The following account of the Civil War was given
by George Monroe AUTRY. He was the son of Jacob B.
and Temperance EMBRY AUTRY. He was born at Salem, Ms. 4 Jan. 1842 and
died at Rockport, Tx., 15 Feb. 1907 and is buried in Karnes County,
Kenedy, Texas. George married Angeline Elmina WILSON (27
Nov. 1841 - 12 Mar. 1921) in Chewalla, McNairy County,
Tenn. 17 Dec. 1857. His brother John A. and Caleb Cox went with them.
(This Caleb Cox was the son of Elijah and Celia Horn Cox of Salem who lived
in Purdy, McNairy County)
Company was organized at Salem, Mississippi, in March 1862. Ben LAX was elected Captain. From there we went to Holly Springs, Mississippi, where we met nine other Companies from Tippah (my County) and Marshall Counties.
We marched down to Lumkin Mill, nine miles south of Holly Springs, where we organized the 34th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, elected Benton Colonel and D.B. WRIGHT, Lt. Colonel, and a few days afterwards we were camped at Corinth, Mississippi, and then we began to see what war really meant.
We were placed in Gen. Anderson's Brigade, Beauregard's Army; from there we followed Gen. Bragg on his Kentucky Campaign. Soon after our return from Kentucky to Tennessee, we were placed in a Brigade with the 24th, 29th, and 30th Mississippi Regiments, and Gen. Wallthall, one of the greatest men of his time was our Brigade Commander.
I was continuously with my command from its return from Kentucky until I was captured in the Battle above the Clouds, on the 24th day of November, 1863.
I was engaged in all of the battles that the army of Tennessee was engaged in up to that time, of which Murfreesboro (or Stone River as History calls it) and Chickamauga are the principal ones. I think I was in several skirmishes that would make San Juan Hill in Cuba look like thirty cents.
All orders that were read at Dress Parade would begin at Headquarters, Polk's Corps, Withers Division, Army of Tennessee.
My Post Office Address those days was: G.M. AUTRY, Private, Company K., 34 Regiment, Mississippi Infantry, Polk's Corps, Withers Division, Wallthall Brigade, Army of Tennessee.
I was confined in prison from the time I was captured, on Rock Island,
Illinois until the ____ day of March, 1865, when I was exchanged
at the mouth of the James River. Some few days later
I received a furlough at Richmond, Virginia, for thirty
days, and before I reached home, Gen. Lee surrendered his army.
George M. Autry was born near Salem, Tippah County,
Miss., and died at Rockport, Tex., in February, 1907. He was left an orphan
at an early age. He enlisted for the Confederacy in March, 1862, at Salem,
Miss., joining a company of which Ben Lax was captain, and which afterwards
became a part of the 34th Mississippi Infantry in Anderson's Brigade under
Beauregard. From Corinth it was with General Bragg on his Kentucky Campaign.
After returning to Tennessee, the regiment was placed in Walthall's Brigade.
Comrade Autrey was continuously with his command until captured in the "battle
above the clouds," Lookout Mountain, in November, 1863. He was in prison
at Rock Island until March 13, 1865, when he was exchanged. He received a
furlough a few days later, but before he reached home General Lee had surrendered.
Comrade Autrey was married at Chewalla, Tenn., in December 1857, to Miss Angelina E. Wilson, who, with eight children, survives him. He removed with his family to Texas in 1869, settling near Houston. Removing afterwards to Guadalope County, he served for many years as Sherriff, and in 1895 he made his home at Kenedy, Karnes County, residing there until death.
This article was taken from the News and Journal, a publication of the Tippah Co. Historical and Genealogy Society. Some minor editing was done to shorten it.
Sol Street was one of 18 children born to Anderson and Keziah McBride Street, one of the earliest settlers of Tippah Co. Miss. Sol was a carpenter by trade and enlisted early in the war (1861) in the Magnolia Guards which later was merged into the 2nd Miss. Infantry. He served at First Manassas, Seven Pines, and the Seven Days Battles. After North Miss. was invaded in 1862 he hired a substitute under the provisions of the Conscription Act and returned home.
Street next is on record as having been made a captain in the Citizen's Guards of Tippah Co. Technically he was under Gen. Chalmers' command but was able to detach himself from the Gen.'s command so that he could harass the Federals along the Memphis and Charleston Railroad between Memphis and Corinth.
Street establish headquarters of sorts in an inpenetrable bottom of Tippah Creek, from which he operated an efficient and unorthodox intelligence system which served him well in his military activities. By 1863, Street had earned the enviable description of "noted Guerilla" and the unsubstantiated title of Colonel.
Finally, Street saw that his days as the leader of an independent group of hit-and-run fighters were numbered. He evaded (regular) Confederate service for the last time by moving into the extreme southwest section of Tenn.
Street's military career reached its peak while he was serving as a Major in the 15th Tn., a battalion under the command of Gen. N.B. Forrest.
