
owned a considerable number of slaves. For some reason not stated he was imprisoned by the Confederates early in the war, and upon his release enlisted in the Federal army, even though he was a
"very old man" (52 years). To make his old bones more comfortable, he was attended throughout the war by two of his slaves, Lloyd and Sam. On August 11, 1862, he was appointed Colonel by
Governor Andrew Johnson, and raised the First Tennessee Cavalry Regiment. He soon made himself as unpopular with the Federal troops as with the Confederates; two of many instances will suffice.
On April 16, 1863, a Colonel Rice, commanding at Purdy, wrote his superior officer that Hurst was at Purdy for the purpose of destroying property, and was carrying off furniture and burning
houses. Rice very naturally wanted to know where Hurst got the authority for such actions and was told promptly that he had no authority. A more serious case was reported by Colonel Hatch on
July 24, 1864. Hurst had collected $5,000 in gold from the citizens of Jackson, Tennessee under threat of burning the town; the money was ostensibly to reimburse the regiment for losses it had
suffered at the hands of the citizens. Hurst, however, deposited the $5,000 to his private account at the bank of Pitser Miller ∓mp;mp;mp; Co. of Memphis and refused to return the money even
when ordered to do so by Hatch. He was also reported to be short in his ordnance accounts. As to his regiment, one Federal general wrote that Hurst's tactics encouraged desertion, and that "the
entire outfit should be mustered out and re-enlisted as soldiers". Probably because of Johnson's influence, the numerous charges against Hurst were never pressed, but he was discharged "for
disability" in January 1865.
3. Known in 1854 as the Gaillard place. The lane in question, which leads to the side and back of the house, can still be traced.
4. Davis states that Miller was killed after he surrendered, which is true as far as it goes but does not give the entire story, which is in Southern Sentinel, Aug. 8, 1894. The account of Miller's burial and Mrs. Buchanan's trip is from the same source.
Colonel Miller, a Presbyterian minister, was captain of the Pontotoc Dragoons, mustered into service Feb. 22, 1861. In June he was elected Lieutenant Colonel of a battalion of six companies
(the First Mississippi Cavalry Battalion) which was on duty at New Madrid in August 1861, and from that time to April 1861 was assigned to Cheathan's Division of Polk's Corps. He fought with
credit at Shiloh, but on April 12 resigned because three companies from his command were taken from him and placed in another organization. He fought the transfer somewhat acrimoniously all the
way up to Beauregard but lost. In June 1862 Beauregard recommend that he be authorized to recruit a company of Partisan Rangers, but instead he entered State service.
5. Davis, 12
6. Davis, 13
7. Davis, 17; O. R. Ser. I, Vol. XXIV, Pt. I, p. 529
8. Davis, 20, 21. Both men were returned unharmed within a few days.
9. Davis, 22
10. O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XXIV, Pt. II, p. 424
11. Before the war Chalmers had been a prominent lawyer of Holly Springs, as had his father before him. He had taken an active part in the operations of the volunteer military companies organized in 1859 and 1860 and had commanded the north Mississippi brigade of those troops. A captain at the outbreak of fighting, he was promoted to Colonel in April 1861 and to Brigadier General in February 1862. He had fought creditably at Shiloh and Murfreesboro, being severely wounded in the latter battle, and he accepted his Mississippi appointment before his wound had healed (Biographical Dictionary of the American Congress, 1774-1949, Government Printing Office, 1949; p. 962 (hereinafter cited as Biog. Dict.)
12. For example of the difficulties between Chalmers and Gholson, see 0. R., Ser. X, Vol. XXIV, Pt. II, p. 737 et seq. Gholson was a resident of Monroe County, Mississippi. He was U. S. District Judge 1839-61; was a member of the secession convention in 1861, and brigadier general and later major general in of State troops until June 1863, when he became a brigadier general in, the Confederate service. He lost an arm in the fighting around Eqypt during Griersons raid in 1864, and died at Aberdeen in 1883 (Biog. Dict., p. 1205)
13. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. LII, Pt. II, p. 460. Panola, Chalmers' headquarters, was about a mile from the present town of Batesville.
14. A former postoffice northwest of Tupelo, now known as Birmingham Ridge. The city of Birmingham, Ala., had not been founded at this time.
15. Davis, 28; O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXIV, Pt. III, p. 994
16. Davis, 31
17. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXlV, Pt. II, p. 472. For an account of Sol Street's company, see below, p.).
18. Davis, 32. The leaders of the Tory bands are given as Blount, Jachinias, Harris, and Obion May.
19. Davis, 34; O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXIV, Pt. II, pp. 472, 482. Falkner, with part of his regiment followed Phillips from New Albany to Ripley but did not go north of the town. Ruggles was highly critical of his part in the engagement. See below, p.
20. Davis, 35. The names of the Tory leaders were given as Read, Waldrup, and May.
21. Davis, 36.
22. Davis, 39-49
23. Stephen Dill Lee was a South Carolinian who, graduated from West Point in 1854. He was made brigadier general after the battle of Antietam, and Major-General when placed in command of the cavalry in Mississippi; still later he was promoted to Lieutenant-General and placed in command of the Department of Mississippi, Alabama, and East Louisiana. In 1865 he married Miss Regina Harrison of Columbia, Miss. He was, the first president of Mississippi A. ∓mp;mp;mp; M. College (now Mississippi State College) and was one of the most distinguished of the State's adopted sons. He died at Columbus in 1908.
24. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXX, Pt. IV, p. 555
25. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXX, Pt. II, p. 763; Hancock, Richard R., History of the Second Tennessee Regiment CSA, Nashville, 1887, p. 265
26. Chalmers to Johnston, Oct. 12, 1863; in C. M. R., Telegrams sent, Chalmers' command, Ch. 2, vol. 236 1/2, p. 62
27. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXI, Pt. III, p. 597
28. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXX, Pt. I, p. 580. Mizner reported that he sent the Alabama troops back because of the poor condition of their horses. Actually the combat record of the regiment was very poor, especially when compared with that of the other regiments on the expedition. It is most likely that when Mizner realized that he might have to fight he wanted the Alabama troops out of the way.
29. Davis, 50; O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXI, Pt. I, pp. 578-582
30. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXI, Pt. I, p.589
31. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXI, Pt. I, p. 582
One of the many ironies of the War between the States is that the Confederate government, which went to war to maintain the rights of the individual States against the encroachments of the Federal Government, was well on its way to becoming the most highly centralized regime on the American continent before two years of fighting had passed. Loyal citizens found their lives so circumscribed by controversial and unpopular legislation, much of it passed by the Congress, in secret session and without any attempt to prepare the people for it, that anything approaching a normal mode of life was impossible even in the most favored parts of the new nation. In such overrun regions as north Mississippi conditions were infinitely worse, and it is no small wonder that the citizens felt that they were caught between the upper and nether millstones of plundering by the Yankees and confiscation by their own government.
Although the Conscription law was passed in April 1862 its enforcement in north Mississippi was almost completely ineffectual until about the middle of November, when the Conscription officers
with a great flourish swooped down on the First Partisan Rangers and scattered the regiment without obtaining in exchange more than a handful of soldiers for the regular army. After that fiasco
the prestige of the Bureau shrunk still more, until on January 16, 1862, General Bragg placed its activities in the western area in charge of Gen. Gid J. Pillow. Pillow, whose part in the Fort
Donelson surrender had made his name anathema to most Southerners, promptly settled down in Huntsville, Alabama and began to bombard the state offices of the Bureau with letters that were at
once bombastic and petulant. When he learned that deserters and evaders of the Conscript law
Obviously Pillow considered the raising of troops a function of Gid J. Pillow alone, and to prove his point he managed to institute a reign of terror that led to his removal by the Richmond authorities. Even before he had written the letter quoted above, he knew that general Pemberton had written Governor Pettus that the enrolling officers would not interfere with the enlistment of state troops in northern Mississippi;2 and not long afterward the Governor and President Davis agreed that no effort would he made to enforce the Conscription law in the ten northern counties of Mississippi, where neither the State nor the Confederacy possessed any real authority. This policy was adhered to until the early part of 1864, when Federal troops gave up the railroad between Corinth and Collierville. Thus throughout 1863 Tippah County was free from the activities
In April 1863, almost exactly a year after it had passed the Conscription Law, the Confederate Congress enacted a number of laws that cost the government much of its support throughout all parts of the south; these were the income. tax law, the tax-in-kind law, and the Impressment act. All of them were regarded by the extreme States-rights men as long if not final steps on the road to despotism, and were received with disgust by the large number who felt, rightly wrongly, that the burdens of the conflict were being unevenly distributed.3 To make matters worse, no effort whatever was made to prepare the people for the passage of the laws, or to explain them after they were passed; and it is no exaggeration to say that the enactment of these laws, regardless of their possible necessity from the standpoint of revenue and obtaining essential supplies - dealt the morale of the Southern States a blow from which it never recovered.
