20th Mississippi Infantry

 

(from Dunbar Rowland’s "Military History of Mississippi, 1803-1898"; company listing courtesy of H. Grady Howell’s "For Dixie Land, I’ll Take My Stand’)

  

Company A -- Miles McGehee Rifles (raised in Bolivar County, MS)

Company B -- Hamilton Guards (raised in Monroe County, MS)

Company C -- Carroll Guards (raised in Carroll County, MS)

Company D -- Noxubee Rifleman, aka Noxubee Rifles (raised in Noxubee County, MS)

Company E -- Adams Rifles (raised in Harrison County, MS)

Company F -- Forest Guards (raised in Scott County, MS)

Company G -- Barksdale Greys (raised in Winston County, MS)

Company H -- Morton Pine Knots (raised in Scott County, MS)

Company I -- Jasper Rifles (raised in Jasper County, MS)

Company K -- Capt. Oldham’s Company (raised in Attala County, MS)

 

Colonels -- Daniel R. Russell, to January, 1863; William N. Brown. Lieutenant- Colonels -- Horace H. Miller, William N. Brown, promoted; Walter A. Rorer, killed at Franklin. Majors -- William N. Brown, promoted; Walter A. Rorer, promoted; William M. Chatfield, killed, February, 1864; Conrad K. Massey, killed at Pine Mountain; Thomas B. Graham. Chaplain -- R. H. Whitehood. Lieut.-Col. Dabney H. Maury, also named in War Department list of regiments.

June 29-30 the State was called on for five regiments to be enlisted for the period of the war, the previous enlistments having been for twelve months. July 1 Governor Pettus reported the raising of three regiments, among them Russell's. Companies previously organized and enrolled in the State troops, as noted above, assembled at Iuka, and the requisite ten were in camp after the arrival of the Morton Pine Knots, who left home July 4, 1861.

The regiment was ordered to Virginia, arrived at Lynchburg in August, and on September 13 was ordered to report to General Floyd at Lewisburg. They arrived at Sewell Mountain in the Kanawha Valley September 26. Floyd had been driven back by Rosecrans and Gen. Robert E. Lee had been assigned to command in this field September 21. The Twentieth has the distinction of being the first Mississippi regiment to serve in the field under the command of that great General. Lee took a position at Meadow Bluff and Big Sewell Mountain and Rosecrans advanced to his front late in September, reconnoitered and fell back. Floyd, with his little "Amy of Kanawha," was not engaged in Loring's battle of Greenbrier River, October 3, but advanced to Cotton Hill, across the river from Rosecrans' camp at Gauley, where the Twentieth was in camp for some time in October and November, 1861, while some artillery work was done. Rosecrans sent troops across November 10 and made it necessary for Floyd to retreat, skirmishing at Laurel Creek on the 12th and at McCoy's Mill the 14th. Throughout all the campaign in the West Virginia Mountains the men were exposed to inclement weather, without adequate food or shelter, suffered much and lost many from sickness and death. In the report of his march from Sewell to New River, Floyd referred to them as the flower of his command, "the fine regiment from Mississippi under Colonel Russell."