After the engagement at Ft. Pillow, Tenn., the following account details Street's last days, which were spent in the Bolivar, Tn. area.
In Dec. 1862 William Galloway, a Saulsbury, Tn. farmer had an altercation with Street over the sale of cotton. Street killed Galloway without provocation.
Galloway had a son named Robert who swore he would avenge his father's death, sending word far and wide that he would kill Street on sight. Robert was not quite 17 but enlisted in Capt. Higgs' Independent Scouts and bided his time.
It was over a year before he ran across the man he had sworn to kill. On May 2, 1864, just after Forrest's command, numbering about 200 all told, had had a brush with over 1,000 Federal troops near Bolivar, Higgs' Scouts camped with Forrest's troops at Bolivar and there Robert met Maj. Street. True to his word, he avenged his father's death.
Shooting a Major of his command was to Forrest an unpardonable crime and young Galloway was placed in charge of a guard of ten men with the cheering information that as sure as the sun rose in the morning he would be shot, and admonished him to make his peace with his God. The guards were instructed to "bind him fast and have him forthcoming when called for, or their lives should answer for his escape." Forrest also ordered that he should be tied with a rope and two men at a time should stand guard over him, one of whom should "hold on to the rope." Accordingly, his hands were tied, a long rope was placed around his neck, which one of the guards held in his hand.
The first two to have charge of him were John W. Key of Washington, D.C. and L.H. Russ. Russ was about 16 years old and not much bigger than a piece of chalk--and for that reason was called the "baby of Forrest's escort." From the first his sympathies were enlisted on the side of the prisoner. Getting into conversation with Galloway, he got the entire story of the killing, talked it over with the guards, and won over the most of them to the idea of letting him get away. Russ stayed awake the whole night, and every 2 hours when the relief was changed, he asked, "is he still there?" hoping to that each succeeding relief would give him a chance to "skip".
Later Key and Russ were on duty guarding the prisoner in the corner of a rail fence and the two begin talking in a way to let Galloway know he had better untied himself and make his get-away. "That fellow is a fool to stay here and get shot," said Ross. "If he tries to get away I shall shoot at him--but I won't hit him," replied Key. "If I was in his place, I'd make a break for our horses over there and take one and ride like the devil," said Russ, "and I would not care if he got mine." Key was holding the rope and Russ laid down across it between Key and the prisoner, and Galloway worked around, got his knife out of his pocket, cut his bonds and stole away quietly to the horses. He perferred to leave on foot rather than give them any chance to track him, as they would be able to do had he taken a horse. Revellie was sounded just as he disappeared in the woods.
Waiting a sufficient time to give Galloway a chance to make his escape, the two guards began shooting their revolvers and running in an opposite direction from that taken by the prisoner. "Boots and Saddles" was sounded at once, the escort formed in lines and in two minutes Forrest put in an appearance, supposing the Federals were about to attack them.
On learning that the prisoner had escaped, and none of the guards being able to tell how it happened, the dashing cavalry leader began cursing the guard, damning them individually, collectively, in detail and by sections; damned his whole escort from the highest officer in it to the cook--not one escaped his wrath--and after cursing all of the State of Tenn. in general and Bolivar in particular he order the guard under arrest, with the statement that he was about to march to Tupelo, Miss., and on arrival there he "intended to shoot every damned one of the ten guards." They were ordered to fall in the rear of the escort and the march began.
On the way to Tupelo, the guards were all dishartened at the prospect of being shot except the "baby" who kept saying "Don't worry boys, Forrest won't shoot ten of his escort--good men are too scarce to kill 'em that way."
Arriving at Tupelo, Forrest put the guard in a little old shanty in which a number of goats had been housed for a year, again telling them he would shoot the whole ten of them at sunrise. They were kept there for a week or more, when Russ one day climbed up the old fashioned chimney while some of his companions engaged the attention of the guard, climbed down the roof made his way to his company quarters and got Capt. Jackson and Maj. Strong to interced with Forrest for their release.
Russ made his way back to the goat pen the same way he got out, and Forrest, who had somewhat cooled down by this time released all except Sgt. Sims, who was Sgt. of the guard, declaring he would court-martial and shoot him. Sims stayed in the goat pen a week longer, when he was tried by court-martial and there being no evidence to convict, he went free. Sims never knew till long after the war who turned the prisoner loose.
Many years later Gallowy was visiting the Masonic Library during the meeting of the grand bodies and on looking over the register saw Russ' name. They had not met but each had a letter from the other. Galloway immediately went up to the lodge room, walked in, closely scrutinized every face and at last saw the features of the boy who 39 years before, snatched him from the jaws of death and gave him life and freedom. Going out into the anteroom, he had the Grand Sentinel call Russ out of the chapter room, and when he came Galloway found that he had faithfully remembered the features of the "baby of Forrest's escort."