The income tax was modest, especially by comparison with the rates in effect in 1854; but it was a new type of tax and hence automatically abhorrent. After an initial exemption of $500 and other exemptions for dependents and other reasons, the tax was 5 percent on annual incomes between $500 $l,000. The rate on incomes of from $1,000 to $5,000 was 10 percent; on $5,000 to $10,000, 12 1/2 percent; and more than $10,000, 15 percent.4 The tax-in-kind was
The Impressment act was passed on April 6, l863, before the enactment of the tax bill. It added no new principle to the 1aw - the Government's right to take what it needed, under proper safeguards, has been admitted from time immemorial - but this law dropped the level of taking from the courts to what might be called actual operating levels. It provided that "forage, articles of subsistence, or other property absolutely necessary" for the operations of the army might be impressed under orders from Generals commanding brigades and larger units, commanders of detached parties and posts, the Quartermaster-General, the Surgeon General, and the Commissary General. If the owner and the impressing officer could not agree upon the value of the property each was to appoint an
The law provided that impressed goods were to be paid for when taken or, should that be impossible, a certificate was to be given which would be redeemed as soon as possible by the disbursing officer in charge of the district. In actual practice, particularly in such overrun areas as Tippah County, the impressing officer was not likely to have money with him and thus had no choice but to give certificates which the government was notoriously slow in paying. Such a condition, taken in conjunction with the raids by Union troops who left, if they left anything, certificates payable after the war "upon proof of loyalty", was bad enough. But worse things followed. The country was filled with imposters who were generally grouped somewhat unjustly under the general term "Partisan Rangers", but whose actions "resembled more the conduct of Bedouin tribes than of American citizens and soldiers".6 Because of the pressure of the Vicksburg
Another most weighty factor in creating the "bad political feeling" to which Lee referred was the government's attempt to enforce the laws against trading with the enemy. Almost as soon as the fighting started the Confederate Congress passed stringent laws against such trade, designed particularly to prevent cotton from getting into northern hands. On August 16, 1861, President Lincoln countered with a rather mild executive order providing that trade with the seceding states could be carried on only under permits issued by the Secretary
At first the Confederate government took the attitude that trade with the enemy was a civil offense and the army was forbidden to interfere unless articles of direct value to the military were concerned. But as the list of civilian necessities was much the same as the list of military necessities except for the absence of arms and ammunition, it was not long before the commanders in the field began to confiscate shipments coming through the lines. Pemberton for a while attempted to control the trade; but the War Department at Richmond still insisting that trade was a civil matter, refused to back him and he was forced by the courts to return a considerable amount of confiscated material.12 When Chalmers took command of the Fifth Military District of Mississippi one of his first acts was to station the First Partisan Rangers between Hernando and Memphis with orders to confiscate all material coming out Memphis destined for people within the Confederate lines. But Chalmers' force was so small that he could not stop more than a trickle of the supplies that were coming through, or of the cotton that was working its way northward. But he did the poor best that he could until after the fall of Vicksburg when General Johnston took a hand and made further attempts to stop the traffic. But in the meantime Chalmers, who
Chalmer's. ideas on trading with the enemy brought him into sharp conflict with General Johnston. The correspondence between the two was long and at times acrimonious, and in the battle of semantics Chalmers makes a much better picture for posterity than does Johnston. "Old Joe", the idol of the common soldier, was a good field officer, but was nothing if not a martinet in administrative matters. There is good reason for believing that his failure to recommend Chalmers, for promotion to Major General in the summer of 1863 was due to the brigadier's refusal to knuckle under on the question of trading with the enemy.
Before Chalmers wrote the letter quoted above he issued on November 10, General Orders No. 71, to which he had given considerable thought and which shows the efforts he made to assist in the trade and at the same time serve the best interests of the Confederacy. In part the order reads "Whereas . . . II . . it is well known that the loyal citizens residing north of the Tallahatchie River have and can obtain considerable quantities of salt, provisions, blankets, clothing, and other articles of prime necessity to the army and the country that cannot be obtained south of the river in quantities equal to the demand. Therefore it is ordered that whenever any loyal citizen of the Confederate States shall bring any of the above enumerated articles or any others of prime necessity to the army or the country within our lines and south of the Tallahatchie River he may receive cotton or any other article of produce in exchange therefor and may convey the same to his home without molestation, Provided, however that he does not reside within the enemies lines. But this order does not authorize the transportation of any cotton that has been purchased with money or obtained by any other means than exchange for said articles of necessity as are above mentioned. III. Whenever any officer commanding a brigade is satisfied that a loyal citizen of the Confederate States has actually delivered articles of necessity as above described within our lines and south of the Tallahatchie River and has exchanged the same for cotton at prices not exceeding those fixed upon such articles by the Board of Commissioners for the state of Miss. under the impressment law he will grant a pass alloying the citizen to transport the cotton so obtained to his home Provided that he does not reside within the enemy's lines. The pass will specify the number and
"IV. Any cotton found on its way to the Federal lines shall be burned and the wagons confiscated. And any person who may be detected in attempting to purchase cotton for U. S. Treasury notes (commonly called "Greenbacks") shall be arrested and the notes confiscated to the use of the Confederate government.
"V. No part of this order shall be so construed as to interfere with the execution of previous orders directing that all cotton liable to be captured by the enemy shall be burned.14" No sooner did Johnston see this order than he ordered it revoked, which was done on the 18th by General Order 77. Doubtless at Johnston's insistence, part of the order stated, "Detachments will be sent north of the Tallahatchie River from each brigade, with orders to burn all cotton found on its way to the enemy and to confiscate and bring to these headquarters all wagons and team used in transporting it.15
General Order 71 is particularly interesting because it admits that the Confederate forces were not in effective control of the country north of the Tallahatchie - an area that included most of Tippah County - and that in that region trading with the enemy went on practically without interference. His setting up of a class of "loyal citizens" living north of the river as official intermediaries in the traffic was novel and doubtless shocked the sensibilities of many besides General Johnston; but Chalmers at least had the courage to face facts and act on the basis of things as they were, not as he thought they should be.