Lee could do nothing after the retreat of Rosecrans from Sewell Mountain, and was transferred to South Carolina. The War Department ordered the Twentieth Regiment sent there also, December 17, and they took train and traveled one day for that destination, when the order was countermanded, and Floyd's Brigade was sent to reinforce General A. S. Johnston in Kentucky. They arrived at Chattanooga, January 1, 1862, and were hurried to Bowling Green, where a great battle was expected. Instead, the troops were called on to meet Grant's combined naval and army advance up the Cumberland River, which made it necessary to abandon the position at Bowling Green. Floyd was sent to Russellville, thence to Clarksville, and as soon as Fort Henry fell was hurried to Fort Donelson. The Twentieth arrived at daylight, February 13, and a few men were killed and wounded that day while the regiment was stationed in reserve. At night they were put in the trenches, which they had to clean of snow and water. On the 14th, under command of Major Brown, and attached to Baldwin's Brigade, they made a sortie against the enemy, and on the 15th they fought with Baldwin and with Drake's Mississippi Brigade, the last to be recalled. Colonel Baldwin wrote: "Major Brown, commanding the Twentieth Mississippi, is entitled to honorable mention; his left wing, thrown in the early part of the day into an exposed position by an ill-advised order, held its ground until recalled, and afterwards the whole regiment was among the foremost in every advance." At 1 o 'clock in the morning following, General Floyd advised them that he would not surrender but would take his command and cut his way out, which order was modified by Floyd to going out on two steamboats. Reaching the landing with his regiment, Brown was ordered to guard the landing, his regiment to be embarked after the Virginians were on board. It was dawn before the boats got off, there was a throng of panic stricken soldiers seeking escape, and General Buckner was sending word that honor would compel him to throw a shell into the boat if it was not away before daylight, the surrender having been concluded. Colonel Baldwin wrote: "The senior Generals, Floyd and Pillow, relinquished the command to General Buckner and made their escape, the former taking with him some 1,500 troops of his immediate command, only leaving Major Brown with the Twentieth Mississippi, who, like veterans, were silently and steadily, though sullenly, guarding the embarkation of troops while their chief was seeking safety." Major Brown reported: "In all this confusion I am proud to say that the Twentieth Mississippi Regiment stood like a stone wall which, as the necessity had required, I had thrown into a semicircle around the landing, to protect General Floyd and his Virginia regiments while embarking; and when the last hope had vanished of getting aboard, according to the orders and promises of General Floyd, the regiment stacked arms in perfect order, without the least intimidation, but full of regret."

"During the summer and fall campaign in Western Virginia, in Kentucky and in Tennessee this regiment has done credit to themselves and their State for the arduous service they have performed," wrote Major Brown. "At Sewell Mountain, Cotton Hill and Fort Donelson their manly endurance of privations, prompt obedience to orders and their eagerness for the fray, were never excelled by veteran soldiers of any army, and has entitled the Twentieth Mississippi to a prominent place in the history of this revolution." At Fort Donelson, of this regiment, there were 20 killed, 58 wounded and 454 surrendered. Most of the officers were taken to Camp Chase, near Columbus, Ohio, and later to Fort Warren, Boston harbor.

Some of the sick and wounded escaped from Fort Donelson to Nashville, and forty-five of this regiment, unarmed, were reported in the camp at Grenada, June 12, 1862, by General Villepigue. They served with Van Dorn's army in North Mississippi, and took part in the battle of Corinth, October 3-4, 1862.

After exchange the regiment was reassembled under Colonel Russell and assigned to Gen. Lloyd Tilghman's Brigade of Loring's Division, in General Pemberton's army, with which it is listed in the returns of January, 1863. They were in active service along the Central Railroad during Grant's advance from Memphis in December, 1862, and fell back to Grenada, when the pressure was relieved by Van Dorn's famous raid to Holly Springs. About the first of February, 1863, the regiment was ordered to Port Hudson. They proceeded as far as Osyka, and after a few days were sent back to Grenada, and thence to Greenwood, where they served under General Loring in February and March in defense of Fort Pemberton, against the naval and infantry expedition on Yazoo Pass. The regiment was the second command to arrive there, preceded by Waul's Texas legion. They were under artillery fire for some weeks. In his report of the operations March 12-20, including the repulse of the gunboats, General Loring commended "Lieut.-Col. W. N. Brown, commanding Twentieth Mississippi, and Capt. H. Cantey, also of the Twentieth, for important aid in collecting material for our raft while in readiness to defend the works. Colonel D. R. Russell, during the last engagement rendered every possible aid." He also commended his Aide and acting Chief of Artillery, Capt. John D. Myrick, for gallantry at the critical moment of the explosion of the magazine, when sixteen men were badly injured, also Maj. George McKnight, Adjutant-General; Captain Armstead, Ordnance Officer; Captain Belton Mickle, Quartermaster; Major Meriweather and Capt. Powhatan Robinson, Engineers. The attack was soon renewed and an infantry and artillery force was landed, and there was fighting until April 4, when the expedition withdrew.