Then, of course, that fearful night was reconstructed. The writer through a friend met the two and had the story told for his edification. It is no fairy tale, but an actual incident of the war. When Galloway was aksed how he could remember the face of Russ so well, he remarked that the features of his preserver were burned into his very soul, and that he could never forget him. He added: "As long as I live that boy shall never want for anything and I have told my wife that, if I died before she does, she must share her last crust with him if he needs it, and you can safely bet that she will cheerfully do so."
Both are Masons and this cemented the bond of friendship between them. Cal Street, a brother of the man Galloway killed was also a Mason. They are firm friends, but the killing has never been mentioned between them and probably never will be.
Shortly after Galloway had returned to Saulsbury, after the war, some of Maj. Street's friends went quietly to work to have him tried by civil authority for the killing of Maj. Street. The Sheriff put a quietus to it, saying: "Boys, Bob Galloway has more friends in this country than Steet ever had and if anything more is done toward trying him for what he did during the war, there will be a heap more dead men lying around lose in this neighborhood than you ever saw--and they will be those who stir up this matter too."
Here ends the account of how Robert Galloway was saved from the grave by L.H. Russ, a boy who took chances of being shot himself to save a total stranger. The two are fast friends and will be while life lasts.
The following was narrated by W. M. Horton, who was an eye witness to the first scene.
Two old men, Billy Holly and John Barnett accompanied by W. M. Horton, then a boy, had started through the Federal line with a wagon containing about 400 pounds of lint cotton. Their destination was Bethel, Tenn. The cotton was loose but trampled in the wagon bed and covered with a coverlet.
On the road they met Captain [Sol] Street [of the Confederate Army] returning from a raid to Pocahontas [Tenn.] with five Federal prisoners.
Street stopped the wagon and ascertaining its contents promptly struck a match and set it on fire. This he had orders to do from the Confederate govt.
The owners of the cotton turned the bed off on the ground and emptied it of its flaming contents to prevent the wagon from being burned up and then returned home.
Street's men proceeded on their way, with the Federal prisoners in front. As they approached the residence of an old gentleman named Carry Ray the latter caught sight of the prisoners and, thinking a Federal raid was coming, dashed out at the back door of his house and fled. Mr. Ray was dressed in blue jeans, was himself mistaken for a Federal soldier and fired upon and mortally wounded by a member of Street's company. Exactly who fired the unfortunate shot seems to be in doubt, some claiming it was Rolla White and others that it was another member of the company.
Mr. Ray lingered in agony for two
days and died. He was a brother of Ambrose Ray a noted Baptist preacher
and grandfather of L. T. Ray, now dead, who married Miss Linnie Lowery [Lowrey]
of Blue Mountain."
Source: BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES From the files of the SOUTHERN SENTINEL, February 8, 1894 – December 20, 1894, Edited by Tommy Lockhart, Published by the Tippah County Historical and Genealogical Society, 308 North Commerce St., Ripley, Mississippi, September 1978, pp. 45,46. A copy of this source document is on file in the Ripley Public Library, Ripley, MS.
Personal Notes of Alton Spencer Ray, Jr. 3117 Sonora Trail, Fort Worth TX, 76116-5007 who submitted this article:
1) W. M. Horton is William Morris Horton, one of five sons of Raleigh C. Horton and Rachel Caldwell, who was age 16 at the time of this event. He enlisted in Co. G of the 7th Mississippi Cavalry shortly after this event.
2) Carrelton (Carry) Ray, born November
15, 1802 in Union District, SC, died December 17, 1862, at age 60, was a
farmer and resided in the Jonesborough area of Tippah County, MS. He
was the husband of Jenet Scott Martin and father of Sarah Ann (RAY) Gibbs,
James Franklin Ray, and Nancy Melvina (RAY) McMakin, and a brother of Jesse
Ray, all of whom are buried in Union Cemetery at Chalybeate, MS. Jesse,
a Sgt. in Co. G of the 7th Mississippi Cavalry, died October 29, 1864 [of
yellow fever] while in a hospital in Mobile, Alabama [date per his military
record, but his gravestone shows he died October 30]. Carry's brother
Ambrose Ray is buried in Garrett Cemetery 2 miles East of Tiplersville,
MS. Leon T. Ray is buried in Union Cemetery and his wife Linnie
Lowrey, youngest daughter of General Mark Perrin Lowrey, is buried in Blue
Mountain Cemetery in Tippah County.
Part of the report of C. G. EATON, Lieutenant Colonel , Commanding Seventy-second Regiment Ohio Vet. Vol. Infty.