Conditions changed rapidly late in 1863, after Johnston turned over command of the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana to Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk. Polk, as well as Lee and Forrest, displayed little enthusiasm in braking up the trade with Memphis, and in addition, public opinion throughout the state was beginning to assert itself. In November for example, a bill to legalize blockade-running had passed the lower chamber of the Mississippi legislature and only with difficulty was killed in the upper house.16 Jacob Thompson, Secretary of the Interior, took a hand in the controversy, and in November wrote Chalmers that "Trade in time of war is an admitted evil, but to starve a people and alienate their feelings may be in the end a worse evil".17 In another letter he quoted General Washburn, then commanding at Memphis: "Memphis in the hands of the Federals is more valuable to the South than Nassau".18 And finally, after much backing and filling, Judge Alex M. Clayton, whose district included north Mississippi decided in May 1864 that in such areas as the Confederate government was powerless to protect the citizens it likewise lacked authority to punish them.19 This eminently realistic decision, while not exactly giving legal sanction to the contraband trade, admitted that the authorities could do nothing about it and thus clarified the situation immensely. By November 1864 the practice of trading
Notes on Chapter II 1. Pillow to Adjt. Gen., State of Mississippi, March 18, 1863; C. M. R., Ch. I, Vol. 269, Orders and letters of Gen. Gid J. Pillow, commanding the Conscription
Bureau, Army of the Tennessee, 1863; pp. 171-172
2. Bettersworth, J. K., Confederate Mississippi, Baton Rouge, 1943 (hereinafter cited as Bettersworth), p. 76
3. Tatum, Georgia Lee, Disloyalty in the Confederacy, Chapel Hill, 1934 (hereinafter cited as Tatum), p. 20
4. O. R., Ser. IV, Vol. II, pp. 513-524
5. O. R., Ser. IV, Vol. II, pp. 469-471
6. Seddon to Pemberton, April 29, 1863; O. R., Ser. I, Vol. LII, Pt. II, p. 460
7. O.R. Ser. I, Vol. XXX, Pt. IV, p. 556
8. Telegrams sent, Gen. J. E. Johnston's command; C. M. R., Ch. 2, Vol 236 3/4, p. 45
9. Parks, Jas. F., A Confederate Trade Center under Federal Occupation, Memphis, 1862-1864, In Journal of Southern History, Vol. VII, p. 299, 1941. (hereinafter cited as Parks)
10. Same, pp. 295-297
11. Same, p. 304
12. Bettersworth, pp. 194-195
13. Chalmers to Jacob Thompson, O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXI, Pt. III, pp. 833-834
14. C.M.R., General Orders issued by Brig. Gen. Chalmers March 10, 1863 - Aug. 7, l864; Ch. 2, Vol. 299, pp. 373-374, Nov. 10, 1863
15. Same, pp. 379-380
16. Betterworth. p. 182
17. C.M.R., Papers of Eminent Confederates, Chalmers papers
18. Bettersworth, p. 186
19. Same, p. 187
When the Conscription Bureau swooped down on the First Mississippi Partisan Rangers in November 1862 the days of that organization appeared to be irrevocably numbered. But there was a certain magnetism about Falkner that held at least part of the regiment with him and in spite of all the Conscription Bureau could do he had, when 1863 opened, a hard core of 75 to 100 men and many of the better officers, whom the enrolling officers either had not been able to touch legally or had failed to catch physically. With this group as a nucleus Falkner began, in February, to rebuild the regiment, after the necessary authority for its reorganization had been obtained from the Secretary of War by Congressman J. W. Clapp of Holly Springs. This authority gave Falkner the privilege of including such conscripts as belonged to the regiment when it was first organized unless they had in the meantime enrolled with some other organization, and carried the further proviso that the regiment should be organized as a regular Confederate army unit and not as Partisan Rangers acting independently.1 The first provision enabled many of the regiment to return, for most of them had escaped from the conscription net anyway; the second was merely a statement of what Falkner preferred. At this stage of his career he looked askance at guerrilla warfare and attempted with some success to act within the regular army organization.
Falkner called the regiment to reassemble at Pontotoc, as Tippah County was so overrun with Yankee soldiers that a rendezvous there was out of the question. On March 5 he wrote Clapp a letter
which, for the self-assured Falkner, was almost contrite. He assured him that his assistance would always be remembered with
Clapp visited Mississippi early in March and upon his return to Richmond wrote to Seddon under date of March 17. He said that he could corroborate Falkner's statement that it would be possible to raise a brigade within the enemy lines and asked for authority to do so, pointing out the extremely bad conditions in north Mississippi and the dire need of the citizens for protection such a brigade would afford.3 He made out a strong case, but Seddon took no action. But in the meantime Falkner continued to collect his regiment, after the first rush, however, the men came in slowly and the Colonel, before the middle of March, was forced to stretch his authority to the point of sending out one half of his men to arrest the other half. The Rangers were armed, some with muskets, some with rifles, and some with shotguns which Falkner wrote were obtained "within the enemy lines".4 The reorganization
For reasons which appear foolish to these unacquainted with the military hierarchy but which were very real to Falkner - and to Chalmers too, for that matter - the order was a body blow. Falkner was, six years older than Chalmers, and had ranked him, as Brigadier-General of the Mississippi militia, before the war. When the fighting broke out both men were captains, and they were promoted to Colonel about the same time. But in March 1862, while Falkner was being pushed out of the colonelcy of the Second Mississippi, Chalmers was promoted to Brigadier General. Further, when Falkner had asked Chalmers for a recommendation during his own campaign for a generalship, he had received a polite but hardly enthusiastic reply. Now that he was being placed under Chalmers, he poured out his woes to Clapp, on March 18: "I have Just received orders from Gen. Pemberton to report to Gen. Chalmers at Panola. Gen. C. has been placed in command of the 10 northern counties of the state . . . I cannot help feeling that great injustice has been done me. The sting of mortification is now owing to the fact that I am to be commanded by Gen. C. He is a brave and efficient officer, but is my Junior in age and is not my seignor (sic) in service. I served 12 months as a lieutenant in the Mexican War and entered the present service when he did. He has been brig. gen. 12 months while I have been neglected and ignored by the government . . ." The letter continued in the same plaintive vein. General Johnston's recommendation was again brought up - apparently Falkner never learned that Joe Johnston's friendship was a liability were Jefferson Davis was concerned - and Falkner listed the regiments in north Mississippi which in his opinion should be brigaded, presenting his claims as commander of this potential brigade. After saying that he would be willing to serve as junior brigadier under Chalmers, and
It should not be thought that Falkner's campaign for a generalship began only after he had been ordered to report to Chalmers. On January 7 of that year he had written to Clapp from West Point on the subject, and on the following day, from Mobile, he wrote former governor J. J. McRae who was then in Richmond. McRae tried to help; on January 30 he wrote Davis, saying among other commendations that "when on a visit to the Peninsula in April last Genl. Johnston expressed to me personally his regret at the defeat of Col. Falkner the reorganization of the regiment . . ." - a statement ,not calculated of course, to help Falkner's campaign with Davis.6 On February 7 Falkner wrote James Phelan, Senator from Mississippi, a letter that must be classed as one of his more imaginative efforts. He wrote that he had served 18 months in the Mexican War and had been severely wounded there; that he had been defeated at the reorganization of the Second
Immediately after reporting to Chalmers Falkner was ordered to proceed to Coldwater Depot and place "a company of cavalry pickets on the Memphis and Hernando plank road near Horn Lake Creek and one company on the Holly Ford road as near the first as possible . . . and send out scouting parties every day upon the byroads leading to Memphis to arrest all parties attempting to carry on illicit trade with the enemy, and with special instructions to seize all horses and mules that come out of Memphis and bring them to these headquarters".9 At the same time he was placed
The reincarnated First Mississippi Partisan Ranges thus won their first skirmish with the enemy. But within a week after the chase to Nonconnah some members off the regiment had found their homesickness, or their proximity to the fleshpots of Memphis too much for them. So many men went absent without leave that on April 15 Company I, Captain Young, was ordered to "proceed at once to arrest and bring back all deserters and men absent without leave from the regiment wherever found..." Falkner meanwhile remained in camp just south of Horn Lake Creek and about 7 miles north of Hernando, accumulating a considerable amount of sorely needed supplies. On April 18 the Rangers were attacked in this camp by the 12th Wisconsin Cavalry under Col. George E. Bryant. After a short but bitter fight they were forced to retire southward after losing about 40 men killed and 72 captured, including seven officers, and about 70 stand of arms; two companies were practical annihilated. In addition all the supplies
During Falkner's short and checkered military career he had participated creditably in one victory - First Manassas - and had acquitted himself satisfactorily in the fighting around Corinth, Iuka, and Rienzi in the fall of 1862. The fight at Hernando was the first decisive defeat he had suffered, and he took it to heart far more, on the basis of the scanty official records, than he should have. Charmers, who had suffered a much worse defeat at the hands of Sheridan near Booneville in June 1862, profited by his experience and remained a useful officer throughout the rest of the war. But Falkner was not made of such stern stuff.12 Shortly after the skirmish he seems to have reported sick, and except