April, 1863, the Mississippi regiments of Rust's Brigade added to Tilghman's Brigade, which is ordered to reinforce the army in Tennessee, Grant being supposed to have abandoned the attempt on Vicksburg. Order countermanded upon running of batteries, April 16. During Grierson's raid, April-May, 1863, General Tilghman, then at Canton, was authorized to mount part of his command, and immediate steps were taken to mount the Twentieth Mississippi and a detachment of the Fourteenth, both of these regiments being then on duty at or near Jackson, under Gem John Adams. April 28, General Pemberton wrote to Lieut.-Col. W. N, Brown, commanding at Brandon, to report at Jackson with his command: "I want you to take command of cavalry." Lieut.Col. Brown, with fifty mounted men of his regiment, left Jackson for Grand Gulf, April 29th. Three companies of the Twentieth, mounted, accompanied Col. R. V. Richardson in his operations against Grierson, from Hazlehurst to Greenville. Major Rorer commanded this battalion, one of the companies being Capt. James M. Liddell’s.

In his report, May 5, Richardson said that "the soldierly qualities of Major Rorer, his officers and men, never complaining, always ready for duty and anxious to meet and punish the foe, won my admiration."

April 30, aggregate present 415, present and absent 825. The Twentieth was ordered to the front May 2, when Grant landed at Bruinsburg. May 9, General Loring ordered Gen. John Adams at Jackson, if he had any of the Twentieth mounted to send them to Edwards. Major Rorer's command was then operating on the Big Black.

Brown, with his battalion of mounted men, skirmished with the advance of McPherson and Logan to Raymond, where Gregg gave battle May 12, and after Jackson was occupied by Grant's army. Brown reported to General Baldwin, commanding at the Big Black Bridge, May 15. Brown and Rorer commanded the mounted troops at the river when the army crossed on the 17th, on the retreat from Baker's Creek. Aide-de-camp Tupper reported that on the 16th six companies of the Twentieth guarded the wagon trains on the retreat from Edwards to the Big Black.

Osterhaus reported that Raymond was taken May 24 by Lyon's Eighth Kentucky and the Twentieth Mississippi. Four companies, under Major Rorer, crossed the Big Black early in June. Lieutenant-Colonel Brown, with a battalion of six companies, operated along the Big Black, in front of Edwards, against Federal foraging parties. Captain Massey, with two companies, captured a party June 4. General John Adams reported from Mechanicsburg June 7 that a Federal expedition moved against him on the 4th, and was met by four companies of the Twentieth under Major Rorer, who skirmished at Bear Creek bridge at daylight, ambushed them seven times, and greatly delayed their advance. Part of the Twentieth skirmished near Edwards June 7, with a detachment of the Sixth Missouri. Rorer skirmished with the same command near Bridgeport, June 9. The men were in many skirmishes and daring adventures in this period.

In the latter part of June, at Mechanicsburg, the men were dismounted and resumed their former station as infantry in the brigade of Gem John Adams, Loring's Division, in the forces collected by Gen. J. E. Johnston for the relief of Vicksburg. On the surrender of Vicksburg, Johnston fell back to Jackson, where the Twentieth served in the fortified lines July 9-16, when Johnston fell back to Morton.

In his final report Lieutenant-General Pemberton gave honorable mention to Capt. J. M. Couper, Twentieth Mississippi, who served with him as volunteer aide during the battle of Baker's Creek. Among those who carried dispatches through the Federal lines to and from General Johnston he named Captain Couper, Lieutenant Smith of the Twentieth Mississippi, and Private W. H. Webb (of the same regiment), who twice successfully passed from Vicksburg to General Johnston's headquarters. Captains Couper (commissary of the Twentieth) and J. J. Conway served among the engineers during the siege.

General Polk took command of the army in the latter part of 1863, In the organization of February 20, 1864, Col. W. N. Brown commanded regiment, Gen. John Adams’ the Brigade, Loring's Division. The infantry moved from Meridian to Hillsborough and thence to Demopolis. Ala., when Sherman occupied Meridian. In the retreat, Major Chatfield was accidentally killed.