About eight miles from Ripley the enemy fired into the center of the regiment from the left-hand side of the road, which caused a slight delay of the left companies, thereby forming quite a gap between the fourth and fifth companies. The cavalry in advance began to march at such a rapid pace that it became utterly impossible for infantry to keep closed up with them, but the organization of my regiment was still kept up, keeping as close to the cavalry in front as possible. After marching about two miles farther the Fourth Missouri Cavalry, which was acting as rear guard to the whole command, suddenly made a rush to the front, riding through the ranks of my regiment, causing the men to scatter in all directions to avoid being ridden over. At the same time the enemy made an attack on the rear. My men, being wholly out of ammunition, and seeing that it was absolutely necessary to rid themselves of all incumbrances in order to avoid being captured, broke their guns and destroyed their accouterments by cutting them in pieces. They then pressed rapidly forward, with the intent of keeping up with the cavalry and saving themselves, if possible; but the majority of them, being overcome by the excessive heat of the day and the long and rapid march, were compelled to leave the road and to seek safety in the woods. however, 143 men of my command kept pace with the cavalry and arrived at Collierville about 8 o'clock the following morning, having marched a distance of nearly ninety miles in forty- eight hours. After resting part of the day at Collierville these men became so stiffened as to require assistance to enable them to walk. Some of them, too foot-sore to stand upon their feet, crawled upon their hands and knees to the cars.
When Tippah County celebrated its 100 birthday in 1936 the Southern Advocate had a pioneer club and printed many articles of genealogical and historical interest. This one was sent to me many years ago by Mrs. Emma Mae Gresham Hudspeth, daughter of James Will Gresham, author of this letter to the Advocate. James speaks of his father's service but doen't name him. He was William Jasper Gresham.
Please accept our thanks for your generous invitation to join your Pioneer Club as a former citizen of the grand old County of Tippah.
Our great grand father, Robert E. Gresham, was a resident of Orange County, N. C. and born in 1758 and saw military services during the Revolutionary War and his name appears on the first census record of the county which was taken by United States government during the year 1790. He married in Culpepper County, Virginia, and in 1805 he moved to Florence, Alabama, here his family was reared. At this place our grandfather, John A. was born in 1805 and grew into manhood there and in 1828 married Miss Nancy Jordan of that community and moved to Paducah, Kentucky, where a number of his children were born.
In 1836, the year of Tippah County's birth, he moved into that County and located out in a lonely wilderness on a little rocky hill overlooking Yallow Rabbit, a little crooked rambling creek just above it's entrance into Tippah River. This location was just across that little creek from the home of Uncle Samuel Simpson who had located there a year or two before and was the only white man's family in that whole section of that part of Tippah county when grandfather reached that place. These two families built themselves log huts as homes for their families and cleaned up some patches in that creek bottom on which they farmed to make a support for their families. The only neighbors they had were some straggling Indians, the bear family and hundreds of howling hungry wolves. When fresh meats were brought into these homes during the day when the shades of night were covering over these lonely homes following that day a great army of those hungry wolves would congregate around that home and whip all of the dogs away and howl and fight the whole night long and greatly disturb the rest of the family during the night.
Suppose that the good Lord made the same promise to those two heroes of 1836 that he made to father Abraham during his day when he promised to give him a great nation whose numbers whould be like the sands of the sea. While these old fellows have not come up to the Abraham standard yet, they made progress long that line and today their descendants are scattered from the Atlantic to the Pacific seaboards and the end in not yet.
When the discovery of gold was made in California our grandfather, John A. joined a band of 100 men and they pushed westward and crossed the great Father of Waters not far from Memphis, Tennessee, thence across the swamps of Arkansas and over the plains of Texas, thence to the Rockies and after climbing those famous mountains they pressed on down the western slope of that mountain range and in a little while landed in that gold field where they found men fighting a game in dead earnest to win.
Like all other games we undertake in the race of life only a few are successful while the dreams of many are turned into blasted hopes and they are left to the heritage of coming generations who sometimes mourn that they are forced to discuss it as a failure and tell it over and over as an idle tale.
In this trip only one serious mishap transpired along that lonely journey. After crossing the Mississippi River they came across an Indian squaw and one member of the party shot her and she died. When it came to the ears of the Indians in that locality they came together and organized a bloodthirsty band and went in hot pursuit after that party and when these Indians came up with them they demanded to know who it was that shot the squaw under the penalty that the entire crew should be slaughtered if this was refused. Nothing was left for them to do other than comply with the request and when that was done the most horrible death followed. The first move was to unjoint his fingers then his hands and on up through the members of the arm and into his body until the culmination of this slow painful death was accomplished and the crew reduced one from its original number.
Our grandfather, John W. McDonald, came to this section in the early days of its civilization and organized the first Baptist church in this section in 1846 and named it Indian Creek Baptist Church because it was near the creek that bears that name. After his death it was changed to New Hope and still bears that name.
Judge James McMcDonald was No. 8 on the rolls of that church during its organization period. James M. McDonald was one of the outstanding characters in the organization of Benton County and the location of the Town of Ashland as the county seat of said county. He was outstanding in the religious and educational affairs of the new town and the old Ashland Academy were some of his outstanding achievements. He was the father of Judge Will T. McDonald who was born here and is now a resident of Memphis, Tennessee, and the father-in-law of Judge B. T. Klmbrough, who was the first lawyer to locate in the new town of Ashland and later was chancellor of this district for many years after moving to Oxford, Mississippi. Judge Will T. McDonald represented Benton and Tippah counties in the legislature for a number of terms-and was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1890 and is one of the few survivors now living who was in that convention with some of the immortal characters like Jas. Z. George and other great lights who have blessed this great state of ours.