In reporting the disposition of his forces on May 25, Chalmers wrote that three companies of the First Partisan Rangers were on the Coldwater River; one company was on a scout near Lagrange; four companies were in Tippah County; and nearly all of the two remaining companies had been lost at Hernando.16 The final blow to Falkner came on May 30 when Chalmers reorganized his district. Falkner was dropped as commander of the First Brigade, and his regiment were placed in a brigade under Col. Robert McCulloch.17
Most if not all of the men in the four companies reported on May 25 to be in Tippah County were on furlough to gather the wheat crop. Apparently Falkner also was in county, as on June 3 sent to "Col. Falkner, 1st Miss. Regt., Tippah County" an order to collect all men whose labor was not absolutely necessary to harvest the wheat and take position south of the Tallahatchie near Rocky Ford to defend the crossings against an anticipated enemy attack; the letter pointed out that the furloughs would expire within a few days anyway.18 Falkner in some way assembled about 200 men and complied with the order; but on June 7 asked permission to return to Tippah and Marshall Counties, presumably to recruit men and horses for his command. Chalmers granted the authority but asked him not to go until after June 12. He pointed out that Falkner had no authority to purchase horses for him cavalry, "but in view of the fact that the enemy are making frequent raids into the country seizing all the horses they can find, you may impress horses suitable for cavalry service, giving your receipt therefor . . ." He ended the letter by urging Falkner to "collect all the men possible either by conscription or otherwise."19 On the next day, in reply to another letter from Falkner, Chalmers instructed him to watch the impending Federal attack closely and if the enemy swung east of the Ripley - New Albany line to notify General Ruggles commanding the First Military District from headquarters at Okolona, meanwhile harassing the Yankees in any way he could.20 Apparently
After their inglorious part in the pursuit of Phillips the Partisan Rangers were not heard from in reports for about six weeks; apparently all to many of them had returned to the safe haven of the Hatchie Hills while their Colonel, residing now at Pontotoc because Ripley was too close to the enemy lines for safety, attempted to recover both his command and his health. His efforts were
Chalmers' thoughts as he read this missive must have been interesting. Here was a man who had disdained guerrilla tactics, yet was asking to be placed on the guerrilla level in the teeth of the determined opposition of the authorities to any increase in the number of organizations engaged in such duty. Nor could the General have missed the tone of the letter; Falkner, who in the past
Chalmers undoubtedly realized even before he received Falkner's letter that the Colonel's usefulness to the army had ended. Being as much a realist as Falkner was a dreamer, he made the best of a bad situation and without appearing to grant Falkner's request detached him for an indefinite period. His adjutant wrote Falkner on July 23: "I am directed by the Brig. Genl. commanding to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 20th inst. and to say to you in reply that it is impossible for him to detach your Regt. permanently from the brigade so as to give you the independent command which you desire but that he has ordered it (with the exception of Capt. Young's co. now on special service) to report to you for recruiting duty ∓mp;mp;mp; will allow it to remain detached as long as he can do so consistently with the service."
"In addition to recruiting your numbers he expects you to operate against the enemy ∓mp;mp;mp; to forward to him any information that you may obtain of the movements and plans of the enemy. You will forward monthly reports on the first day of the month showing the condition and number of your Regt. ∓mp;mp;mp; also a report of your operations."
"The Genl. desires me to express his acknowledgements for the good opinion you are pleased to entertain of him ∓mp;mp;mp; his best wishes for your success".23
Falkner's "recruiting" assignment might have lasted indefinitely had not Gen. S. D. Lee, upon assuming command of the cavalry in the District on August 4, ordered Chalmers to recall all his organizations that were on special duty. Chalmers on the same day ordered Falkner to support Col. John McGuirk of the Third Mississippi Cavalry.24 This order must have been another blow to the rank-conscious Falkner, as McGuirk's commission dated back only to June 1863; and there is no indication that Falkner paid any attention to the order, if indeed he ever received it.
On August 14 Chalmers again wrote Falkner that a Federal raiding party was advancing toward Water Valley and ordered him to prevent it from crossing the Tallahatchie River or, if that should not be practicable, to attack the enemy in flank and harass his movements as much as possible. Falkner did not receive this order until after the 17th, when the raid had already caused the evacuation of Grenada.25 Thus Falkner's regiment was "out of packet" during the Grenada expedition which resulted not only in the evacuation of that town with the loss of a great quantity of badly needed stores, but also in the destruction of the Mississippi Central Railroad over a considerable length of lines.
On August 24 Falkner was reported to have 240 men and to be moving from Pontotoc County toward Grenada, arresting deserters.26 In the meantime Lee, with the backing of Johnston, was
putting increasing pressure on Chalmers to get his demoralized force into fighting trim, and on August 27 again wired him from
The effective date of the resignation was to be August 31, the reason "ill health". The accompanying medical certificate signed by surgeon W. D. Carter of the First Partisan Rangers, stated that Falkner was "unable to perform military duty in consequence of general debility, internal hemorrhoids and indigestion, the effects of which this officer has suffered for the past (4) four months. I further declare my belief that this officer will not be able to resume his command in a less period than (3) three months under the most favorable circumstances".28
One cannot help but note that according to the certificate the Colonel's physical troubles began about the time of the Hernando affair; this suggests that the ailments listed may have been to some extent psychosomatic. Further, the surgeon's opinion that the colonel could recover his health in three months is of interest. In view of the illnesses described - the Confederate army was filled with officers and men who fought on under worse handicaps - and the favorable
"On the 29th inst. I tendered my resignation on account of ill health. On the 30th a petition was drawn up and signed unanimously by the officers of my command expressing unwillingness to part with me as their commander and earnestly requesting me to withdraw my resignation. I replied that I was very reluctant to retire from the command but my condition was such that it was absolutely necessary for me to retire for a while at least in order to recuperate my health, but that I felt reluctant to ask for a leave of abeyance for such a length of time as it was thought would be required for me to recover my health, but I assured them that if the leave could be granted I would cheerfully withdraw my resignation. I am informed that a petition (which I have not seen) was then sent to you asking you to grant me 60 days leave of absence and that you cheerfully approved it. I beg leave sir to present you my heart felt grattitude (sic) for this manifestation as well as many others of kindness to me and to assure you that no officer in the army is more anxious to continue in the service under your command than myself. My resignation is therefore withdrawn with a pledge of honor to return to duty as soon as the condition of my health will allow. I have the honor to be with esteem, Your very obedient servant, W. C. Falkner, Col."29
Whether or not Chalmers "cheerfully" approved the application as Falkner so blandly assumed, the colonel went on leave and took no further part in the activities of his regiment. As to the condition into which the command had fallen, the best commentary is found in a letter from Johnston's adjutant to Chalmers dated September 6:
The criticism of the Partisan Rangers in the first part of the letter quoted above applied to all the ranger troops and not merely to Falkner's regiment which was the best-known of such
organizations but not the only one. The last part, however, was aimed directly at the First Partisan Rangers, and the remark that Falkner's resignation had been withheld for the present,
coming as it did from Joe Johnston's headquarters, had an ominous ring. It is known that Johnston was in north Mississippi at the time the letter was written, but there is no record that he
ever saw Falkner, though the colonel most likely made some effort to contact him. But regardless of whether the two men met, Falkner used up the 60 days sick leave due him and on October 25
again sent in his resignation on the same ground of ill health that he had given in August. It was effective October 31 - seventeen years to the day after he had resigned from the army in
Mexico, also because of "ill health". Chalmers' endorsement reads, "Respectfully forwarded and recommended. Col. Falkner has not been in command of his regiment since 14th last
May."31 This might be interpreted as meaning that Falkner had
After Falkner's resignation he simply dropped out of sight and as far as the records show took no further part in the fighting and had no further connection with the Confederate or state armies. Legends that he commanded the Seventh Mississippi Cavalry and that he fought under Forrest have no foundation in fact. The Seventh Mississippi was merely the First Mississippi Partisan Rangers under a new name, officially given it Aug. 1, 1864.32 After the change of designation it was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Hyams of Missouri. Both as the First Partisan Rangers and as the Seventh Mississippi Cavalry the regiment fought with Forrest in 1864 and 1865, but at that time Falkner had no connection with it.
