24th Regiment, Mississippi Infantry Volunteers, CSA
(from Dunbar Rowlands "Military History of Mississippi, 1803-1898")
Company A -- Gaines Warriors (raised in Greene & Perry Counties, MS)
Company B -- Mississippi Confederates (raised in Monroe County, MS)
Company C -- Dowd Rebels (raised in Chickasaw County, MS)
Company D -- Caledonia Rifles (raised in Lowndes County, MS)
Company E -- Helen Johnstone Guards (raised in Madison County, MS)
Company F -- Cummings Grays (raised in Marshall County, MS)
Company G -- Brierfield Defenders (raised in Warren County, MS)
Company H -- Buena Vista Hornets (raised in Chickasaw County, MS)
Company I -- Kemper Rebels (raised in Kemper County, MS)
Company K -- Choctaw Rebels (raised in Choctaw County, MS)
Company L -- Monroe Rangers, aka the Athens Guard (raised in Monroe County, MS)
The regiment was made up largely of very young men, and the companies were organized under a proclamation of Governor Pettus calling for enlistments for three years. The companies assembled at Marion Station and were mustered into the Confederate States service in September and October. The field officers were elected November 6, 1861--Dowd, of Monroe County; McKelvaine, of Kernper; and Staples, of Choctaw.
The Twenty-fourth Regiment, Colonel Dowd, was ordered by the War Department, November 22, 1861, to report to Gen. Robert E. Lee at Savannah. General Lee, then in command of that coast department, was instructed to furnish the men with arms. As they were enlisted for the war, General Lee gave them arms intended for Georgia, which State had no troops to offer except for twelve months. In December General Lee ordered the regiment to Fernandina, which was exposed to the Federal naval expeditions. The abandonment of that coast soon followed and the Twenty-fourth was ordered, late in February, I862, to Tennessee. They were not able to start, on account of limited railroad transportation, until late in March. March 31, ordered detained at Chattanooga with command of General S. B. Maxey. April 9, Maxey ordered to Corinth with Twenty-fourth Mississippi and other regiments. Regiment brigaded with Forty-first Georgia and Ninth Texas, under Gen. S. B. Maxey, in Polk's Corps, at Corinth during the siege. Corinth was evacuated May 29-30, and the army fell back to Tupelo, under command of General Bragg.
June 15, 1862, Lieut.-Col. McKelvaine, commanding regiment, same brigade, detached, in Polk's Corps. July 8, brigade designated as Third of Cheatham's Division. Bragg moved the greater part of his troops to Chattanooga in July, whence they marched into Kentucky.
The official reports of the Kentucky campaign are unusually meager. The Twenty-fourth appears to have been then a part of the brigade of Col. T. M. Jones, in the division of Patton Anderson, Hardee's Corps. Jones' Brigade had a gallant part in the charge that swept back for a mile the Federal force in their front at Perryville, October 8, 1862, but the casualties were heavy.
The Mississippi graves at Cave Hill, Ky., are mainly of the Twenty-fourth and Forty-first Regiments. After this battle the army retreated through Cumberland Gap to East Tennessee, was transferred to Chattanooga and thence advanced toward Nashville.
The regiment (November returns) was part of Powell's Brigade of Anderson's Division, Hardee's Corps, until December 12, when that division 'was broken up and the Twenty-fourth transferred to Polk's Corps, when the Mississippi brigade of Brig.-Gen. E. C. Walthall was formed, including the Twenty-fourth, Twenty-seventh, Twenty-ninth and Thirtieth Regiments.
General Walthall being absent on sick leave, Gen. Patton Anderson commanded the brigade in the battle of Murfreesboro, and Lieut.-Col. McKelvaine the Twenty-fourth Regiment.