In addition to the old heroes mentioned above who were instrumental in helping to make old Tippah County back in the day when it had on its swaddling clothes we have such characters to mention as Joseph W. Matthews, the Well Digger and Copperas Breeches Governor of the State of Mississippi, who came on the scene from 1848 to 1850 and directed the destinies of the old Magnolia state of ours. There was old Col. Daniel B. Wright who came on the scenes of this section and represented this district in the congress of the U. S. and was Col. in Confederate ranks and was found in the thickest of that fight that tested the manner of man he was as he fought in that losing game.
From old Tippah County my father enlisted as a Confederate soldier in Co. D of the 2nd, Miss. Regiment and as a 17 year old boy went into that Va. division of the army where he saw the historical events that were taking place during the darkest hours that has ever been recorded in the south at Bull Run, Gettysburg, Seven Pines, the Wilderness and was wounded at Spotsylvania Court House and was sent home on Furlough. When he reached home the Yankees were so thick around in the community that it made life miserable to be at home. On one occasion he was enjoying the noon meal of chicken pie and home grown vegetables, butter and milk and some member of the family looked out through the north door and spied a band of yanks at the gate and as soon as that was reported he made his escape through the south door and was making his escape down hill from the house and before he had gotten out of sight they had moved around to the south gate and were looking into the house through the south door and the table in the house attracted them so much that they did not notice him as he ran down that hill and made his escape. In five minutes after leaving that table of chicken pie the yanks were gulping it down from the table he had just left. He tried to find a hiding place out in the forests of the community but every noise and every stick that he heard break brought much more unrest to him than all the shot and shell that he heard rattling through forest of that Va. campaign in search of the life of some faithful Confederate Soldier. Under these conditions he found himself yearning for the association of his comrades in arms and it did not take him long to make up his mind to go back to them in the awful struggle that was going on around Richmond, the home at that time of the Confederacy and he remained with them until that tattered, care worn, impoverished and hungery army under its world renowned leaders surrendered and he brought back home his honorable discharge which he cherished until his death in Sept. 1913 when he surrendered his earthly fight and went across that chilly stream to join his loved ones and those faithful comrades who were willing to die for a cause that was dear as life to them.
After returning home from that fearful struggle as a frail crippled Confederate soldier my father married the daughter of Rev. John W. McDonald mentioned above in Oct. 1865 and August 1866 this scribe was born out in the hills of Tippah county about four years before the birth of this county of ours. Before we could have a county by the name of Benton it was necessary for Tippah county to give us a rib out of its west boundary and Marshall a rib out of its eastern boundary to complete the job.
When God created Eve he only required one rib of Adam but Benton was more selfish and took two. The new county was named in honor of Col. Samuel Benton who was a son of Thomas L. Benton, United States Senator from Missouri. He was a distinguished lawyer of Holly Springs, Mississippi, at the outbreak of the Civil War and he and Col. Jas. L. Autry organized the Jeff Davis Riflemen at Holly Springs and went out and did gallant services in that memorable conflict. Both were killed in active service, Autry at Murfreesboro and Benton at Ezra Church near Atlanta, Georgia.
When the county seat was located the city fathers were great admirers of that statesman and renowned orator, Henry Clay, and selected the name of his home town, Ashland, for the name of the new town in honor of this great man and for the past 66 years the town has answered to that name.
In conclusion permit us to express our gratitude to the people of Tippah County in general and Ripley and Blue Mountain especially for the relationship we have enjoyed with so many of the outstanding business and professional men of these towns from our boyhood days out on a rough Tippah Bottom farm to this good anniversary of the grand old county of Tippah.
We are especially thankful for our relationship with Capt. Thos. Spight for his many favors to us in our early business career and his faithful services in helping us to get the first rural mail services the County ever enjoyed while he was in congress and as we write these words we remember not only the old heroes of these towns who have passed on to their reward but we are thinking also of the worthy type of men they left behind to carry on and who are carrying on in a great way.
We are always delighted to have the weekly visits of your great paper into our home as it brings not only the happenings of your county, but that of Benton and many other counties of the state as well as a great array of state and national information.
Yours very truly,
J. W. Gresham
From Reminiscences of the Boys in Gray, 1861 - 1865
Ennis, Texas--Born near Old Salem, Miss. Enlisted in the Confederate
Army in March, 1862 at Maxie's Store as private in Company K, Thirty-Fourth
Mississippi Regiment, Jones' Brigade (Jones deserted us at Perryville, Ky.;
Walthall took command of the brigade and continued on), Walker's Division,
Army of Tennessee; Bentax (Note: Ben Lax), first Captain; Sam Benton, first
Was wounded in the head at the battle of Chickamauga; knocked down by a bombshell. Also received a wound in the head at the battle of Missionary Ridge. Was in the battles of Perryville, Ky.; Murfreesboro, Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge.