Two facts have led to much confusion as to Colonel Falkner's military career in the last half of 1863 and in 1864 and 1865. One was the Confederate custom of referring to a regiment by the name of its colonel instead of by its number; for that reason the First Partisan Rangers and, later, the Seventh Mississippi, were often referred to as "Falkner's Regiment", even long after his connection with it had ceased. The second was the remarkable similarity in the names of Col.
". . . I see what they are working for. There is a petty little tyrant commanding the Fifth Military District of Mississippi here, who is working every way he knows to hold me in this District south of the M. ∓mp;mp;mp; C. R. R. notwithstanding my orders from the Secy. of War (to go into Tennessee and Kentucky). . . . I talked pretty plain to Brig. Gen. Chalmers. I told him I did not and would not mix up with his fireside militia ∓mp;mp;mp; state troops . . ."
Eventually Faulkner got authority to take his howitzer across the State line and in the fall went into Tennessee. But before he was able to work his way northward he was stationed for a while at Ripley, commanding various small bodies of scouts or, at times, without a command. With two men of almost the same name identified with the same small town, it is not surprising that there are several references in the Official Records for which it is impossible to say which man was intended.
W. W. Faulkner organized a regiment behind Federal lines in west Tennessee and Kentucky, which he brought out with Forrest in December 1863. On January 28, 1864, his regiment was mustered into Confederate service as the 12th Kentucky and he was promoted Colonel as of that date. He participated in all of Forrest's campaigns until he was wounded
Because of the remarkable similarity in the names of the two men, and the fact that W. W. Faulkner came late into Mississippi and to Ripley just as W. C. Falkner was fading out of the picture, it is perhaps understandable that the Mississippian has received a share of the credit, particularly in regard to Forrest, that rightfully belongs to the Kentuckian.
Notes on Chapter III
1. Falkner to J. W. Clapp, March 5, 1863; Clapp to Sec. of War Seddon, March 17, 1863; in C.M.R., Papers of Confederates, RG-109, Seddon papers.
2. Falkner to Clapp, March 5, 1863, op. cit.
3. Clapp to Seddon, March 17, 1863, op. cit. Seddon's endorsement on the letter reads, "For conference with the President, JAS"; an interesting sidelight on Jefferson Davis' insistence on handling every detail of the government.
4. Falker to Chalmers, March 17, 1863, C.M.R., Papers of Confederates, Chalmers papers, Box 2, (RG-109) Falkner's claim that he had armed his men from within the enemy lines is an exaggeration unless it be considered that the northern counties of Mississippi were within the enemy lines. Actually the weapons were probably the property of the men who used them.
5. Falkner to Clapp, March 18, 1863; A. G. O., Service Record W. C. Falkner. Falkner's constant harping on his Mexican War records, which lasted 10 instead of 12 months, included no actual fighting, and ended under a cloud, is difficult to understand unless it be assumed that he possessed unusual ability to rationalize his actions. His "memories" of events in his past were always rosy, and his estimates of the future were so colored by his vanity as to be unreliable. These characteristics may explain in part why Jefferson Davis, who knew him personally, so insistently ignored his demands for promotion.
6. Falkner to J. J. McRae, Jan.8, 1863; Falkner to J. W. Clapp, Jan. 7, 1863; J. J. McRae to Jefferson Davis, Jan. 30, 1863: A. G.O., Service Record W. C. Falkner.
7. Falkner's debatable Mexican War record has been mentioned in a note, above. As for his regiment, he had raised not 1,000 men in 15 days, but a maximum of 750 men in 45 days; and he had not armed them by captures from the enemy, unless all Federal and Confederate reports of his activities in the fall of 1862 are erroneous.
8. These recommendations were those Falkner received in 1862. See above, p
9. C. M. R., Special Orders and Circulars, Chalmers' command, Ch. 2, Vol. 299, p. 11.
10. Falkner to Chalmers, April 8, 1863: C.M.R., Ch. 2, Vol. 291, pp. 15, 25, Telegrams Received, Chalmers command.
11. S.O. 39, Special Orders Chalmers command, C. M. R. Chap. 2, Vol. 199, p. 33, April 15, 1863. ( order detaching Co. I to arrest deserters). O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXIV, Pt. III, p. 765; Same, Pt. I, pp. 557, 562
12. Falkner made no report of the Hernando skirmish, and Chalmers' report to Lee was confined to a terse recital of Falkner's losses; his very silence on other aspects of the fight should probably be interpreted as implying censure. Falkner's loss of control over his regiment after the fight also leads inescapably to conjecture as to his conduct on that occasion. It can only be said that after the war it was widely rumored in Tippah County that on one occasion Falkner was threatened with court-martial for insubordination and cowardice, and statements to the general effect that he "was great on dress parade, but when a fight came he usually turned it over to Hovis" had wide circulation. (Hovis was not at Hernando). It should be remembered, however, that it was almost impossible to obtain any opinion on anything relating to Falkner for forty years after his death - everything was colored either in favor of or against him. But his actions between the battle and his resignation six months later were such as to add fuel to the fires of suspicion.
13. C. M. R., Special Orders Chalmers' Command, Ch. 2, Vol. 199, S. O. 44, p. 39
14. Same, S. O. 46, p. 45
15. Same, S. O. 60, p. 54
16. C. M. R., Letters from Gen. Chalmers, Ch. 2, vol. 289, p. 97
17. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXIV, Pt. III, p. 934
18. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXIV, Pt. III, p. 944
19. C. M. R., Ch. 2, Vol. 289, Letters Chalmers Command, p. 120
20. Same, p. 123
21. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXIV, Pt. II, p. 482. Chalmers' endorsement on Falkner's resignation (see below, p. ) reads, "Col. Falkner has not been in command of his regiment since 14th last May". It seems clear, however, that Falkner was personally in command during the Phillips affair.
22. C. M. R., Papers of Confederates, Chalmers file
23. C. M. R., Ch. 2, Vol. 289, Letters Chalmers Command, p. 178
24. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXX, Pt. IV, p. 497
25. C.M.R., Ch. 2, Vol. 289, Chalmers letters, pp. 207, 211-212.
26. Same, pp. 211-212
27. C. M. R., Ch. 2, Vol. 7 1/2, Record of Telegrams sent, Dept. of Miss. and East Louisiana; no. 1284, p. 58.
28. The original resignation and medical certificate, as well as the later (October) resignation and certificate, are in A. G. O., Service record of W. C. Falkner.
29. C. M. R., Papers of Confederates, Chalmers papers, file
30. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXX, Pt. IV, pp. 609-610
31. A. G. O., Service record W. C. Falkner
32. But see O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXIV, Pt. II, p. 334, in which a Federal officer reported the capure, on Jan. 29, 1863, of Lt. Col. Hovis and a private of the "7th Mississippi Regiment". This was 18 months before the change became official. It is possible that the number was given the regiment informally at reorganization, in view of the fact that one of the conditions of Falkner's authority to reorganize was that the regiment should be placed in the regular Confederate army organization. There is no further reference to the Seventh, however, between Jan. 29, 1863 and the date of the actual change.