The brigade went into line of battle on December 28, 1862, on the left of Chalmers' Brigade, stretching on the right into a dense cedar forest. The regiment threw up breastworks of the loose stone which covered the ground. The skirmishers were engaged through the next two days, and on the 31st the attack began. The Twenty-fourth was the first regiment of the brigade engaged, being sent with the Forty-fifth Alabama to assist Manigault's Brigade, which was under a cross fire of artillery as well as a heavy fire from the front. Anderson said: "For a moment these regiments appeared to reel and stagger before the weight of lead and iron that was hurled against them. They were encouraged to go forward by the example of their officers, and a battery was taken A number of prisoners also fell into our hands." On January 2 the brigade was moved to the position Chalmers had occupied, then was ordered across the river to assist Breckenridge, ordered back, and again ordered across in the evening. On the return to Chalmers' position, however, the Twenty-fourth was detached to support Scott's battery on the front line. The regiment, supported by the Alabama regiment, was credited with the capture of a battery near the Wilkinson pike. The casualties of the regiment were 8 killed, 108 wounded. Many of the wounded were captured.
The army fell back to the line of Duck Creek, thence in the summer of 1863 to Chattanooga, and in August fell back into Georgia on account of Rosecrans' flank movement across the Tennessee River and through the mountains.
Lieut. H. C. Tupper, of this regiment, was aide-de-camp to LieutenantGeneral Pemberton during the Vicksburg campaign of 1863, rendered important services during the battle of Baker's Creek and the retreat and throughout the siege of Vicksburg, and was honorably mentioned in the reports.
In the Chickamauga campaign Walthall's Brigade, with Govan's Arkansas Brigade, formed the division of General Liddell, of W. H. T. Walker's "reserve corps," which suffered very heavy losses in their attacks on the Union army. On September 18, the day before the opening of the main battle, they were in battle on Chickamauga Creek, for possession of Alexander's bridge, which they found destroyed, and were then compelled to cross at Byram's ford, whence they marched toward Lee & Gordon's mill. They went into battle next day; on the line where Ector's and Wilson's Brigades had been badly cut up, and after sustaining a heavy fire of artillery and musketry, charged and broke the Federal lines, passing over two full batteries and capturing 411 prisoners, including 53 commissioned officers. Most of the prisoners were of Gen. John H. King's Brigade of United States regulars, who reported that his command was struck while changing front at right angles. The horses being shot as fast as brought up he could not save his battery, but his men staid with the guns, firing until captured, and most of the First Battalion, Sixteenth Infantry, was captured. Walthall's men could not remove the guns, which were retaken. They suffered heavy loss in the fight. Lieutenant-Colonel McKelvaine, though shot through the cheek, remained in command of the Twenty-fourth until the fight was over. Later in the day the brigade went into battle on the right of Cheatham's Division. Here Major Staples, commanding the Twenty-fourth, was severely wounded, and Capt. J. D. Smith, next in rank, having been slightly wounded, Capt. B. F. Toomer took command and led the regiment in an attempt, driving in the Union skirmishers, to recover a captured gun of the brigade battery. Next day, September 20, Captain Smith commanded the regiment in the severe service of the brigade, on the extreme right of the line of Thomas' Corps, in the vicinity of McDonald's house on the Chattanooga road, which they crossed, in the rear of Thomas, and, though the men lay down, the artillery fire to which they were exposed from every direction could not be endured. The Federal infantry charged and cut off the skirmishers and Walthall's men lost no time in leaving the position. Promptly reforming, they awaited orders until 3 o'clock, when they advanced to the crest of a hill and lay down, supporting the brigade battery (Fowler's). The battery was posted in front of the Twenty-fourth and drew on the regiment the fire of three Federal batteries. "Having remained here for some time under a terrific fire, the left of the brigade giving way, we were ordered to fall back," reported Captain Smith. "This was done in great confusion and some time was required to rally and reform the men, who were almost perishing for water. In this movement several men were captured by the enemy. At length the line was moved up again and began to fire on the enemy when, being mistaken for Yankees, we were fired upon by Forrest's artillery. We were then ordered by the general to retire; having done which, and the line being reformed, we took our position on the ground over which we had fought and bivouacked during the night, In these engagements the regiment suffered severely, having both field officers and seven company officers wounded." (Capt. J. D. Smith). Casualties, 10 killed, 103 wounded, 19 missing. Assistant Surgeon Brothers was mentioned for gallantry in twice aiding in rallying the regiment.
In a day or two they followed the Federal army to Chattanooga, and in November the brigade was posted on the slopes of Lookout Mountain, where the men were exhausted by arduous service before the famous battle of November 24.