While with Gen. Bragg through Kentucky, upon our arrival at Perryville, we met the enemy and we had a battle, and a very serious one. We went into the battle with forty-three men, the Captain, two Lieutenants, Colonel and Major; they were all killed or wounded, and Company K came out with three men and one Sergeant. After all our hardships and struggles we drove the enemy back five miles. Then we were ordered to pile up our dead and build a fence around them for burial. Eighteen were killed out of the right wing of the regiment. The next morning we started for Camp Dick Robertson, where we captured the enemy and their winter supplies. They were going into winter quarters here, and all the provisions we did not take we burned. Then Bragg pulled for Cumberland Gap, and from there to Knoxville, Tenn. We were on a steady march for fourteen days, and I was barefooted.
When Mrs. Joe Mercer applied for a widow's pension based on the service of her husband, Marion Mercer/Messer, Mr. Harvey J. Butts wrote this interesting story as proof of Marion's service:
Feb. 23, 1924
Hon. J. T. Watson
In complying with your request relative to what I know about the service of Mr. Marion Mercer who lived in this community for about 35 years. Coming here soon after the close of the Civil War. I think that the best evidence I ever had of his service was when I happened to be present at a meeting between Mr. Mercer and Capt. Tuttle who belonged to the cavalry from Virginia who after the close of the war went into the Ministry. And at the time I knew him was Pastor of the Longview Presbyterian Church. He also organized the Presbyterian Church here. In 1892 the present church building was erected. Mr. D. B. Elder and myself built the house according to plans furnished by Mr. Tuttle who personally supervised all of the work. While the house was being built Mr. Tuttle and Mr. Elder talked incessantly of their experiences during their service in the Confederate Army. And one day I think in the later part of August while they were talking about the war Mr. Mercer rode up. And after listening to them for awhile joined in the conversation. The conversation soon became one of personal experience first one and then the other. relating his or some comrades experience.
Finally Mr. Mercer told of having been cut off from his command while on Scout duty. He said that he with 3 companions had crossed a river when the Yankees cut them off and tried to capture them. They refused to surrender and run for the river, two of his comrades were killed before they reached the river. Mr. Mercer and the other one jumped into the river and started to swim back. The Yankees firing on them as they swam his companion was killed in the stream and the bullets were striking all around him, when all at once a company of Virginia Cavalry rushed up and drove the enemy back and he made his way to the bank. And was taken up behind the Captain on his horse and restored to his own Command. When he had finished the story Mr. Tuttle began to ask him questions about what river. the date. And what Company it was that came to his rescue. All of which he answered readily. Then Mr. Tuttle got up from his seat on a pile of timber and told him that he was the Captain who had led the company to the rescue. Mr. Mercer arose asked him a question or two. Then quickly going up to him threw his arms around him and embraced him as he would have a brother. It was the most affectionate Metting I ever witnessed between two men. And I have never doubted in my mind but that the story as related was true.
I was born during the war and raised by Confederate Parents and have heard these old stories from my first recollection but the story told by Mr. Mercer on that occasion impressed me more than any I ever heard. And trusting that this will be of some benefit to his Widow whoom I know to be worthy and deserving, I beg to remain. Sincerely Yours,
Harvey J. Butts
Note: Mrs. Mercer applied for pension twice and both applications were rejected.
My great-great-great grandfather was Corp. John Morgan Nance of the 34th Mississippi Infantry. I have a book with Nance family history in it and this was in there.
The soldiers wore belts to carry their ammunition in. John Morgan's belt was very heavy and made him tired to carry. In his mind, he decided that he was going to trade it for a lighter one. But, that very day he was hit with a bullet; it hit on the heavy belt and did not injure him. He decided then and there that he would wear that heavy belt for protection and he never complained about it again.
This story is about while he was in prison is Rock Island, Illinois
John Morgan was captured with a group of men and was sent to prison in Rock Island, Illinois. It was a very cold winter and they almost starved there. The men were all in one large room with one pot-bellied stove in the middle. To keep any men from hogging the stove, they drew a circle around the heater big enough that all the men were the same distance from the heater.
They had to do their own cooking. One man and a helper were chosen to cook. When several of the men complained that the food was not good (use your imagination) they passed a rule that whoever complained would atomatically become cook. One cook had been cooking for several days and was ready to pass his job on, so he put a lot of salt in the big pot of food. Time to eat came and everyone got their share. The was very salty, but nobody dared to say a word. Finally, one man let it slip, "The soup is sure salty--but it's very good!" It was too late! He was the new cook.
David Thomas Stewart was a younger brother of Capt. Wm. Patterson Stewart. He was the son of Samuel Stewart and Rebecca Patterson Stewart, from Anderson Co., SC to Tippah Co., MS before 1850. They appear in the 1850 census.