In the spring of 1864 the Sixth and Twentieth were engaged in restoring order in Jones County and along the lower Pearl, whence they were ordered to rejoin the brigade to go to Georgia, late in April.

The Twentieth, Col. William N. Brown commanding, arrived at Resaca, Ga., May 11, 1864, with Adams’' Brigade, and served in the intrenched lines there, and on the Dallas and Kenesaw Mountain lines, took part in the battle of July 28, near Atlanta, and was in the trenches about that city until the evacuation, September 1. General Featherston succeeded Loring in division command July 28, and after General Polk was killed at Pine Mountain the Army of the Mississippi became known as A. P. Stewart's Corps, Army of Tennessee.

At Pine Mountain the Twentieth was selected by General Adams to retake a lost picket line, which it did gallantly, but at a cost of 150 killed and wounded. Here Major Massey was killed by a grapeshot and Lieutenant-Colonel Rorer was dangerously wounded. (J. M. Miller). This was June 15, 1864. At the beginning of the Federal advance on Peachtree Creek, July 19, the Twentieth was in action at Moore's Mill.

In the October, 1864, campaign on the Chattanooga and Atlanta Railroad, Loring's Division, including Adams' Brigade, captured the garrison at Acworth, October 4, marched as far north as Dalton, thence through the mountains to Gadsden, made a demonstration against Decatur and moved to Tuscumbia. Crossing the river November 20, they marched with Stewart’s Corps against Schofield at Columbia, and on November 29 marched toward Spring Hill. The attempt to cut off Schofield's retreat failing, the corps followed closely to Franklin on the 30th, and attacked the Federal position in the evening. The first line was carried, but the desperate and repeated attacks upon the second line failed with frightful loss. General Adams was killed upon the parapets of the inner line and his brigade had 44 killed, 271 wounded, 22 missing. Colonel Brown was disabled by two serious wounds, Lieutenant-Colonel Rorer and Adjutant John Jamison Ward killed, and Major Graham was wounded in the face. Captain Stirling, Lieutenant Kiser, Adjutant Jamison, were killed; Captains Haile and Oldham, Lieutenants Charles Taylor, Scruggs, Alexander and Sedberry, wounded. The effective strength of the six regiments of the brigade, including the Twentieth, after reaching the vicinity of Nashville, was a little over 1,000. Loring's Division was distinguished for steadiness and gallantry in the battle of Nashville, December 15-16. On the first day, when Walthall withdrew his division, not a moment too soon to save his command, Loring necessarily abandoned his position, but was ordered by General Stewart to form a new line along the Granny White pike, facing almost at right angles to the former position, to check the rush of the enemy. "This was gallantly and successfully done by this fine division," the Lieutenant-Colonel reported.

The corps crossed the Tennessee River December 28, and early in January, 1865, headquarters were established at Tupelo.

About the 1st of February, 1865, the remnant of Loring's Division began the movement to the Carolinas. February 25 they were ordered forward from Augusta, Ga., to Newberry, S.C. In the campaign under Gen. J. E. Johnston, against General Sherman, the division took part in the battles of Kinston, March 10, and Bentonville, March 19-21. In the latter battle the division was distinguished by a gallant and successful charge. Organization of army of Gen. J. E. Johnston, near Smithfield, N.C., March 31, 1865, Major-General Walthall in command of Stewart's Corps, Adams' Brigade commanded by Col. Richard Harrison, the Twentieth Regiment by Capt. R. Tillery. The brigade, including an Alabama and a Louisiana regiment, under the command of Brig.-Gen. Robert Lowry, and the Sixth, Fifteenth, Twentieth and Twenty-third Regiments consolidated as the Fifteenth, Lieut.-Col. Thomas B. Graham commanding.

Hostilities were suspended April 18, the army was surrendered April 26 at Durham Station, and paroled at Greensboro.

"The battle-flag of the Twentieth was a blue field about four feet square with a circle in the center lettered 'Twentieth Mississippi.' The flag was borne by Thomas E. McPherson, Company H, the first color sergeant of the regiment, who went through all the campaigns." (J. M. Miller, Recollections).

 

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