In his report of the battle of Lookout Mountain, November 24, 1863, General Walthall specially commended Lieut.-Col. R. P. McKelvaine for the activity, zeal and courage that was ever observed in him, but in an especial degree characterized his service on that day. Colonel Dowd, commanding the Twenty-fourth, reported that his regiment was the right of the brigade and occupied the breastworks about one-half mile from the Craven house, but four of the companies were on the picket line, and after the battle began four more were sent under "command of Capt. J. D. Smith to form a line of sharpshooters from the cliff down the northern dope. The two companies left with Dowd were those of Captain Rowan and Captain Ward, and they were soon in a desperate fight. The Federals sought to outflank them by advancing close to the base of the cliff, but were driven back by the Twenty-seventh Regiment. Finally the flank was turned, and with the enemy at ten paces distant, Dowd retreated. When he reached the reserve line of his sharpshooter companies he found only a handful of the companies of Rowan and Ward left, the most having been killed, wounded or captured. He rallied the remnant, but was exposed to a murderous fire of artillery as well as infantry. The thin line of sharpshooters under Captain Smith were forced back, and they all retreated to the edge of the standing timber, where General Walthall made a stand with a few men, but the fire in front, rear and flank was so severe and the force of the enemy so great that they again retreated. A short distance south of the Craven house, the remnant of the brigade was formed in line' of battle and moved back to meet the enemy. Moore meanwhile had come up and occupied an entrenched line, and Pettus arrived with his brigade, and the Federals were held in check until midnight, when the brigade was marched to McFarland's Spring. All of the four companies on the picket line were killed, wounded or captured except Lieutenant-Colonel McKelvaine, who escaped and took part in the afternoon's fight. The casualties of the regiment were 20 wounded, 155 missing. Colonel Dowd particularly complimented Capt. J. W. Ward and gave honorable mention to Capts. J. D. Smith and M. M. Rowan.
Next day, November 25, the remnant of the regiment, exhausted by hard service, was posted on the line of Missionary Ridge, near the road which leads down to the right of the fortifications in the edge of the valley. They were under fire but not attacked in front. After the Confederate line was broken they took a position across the ridge, where they were actively engaged until after dark, when they were ordered to retire to Chickamauga Station. Casualties this day, 10 wounded, 4 missing. Winter quarters were in the vicinity of Dalton, Georgia.
During the Atlanta campaign the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-seventh were commanded by Col. Robert' P. McKelvaine and Lieut.-Col. William L. Lyles. At the close of the campaign the Twenty-fourth was reported under the separate command of Lyles. The brigade moved from camp near Dalton May 7, 1864, and took position in the trenches at Alt's Gap, and after several changes of position occupied the entrenched line in front of Resaca, on the extreme left of Hood's Corps, next to the right of Hardee's Corps, May 14th. Here, aided by artillery, they repulsed two charges of the Federal troops, but sustained heavy losses from the enemy's artillery and sharpshooters. General Hood said of the battle of the 14th: "Walthall's Brigade suffered severely from an enfilade fire of the enemy's artillery, himself and men displaying conspicuous valor throughout under very adverse circumstances." "Troops were never more severely tested than mine were in this battle," General Walthall wrote, "and none could have endured with more steadiness than they the furious and continuous fire to which they were subjected. The battle raged through the 15th also, when one shell, bursting in Lieutenant Wiygle's company, killed 6 men and wounded 5. The casualties of the Twenty-fourth were 24 killed, 27 wounded: of the two regiments 29 killed, 56 wounded, out of 46 officers and 559 men in battle. Among the killed was Lieutenant M. Reid, of Company G. May 17 the regiment skirmished at Cassville, later in the month they were in several days' battle on the New Hope Church line, where there were 4 killed, 12 wounded,
At the opening of the campaign Walthall's Brigade was a part of the division of General Hindman, in Hood's Corps. Gen. S. D. Lee took command of the corps July 27. General Walthall was promoted to command of a division of this corps in June. The brigade, commanded by Colonel Benton and later by Colonel Brantly, remained in Hindman's Division, commanded by Gen. John C. Brown, succeeded by Gen. Patton Anderson July 29.