33. Lindsley, J. B., Ed., The Military Annals of Tennessee, Confederate; Nashville, 1886; p. 781. Faulkner was one of the most successful of the Partisan Ranger leaders, and the endorsements on his various promotion contain more than routine recommendations from such men as Generals Polk, S. D. Lee, Buford, and Forrest. Forrest's endorsement on the recommedation for promotion to colonel is a long and, for Forrest, a glowing tribute. He emphasized especially his remarkable ability to get men into the service. (See A. G. O., Service record W. W. Faulkner)
During September 1863 the First Mississippi Partisan Rangers were a thoroughly demoralized outfit, so much so that Chalmers complained that "absence without leave keeps half of my partisan companies looking up the other half".1 Early in October, however, after it became clear that Col. Falkner would not return to duty, Lieutenant Colonel Hovis took active command of the regiment. It is most unfortunate that the excellent record of the capable and courageous Hovis has been dimmed by the flamboyant Falkner legends with the result that he has never received the credit that is rightfully his. He had been appointed Adjutant of the Second Mississippi in 1861, and after Falkner's defeat at the reorganization had returned to Mississippi with him. When the Rangers were organized he was elected captain of Company B on September 2 was elected Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment. In the battle at Rienzi in August 1862 he commanded the battalion that surprised and drove in Sheridan's pickets, and he served competently throughout the first phase of the regiment's history. On January 29, 1863, he was captured at Ripley, but was exchanged about the end of May or the first of June. He returned to duty some time before August 10.2 and in September began to round up the scattered Rangers. By the first of October he had assembled about 300 of them, and with these and the Buckner battery, consisting of four small
After the Collierville victory McGuirk and Hovis acted as rearguard during Chalmers' retirement into Mississippi, and were involved in some heavy fighting at Byhalia and Wyatt, where they recrossed the Coldwater and Tallahatchie Rivers.
On October 20 Hovis was ordered to take those men of his command who had arms and ammunition to Oxford, and the unused men to the line of the Mississippi Central Railroad to assist in repair work; Hovis was placed in charge of the rebuilding program.5 On October 22 the strength of the regiment was given as 310;6 and on October 30 it was ordered to report to McCulloch's brigade, to which it had been attached before Falkner's resignation.7
On November 3 Chalmers again attacked Colliervllle, this time unsuccessfully. McCulloch's brigade was in the center of the line and was engaged in hard fighting. On the retreat the Rangers, fighting dismounted, held the ford of the Coldwater River against the enemy until dark, with a loss of 13 men wounded.8
On December 4, as part of the brilliant movement by Lee and Chalmers that shook Forrest loose into Tennessee, McCulloch's brigade attacked the Federals under General Hatch at the State Line crossing of the Wolf River at Moscow, Tennessee, after doing considerable damage to the railroad on the way up. It decisively defeated two cavalry regiments with severe loss before withdrawing after Forrest was safely on his way north. In this battle the Confederates encountered the first negro troops they had met - an organization that gloried in the name of "Second Regiment West Tennessee Infantry (African Decent)". The reports of the Southeners do not mention the colored troops, which probably means that they had little or no close contact with them. Federal reports, on the other hand, speak of the behavior of the dark-skinned warriors in terms so glowing as to make their veracity suspect.9
During the Moscow fight Hovis was severely wounded. He was taken to his home at Ripley, where he died on March 26, 1864.10 It is not too much to say that his death was the heaviest blow his regiment suffered during its variegated existence. He never sought the limelight; but in whatever task he was engaged he did a through, efficient job. His achievement in assembling the Partisan Rangers after the debacle at Hernando and the resignation of Falkner, and welding them into an efficient unit, was truly outstanding; and the quality of his military leadership is evidenced by the fact that during his brief tenure of command, the records contain only praise for the fighting qualities of the regiment. Colonel Hovis was a brave man, a capable soldier, and an inspiring leader.
After the wounding of Hovis the regiment, then under Major Park, was assigned to the task of arresting deserters,11 but soon reverted to its old habits and became so weakened by absences without leave that on January 8, 1864, Chalmers consolidated what was left of it with the 1st and 4th companies of the 18th Partisan Rangers, naming Colonel Hovis as commander, Lt. Col. A. H. Chalmers of the 18th as second-in-command, and Major Park of the First Rangers as Major.12 As Hovis was at that time incapacitated by his wound, this arrangement placed Lieutenant Colonel Chalmers, the General's brother, in active command; whereupon the First Rangers showed their disapproval in typical ranger fashion and went home practically in masse. In January Chalmers wrote to Lee:
"On last night one hundred and thirty, being most of the effective men present in the First Mississippi Partisan Rangers, deserted."
"I have take steps to have them arrested and if I succeed shall dismount the regiment and send it to the Lieutenant-General commanding."
"This regiment has been straggling and going home without leave more or less ever since I have had command of them. Last fall I succeeded in getting about three hundred and fifty together under Lt. Col. Hovis and he kept two hundred fifty to three hundred for duty for several months. He was badly wounded recently at Moscow. The Col. (Falkner) has resigned and the Major could not or would not control the men but permitted them to straggle off until he had but seventy-six men for duty when he reached this place. I had applied for a Col. to command them and Genl. Lee sent me Col. Stith of the Provisional army but he declined reporting to me for this duty because he had been requested by the officers of the regiment to do so. I then made a temporary consolidation of the regiment with the 18th Mississippi Battalion and placed Lieutenant Colonel Chalmers in command. He had collected about one hundred seventy-five of them when the desertion took place."
"I would be glad to have the approval of the Lieut. Genl. Commanding to the proposed measures and if possible to get about four good companies to mount on their horses.
"I am respectfully yours, Jas. R.. Chalmers, Brigadier General"13
The record does not show what success, if any, Chalmers had in arresting the deserters. Shortly after the letter was written he was placed under the immediate command of Forrest, who proceeded with his accustomed vigor to put his various units into fighting trim. The "temporary consolidation" of the First and 18th Rangers was allowed to lapse, and the First regiment was again placed under command of Major Park in McCulloch's brigade.14 On March 12 Forrest sent the regiment to Corinth by rail, with orders to "breast the country" from Corinth to Holly Springs and Oxford, to arrest all stragglers, conscripts, deserters, all men absent without leave, and to collect all unattached squads and companies of cavalry. They were also instructed to catch if possible the men who were stealing and impressing horses without authority. And after having done all these things, they were to establish a courier line from Waterford to Saulsbury and another from Oxford to Pontotoc to connect with that of Gholson from Pontotoc to Tupelo.15 Theirs was a stiff order, but they evidently carried it out; at least there were no recorded complaints from Forrest, from whom lightnings would have flashed had the regiment failed in its assignment. In later months, under the stern discipline
Notes on chapter IV
1. C. M. R., Ch. 2, Vol. 289, Letters seat, Chalmers command, pp. 227-228. This letter was from Chalmers to Pillow, Sept. 10, 1863, in reply to one of Pillow's numerous pleas for a cavalry regiment to round up conscripts.
2. C. M. R., Ch. 2, Vol. 207, Telegrams sent, Chalmers Command, p. 205. This telegram, dated August 10, appointed Hovis to sit on a court martial.
3. Rowland, pp. 784-786
4. O. R. Ser. I, Vol. XXX, Pt. II, p. 765
5. C. M. R., Ch. 2, Vol. 199, Special Orders Chalmers command: S. O. 160, p. 63
6. C. M. R., Ch. 2, Vol. 289, Letters of Chalmers Command, p. 240
7. C. M. R., Ch. 2, Vol. 199, Special Orders Chalmers Command, S. O. 165, p. 151
8. Rowland, p. 786
9. Rowland, p. 786; O. R.
10. A. G. O., Service record of Lawson B. Hovis.
11. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXI, Pt. III, pp. 828-829
12. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXII, Pt. II, p. 530
13. C. M. R., Letters sent, Chalmers Command; Vol. p.
14. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXII, Pt. III, p. 660
15. Same, pt. III, p. 616
16. Same, p. 759
17. O. R.
Many references have been made in the preceding pages to the prevalence of straggling, absence without leave, and desertion in the Confederate armies in general and the First Partisan Rangers in particular. Although the subject of desertion is not properly a part of this account, it is impossible to evaluate conditions in north Mississippi during the war without taking it into consideration, and for that reason it is here discussed briefly.