David Stewart married and moved to Arkansas from which he served. He was born 22 Ocober 1828 and died in 1865 in Birmingham, AL on his way home from the war.
He was last heard of from at High Point, NC. two weeks after Johnson's surrender when reliable information reached his father, Samuel Stewart, that he had left that point with a comrade, David Chandler, intending to return home to Drew Co., AR, but he never returned home and nothing was known of his fate to this date.
Later: Since the above was written, we have learned the fate of David Stewart in the following manner. Eighteen years after his death a reporter for the Little Rock GAZETTE (AR) was in a drug store, McAlmont & Gibson when Mr. Gibson drew out of his safe a package wrapped in Confederate paper, which he handed to the reporter, saying, "You are always looking for something for your paper and this was left here 18 years ago by a Dr. or army surgeon from Montgomery, AL. at the time of the surrender who was on his way to Hot Springs (AR) with his invalid wife. He said that said package would be called for in few days. Which was never done." The reporter took the package and returned to the office and unfolding it found a pocket Bible on the fly leaf of which was written Corporal David Stewart, Co. "E" 424th AR., also some locks of Brother's hair, a gold dollar, two silver quarters, $39 in Confederate money and some other little things and a letter written by Mrs. Mary Irene Bell of Montgomery, AL to Samuel Stewart stating the circumstances of his death in Hospital of which she was a nurse. The city was occupied by the Federals at the time. Her letter with some touching comments by the reporter was published in the GAZETTE and copied by the Monticellonian and friends sent us copies of the paper. We wrote to Mrs. Bell and the pastor of the Presbyterian church at Montgomery, AL who verified the facts of Mrs. Bell's letter, viz. , that Brother was taken sick at that place and died 1865 on his way home via Father's house in then Tippah Co., MS. She told us his comforting dying words, said she had him placed in a coffin in his gray uniform (which had been made for him the winter previous by his mother and sister) and he lies in an unmarked grave.
My G. Grandfather Wm. Patterson Stewart was for 37 years Clerk of the Session of Ebenezer ARP Church at Cotton Plant on the Tippah/Union County Line.
I assume the Monticellonian was the Drew Co. AR paper. There were people from Tippah who relocated in Drew Co. MS after leaving Tippah. He was married, but whether he was married in MS or in AR I do not know, but some family members thought he married a Craig or a Jennings from Tippah Co.
I often heard my grandmother, the late Nora Collins Wilkerson tell of an interesting story that her grandmother and great-grandmother experienced during the civil war. The story goes as follows. My grandmother's great grandmother was named Sarah Collins yet everyone called her Sac. She was a woman of about 30 when the war broke out and had one child named Rosa who was about 7 years old at this time. These two lived alone in an old log house between Bethel and Old Central church communities in what is now Benton County. The yankees had come through numerous times and took what few chickens and food that they had. They were down to one cow and was only able to save it by hiding it in the cane thickets where the yankees could not find it. They had no salt and dug and boiled sand from the creek to get salt to season what little they had to eat.
It was late in the fall and the yanks came through again looking for food. At this time Sac was in the bed very sick leaving Rosa to take care of things. When the yankees entered demanding food there was little to be had. This infuriated a yankee soilder who was ramsacking their home. He walked over to the fireplace, grabbed a scuttle and scraped up a scuttle of hot coals off the fire. Sac sould not get off the bed to fight back and Rosa began screaming. He lifted up the feather mattress and just as he was about to set the bed on fire his commanding officer heard the screams and walked in. The soldier was commanded to stop. Through his kindness Sac and Rosa were saved. Not only were they saved their cow was never found in the cane thickets and lived on to serve them after the war ended.
The following story was written by Elsa Mae BLACK JACOBS on 03/30/1981. It was copied on computer disk in December of 2000. It tells of the account told to Elsa by her grandmother, Martha Lucinda RIMER KELLER BLACK, of how she and her family moved to Southern Illinois from Civil War torn Mississippi. Elsa JACOBS was born in Union County Illinois in 1920. During the long evenings, the farm house illuminated only by kerosene lamps, Elsa would listen to the experiences her grandmother would share of her life, her ancestry roots, and how her family survived the ravages of the terrible war. Martha BLACK would repeat these and other experiences to her grandchildren many times. Martha died in November of 1929. This is her story.
James and Piety TROTT RIMER, together with two children, Nancy and Will, hardy North Carolina Dutch, migrated across the mountains to Sullivan County Tennessee circa 1845. A third child, James H. was born in 1847, during the few years in this area. Between 1847 and 1850, the Rimer family moved south to become Northern Mississippians. Their plantation was approximately 130 acres in Tippah County, five miles or so northwest of the county seat, Ripley. Ruecher Cemetary is nearby.
June 9, 1850, Martha Lucinda RIMER was born.
James, a blacksmith, farmer and plantation owner had slaves. These families were well treated and always kept together.