In the battle of July 28, west of Atlanta, Colonel McKelvaine was severely, and it was feared mortally, wounded in the left shoulder. Lieut .Col. W. L. Lyles, who took command, reported "the case of Eddie Evans, of Company L, Twenty-fourth Regiment, a mere boy, who, when the color bearer was wounded, asked to be permitted to carry the colors, and afterward bore them with such conspicuous coolness and gallantry as to elicit the admiration of all. At one time he took his stand in advance of the line without any protection in an open field, distant from the enemy's line not more than fifty yards, waving his colors defiantly and called upon his comrades to rally to the flag." The two regiments took about 430 into this battle and had 11 killed, 67 wounded. After this, through the early days of August, the skirmishing along the division front amounted to almost an engagement for a week, according to Gem S. D. Lee. The fighting was on the skirmish line, sometimes sixty paces apart and averaging 100 yards, both lines being intrenched, "In one instance Brantly's men, by rolling logs ahead of them and digging zigzag trenches, approached so near the enemy's rifle pits as to be able to throw hand grenades over his breastworks." (Anderson.) From this intrenched line west of Atlanta the Mississippians moved with Lee's Corps, August 30, to meet Sherman's flank march to Jonesboro, where they were in battle August 31. Brantly's Brigade was in the front line of attack and was stopped by the murderous fire to which the men were exposed. The loss was very heavy. In this battle LieutenantÝColonel Lyles was dangerously wounded, Captains Thompson, Toomer and Buchanan were wounded; Lieutenants Ussery, Williams, Spencer, wounded; Lieutenant William Swindall killed. In all 42 killed and wounded. Color Bearer Waddell was wounded, Color Bearer Hamilton had been killed near Atlanta,
Brantly's Brigade shared the operations of Lee's Corps during the October, 1864, campaign against the Chattanooga and Atlanta Railroad, the investment of Resaca and the holding of Snake Creek Gap against Sherman's army while Hood retreated behind the mountains. Brantly's men were engaged in sharp skirmishing at the gap October 15. Thence they moved to Gadsden, Ala., and crossed the Tennessee River on the last days of October. The division was then commanded by Gem Edward Johnson. They advanced with Lee's Corps into Tennessee, skirmished in front of Columbia and were detached November 29 by General Hood for the attempted rear attack at Spring Hill. The Federal troops fell back to the intrenched position at Franklin on the Harpeth River, where Hood made an assault November 30, Johnsons Division going in at dark. In this terrible night battle along the Federal parapets the brigade lost 76 killed, 140 wounded, 21 missing. The Federal troops, under General Thomas, concentrated in the fortified lines at Nashville, in front of which the brigade was encamped December 2-15. Thomas attacked December 15 and on that day Brantly's Brigade, sent to support Stewart's Corps, endeavored to stay the tide of Federal success near the Granny White pike. Next day, moved to the right of Lee's line, they repulsed a Federal assault near the Franklin pike. When the line gave way on their left they fell back to Brentwood. The brigade, after untold hardships, crossed the Tennessee River December 26, and marched to winter quarters near Tupelo, Miss.
The brigade was furloughed until February 12, 1865. Under orders for the Carolinas 152 of the brigade assembled at Meridian February 14. They started east on the 18th and were detained some time at Montgomery by the Mobile campaign. In March they proceeded to Augusta and thence to North Carolina. April 3 the aggregate present of the brigade was 283. Organization of the army near Smithfield, N. C., March
31, 1865, Twenty-fourth, Twenty-seventh and Thirty-fourth Regiments consolidated under the command of Capt. M. M. Rowan. April 9, Brantly's Brigade, the Twenty-fourth, Twenty-seventh, Twenty-ninth and Thirty-fourth Mississippi Regiments consolidated in the Twenty-fourth Regiment, Col. R. W. Williamson commanding. This regiment, with the Twenty-second Alabama, consolidated from Deas' Brigade, and the Thirty-seventh Alabama and Fifty-eighth North Carolina, representing consolidated fragments of other brigades, constituted the brigade of Gem W. F. Brantley in D. H. Hills Division of S. D. Lee's Corps. The army was surrendered April 26 and paroled at Greensboro, N. C., soon afterward.
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