Both the Union and Confederate armies were plagued with unauthorized absences from the ranks to a degree that is difficult to understand today. In the mellow afterglow of the fighting, the subject, being unheroic and therefore unpopular, has generally been ignored. Southerners have been willing to admit that same Yankees might have "left the command", while the Northerners have taken the attitude, without being very belligerent about it, that desertion and absences without leave were amiable failings confined largely to Rebels. The truth, however, is that every American army from the Revolution to the Spanish-American war was faced with serious desertion problems, and the Civil war forces were no exceptions. The discipline of the armies of World War I and II was not even dreamed of in 1861-65.1
The reasons back of the typically lax American army discipline of the time as opposed to the stricter European type, stemmed from fundamental contrasts between the social systems of the two continents. In European armies the officers were drawn from "upper" classes who were accustomed to being obeyed not only in camp but in civilian society as well; the enlisted men, on the other hand, came
Reliable figures on the number of desertions in the Confederate and Union armies are impossible to obtain because of the incomplete records and the lack of uniformity in reporting. One set of figures gives about 100,000 desertions from the Confederate army, 200,000 from the Federal; another estimates that one out of every nine Confederate soldiers, and one out of every seven Union soldiers "left the command" at one time or other. But these figures do not mean too much; what really matters is the reasoning back of the defections. In the case of the Confederates, several reasons are obvious. The Southerner's lot in camp, because of the perennial shortage of food, supplies, and equipment, was harder than most Union soldiers could ever imagine. Also, as much of the
The tolerant attitude toward leaving camp did not apply, in either army, to skulking in battle; the same men who laughed at slipping off from camp for a few days at home were unforgiving where cowardice in the face of the enemy is concerned. Perhaps as good an example as any to show that in the Confederate Army absence without leave from camp and bravery in battle were not incompatible is the record of one regiment during and after the battle of Corinth.2 This organization organized in north Mississippi, came from the vicinity of Jackson, Mississippi to Van Dorn's army in time to join in the attack. During the battle in which Confederate bravery was of such Homeric stature that practically every northern report marveled at it, this regiment was outstanding even among the many heroic groups who hurled themselves against the fortifications. It penetrated into the heart of the town,
Another result of the individualism that characterized the Confederate armies was their reaction to different commanders. Lee, beloved and trusted by his men, had less trouble with desertion and absence without leave than most of the army leaders. This was true also of such brilliant officers as Jackson and Forrest, who were never beloved as was Lee, but in whom the soldiers had an almost superstitious confidence. The attitude worked in reverse also; just as Pickett's men surged forward at Gettysburg because they believed that, with Lee, they were invincible, so the troops who retreated in panic from Missionary Ridge left their posts because they had no faith in Braxton Bragg. On a smaller scale, the history of the First Mississippi Partisan Rangers furnishes an example of the ways in which one regiment reacted to its different commanders.
From its organization until it was broken up by the Conscription Bureau Colonel Falkner kept the Rangers well in hand. They fought well if not always successfully and although the men were enlisted from the area over which they fought, there were no abnormal complaints of absence without leave and desertion. When, however, the Conscription Bureau scattered the regiment, it not only broke up the organization but destroyed to some extent the confidence of the men in their leader; both they and he had believed that he could fend off the Bureau. As a result,
Notes on Chapter V
1. Probably the best summary of discipline and desertion in the Confederate armies is in Wiley, Bell I., The Life of Jonny Reb, pp.
2. The 35th Mississippi; see Rowland, p. 700
During the tug-of-war between the Confederate War Department and the State in the latter half of 1862, a large number of companies were organized in northern Mississippi for State service under authorizations granted by Governor Pettus. Many of these organizations were later grouped into battalions or regiments, others simply disappeared and were heard from no more; only a few participated as companies in the actual fighting. One of the best known and for a short time one of the most successful of these detached units was the "guerrilla" company of Sol Street.
Solomon C. Street, usually known as Sol Street, enlisted in Falkner's Magnolia Rifles, later Company F of the Second Mississippi, on March 4, 1861. At that time he was 30 years old and by trade a carpenter. On May 10, at Lynchburg, Virginia he was promoted to Third Sergeant, a rank which he held until July 31, 1862 when under the terms of the Conscription act he furnished a substitute and was according discharged from the Army of Northern Virginia. Returning to Mississippi, he obtained authority from the governor to recruit a company of cavalry and on December 15, 1862, was commissioned Captain of Company A, Second Mississippi Cavalry. He never served, however, with that regiment. Almost immediately he was detached for "service along the M. ∓mp;mp;mp;. C. Railroad" and began a six-months-long career of making life miserable for the Union troops stationed along that much disputed line.1
Technically Street's company was a unit of State troops on Confederate service, detached to a certain area. Actually it operated independently though on
The number of men who served in Street's company is not definitely known. No muster rolls are extant, and indeed it is doubtful if any were ever made. In 1894 survivors made up from memory a
roster of 69 officers and men, seven of whom were killed in action. The names are:2
Solomon Street, Captain J.H. Mauldin, First Lieutenant
Wm. Reed, Second Lieutenant Elliott Street, Third Lieutenant
R. B. Mitchell, Orderly Sergeant
John Cup T. J. Grace Wm. Bolling, Sr.
- - Hursey Andy McElwain Luther White (killed)
Dan Dean John Robinson Wm. Campbell
John Crisp (killed) - Caraway (killed) Jesse Barton
Wm. Roten Wesley Davenport Cal Hopkins
James Moddy(killed) R.J. Thurmond Pete Burns
Wash Tiplet Jack Parks Jack Tudor
Wm. Reaves Wm. Street J.K. Robinson
William Paul Ed Saunders Albert Fowler
Andy Erwood Sam Redferrin Dugan Park
John Park Daniel Street Ike James
Alex Bolling Wm. Bolling, Jr. Joseph McElwain, Jr.
John Clemmer(killed) John Keith Andy Deen
James Barnett Wm. Turney William Crisp (killed)
Will Morrow(killed) Robert Elam Luke Hopkins
Wm. Hopkins Joe Hovis James Stewart
Wood Tudor George Yopp J.Q. Guinn
M. T. B. Cutbirth John Kesterson Allan Reed
Tom Shay J.A. Ford Berry Smith
Bit Fowler Newt Clark Elbert Welty
Tom Smith A.J. Park John L. Rutherford
According to survivors of the band, the largest number who ever served in any one of Street's raids was not more than 30. The method of operation was much like that of the better known Ranger Mosby of Virginia; the use of small striking parties that could be called together readily, coupled with excellent intelligence of the operation of Union troops. Operating as they did in a country of divided loyalties, it was essential that the members of the band know the politics and allegiance of practically every man in the northern part of the county and of adjacent parts of Tennessee.
Street's first recorded brush with the enemy was on January 25, 1863, when Major D. M. Emerson led a detachment of the First Tennessee Cavalry (Union)
Street returned to the vicinity of Ripley, probably to the west Tippah bottoms west of town from which he operated during much of his career. Three days after Emerson's expedition Lt. Col. Edward Prince led a detachment of the Seventh Illinois Cavalry from Lagrange in search of him.4 The intended victim was nowhere to be found when Prince got to Ripley, but the raid was successful for the Federals in that they captured Lieutenant Colonel Hovis of the First Partisan Rangers.