Early in the 1860's the Civil War began. James, basically anti-slavery, decided to contribute his talents to the North. Before leaving for Memphis, Tennessee to shoe horses for the northern troops, he planned well for his family’s welfare. The smoke house was filled with cured meats and stored vegetables. There would be no hunger. Slaves were freed. Having no place to go they stayed on the plantation.
Shortly after James' departure, Piety became seriously ill with Consumption (tuberculosis) and took to her bed. As weeks rolled by her condition worsened.
Word spread Yankee soldiers were raiding homes and plantation for food and arms. It came as no surprise when they were heard approaching. Quickly Will, Martha's older brother, crippled in either a knee or leg, grabbed the only gun and hid it in a hollow front porch pillar. Raiding soldiers loaded their horses with all the supplies they could carry and took along live cows, horses, pigs and chickens. Food that couldn't be carried was poisoned. The house was searched from room to room for guns, muzzle loading equipment, money or treasures. Piety, gravely ill, was unceremoniously jerked from her bed. The mattress was shredded.
Hard times really started. Large luscious hams and delicious looking meats were in the smokehouse. Fear of poisoning kept this food from being consumed. Starvation was a possibility. With the shortage of food, there also was a shortage or lack of salt. Floor boards in the smoke house were torn out and dirt was dug up to extract salt which may have fallen between the cracks in the floor.
A few weeks later, another dreaded raiding party came. Since nothing was to scavenger, Will was the object of their ire. Because his physical disability prevented his being a soldier, he was snatched, tossed about among the men, generally roughed up, then "rode on a rail". A future mistreatment was threatened. Next it would be tar and feathers!
During the winter, Piety steadily became weaker and weaker. Sadly she passed away. Neighbors cared for the remains. Loaded on a log wagon pulled by oxen, the casket was borne to the cemetery. Her barefoot children followed, walking through cold mud and ruts.
A cold, uninviting empty house awaited their grief stricken return. No food and no one to help. It was decided the three younger children would try finding their Daddy in Memphis. Placing their few belongings in a gunny sack, Mattie (Martha), 12 years old, Margaret, 9, and Henry, 5, slung the "dunnage" over a shoulder, bid home and remaining loved ones goodbye, "set out" walking west to Memphis. Scared and alone, the three clung together and cried. Mattie, bravely, was the leader. Miles were walked. Devastation and death were everywhere. In places, they stepped over and walked around dead and dieing soldiers and horses.
Hours later, they were overtaken by a troop of Yankee soldiers. Mattie informed the horsemen they were walking to Memphis to find their daddy, James Rimer, who shod horses for Northern troops. Immediately welcomed and assured of friends, each girl was placed behind a soldier on a horse. Henry, the baby, received special treatment—he rode in front! Traveling problems were solved. Yankee soldiers carried the children from camp to camp, passing them each day to another troop heading west. They rode, ate and slept with the men in blue.
In Memphis, unacquainted with the city, the last troops left them on a busy corner. Possessions across the shoulders, Mattie, Margaret, and Henry walked down a street, on their own again, feeling lonely and lost, strangers in a stranger city. Bravely they hurried along. Surprise of surprises -- an incredible happening -- they met their daddy on the street -- a joyous but sad reunion. James took the three to his room. His only food, cheese and crackers, were devoured. Amid tears and explanations, sorrow and happiness, decisions were made. Horse shoeing would be forgotten for a time. James would accompany the children North via boat to Cairo, by train to Jonesboro, Union County, Illinois, to brother Jacob's home. Arrangements were made as quickly as possible. All four boarded a steamboat on the Ole Mississippi, bound for Illinois. As an afterthought, James disembarked for a cup of coffee -- the boat pulled out without him!! As the steamer moved to the middle of the river, they heard him shout, "Wait for me on the dock in Cairo!" Another long distance and desolate adventure for three lonely children.
The boat docked in Cairo in late afternoon. Kind people invited Martha, Margaret and Henry to homes or to shelter in the city but each offer was declined. The next boat could arrive any hour -- they had to be waiting. Huddled together on the dock, all night they waited on that foggy, dark, wet, muddy riverfront, listening to the slopping river sounds. Daddy did arrive on the following scheduled boat next morning, another happy reunion!
Together again, the four boarded a train for Jonesboro and Uncle Jacob's home.
After "settling in" in Illinois, James returned to Memphis to continue horse shoeing until peace was declared. The South held nothing for him, naturally he went North to his youngsters. There he established a home in Meishenheimer Township and rented farmland. Several years rolled by. James married Susan KNUPP. Martha matured and was courted by a tall handsome young ex-soldier, "Sandy" KELLER. When Sandy asked James for Mattie's hand in marriage, Daddy questioned, "Will you be good to her?" June 4, 1868 was the marriage date -- and he was good to her!
January 1867 found James in Tippah
County, Mississippi, to dispose of his holdings. The plantation sold
for mere pittance, southern land was practically worthless. Also, he
found Piety's final resting-place and purchased a marker. His last
ties to the south were broken.
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|This page was last updatedJanuary 06, 2006|