By the middle of February the Union leaders had learned that Street's band was likely to turn up anywhere between Pocahontas, Bolivar, and Mount Pleasant, and anywhere north of the Ripley-Salem line.5 It hung on the flanks of the many
March was a busy month for Street's company. For some time they had eyed with envy, for they were short of almost every kind of equipment, the provision and supply-laden trains that ran over the Memphis and Charleston and the Mississippi Central Railroads. They knew that on the Memphis and Charleston every station was guarded and the line was so closely patrolled that it was out of the question for their small group to do any damage. Through a Tennessean named Prewitt, however, they learned that the Mississippi Central was not guarded so closely, and that a pay train would run from Bolivar to Grand Junction on March 21. Street decided to capture this train; and on the night of March 19 his band left their camp on West Tippah and rode all night, crossing the Memphis and Charleston near Saulsbury and hiding in the woods all day of the 20th. Prewitt acted as a guide. After nightfall he led them to a cut about three and a half miles north of Grand Junction through which the railroad passed
Within a few minutes it became clear to Street's men that the wrecked train was not the pay train they had intended to capture, but a construction train carrying a considerable amount of supplies. When the pay train did come along a little later its engineer saw the wreck far enough ahead to stop, back up, and escaped toward Bolivar. The Federal paymaster, however, jumped when it seemed that his train would ram the wreckage and was captured.8
When the firing in the cut was heard at Grand Junction, Lieutenant Colonel Loomis with a detachment of the Sixth Illinois Cavalry was sent out to investigate. This crowded the Confederates for time, but they took as much material as they could carry off and set fire to the cars before beginning a leisurely retreat toward their base near Ripley. After he reached the scene Looms attempted to pursue but gave up after he had followed only a short distance.9 He reported
On the day after the capture of the train near Grand Junction and possibly in part because of the affair, Col. Fielding Hurst of the First West Tennessee Cavalry (Union) took about 100 of his cavalry from Pocahontas to Ripley on the horse and cotton-stealing raid that resulted in the death of Colonel Miller (see above, p. ). Street, back at his camp on West Tippah, assumed that Hurst would spend the night in Ripley and moved into town after dark with the intention of capturing the pickets and doing whatever other damage he could. To his surprise he found that Hurst had gone back to Pocahontas. He immediately followed, going down Muddy Creek bottom to head off the enemy. His guide was Thomas J. Grace, who suggested that Street ambush the Federals at a steep hill about a mile south of Jonesboro. This was done, the Confederates waiting for the main body to pass and then closing in and capturing the rear guard of eight men. These were disarmed and sent to Ripley in charge of a detail commanded by R. J. Thurmond. Street then took another short cut across the country
On April 2, according to Hurst's report, he dispersed a "gang of guerrillas" near Pocahontas and captured 21 prisoners, stores, horses, and mules.13 It is possible that some of these men may have belonged to Street's company or to a similar organization commanded by Captain Sam White. Apparently Hurst made the statement that he would refuse to recognize the men as prisoners or war, for on April 3 Chalmers sent him the following letter:
"Information has reached the Genl. commanding this military district that you have refused to recognize members of Capt. Street's company captured by your Regt. as prisoners of war and by his direction I have the honor to inform you that Capt. Street commands a regular organization of State troops turned over to the Confederate service and Consequently they are as much entitled to the courtesies of war as any organized body of troops
The day before he sent his warning to the notorious Hurst, Chalmers made the only recorded effort to incorporate Street's company into a larger unit. On April 2 he ordered "Capt. Solomon O. Street, commanding Citizen Guards of Tippah County" to assembled his company at New Albany, and to order all other independent companies in his vicinity to assembled at the same place for the purpose of being organized into a battalion or regimemt.15 So far as is known Street paid no attention to the order, but for several months longer continued to operate as a lone wolf in northern Tippah County, sometimes in company with Capt. White's company. He appears next in the record on May 20 when a force of about 300 Confederates, including Street's company, was attacked unsuccessfully at Salem by General Hatch.16
Late in May an accident occurred which highlights the bitter enmity between the Union troops operating in north Mississippi and Street's company. 0n the 27th Gen. Sooy Smith, commanding the Union cavalry in Memphis, charged that two of Street's men, named as Kesterson and Robinson, had murdered Union prisoners in
Street replied on June 4 that the men, who belonged to the 12th Michigan, were shot while trying to escape and turned the matter over to General Ruggles. Ruggles wrote Smith on June 6 that he was having the case investigated, that he did not like Smith's prejudging of the case, and was therefore having four prisoners from Smith's command placed in irons. 18
The final disposition of the Kesterson-Robinson case is not to be found in the records and it is probable that the only result was a deepening of the bad feelings between the Yankees and Street's men. In August the former took matters into their own hands; Street reported on the 24th that in the course of an attack upon an enemy forage train on the Ripley-Pocahontas road Private John Carraway of Captain White's cavalry and Private Moses Crisp of Street's company were captured, taken to the bridge, and deliberately shot (another account says that they were tied to trees and shot). Ruggles reported the case to General Lee, advising him that two Federal prisoners, W. P. Monterey and W. H. Beasley, were being held as hostages until the case should be
The affair on the Pocahontas road was almost the last, if not the last of Street's fights in Mississippi. Early in August General Stephen D. Lee had reopened the question of forming the scattered companies in north Mississippi into larger units, just as Chalmers had done in April. But unlike Chalmers at that time, Lee had the whole-hearted support of the Department Commander, General Johnston, and was also helped by the fact that after the fall of Vicksburg the Union pressure shifted from west Tennessee to the Chattanooga areas; this gave the Confederates in the west an opportunity to consolidate their forces, which they had been unable to do before. And as for Street, it is clear that he had no intention of being integrated into regular army forces and fighting in the regular way. Like Mosby he was not one to be tied down by the regular army discipline, especially as he had been strikingly successful in operating in his own way. When it became apparent that Lee meant business about the reorganization, on September 1 Street resigned his commission in the Mississippi forces and moved a few miles north into Tennessee. He was succeeded as Captain of Company A, Second Mississippi cavalry (from which he had been detached for service against the railroad) by W. W. Mauldin.20
In Tennessee Street raised a sizable command, in all probability considerably larger than he had commanded in Mississippi, and continued to harass the
On February 5, 1864, General Forrest incorporated the 16th Tennessee cavalry and Street's band of irregulars into the 15th Tennessee Cavalry, commanded by Colonel Stewart, and appointed Street Major.23 He served with that regiment until May 4 of the same year, when he was killed in Hardeman County, Tennessee. Thus ended, in action, the career of one of the most colorful and, in his own orbit, one of the most successful fighters for the Confederacy in the western states.
Notes on Chapter VI
1. A. G. O., Service record of Solomon G. Street
2. Southern Sentinel, August 23, 1895; R. J. Thurmond was not in the list published in 1894. He is included because of his participation in the Jonesboro fight.
3. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXIV, Pt. I, p. 331. This is the only reference in the Official Records to this organization, though there can be no doubt that some men from the northern part of the county served with the Union troops. In all probability the organization was largely an informal one.
4. Davis, 10; O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXIV, Pt. II, p. 334
5. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXIV, Pt. I, p. 349
6. Same, p. 340
7. Same, Pt. III, p. 106
8. Southern Sentinel, Sept. 6, 1895 and August 8, 1935. See also O. R. Ser. I, Vol. XXIV, Pt. I, p. 485 for General Hurlbut's report of the fight.
9. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXIV, Pt. I, pp. 471-472.
0. Same, p. 471
11. Southern Sentinel, Aug. 8, 1935, op. cit.
12. Southern Sentinel, August 30, 1895; O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XXIV, Pt. III, p. 147.
13. A. G. O., Service record Fielding Hurst.
14. C. M. R., Ch. 2, Vol. 207, Letters ∓mp;mp;mp; Telegrams Chalmers Command; pp 39-40
15. C. M. R., Ch. 2, Vol. 299, Special Orders Chalmers Command, S. O. 26, April 2, 1863, p. 17.
16. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXIV, Pt. II, p. 424.
17. O. R., Ser. II, Vol. V, p. 714
18. O. R., Ser. II, Vol. VI, p. 224.
19. O. R., Ser. II, Vol. VI, p. 224.
20. A. G. O., Service record Sol. G. Street; Rowland, p.
21. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXI, Pt. I, p. 570
22. A. G. O., Service record Sol. G. Street.
23. A. G. O., Service record Sol. G. Street.
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